September , 2018

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SPRINGFIELD, IL — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued a statewide call for school districts, local government entities, and non-profit organizations to help ensure every child has access to nutritious meals during the summer months. ISBE administers the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), also known as Summer Meals, to provide free meals and snacks to children when schools are not in session.

School districts, local governments, and nonprofits can sponsor SFSP sites, housing the summer food programs at schools, parks, recreation centers, housing projects, migrant centers, churches, summer camps, and other locations. SFSP sponsors manage and develop their own sites and receive federal reimbursement via ISBE to cover the administrative and operating costs of preparing and serving meals. ISBE offers online trainings on topics such as financial management, system navigation, and menu planning.

Entities interested in becoming a SFSP sponsor should contact ISBE’s Nutrition and Wellness Programs Division at (800) 545-7892 or cnp@isbe.net and register for a mandatory new sponsor workshop at http://webprod1.isbe.net/cnscalendar/asp/eventlist.asp. ISBE will host new sponsor training workshops 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.:

  • March 8 in Marion
  • March 29 in Alsip
  • April 12 in Peoria
  • April 19 in Schaumburg
  • April 26 in Fairview Heights
  • May 17 in Springfield

“Childhood hunger affects almost every community in this state,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “ISBE is very proud to administer the Summer Food Service Program in Illinois. We count on SFSP sponsors and meal sites across the state to play a vital role in helping children get the nutritious meals they need to be ready to learn when they return to school in the fall.”

For every 100 children who receive meals through the National School Lunch Programs (NSLP), only 14 received meals over the summer. Although 172 SFSP sponsors and 135 Seamless Summer Option sponsors administered over 2,200 meal sites in 2016, Illinois’ children need many more sponsors to provide access to healthy food in every county in the state. Illinois currently has 36 counties with no SFSP meal sites.

“We know it can be a challenge to feed multiple kids when they are home for the summer,” said Brandon Meline, Director of Maternal and Child Health at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, an SFSP sponsor in Illinois. “We have been thrilled to have the opportunity to help families in our community save valuable food dollars. With us as the sponsor doing the administrative work, we have inspired other community partners to provide meal sites, too.”

ISBE partner organizations No Kid Hungry and the Illinois Hunger Coalition staff a calling and texting hotline to refer families to their nearest meal sites. Interested families can call (800) 359-2163, text “FoodIL” to 877-877, or visit SummerMealsIllinois.org.

Video spotlights on Summer Meals sponsors:

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District – https://vimeo.com/199276559

Aurora Township – https://vimeo.com/189295532

Current SFSP sponsors should register for a current sponsor workshop at http://webprod1.isbe.net/cnscalendar/asp/eventlist.asp.

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