Superintendent's Memo #146-11

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

May 20, 2011

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Nutrition Options for Students in the Summer

Good nutrition is essential for good health and effective learning every day, all year long. During the school year, eligible students receive free or reduced price meals while they are in school; however, when school is out, many of these students lose access to nutritious meals.  For many children, summer vacation exposes them to an increased risk of hunger and developmental decline. Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process. Lack of nutrition during the summer months may set up a cycle for poor performance once school begins again.

Schools have three options to help bridge the nutrition gap in the summer.  School divisions are encouraged to consider participating in one of the following programs to meet the nutritional needs of students during the summer months:

  1. National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Programs (SBP). Schools that offer academic summer school sessions can serve breakfast and/or lunch to eligible students through the regular National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs as they do during the school year. Only those students enrolled in the summer school session can participate in the school meals programs.   Schools wishing to participate in the summer NSLP and summer SBP must request approval through the Virginia Department of Education’s School Nutrition Programs Web software (SNPWeb).

  2. USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).   Schools that 1) are located in areas where 50 percent of the children are eligible for free and reduced price meals; 2) open their programs to neighborhood children; and 3) serve all meals at no cost to participants, can earn higher reimbursement for meals served under the SFSP.  There is no academic requirement for participation. The SFSP is ideal for recreational, enrichment, or activity programs over the summer. A school may be a sponsor for the SFSP and prepare its own meals or can provide meals as a vendor to sponsoring organizations such as the local parks and recreation departments, the YMCA, or others. The SFSP is a U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) federally funded child nutrition program administered by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Food Programs (NuPAFP). We encourage you to provide information about the SFSP to all families to ensure they are aware of the availability of access to nutritious meals for their children throughout local communities. Schools can work with their PTA to inform families of the availability of summer meals. Families can also call 2-1-1 (Virginia’s information and referral search tool) to find a feeding site closest to their neighborhood. Site information is also available on the VDH Web site at http://www.vahealth.org/NuPAFP/General%20Info/sfsp.htm and can also be accessed from the link on the DOE School Nutrition Programs Web page at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/nutrition/index.shtml.

    If you have any additional questions about the SFSP, please call the Virginia Department of Health at 1-877-618-7282.

  3. Seamless Summer Option (SSO). This option combines features of the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Under the SSO, schools with at least 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced price meals remain in the regular National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs and serve meals to all children at no charge, including those from the neighborhood. All meals are reimbursed at the free rate for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. There is no academic requirement. Meals are served to all children in the neighborhood at no cost and the site must be open to anyone under 18 years of age.

For more information about the school lunch and breakfast programs and the seamless summer option, please contact the school nutrition program specialist assigned to your division or office of school nutrition programs at (804) 225-2074.

PIW/CDG/idl