Three Breakfast and Lunch Programs in Florida

Florida breakfast programs in schools ensure that children in the state from low-income households start their day with a nutritional meal. Likewise, federal lunch programs for schools in Florida provide students with ongoing sustenance throughout the school year. These and summer food service programs are available for children who may otherwise go without adequate nourishment. Interested parents can learn how to enroll children in school meal programs to take part in the benefits of a free or reduce-priced breakfast and lunch. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees each of those free school breakfast and lunch programs although Florida state organizations control the distribution of funding from those federal programs. Free school breakfast programs, discounted lunches and meal services during school breaks is essential for many children in the state. To find out more about the free summer lunch program in Florida and meal previsions during the academic calendar, read about the three programs available to students in the state within the topics below:

  • The School Breakfast Program in Florida
  • The National School Lunch Program in Florida
  • The Summer Food Service Program in Florida

The School Breakfast Program in Florida

The School Breakfast Program (SBP) debuted in 1966 to provide nutritionally needy school children with the healthy food. The free school breakfast program originally was to run for two years only. However, the federal school breakfast program was so successful that, after some reform, it became permanent in 1975.

What is the SBP like today? When breakfast programs in schools first received federal SBP funding the program primarily covered schools in areas that were economically poor. After some streamlining and expansion of SBP regulations in Florida, SBP assistance is now available in many school systems regardless of the economic status of the area. SBP assistance is also available in many daycare centers, which were not under the original federal legislation. Students simply must meet the SBP eligibility requirements to enroll in the program. Families can to find out about qualifying for financial assistance from federal and state welfare programs.  

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), as well as individual schools, are responsible for guaranteeing that the free School Breakfast Program is accessible in Florida schools and other authorized locations. The FDACS guarantees that the SBP is available in every publicly-run elementary school in the state of Florida. While the FDACS runs the School Breakfast Program in Florida, each school's administrators have some leeway as to how to administer it. Many Florida schools have successfully tried campaigns like Grab and Go or Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) to encourage parent and student participation. Those breakfast programs in schools have been so successful that Florida is one of the top states in the nation in terms of breakfast program participation and expansion.

The National School Lunch Program in Florida

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is another program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture but administered by the FDACS. When NSLP started in 1946, it was part of the National School Lunch Act. President Truman signed the NSLP after years of numerous state implantation of similar programs. Federal lunch programs for schools have evolved quite a bit since, but the premise is still the same.

What is the NSLP? The National School Lunch Program feeds hungry students who come from families that cannot afford necessities like lunches. The current NSLP regulations help offset the costs of school lunches, which seem to be consistently increasing. Under the current NSLP guidelines, funds distributed to states like Florida pass subsidies to individual schools to use for food purchases. However, the NSLP also collects food donations to distribute to participating schools, reducing the overall cost of giving away the free lunches to students who qualify for NSLP.

Each Florida school that applies for NSLP assistance must do so through the FDACS via its Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness. NSLP regulations exist that dictate which students qualify for the lunch program based on the incomes of their families and other factors. When Florida schools give lunches to NSLP qualifying students, the FDACS gives each school a certain amount of compensation from the program funds. Families can learn about the cost of reduced meals by clicking here for our free guide.

The state also has a Farm to School program, which provides Florida-grown produce as part of school lunches. The National School Lunch Program and the Farm to School program together help to keep the cost of school lunches down. These federal lunch programs for schools in Florida simultaneously keep the money in the state and teach children about the value of healthy food as well as the value of preserving Florida's economy and farming industries.

The Summer Food Service Program in Florida

What is Summer Food Service Program assistance? The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a lunch program for school children during the summer break. This free summer lunch program was part of the National School Lunch Act instituted by the federal government in 1968.

The federal summer lunch program is different from Florida's school breakfast and lunch programs because it is not under the management of the schools. Instead, local sponsors administer SFSP as part of other summer activity programs. The Summer Food Service Program is not limited to one daily meal. Florida SFSP sponsors often provide breakfasts, lunches and snack foods to needy children.

The Summer Food Service Program in Florida goes by the name Summer BreakSpot. There are more than 3,500 Summer BreakSpot locations officially sanctioned under the federal summer lunch program for reimbursement when they give out food to underprivileged children. Those sponsored locations include multiple summer camps, non-profit organizations and churches.

How can I participate in SFSP and become a sponsor or site manager? Summer Food Service Program sponsors in Florida must be organizations. Colleges and other large institutions can be SFSP food distributers if those institutions can prove that they are responsible and capable enough to run food programs.

Occasionally, a Florida institution can sponsor a federal summer lunch program but run it at a separate location. In those instances, it is possible to be an SFSP site manager without being a sponsor. Florida Summer Food Service Program site managers and staff must typically be members of the sponsoring institution or otherwise approved to be site managers by the sponsoring institution itself, the USDA or the FDACS. Interested individuals and organizations can inquire about becoming part of the SFSP by calling Summer BreakSpot administrators in their area.


What Assistance Benefits Does the Department of Children and Families Provide?

Various assistance benefits are available to residents of Florida through the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Families can receive benefits that allow them to buy nutritious groceries, save money on school lunch for their children and obtain temporary financial assistance. Additionally, petitioners who qualify for one assistance program are also typically eligible for other benefits in Florida. Find out how to qualify for benefits through Florida's DCF and how to apply for them by downloading our comprehensive guide.

Who Can Receive Assistance Benefits in Florida?

Each assistance program offered through Florida's Department of Children and Families has various eligibility qualifications that petitioners must meet in order to enroll. Household size and income are only a few factors that are typically taken into account. For more details on eligibility for Florida DCF assistance programs, download our guide.