Participation in USDA’s Summer Food Service Program varies across States
When school is not in session, USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides free meals and snacks to children and teens at approved sites such as schools, churches, parks, community centers, and day camp programs. SFSP meals must meet Federal nutrition guidelines and are served in areas with high concentrations of low-income children. In July 2016, the percent of a State’s total population participating in SFSP ranged from 0.2 percent in Arizona to 2.1 percent in New York. That same year, 4.2 percent of the District of Columbia’s population participated in the program. Demographic factors help explain differences in program participation as a percentage of total population; higher SFSP participation rates could reflect a higher proportion of school-age children relative to total population or a higher number of low-income children relative to the overall school-age population. Differences in availability and accessibility of SFSP sites also play an important role in the variability across States. Many low-income children also obtain free meals while school is out through the Seamless Summer Option of the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, not included in this map. This chart appears in the ERS topic page Summer Food Service Program, updated June 19, 2018.
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