The Indiana Department of Education is encouraging qualifying schools and community programs to participate in this year's Summer Food Service Program.
The program, operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides meals to children ages 18 and under while school is out for the summer, and continued longer with USDA waivers this school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Because of extended programming this year, the Summer Food Service Program saw dramatic growth with more than 16 million meals served among 976 sites through October 2020, according to an IDOE news release.
In June and July of 2019 the program served 2.5 million meals among more than 1,300 sites across the state, according to the IDOE. This June and July, the program served 8 million meals at more than 1,700 sites.
The Summer Food Service Program was created in 1968 and is funded through a reimbursement based on the number of meals served to eligible children.
The IDOE encourages qualified school corporations, local governments and nonprofit agencies to continue and consider expanding operations this summer as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
"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," Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said in the news release. "I encourage all eligible schools and local organizations to keep the momentum rolling by participating in this program to serve your communities."
The IDOE will have multiple required webinars for new and return food service program sponsors. Applications are due by April 30.
More information is available on the IDOE website at doe.in.gov/nutrition/summer-food-service-program.