Summer Lunch Background

What Is The Program And Who Does It Serve?

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is federally funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is state-administered in Washington by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Olympia.

The intent of the SFSP is to bridge the gap in nutrition during the summer months by serving nutritious meals to children 18 years and younger while school is not in session.

Children need healthy food all year long in order to grow and learn.  During the school year, many children receive free and reduced-price meals through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs.  When school lets out for the summer, many of these children are at risk of hunger or poor nutrition. The SFSP is designed to ensure that children have access to the nutritious meals they need to grow, learn and play during the summer months and to help ensure their bodies and minds are healthy and strong for the upcoming school year.


How Did The Program Begin? 

The SFSP began as a pilot program in 1968 as part of the Special Food Service Program for Children.  The three-year pilot provided grants to states to help provide meals for children when school was not in session.  The two components of the program were child care and summer.  In 1969, an average of 99,000 children participated in the summer program at 1,200 sites throughout the country.  The Child Care Food Program and SFSP were authorized as their own individual programs in 1975.  Summer meals were served to more than 1.75 million children at 12,000 sites throughout the country during the first year as an individual program.  Visit the USDA website for additional program history at


What Organizations Feed The Kids In Our Communities? 

The sponsors who operate the SFSP, also known as the Summer Break Spot, at the local level include public school districts, private schools, local government agencies, camps, churches, city and county parks and recreation and other nonprofit community organizations that have the ability to manage a food service program.

The participating sponsors then identify sites in their area that are in low socioeconomic areas in their community where children can come to receive nutritious meals.

Sites can be located in a variety of settings including schools, parks, playgrounds, housing projects, day camps, recreation centers, migrant centers, community centers and churches.

The Summer Team that works with the program sponsors throughout the state is vastly dedicated to feeding Washington’s future by providing the highest quality customer service possible in program development, training and process improvement for program sponsors to ensure that the maximum number of children can be reached.


How Many Kids Are Fed During The Summer? 

During the summer of 2013, Washington had over 200 summer sponsors and served over one million meals between the months of June through August at over 300 sites throughout the state.  This accounted for a 9 percent growth in meals served from the previous summer as a result from the focused effort to increase participation, expand the service areas and ultimately reach more of the 6.75 million children in Washington in need.