The Montana Summer Food Service Program

The Montana Summer Food Service Program


The Montana summer Food Service Program
administered by the Office of Public Instruction’s School Nutrition Programs
provides free nutritious meals and snacks to kids throughout the summer
months when school is out. In Montana one in six kids live in food insecure homes.
For most Montana families summer is a fun and relaxing time. For families
struggling with food insecurity it can be one of the hardest times of the year.
In school year 2017 to 2018 nearly 45,800 Montana students ate free and
reduced-price lunch each day. Once summer rolls around families lose access to
free and reduced-price meals which can add a couple hundred dollars to the
monthly family budget. The Summer Food Service Program provides nutritious
meals at no cost to children ages 18 in under. The Summer Food Service Program is
also one of the many community tools that can aid in the prevention of Summer
Slide. When summer rolls around not all students have the same opportunities to
continue learning and may fall behind their peers. Many Summer Food Service
Program sites also provide educational and enrichment activities in addition to
meals. This enables students to learn and stay engaged to help prevent summer
learning loss so that they are better able to learn when they return to school.
Many summer sites are open to the community, held at parks, libraries, or
other public spaces. Collaboration throughout the community helps to
support a successful program. Children have the opportunity to interact and
engage with peers and additional adult role models who are community volunteers
or employees at Summer Food Service sites. The Summer Food Service Program is
also an opportunity for schools and other organizations to offer
year-round employment for food service staff in the
summer. The summer food service program is funded by the United States
Department of Agriculture. Funding is passed down to and administered by the
Montana Office of Public Instruction School Nutrition Programs. OPI provides
trainings, manages program applications, monitors program requirements, and
processes program reimbursements. Sponsors apply for funding, arrange for
meals to be prepared or delivered, locate eligible sites and attend OPI trainings.
Examples of sponsors include school districts; nonprofits such as food banks,
YMCAs, and Boys & Girls Clubs. Sites then are the physical location where food is
served during the summer. Sites keep daily records of food served and store
food appropriately. Sites in Montana currently include individual schools,
parks, churches, and libraries. Partners such as the Montana Food Bank network
and Montana no Kid Hungry also work to help promote and support the Summer Food
Service Program across the state. The first step to starting a Summer Food
Service Program is getting to know your community. Is there an existing Summer
Food Service Program in your community? Are there any potential program partners
such as schools, library, a Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA? What about your local
parks? Reach out to potential partners or existing sites and brainstorm possible
ways to organize a Summer Food Service Program in your community. Next contact
OPI. There is an eligibility requirement to receive reimbursements for the Summer
Food Service Program. Before putting in too much work,
check with the Montana OPI School Nutrition Program to see if your site is
eligible. Eligibility means that at least half of the children in the physical
location of the site are eligible for free and reduced meals. This is checked
by looking at census or school year data which OPI can assist with. These sites
are still open to the public regardless of income. For partners who require that
students enroll in the program income statements are collected and at least
half of the children must be eligible for free and reduced-price meals. There
are also options for migrant sites and residential and day camps to participate
in the Summer Food Service Program. Sponsors receiving USDA Summer Food
Service Program funding must follow mealtime requirements including meal
patterns which ensure the meals served are balanced and nutritious.
Reimbursement rates are updated each year. Meal patterns and reimbursement
rates are shared on the following slides. Contact OPI for the latest updates. Meals
served can include breakfast, lunch, supper, and/or a snack. A site that is
open to the public may serve up to two meal choices but sites are not able to
serve both lunch and supper in the same day unless it is a camp or a migrant
site. Other options for meal combinations could be a lunch and a snack, two snacks,
breakfast and snack, or breakfast and supper. Here are the current required
meal components for each of the Summer Food Service meals. In order for a meal
served to be reimbursed by the USDA it must include the components listed here
for each of the following meals. Sites will be monitored by OPI to ensure that
these requirements are being met. And, here are the reimbursement rates for
the Summer Food Service Program in 2019. Sponsors that prepared their own meals
or are in a census-designated rural county will receive the reimbursement
rates from the first column. Sponsors who are located in an urban designated
county or provide meals vended from a food service management company will
receive the reimbursement rates from the second column. If you are interested in
starting a Summer Food Service Program in your community, or would like to learn
more, or have additional questions please reach out to the Office of Public
instruction’s Summer Food Service Program Manager Kim Lloyd.

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