The new year is when the Louisiana Department of Education and Department of Agriculture and Forestry (DOAF) start to prepare for the summertime. Their mission is to make sure no child goes hungry.
“Without this program, many children will go hungry, and that’s the bottom line,” said Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain.
Strain said now is the time to buckle down and line up sponsors for their 2022 Summer Nutrition Program.
“It’s so important to start early so we don’t have a gap and a period of time, weeks to a month or more, that these children don’t have access to lunch,” said Strain.
Sponsors are necessary to help with the cost of obtaining, preparing, and serving food.
“The school systems play a part and if the schools choose not to do it, then other government entities in the parish can do it. If they choose not to do it, then the private nonprofits can do it,” he explained.
The Louisiana Department of Education said in a news release:
“Sponsors must be able to provide a capable staff, managerial skills, and food service capabilities. A sponsor may provide its own meals, purchase meals through an agreement with an area school, or contract for meals with a food vendor.”
Nearly 500,000 students across the state rely on daily meals, however, when school is out, the meals are no longer available. Strain’s department manages the food storage and distribution.
“Working with the USDA, the Department of Education, and the school entities, we all work together to make this program work,” he stated.
The need is even higher as COVID-19 and inflation plagues the nation.
“We have the highest inflation now than 40 years across the board. We believe it’s going to put a lot of stress on family budgets,” he said.
Students 18 years and younger qualify for the meals. Applications are being accepted until April 15 for those who would like to participate in the 2022 Summer Food Service Program.
Louisiana Department of Education
The Louisiana Department of Education’s Division of Nutrition Support is now accepting applications from eligible agencies and organizations to serve as sponsors and program sites for the 2022 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides healthy meals to children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, during the summer months when school is not in session.
The federally-funded SFSP is administered on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the state’s education department. Any child aged 18 or younger, or anyone over the age of 18 who is determined by a state or local educational agency or a local public education agency to be mentally or physically disabled and who participates during the school year in a public or private non-profit school program established for the mentally or physically disabled, may receive meals through the SFSP. The program is held in economically disadvantaged areas, or neighborhoods and communities in which half of the school children are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year. Eligibility may also be determined by census information, via use of site-level Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) information or by use of individual eligibility of children.
Approved sponsors receive financial assistance to help with the cost of obtaining, preparing, and serving food under the program, including administrative costs. Sponsors must be able to provide a capable staff, managerial skills, and food service capabilities. A sponsor may provide its own meals, purchase meals through an agreement with an area school, or contract for meals with a food vendor.
Examples of local organizations that often serve as sponsors include: public or private non-profit schools; local, municipal, parish, tribal or state governments; private non-profits; public or private non-profit camps; and private or non-profit universities or colleges.
To find more information about upcoming training sessions provided by the Louisiana Department of Education, Click Here. From this link, click on “training” to view (and register for) an upcoming training session. All 2022 SFSP Training Sessions (prospective new and returning sponsors) will occur in the month of March. Interested parties may register for a March training session in early 2022, on the LA Fit Kids Website provided in this notice (and here). Trainings for the 2022 SFSP will not be in-person, but rather, will be hosted via a virtual platform (i.e. Zoom). Recordings (of each training session) and associated slide decks will be posted to the LA Fit Kids Website (under “Training” > “Training Slides”) for individuals who wish to view the training after its conclusion.
Training must be completed by potential sponsors prior to application approval. Applicants will be notified once applications have been reviewed by staff. To view the application checklist for prospective new sponsoring organizations, please visit the LA Believes Website (clicking on Funding > then Federal: Child Nutrition > and then scrolling to the section titled “Learn More About Louisiana’s Child Nutrition Programs” to access the SFSP Checklist PDF). The direct link to this checklist is also provided here.
The program is also in need of agencies or organizations that are willing to serve as program sites. The sites are the physical locations where food is served. Each site location must work with an approved program sponsor that is financially and administratively responsible for meeting all program requirements for the applicable meal service type(s) at the site.
Applications are being accepted now through April 15, 2022 from those who wish to participate in the 2022 Summer Food Service Program.
For more information on this program, contact the Department’s Division of Nutrition Support at 1-877-453-2721 or (225) 342-9661. Individuals may also contact Division of Nutrition Support Staff via email at the following email address: email@example.com.