Testimonial from Dare to Care Food Bank in Louisville, KY
The SFSP program has been instrumental in helping us increase the number of meals we produce each summer. In 2004 we became a sponsor of a handful of sites and have now grown to 24 locations.
We run a commercial kitchen that produces 1,200+ hot meals a day, 5 days a week for our sites.Without reimbursement money we would be spending a lot more time on fundraising, would have partnered with fewer sites and the quality of our meals would have suffered. We feel like the reimbursement allows us to offer very nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you watch costs you can provide a great meal at little or no out of pocket costs. For supper meals, our average food costs were $2.00 per meal; total cost of the meal including labor and administration was on average $3.50 – reimbursement rates were $3.58 per meal. A sample meal would be orange glazed chicken thigh with green beans, fresh pineapple, whole grain roll and shelf-stable milk.
One of the tricky areas where you can begin to lose money is with the meals that you supply that are not served. (For instance a site tells you they expect 100 children and only 90 show up, there are 10 meals that aren’t reimbursable). So, while we were spending just at what we were getting reimbursed, we weren’t getting reimbursed for 100% of the meals we were producing. We serve on average between 87-90% of the meals we produce. As time goes on we have done better with this, but it still is something that we have to watch. To make up for this amount of meals that aren’t reimbursed, we seek donations from the community.
Since we have started utilizing SFSP (and CACFP), we have grown our number of sites from 12 to 24 and have almost tripled the number of meals that we serve! Having these funds has been crucial to ourgrowth.
We were able to develop a partnership with the Louisville Parks Department because we provided SFSP meals. The city got a SOS grant to offer SFSP meals and the fact that we were producing quality meals for that program enticed them to partner with us. Now, we work with 10 of their locations year-round and are about to add another site next month!
We highly recommend being involved in SFSP. The staff at the Department of Education are great at training, listening, responding timely and working to get more meals out to those in need. They will support you however they can. The program does come with work, but the trade-off for better quality meals is very worth it.