The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Seamless Summer Option (SSO) were established to ensure that children and teens continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Turnip the Beet is a voluntary award program to recognize participating program sponsors that work hard to offer high quality, nutritious meals during the summer months.
The purpose of this voluntary recognition program is to encourage Summer Meal Programs' sponsors to offer higher quality, nutritious meals that make an impact on children's healthy development. The program allows the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to more accurately assess the quality of meal service in order to determine whether the individual sponsor qualifies for recognition, and at what level.
The Turnip the Beet award is presented at three levels (bronze, silver and gold) to sponsors providing meals that are appetizing, appealing, and nutritious. The award is open to all program sponsors across the nation who are in good standing, including SFSP sponsors and NSLP/SSO sponsors. All nominated sponsors must be in compliance with SFSP or NSLP/SSO regulations, as applicable.
Sponsors may submit a self-nomination or be nominated by another party. The sponsor or other party must complete and submit a nomination packet, which includes the short Turnip the Beet Nomination Form and a one-month menu, to their Summer Meals state agency contact. Menus should provide sufficient detail to judge whether it meets award criteria; for example, a menu should describe whether fruits and vegetables are fresh, frozen, canned or dried, as well as identify whole grain-rich and local food items. Sponsors may choose to submit other supporting documents to further demonstrate the quality of their meals, such as news clips about the program, photos, testimonials, or invoices of local food purchases.
The nominations will be submitted to state agencies, which have the discretion to choose their submission due dates. The state agency contacts will ensure the sponsor:
- Participated in SFSP or SSO in the award year;
- Is in good standing with no major findings or all corrective actions are complete and implemented;
- Was not found seriously deficient in the past two years, at the time of the application, and has never been terminated from the Summer Meal Programs; and
- Submitted an application that meets meal pattern requirements. The state agency can also provide an optional statement of support for the nominee.
All nominations must be forwarded by the state agency contact to their Regional Office at a set November date following the program year. FNS will notify the winners in writing early the following calendar year. Depending on the award level attained, sponsors will receive a certificate from FNS, will be featured on the USDA blog, or will be featured on the online Capacity Builder tool as a Turnip the Beet winner.