How does SFSP work?

It seems too good to be true- where does the money for Free Summer Meals come from? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds the Free Summer Meals program. The program was created in 1968 to help feed children over the summer.

The USDA delegates this program to the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency of the USDA, who creates the regulations for the program to run efficiently. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) then delegates further to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), who helps find sponsors for summer meals and deals with some of the enforcement of FNS rules. Once sponsors are chosen by ISBE, they are responsible for figuring out what food service they would like to supply the meals and for filling out reimbursement forms. Sponsors pay for the food up front, sometimes through grants, and expect to be reimbursed for those meals. Sponsors then choose sites- specific places where kids can go to get meals. These sites provide the food to kids, set up activities for kids, and keep track of how many kids come every day. Sites are strategically located to help serve the greatest number of kids and the areas that need summer food the most.

Kids receive meals at the Summer Meals sites, and the site records how many meals were served per day. That information is then sent to the sponsor, who fills out the right forms to get reimbursed. Sponsors get reimbursed per meal served, so they keep track carefully! Once the proper forms are filled out, they are sent to the USDA through ISBE, and the sponsors get sent a check from the USDA for all the meals they served. For more information and updates on Summer Meals, friend us on facebook at SummerMealsIllinois, follow us on twitter at @SummerMealsIL , or visit We hope to see you at a Summer Meals site this summer!!

The Heart of Summer Meals

August 8, 2018Corazón is the Spanish word for “heart,” and Corazón Community Services team members have huge hearts for the youth they serve meals to through the Summer Meals program. Corazón operates Fuerza Youth Center in Cicero, IL, and has participated in the Summer Meals program since 2007. For many kids, Fuerza is a second home. “The […]

Extending the Reach of Summer Meals

July 23, 2018The New Bethel M.B. Church in East St. Louis is a sponsor of the Summer Meals Program and has five sites under its sponsorship. Serving Summer Meals since 2000, “it’s our sustainability that I am most proud of, that we have been able to maintain in all these years. I didn’t see that at the […]

Keeping Up with the City of Evanston’s Summer Meals Program

July 23, 2018No Kid Leaves Hungry, a feature story on the City of Evanston’s Summer Meals Program appeared in the 2017 July edition of the Rise & Shine newsletter. Since then, Evanston’s Kenneth Cherry is back at serving the community through the Summer Meals Program. Serving over 200 kids daily, the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center continues to be a […]

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