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Seamless Summer Option (SSO)


School Food Authorities (SFAs) participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) are eligible to apply for the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) to serve free meals 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. Meals are reimbursed at the “free” rates for the NSLP, SBP, or Afterschool Snack Program.

Schools seeking options for summer food service are encouraged to provide free meals in 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. If your District is interested in operating the SFSP for the first time, please contact Amy Kolano at (608) 266-7124.

For an overview of the SSO, watch the SSO e-Learning course. 

Eligibility Requirements

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: 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 to discuss further.

Once established, area eligibility remains in effect for five years.

Divided plate with utensils

Summer 2024 Application

To operate the SSO in summer 2024, an approved application is required prior to providing SSO meals. To request an application, email the following information to

  • SFA name
  • Agency Code
  • Site(s) at which meals will be provided
  • Dates of SSO operation

Family under roof

Non-congregate Feeding

SFAs operating the SSO may provide non-congregate meals in rural areas when a traditional congregate meal service is not available or feasible. State agency approval is required.

To request approval to provide non-congregate meals email We will contact you to discuss your plan.


General Information and Program Outreach

Site Type

Each SSO site must be designated as one of the following site types:
  • Open - all children eat free in communities, age 18 and under, including children who may not be enrolled in the district.

  • Restricted Open - sites that meet the open site criteria, explained above, but are later restricted for safety, control, or security reasons. Serves children age 18 and under.

  • Closed Enrolled - sites that serve only an identified group of children age 18 and under, who are participating in a specific program or activity. Closed enrolled sites can only serve enrolled children. If the site has summer school, it cannot be closed enrolled.

  • Camps- May be a residential or non-residential camp (day camp) and must offer regularly scheduled food service as part of an organized program for enrolled children. Area eligibility cannot be used to establish camp eligibility; eligibility must be established for each enrolled child.

Program Outreach - Family Letter Templates

SFAs may use these templates to announce to families about their participation in the SSO. Program outreach is required; however, these letters are optional.

Meal Types and Meal Pattern

Meal Types

The maximum number of meals that may be offered under the SSO is up to two meals, or one meal and one snack, per child, per day, in any combination except lunch and supper.

Meal Pattern

SFAs that participate in the SSO must follow the SBP, NSLP, or ASP meal pattern requirements. All meals or snacks must be documented on the SBP and NSLP production record templates.

Meal Counting and Claiming

Point of Service


  • SSO Claiming Manual
  • All meals served in the SSO are claimed in the 'free' category.
  • Meals may be claimed for all children age 18 and under for open or restricted open sites. Closed enrolled sites may only claim meals for enrolled students.
  • Edit checks are not required for SSO sites. However, SFAs must ensure that meal counts match actual participation and claims reflect the number of meals served.
  • SSO Meals are claimed at the approved SSO school site where the meals are provided.

  • When providing SSO meals at non-school locations, meals are claimed at the school site indicated in your SSO application.

Onsite Monitoring

Each year, SFAs are required to review each SSO site at least once during its operation. The SFA must review the site’s compliance with meal counting, claiming, menu planning, and food safety requirements. Document all site monitoring using the SSO Site Review Form.

Celebrate Summer!

WI Cucumber Crunch Logo

Promote farm to school in the summer by participating in the Cucumber Crunch! Pick any date this summer and have staff and children crunch into local cucumbers or another local vegetable that is in-season.


For questions about SSO, please email: