Seamless Summer Option
On this page...
Seamless Summer Option (SSO) during COVID-19
USDA has issued a nationwide waiver that allows School Food Authorities (SFAs) the option of operating the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)/School Breakfast Program (SBP) or the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) when school is open during the regular school year, effective July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.
Utilize the NSLP/SBP and SSO Comparison Chart information to determine which meal program best meets the needs of your school.
Contact your assigned Nutrition Program Consultant for more information.
SFAs participating in the NSLP or SBP, including Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs), are eligible to apply for the SSO. SFAs may serve meals free of charge to children, age 18 years and under and those persons over age 18 who meet the definition of mentally or physically disabled.
Utilize the SFSP and SSO Comparison Chart information to determine which meal program best meets the needs of your summer season operation.
Flexibility for School Year 2021-22
During school year 2021-22, traditional SSO eligibility requirements have been waived, allowing all SFAs to participate under SSO during COVID–19 operations to facilitate the safe provision of meals in an accessible manner and eliminates the need to collect meal payments, including cash payments, at meal sites.
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 overall attendance is restricted for safety, control, or security reasons.
- 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, such as students enrolled in a specific school. If the site wishes to serve siblings of enrolled students and/or other children in the community, not enrolled in school, these sites should be classified as open or restricted open sites.
During the school year 2021-22, SSO meals will be reimbursed at the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) self-prep/rural combined reimbursement rates, instead of the traditional NSLP/SBP rates.
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 Flexibility
- SFAs must request State Agency approval for the sodium flexibilities. Approval will be given for the entire school year.
- SFAs will meet the meal pattern requirements to the greatest extent possible, however meal pattern requirements listed below may be waived on a case by case basis by the State Agency:
- All grains offered be whole grain-rich;
- At least one serving per day, across all eating occasions for preschoolers, must be whole grain-rich;
- Offer a variety of vegetables from the vegetable subgroups;
- Offer at least two different options of fluid milk;
- Low-fat milk must be unflavored; and
- Plan menus and offer food components for specified age/grade groups.
Production records are required when serving meals under SSO. Sites operating the SSO may document meals served using the same production record templates used for meals served in the SBP and NSLP.
Point of Service
Student names and eligibility status are not needed for the SSO. Meals must be counted at the point when meals are distributed using a meal count tally form or other method, such as an electronic point of service system.
- Meal count records must be maintained for all meals served under SSO.
- Meals may be counted on the day distributed, but must be claimed for the day the meal is intended to be consumed.
- All meals served in the SSO are claimed in the 'free' category.
Review of meal counting, claiming and meal pattern compliance at least once during each site’s operations.
Administrative reviews consistent with NSLP/SBP requirements.
A la Carte Food Items and Beverages
Schools operating SSO during the school year may sell a la carte foods and beverages as long as they continue to meet the competitive foods Smart Snacks requirements.
Weekend and Holiday Meals
Schools may not provide SSO meals on non-instructional days, including weekends or holidays in the school year 2021-2022. Meals may be offered through the CACFP at-risk afterschool meals program during the school year on days when schools are not in session
To promote and maintain the accountability and integrity of the USDA Child Nutrition Programs, SFAs are required to implement procedures to ensure that meals are responsibly distributed to parents/guardians of eligible students, and that duplicate meals are not distributed. When providing non-congregate meals that are picked up by parents, it is important for parents to be informed to not take a meal or snack for consumption at home if that same meal or snack will be provided by the school or a local child care center or daycare home.
Integrity Sign - Sample sign that may be posted at meal distribution sites and provided to families.
USDA Nationwide Waivers for School Year 2021-22
There are a number of operational waivers in effect for school year 2021-2022 that will help streamline access, enhance program flexibility, and reduce administrative burden for SFAs operating SSO.
- Update for School Year 2021-2022
- Allow the Seamless Summer Option
- Allow Summer Food Service Program Reimbursement Rates
- Allow Non-Congregate Meal Service
- Meal Time Requirements
- Allow Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals
- Allow Specific School Meal Pattern Flexibility
- Allow Offer Versus Serve Flexibility for Senior High Schools
- Area Eligibility in the Afterschool Programs and for Family Day Care Home Providers
- Onsite Monitoring Requirements in the School Meals Programs
- Production Records: required when serving meals under SSO.
- School Meals Marketing Toolkit: developed by No Kid Hungry and includes social media images, sample social media posts, postcards and example robocall scripts.
- Meal Pattern Charts: SFAs that participate in the SSO must follow the SBP and NSLP meal pattern requirements unless utilizing an approved meal pattern waiver.
- Seamless Summer Option: Providing Multiple Meals at a Time During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic USDA Team Nutrition Resource