School Food Authorities (SFAs) participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP) are eligible to apply for the Seamless Summer Option (SSO). Once approved, SFAs serve meals free of charge to children, age 18 years and under. Meals may be provided in low income areas during the traditional summer vacation periods and, for year-round schools, during vacation periods longer than 10 school days. The SSO utilizes the online School Nutrition contract and a SSO application. Meals are reimbursed at the “free” rates for the NSLP, SBP, or NSLP Afterschool Snack Program.
Schools seeking options for summer food service are encouraged to look at the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) as the eligibility requirements are the same as the SSO but the SFSP offers a higher reimbursement rate and use of a simpler meal pattern. For more information, visit the SFSP webpage. View the Summer Meal Programs Comparison Chart to assist with determining the best summer feeding option for your school.
Most eligible schools are located within areas that are considered low income or ‘area eligible’. The following data may be used to determine if a location is area eligible.
- Wisconsin Free/Reduced Eligibility for All Public Schools (October 2022): A SSO site may operate within the attendance area of a public school building with a school eligibility of 50% or more, as published in the most current Wisconsin Public School Eligibility Data Report or based on the most recent Free/Reduced-priced or Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) data.
- Census Data may be used in lieu of the Wisconsin Free/Reduced Eligibility Data. The USDA Capacity Builder Map is capable of identifying eligible areas and also locations of potential partners in your community (churches, housing authorities, libraries, etc.). Enter an address in the Find Address or Place search field. The pink areas qualify.
- Although not typical, SSO can operate in areas that do not qualify via census data or school data. These types of programs provide meals to children who have specifically been determined to be low-income. Contact SSO@dpi.wi.gov to discuss further.
Once established, area eligibility remains in effect for five years.
Summer 2023 Application
If you would like to operate the SSO in summer 2023, an approved application is required prior to starting SSO operation. The application deadline has passed; however, if your summer plans have changed and you wish to serve meals under the SSO, contact SSO@dpi.wi.gov to apply. Meals that are served without an approved application are not eligible for reimbursement.
In summer 2023, all SSO sites are expected to serve meals in a congregate (group) setting at the permitted location unless approved to serve meals non-congregately. Sites will only be approved to distribute meals in a non-congregate setting if located in a rural area that does not have congregate meal service. For more information, please view the Rural Non-congregate Meal Service Option in the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option, March 2023 document and contact SSO@dpi.wi.gov for approval.
For questions about SSO, please email: SSO@dpi.wi.gov.
Return to Resources to Transition into the 2022-23 School Year