South Carolina Department of Education Seeks Community Partners for Summer Food Program

The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) is reaching out to potential partners for its Summer Break Café, a summer food service program aimed at ensuring children have access to nutritious meals during the summer months.

The program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by SCDE, invites local governmental agencies, school districts, and faith-based or public/private nonprofit organizations to participate. The mission is to address the nutritional needs of children when schools are not in session.

Virgie Chambers, SCDE’s Deputy Superintendent of District Operations, Safety, and Student Wellness, emphasized the importance of maintaining children’s nutrition during summer breaks. “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,” Chambers stated.

Last summer, partners served approximately 1.4 million meals to students across South Carolina. However, since 2019, the number of sponsors and sites has decreased, impacting the accessibility of meals for children statewide.

Summer Break Café meals are served at various locations, including schools, churches, recreation centers, hospitals, cafeterias, farmer’s markets, and community and migrant centers. The federal government’s flexibility in regulations last year allowed rural area sites to serve meals in a non-congregate manner, facilitating easier access for children.

Community partners participating as sponsors will be reimbursed for meals provided to children aged 18 and younger at approved meal sites. Sponsors are required to be financially and administratively capable of conducting a non-profit food service, with training and technical support provided throughout the application process and program operation.

For those interested in becoming partners in this initiative, more information is available on the program’s official website: This collaborative effort aims to make a positive impact on children’s nutrition and well-being throughout the summer break.

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