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. For qualifying information for the SFSP complete the New Agency Information Form - SFAs or contact Amy Kolano at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 266-7124.
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 SSO@dpi.wi.gov to discuss further.
Once established, area eligibility remains in effect for five years.
- SP 09-2017: Questions and Answers for the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option
- Rural Non-Congregate Meals in the SSO In a Nutshell
- Rural Designation Map
- Interim Final Rule: Establishing the Summer EBT Program and Rural Non-Congregate Option in the Summer Meal Programs
- SSO Requirements Checklist
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: SSO@dpi.wi.gov.