State encouraging participation in summer meals program

Staff Reports

The Indiana Department of Education encourages schools and qualified community organizations to participate in the 2021 Summer Food Service Program, following strong program growth in 2020.

The program provides nutritious meals to children ages 18 and under in the summer when school is out of session. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved waivers last year allowing organizations to continue the program beyond the summer and through the 2020-21 school year.

That decision led the program to grow dramatically in 2020 with more 16 million meals served at 976 sites through October 2020 (the most recent data available).

“I’m thankful for the many Hoosiers who are working hard through the Summer Food Service Program to make sure Indiana’s most vulnerable children don’t go hungry,” said Katie Jenner, Indiana secretary of education.

In summer 2020 alone, sponsoring organizations served about 5.5 million additional meals at about 400 additional sites across Indiana compared to 2019:

June/July 2019: 2.5 million meals at more than 1,300 meal sites

June/July 2020: 8 million meals at more than 1,700 meal sites

Created in 1968, the program is funded and operated by the USDA and administered by the states. Participating organizations must adhere to all USDA regulations.

The program is funded through a reimbursement based on the number of meals served to eligible participants. Any student age 18 or under is eligible to receive meals by visiting a meal site.

Participating sponsors — including eligible school corporations, local governments and qualified nonprofit agencies — are encouraged to continue their meal service for this summer to accommodate need in their communities. They’re also encouraged to consider expanding operations to areas where access to food and transportation may be limited to ensure continuous meal service to all low-income children.

IDOE will host multiple required webinars for new and returning sponsors. For information, visit

To apply, sponsors must submit their application by April 30 to Tina Skinner at IDOE.