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Federal funds available to serve free meals through Maryland Department of Education

BALTIMORE — The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has announced that federal funds are available to assist public and private nonprofit agencies in serving free nutritious meals and snacks to children this summer through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a U. S. Department of Agriculture program.

Over 370,000 Maryland children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, but do not have access to school meals during the summer. For every 100 children that participate in school meals during the school year, only 18.3 participate in a summer nutrition program. The SFSP bridges the nutrition gap that exists between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next. Meals and snacks must meet federal nutrition guidelines.

“The Summer Food Service Program is a vital resource for families that may be struggling with hunger. The program provides nutritious meals and snacks so children can learn, grow, and play. It helps children return to school ready to learn because they have received the proper nutrition needed during the summer months,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery.

The SFSP provides reimbursement to organizations for meals and snacks served to children in areas where at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program, or when 50 percent of the children enrolled in a program qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Most organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals or snacks per child per day. Migrant programs and camps may be reimbursed for up to three meals per child per day.

The Program is open to children and teens age 18 and under and to individuals over 18 who are mentally or physically disabled. Interested organizations should contact MSDE at 410-767-0225. The deadline for applications is May 30, 2014. For information about the program, please visit www.eatsmartmaryland.org.

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