AUSTIN (June 13, 2017) – Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller wants to remind all Texans that Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) meal sites are now open across the Lone Star State. Thousands of nonprofits, libraries, schools and other community organizations serve summer meals at no cost to children 18 years old and younger through a partnership with the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA).
“At the Texas Department of Agriculture, we work to ensure Texas children have healthy meals all year long, not just during the school year,” Commissioner Miller said. “Hunger doesn’t take the summer off. TDA and our valued Summer Food Service Program partners step in every year so children have continued access to good nutrition during the long summer vacation. We’re making sure more young Texans return to school in the fall happy, healthy and ready to learn.”
Commissioner Miller encouraged families to use one of the following three ways to find a nearby meal site for children 18 years old and younger:
- Text FOODTX to 877-877 for information in English or text COMIDA to 877-877 for information in Spanish
- Visit TDA’s online meal site locator at http://summerfood.org/
- Call 2-1-1
Across Texas, nearly one in four children is food insecure, meaning they don’t always have enough food for an active, healthy summer. Whether these children are in a remote rural community or one of the state’s largest cities, their families can use these tools to find a meal site. To watch a television spot promoting SFSP, click here.
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), TDA administers two federally funded programs to help address childhood hunger during the summer — SFSP and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO). SSO allows schools to continue meal service after the academic year ends. Schools, nonprofit summer camps, governmental entities and other nonprofit organizations like churches can use SFSP to serve meals to children across Texas. SFSP and SSO are funded by USDA and administered by TDA in Texas.
All meal sites must be sponsored by an organization that has a contract with TDA. Approved SSO and SFSP sponsors operating in accordance with federal and state regulations will be reimbursed for meals served to children.
TDA partners serve meals at sites in designated areas, such as areas where more than 50 percent of children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program. Meals are provided to individuals 18 years old or younger without charge, as well as adults over the age of 18 who are determined by a state or local educational agency to have a mental or physical disability and who participate in a public or private school program established for people with mental or physical disabilities.
At closed enrolled sites located in areas where poor economic conditions do not exist, free meals are based on the income eligibility guidelines established by USDA. Foster children and children who are members of households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits are automatically eligible to receive free meal benefits at SFSP or SSO closed enrolled sites.
Meals are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.
To increase awareness of SFSP and SSO, TDA created promotional materials that sponsors can distribute and display in their communities. Outreach materials are available for download here. Schools also provide information to students at the end of the school year about how to find meal sites using TDA’s three tools. During the academic year, parents may connect with their child’s school to learn more about food assistance programs.
For more information about TDA’s Summer Nutrition Programs, visit http://summerfood.org/ or call TDA’s Food and Nutrition Division at (877) TEX-MEAL or (877) 839-6325.