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Become a Sponsor

Become a Sponsor

Key Responsibilities of a Sponsor

Become A Sponsor:  Step 1

Step 1: Determine if your organization is eligible to sponsor a child nutrition program.

All sponsors must demonstrate administrative and financial ability to manage a non-profit food service effectively and cannot be seriously deficient or terminated from any other federal child nutrition program in previous years. School nutrition programs provide meals and snacks to students during the school year and include the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Afterschool Snack and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable programs. Additionally, organizations not participating in one of these School Nutrition programs yet still want to offer milk to students may operate the Special Milk Program. The Summer Food Service Program provides meals and snacks to kids and teens during the summer when school is out of session.

School Nutrition Programs Sponsor Eligibility

A sponsoring organization must be a:

  • Public or private non-profit school food authority, including charter schools, residential child care institutions, Bureau of Indian affairs, or state educational agencies

Summer Food Service Program Sponsor Eligibility

A sponsoring organization must be a:

  • Public or private non-profit school food authority
  • Public or private non-profit college or university
  • Public or private non-profit residential summer camp
  • Unit of local, county, municipal, State, or Federal Government
  • Any other type of private non-profit organization

Key responsibilities of a sponsor include:

  • Follow meal service requirements
    • Establish a point of service and ensure meals counted contain all required components in correct quantities 
    • Establish, implement and review a local wellness policy for school meal programs
  • Follow all civil rights requirements
    • Ensure equal access to programs
    • Display the "And Justice for All" poster in a location visible to participants
    • Ensure program materials include the USDA nondiscrimination statement
  • Determine eligibility for meal benefits in school meal programs
    • Accept and process household income applications
    • Verify a sample of household income applications to ensure complete and accurate information and verify student eligibility
    • Complete at least four direct certification uploads each school year
    • Sponsors opting into the Healthy School Meals for All program must serve free meals to all students at participating schools
  • Establish site eligibility for summer meal programs
    • All summer meal sites serving meals must meet eligibility requirements based on site type (e.g., open, closed-enrolled, camp)
  • Monitor all meal sites
    • Conduct on-site reviews at each school serving breakfast and/or lunch by Feb. 1 each year using this monitoring form
    • Conduct on-site visits and reviews of summer meal sites based on monitoring requirements
  • Prepare claims for reimbursement
    • Ensure claims are accurate
    • Submit claims within 60 calendar days following the claim month
  • Conduct outreach and marketing
    • Share information with families and communities about school and summer meals

Sponsorship Resources:


View Program Events & Deadlines



View these videos for an introduction to Child Nutrition Programs:

Become A Sponsor:  Step 2

Step 2: Complete the New Sponsor Form

This form will give CDE School Nutrition details about your program. Once School Nutrition receives this form, we will reach out to schedule an initial phone call to review the form, program eligibility and requirements and answer any questions you may have.

Become A Sponsor:  Step 3

Step 3: Create a financial management plan

  • New school nutrition program sponsors will need to complete a business plan
  • New summer meal program sponsors will need to complete the Financial Risk Assessment

CDE School Nutrition approval is required before moving on to the next step.


Become A Sponsor:  Step 4

Step 4: Receive a pre-approval visit from CDE's School Nutrition Unit

When the business plan or financial risk assessment is reviewed and approved, CDE School Nutrition will reach out to schedule a pre-approval visit. This visit will ensure your organization is prepared to operate child nutrition programs and provide technical assistance as needed.

Become A Sponsor:  Step 5

Step 5: Complete an application for participation

If approved to participate, the final step is to complete an application in the Colorado Nutrition Portal. This is the online system used to apply for program participation and submit claims for meal reimbursement. The School Nutrition Unit will provide you with a username and password to access the Portal.

Charter School Information

Charter Schools are included in all Child Nutrition Programs offered by the CDE School Nutrition Unit.

Learn how to build strong school nutrition programs for charter schools in the guide below.

Learn ways a charter school may participate in child nutrition programs or change their school food authority in the release for transfer form below.

Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs)

The CDE School Nutrition Unit works with public institutions called Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs) to provide the full benefits of School Nutrition Programs. RCCIs are operated by a federal, state or local government entity. In Colorado, RCCIs are recognized as a facility school by the Colorado Department of Education.


Institutions must operate principally for the care of children and include, but are not limited to:

  • Residential and/or day program facilities for individuals with physical or mental disabilities
  • Group homes
  • Halfway houses

  • Orphanages
  • Temporary shelters for abused and/or runaway children
  • Juvenile detention centers


RCCI Food Safety Resources