SCDE seeks summer food program partners

January 10, 2024

The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) is looking for partners to assist with providing meals to children this summer.

The Summer Break Café is a summer food service program funded by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by SCDE in South Carolina. The mission is to ensure children have access to healthy meals during the summer months when school is not in session.

Interested local governmental agencies, school districts, faith-based and public/private nonprofit organizations can take part in the program.

Last summer, partners served approximately 1.4 million meals to students across South Carolina.

“When students are on break from school during the summer, their nutrition will continue to be a priority,” Virgie Chambers, SCDE’s Deputy Superintendent of District Operations, Safety, and Student Wellness said. “Our 2024 goal is to increase the number of meal sites to allow more children access to nutritious meals this summer. To do that, we are currently searching for more community partners, especially in rural and low-income areas.”

Since 2019, the number of sponsors and sites have decreased. This reduction impacts the number of children that have access to meals throughout the state.

Summer Break Café meals are served at sites that can be located at schools, churches, recreation centers, hospitals, cafeterias, farmer’s markets, community and migrant centers, and other areas in the local community.

Last summer, the federal government changed regulations to allow rural area sites to serve meals in a non-congregate manner. This meant children could take and eat their meals off site, a parent or guardian could pick up meals for their children, and in some cases multiple meals could be picked up at one time.

With this flexibility in place last year, 373,167 non-congregate meals were provided at more than 180 sites by 19 sponsors. These types of meal services vary depending on the sponsors’ capability and approval by the Department of Education.

Community partners serving as sponsors will be reimbursed for meals provided to children 18 years and younger at approved meal sites. USDA requires sponsors to be financially and administratively capable of conducting a non-profit food service. Sponsors will receive training and technical support during the application process and throughout the operation of their program.

SCDE will be hosting several virtual informational meetings. The first one will be held on January 18, 2024, from 10:00am-12:00pm via Microsoft TEAMS. If you would like to attend, you must register online.


For more information on the program, please visit our website