School and Community Nutrition

Seamless Summer Option

Published: 6/27/2018 8:23 AM

An Opportunity for Schools

Children need good nutrtion all year long.  The National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs along with Seamless Summer Option and the Summer Food Service Program make it possible for schools to provide nutritious meals after the regular school year ends.

Schools participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program are eligible to apply for the Seamless Summer Option.

Seamless Summer Option has less paperwork, making it easier for schools to feed children during the traditional summer vacation periods and for year round schools, long school vacation periods.  Once approved by the State Agency, the school serves meals free of charge to children, including teenagers through age 18, under the school meal program rules.  Meals are reimbursed at the free rates for school lunches, school breakfasts, and afterschool snacks which are lower than the Summer Food Service Program rates.  Please click here for more information.

What is the Right Option for Your School?

Which program will be the best option for serving meals to children in your community?  To help you decide, we have created a chart to show how Traditional School Meals, Seamless Summer Options and the Summer Food Service Program wll compare.  A video is also available for comparison purposes. 

On this page you will find the basics of SSO.  For complete details of how to operate the SSO option in Kentucky please follow the ​Kentucky SSO Guidance Manual.

How does SSO work?

School Food Authorities (SFAs) participating in the NSLP or SBP are eligible to apply for the Seamless Summer Option. Once approved through their governing state agency, SFAs serve meals free of charge to children, 18 years and under, from low-income areas.

The types of sites allowed to participate in this option include:

Open sites: all children eat free in communities where at least 50% of the children are eligible for free/reduced priced school meals.

Restricted open sites: sites that meet the open site criteria, explained above, but are later restricted for safety, control, or security reasons.

Closed enrolled sites: may be in any community for an enrolled group of low-income children and meets the 50% criteria explained above. This excludes academic summer schools.

Migrant sites: serving children of migrant families.

Camps:  residential or non-residential camps.

The same NSLP and SBP rules apply for meal service. Meals served are reimbursed at the NSLP and/or SBP "free" rates.

A memorandum and attachment, which clarify policy and frequently asked questions is available.  A few questions that may help one determine if this program is right for your SFA include (but are not limited to):
1.) What are the requirements for SSO site (including schools) applications?
At a minimum, SFAs must submit the following information for each site to the State agency for application approval:
  • Name, address, and phone number of each site;
  • An indication of whether the site would operate for schools that have a year-round school calendar and provide services for the duration of vacation periods;
  • Type of site (Open, Restricted Open, Closed Enrolled, Migrant, or Camps)
  • Name of the organization(s) that will operate the site for the SFA (if applicable);
  • Types of meals, including day(s) of week and time(s) of day, served; and
  • Additional information listed below for the particular type of site.

2.) The regulations define a school year as July 1 through June 30, and the new income eligibility guidelines (IEGs) become effective July 1.  Since SSO sites may be operational across two School Years, can eligibility information from the prior school year continue to be used and which IEGs should be used?
The information from the School Year that ended on June 30th may be used to determine area eligibility.  If an application is submitted to determine an individual child’s eligibility, the SFA would use the IEGs in effect at the time an application was processed.

3.) Are State agencies required to provide training to SFAs approved to operate SSO? 
There is no mandatory training, but FNS strongly encourages State agencies to provide training and technical assistance to SFAs based on their assessment of the need for training.  It is especially important for State agencies to properly train SFAs that sponsor non-school sites on the appropriate procedures for operating SSO at non-school location. 
4.) Once approved to operate the SSO, must site eligibility be re-determined each year?
Any SSO sites that participate on the basis of area eligibility using school or census data are certified under that data for 5 years. State agencies are prohibited from requiring more frequent area eligibility redeterminations unless the State agency is aware of significant economic changes in the area. 
Sites that participate on the basis of individual children’s eligibility, such as closed enrolled sites and camps, must re-determine their eligibility each year. 
Reimbursement Rates:
  • Meals are reimbursed at the "free" rates prescribed by USDA for NSLP and SBP; and
  • Those who qualify will receive Severe Need Breakfast Rates, Extra $.02 Differential for lunch and supper meals, and the Performance-based $.06 for lunches and suppers served under the SSO.
Innovative Strategies to Increase Participation
  • See strategies to recruit new sites and sponsors and increase participation. 



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Office of Finance and Operations
Division of School and Community Nutrition
2 Hudson Hollow Rd., Suite B
Frankfort, KY 40601-4311
(502) 564-5625
Fax (502) 564-5519

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