Partnering with organizations that already operate summer meals programs can make feeding kids in your community a snap. View a list of New Jersey 2019 sponsors.
In summer 2020, all school districts with at least half of students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals must participate in the summer meals program.
A key decision school officials need to make is whether to become a sponsor or site . The first step is to determine if an organization is already sponsoring a summer meals program in your area. Partnering with an existing sponsor as a site can make operating the program much easier.
What’s the difference?
Summer meals sponsors take responsibility for program operations, including attending training, providing meals to sites, training and overseeing site operators and other duties.
Organizations, including school districts, that do not want to become a sponsor can sign on with a sponsor in their area to be a site.
While sponsors bear more responsibility for program administration, acting as a sponsor can give school districts more control over the program, including the type of food served, hours of operation and other considerations.
School districts that become sponsors can also serve community-based sites, such as libraries, parks, pools, housing developments and local recreation programs, including those run by municipalities and/or community and faith-based organizations.
This is a good way to expand participation and fiscally strengthen programs. The more meals served, the higher the federal reimbursements.
Becoming a site is an easier option.
Sites receive training and support from sponsors, but are not required to process as much paperwork or provide financial resources.
Sites can be any place where children gather in the summer — recreation centers, libraries, parks, pools, churches, community centers and camps.
Sites must meet safety and health standards, serve meals at the designated times, accurately account for meals served and report the number of meals served to sponsors.
Sites do not have to pay for meals or other costs associated with food service. They must, however, provide staff to maintain adequate supervision for participating children.
Key questions to consider when deciding whether to become a sponsor or a site:
Does the community already have a sponsor serving summer meals? If so, district officials should explore the possibility of adding schools as summer sites under that sponsor.
Is there adequate funding for start-up costs? If not, can funds be secured?
What school buildings are available to become meal sites?
Which schools have summer programs operating?
Are there enough students in those programs to make sponsorship viable?