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July 9, 2024
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JP O'Hare

(518) 474-1201



2024 Summer Food Service Program to Provide Meals at 2,500 Sites Statewide

More Than 20 Million Free Meals to be Served this Summer

The 2024 Summer Food Service Program, which will provide free meals to approximately 400,000 young people, kicks off this month at nearly 2,500 sites statewide, State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced today. It is anticipated that more than 20 million nutritious meals will be served to New York State’s children this summer. An interactive USDA online map helps families search for a service site by address, city, or zip code.

Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said, “Too many of New York’s children lack consistent access to nutritious, healthy meals, especially when schools are closed for summer break. The state’s Summer Food Service Program helps to fill this critical gap. At the same time, the Program also provides a vital community service by engaging families in safe and fun summer events.”

Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “Children need nutritious meals to grow and thrive physically, emotionally, and academically. We have a moral obligation to ensure that every child in need has easy and regular access to the kinds of healthy meals that will sustain, power, and energize them all summer long – and New York’s Summer Food Service Program will make that possible across the entire state.”

The Summer Food Service Program was established to ensure that low-income children aged 18 and younger receive nutritious meals when schools are not in session. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service administers the Summer Food Service Program at the national level and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) administers it at the state level.

Studies have shown that access to nutritious food during summer break benefits children’s health, education, and food security. Inadequate nutrition can have developmental consequences for children, including lower academic performance, social and emotional difficulties like anxiety and depression, and a higher risk for chronic illnesses like anemia or diabetes. The program sites also give young people an opportunity to interact with other children their age and participate in free activities.

About the Summer Food Service Program:

Summer Meal Sites: Children can visit one of the nearly 2,500 designated summer meal sites statewide, where free meals are available. These sites are conveniently located in neighborhood parks, pools, libraries, camps, schools, and community centers, making it easy to access nutritious food all summer long.

Meals To-Go: Many rural areas will provide locations offering pre-packaged meals for pick-up. Families in rural areas who are unable to visit these sites may be able to get meals for their kids delivered right to their home. Multiple days of meals are often bundled together for added convenience.

Summer EBT Program: Summer EBT is a new state program that provides $120 in food benefits to eligible children to help cover the cost of food when school is out of session. Most eligible children will receive Summer EBT food benefits automatically; however, some families may need to apply. Information on Summer EBT, including the application for families that need to apply, can be found on the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance website. Children can receive Summer EBT food benefits and also participate in the Summer Food Service Program in their community.    

How to Participate:

Most New York sponsors begin operating Summer Food Service Programs in July. There are several tools available to help find the site nearest you:

  • The Summer Meals Finder is an interactive map to search for meal locations by address, city, or zip code. Families can find directions to nearby meal sites, as well as their hours of operation and contact information. Locations and service times are updated throughout the summer.
  • Text: Text “Food” or “Comida” to 304-304
  • Call:
    • USDA National Hunger Hotline 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-3-HAMBRE
    • Dial 211 in New York State
    • 311 in New York City

More information about NYSED’s administration of the Summer Food Service Program is available on the Department’s website.