The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is providing another resource to help communities with the launch of this year’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), according to a press release by the department.
The goal of the program is to ensure that children 18 and younger who benefit from meal programs at school will continue to have that same access to nutritious meals when school is out for the summer. In addition to children of school age, adults 19 and older with a mental or physical disability who participated in a school program established for individuals with disabilities during the prior school year are eligible to receive free meals, the press release notes.
Each year, TDHS partners with sponsors across the state to provide these meals. Since 2020, the program and sponsors have been innovative and a constant presence in reaching children despite the challenges of the pandemic. For example, last year sponsors were able to provide “grab and go” meals to children along with meal bags containing more than one day’s worth of food. This option will be available through the end of June 2022, according to the press release. In 2021, through the work of program sponsors and meal sites, more than 6 million meals were provided to children across the state.
“Summer Food Service Program staff, the state and national partners, along with program sponsors have approached the continuation of the program with an unrelenting commitment to providing meals to children across the state,” TDHS Commissioner Clarence H. Carter said in a statement. “There is room for even more impact, and we invite organizations from all regions of the state to join in this important work of feeding vulnerable children during the summer months.”
Sponsor applications will be accepted until May 1, 2022. Organizations interested in becoming a SFSP sponsor or becoming a feeding site under an existing sponsor should contact TDHS by email at [email protected]
Parents interested in finding a Summer Food Service Program feeding location near them are encouraged to contact the TDHS Summer Food Service Program main line at 615-313-4749, their local school, or visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]