Last year, nearly 235 sponsors provided 2.87 million free meals to Wisconsin children from low‑income families during the summer. These sponsors operated 905 sites statewide.

That's a good start, but there are plenty of other children at risk of going hungry from the day after classes end until the start of the 2018-19 academic year. Imagine 90 days of missed or spotty meals.

Wisconsin's Summer Food Service Program already has put out the word that more sponsors and programs are needed for summer 2018. And time is of the essence.

"Our goal is to continue steady program growth so all disadvantaged youth can get nutritious meals when school isn't in session," said State Superintendent Tony Evers.

Sponsors can be:

• Public or private nonprofit school food authorities;

• Public or private nonprofit summer camps;

• Units of local, municipal, county, tribal, or state governments;

• Public or private colleges or universities that participate in the national youth sports and precollege programs; and

• Private nonprofit organizations (special considerations and restrictions apply).

The most common sponsors have been local school districts. They often combine a meal program with summer school. Churches, United Way and others also have created partnerships and collaborations to help meet these children's needs.

Summer may seem far away, but all sponsors for Wisconsin's 2018 program year must complete the online Summer Food Service Program application. Additionally, all potential sponsors must select at least one training opportunity listed on the department's SFSP Training page by Feb. 16.

The time to start "cooking" is now.