Skip to Content

Summer Food Service Program


On this page...

Summer is an exciting time for children to enjoy time with friends, a week at camp, a family vacation or time at the pool. But for many children, summer can mean hunger. Just as learning does not end when school lets out, neither does a child’s need for good nutrition.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), administered by the Iowa Department of Education, provides nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas during the summer months. There are many summer food service program meal and snack sites across the state of Iowa, however the program is still vastly under-utilized.

Meal Service during Schools Closures Related to COVID-19

All sponsors interested in providing Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) meals during this type of school closure must complete the SFSP Unanticipated School Closure Request Form.

If a school has less than 50% free and reduced, they need to identify how low income children will have easy access to meals. One option is using the USDA Eligibility Mapper. Areas of high need are identified in pink and are eligible locations to provide meals.

For more information on implementing SFSP due to COVID-19 during school closures, please contact the Iowa Department of Education School Nutrition Consultant in your region.

SFSP Sponsors in Iowa

If interested in obtaining information on Summer Food Service site locations, dates of operation, meals served and times of meal service, contact the appropriate sponsor from the file above.

USDA's “Meals for Kids” - interactive map directs people to local sites where kids can get free meals or call 211 or
1-866-3-HUNGRY, or text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877. Services are available in English and Spanish.

Providing Meals during COVID-19 School Closures Webcast (13 minutes)

This online training is for sponsors that have been approved to provide reimbursable meals during anticipated school closures related to COVID-19 under the Summer Food Service Program.

Meal Pattern Resources

USDA Foods

School Food Authorities (SFAs) providing meals under the USDA Summer Food Service Program during this unanticipated closure may use their National School Lunch Program USDA Foods in the meal preparation. SFAs planning to serve non-USDA program meals, may also be allowed to use their USDA Food inventories, but a request must be submitted to the Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services USDA Foods Consultant. Sarah White, prior to any inventory being used.

USDA Memos and Waivers: COVID-19

USDA Flexibilities Provided During COVID-19 - Meal Service Time Requirements, Congregate (Group Meal Requirements), Meal Pattern Requirements, Educational Activity Requirements and Area Eligibility Requirements.

Food Safety Resources: COVID-19

Communication Tools

Families need to know where, when and how they can pick up meals while still practicing social distancing. Examples include: district webpage, social media, radio stations, newspapers and flyers (posted at food pantries, convenience stores, apartment complexes, etc.). For additional communication resources and examples, contact Carrie Scheidel at

USDA Waiver Requests - Public Notification

The Iowa Department of Education Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services is seeking the following waivers from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service.

Submitted and Approved USDA Waiver Requests
Iowa ​Submitted USDA Waiver Requests

Summer Food Service Program

SFSP Memoranda Rescission

The Department’s Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services submitted January 2020 four state-wide waivers to the USDA Midwest Regional Office (MWRO) for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) flexibilities and policies that were rescinded by the USDA Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) through SFSP 01-2019 Summer Food Service Program Memoranda Rescission.

The goal of these waivers are to reinstate the rescinded flexibilities and policies to allow for efficient and cost effective program management and reduce administrative burden for sponsoring organizations and the Department’s Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services staff.

Iowa Waiver Request - Area Eligibility in Closed, Enrolled Sites 2020 [7 CFR 225.2 & 7 CFR 225.15(f)]
Iowa Waiver Request - Meal Time Restrictions 2020 [7 CFR 225.16(c)(1) & 7 CFR 115.16(c)(2)] - Approved
Iowa Waiver Request - Offer Versus Serve 2020 [7 CFR 225.16(f)(1)(ii)]
Iowa Waiver Request - Site Monitoring 2020 [7 CFR 225.15(d)(2)]

For more information, please contact Stephanie Dross at

Information for Program Sponsors

SFSP Tidbits 2018 Webinar Series

2020 Summer Meal Sites

Call the United Way 2-1-1 line, the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish speakers), or visit to find a free, nutritious summer meal site near you. You can also text ‘Food’ or ‘Comida’ (for Spanish speakers) to 877-877 to receive text information on summer meal sites near you.

Summer Food Service Program meal sites operate as "open," "closed enrolled," or "camp" sites.

  • Open sites operate in low-income areas where half or more of the children are from households with income at or below 185% of the Federal poverty guidelines. Meals are provided at no charge to all children at the open site.
  • Closed Enrolled sites provide meals only to children who are enrolled in an activity program, such as a day camp at the site. In order for an enrolled site to participate in the program, at least 50% of the children must be from households with incomes at or below 185% of the poverty level.
  • Residential camps and nonresidential camps may participate regardless of the location and are reimbursed only for eligible participants.

SFSP Guides

Refer to USDA guides while planning and implementing your summer food service program. Here are a few resources available to look for when accessing SFSP Guides.

  • Administrative Guidance for Sponsors
  • State Agency Monitoring Guide
  • Monitor's Guide
  • Nutrition Guidance for Sponsors
  • Site Supervisor's Guide
  • Site Supervisor's Guide (Spanish)

Promotional Resources

USDA Summer Meals Toolkit

USDA Summer Meals Toolkit - The Summer Meals toolkit is designed for individuals and organizations interested in serving as Summer Meal champions in their communities at any level of program administration. The outreach materials can be utilized to promote summer food service program sites in and/or around the communities you serve.

Summer Meals promotional resources and public service announcements can be found on the USDA Raise Awareness page. Promotional resources include templates for flyers, postcards, bookmarks and business cards.

Sodexo Foundation Summer Meals Outreach Toolkit - Share Our Strength with the support of Sodexo Foundation has developed this toolkit to help your organization work with the media to promote summer meals programs as well as outreach materials that you can tailor with tips to use in your community.

Additional Resources

Food Research and Action Center - Summer Nutrition Programs
Food Safety Information
Food Safety Regulatory Authorities (by county)
FRAC Summer Food Mapper
Iowa Department of Transportation Public Transit
No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practice
USDA Area Eligibility Mapper
USDA Summer Food Service Program
USDA Summer Food Service Program Legislation
USDA Summer Food Service Program Policy
USDA SFSP Capacity Builder
USDA Summer Meal Site Finder
USDA Rural Designations Mapper

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on August 09, 2020 at 5:34am.