The Truth About USDA Summer Food Service Program

About the Program:
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally funded, state administered program that reimburses providers who serve free healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas during the summer months when school is not in session.
  • In Texas, the program is administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA).
  • During summer months, children lose access to school breakfast and lunch meals that are available to them during the regular school year.
  • Texas law mandates that public school districts in which 50% or more of the enrolled students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meal benefits through the National School Lunch Program must operate a summer feeding program.
GCISD's Participation in the Program:
  • GCISD is not mandated to participate in summer feeding programs. However, GCISD has two sites that qualify because 50% or more of the enrolled students are eligible to receive free and reduced meals. (Silver Lake & Timberlake Elementary Schools)
  • GCISD has participated in the program since June 2005.
  • For June - August 2018, the District served meals at Cross Timbers Middle School & Silver Lake Elementary School. These campuses were chosen because they are in the attendance zone of the qualified campuses and also were operating summer school.
    • From June 2018 - August 2018, GCISD served a total of 7,089 breakfast meals
    • From June 2018 - August 2018, GCISD served a total of 13,833 lunch meals
  • For June - August 2018, labor and food costs were $39,747 and the Nutrition Services Program received $60,843 in federal reimbursement.
    • USDA reimburses the District $2.14 for each reimbursable breakfast served and $3.37 for each reimbursable lunch. These reimbursement rates are set by the federal government.
    • The cost of each meal is dependent on the items that are offered on a daily basis. For breakfast, the menu food costs range from $0.92 - $1.01 with an average cost of $0.98. For lunch, the menu food costs range from $1.49 - $1.74 with an average cost of $1.59.
    • The ranges represent the actual cost of foods included; however, the federal government supplements the Summer Food Service Program with USDA Foods and the USDA DoD fresh fruits and vegetable program, which helps districts reduce their overall food cost.
    • The federal government recognizes there are more costs associated with the program than just food. Any remaining funds, after labor expenses are paid, are used to offset costs of the year-round food service program.
    • The Nutrition Services Program, as required by law, is a separate non-profit program, and revenue must remain in the program to offset program expenses, which are not funded by the District's general operating budget. The District is audited every year by an external auditor and every three years by TDA to ensure the program follows all regulations and all funds are used appropriately.
    • Because these funds are federal in nature and tied to the USDA's School Lunch program, they cannot be used for teacher salaries and instruction.
  • Adults that accompany a child may purchase a meal for $3.45. They are not eligible for a free meal.
  • Prior to the end of a school year, a district must communicate the availability and details of the program with eligible communities. Each year, GCISD posts the information on the District website, sends information to local newspapers and advertise in principal newsletters. Additionally, the Texas Department of Agriculture provides fliers, posters and yard signs to all of our campuses for distribution and advertisement of the program.
  • In GCISD, Nutrition Services staff members work the program and recognize a majority of the students that come through the breakfast and lunch line.
  • Eligible children do not have to attend GCISD schools and do not have to live in the community. Additionally, the program prohibits the District from requiring proof of financial need.
  • School districts participating in summer food service programs can be found here:
    • In order to see a current list of participating districts, please change the "Enter Date" to June 4, 2019.