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Summer Food Service Program Site Types

This management bulletin supersedes SFSP-01-2019 and provides updated guidance on site eligibility, site types, and site definitions in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: Summer Food Service Program Operators

Attention: Program Operators


Number: SFSP-04-2024

Date: February 2024

Reference: Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), Section 225, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and USDA Policy Memo SFSP 03-2017 Area Eligibility in Child Nutrition Programs

Supersedes: SFSP-01-2019

Subject: Summer Food Service Program Site Eligibility, Site Types, and Site Definitions


The SFSP is a federally funded program, administered by the California Department of Education (CDE), that reimburses providers who serve free, nutritious meals and snacks to children and teens in low-income areas when school is not in session.

On September 19, 2022, the USDA announced the Final Rule: Streamlining Program Requirements and Improving Integrity in the Summer Food Service Program. The Final Rule modified 7 CFR, Section 225 by further defining site eligibility requirements, different site types, and important site definitions in the SFSP.

On December 29, 2023, the USDA published the Interim Final Rule: Establishing the Summer EBT Program and Rural Non-Congregate Option in the Summer Meal Programs, which includes new definitions and requirements for non-congregate meal service in rural areas.

An SFSP site is the place where a child receives a program meal. A site may be the indoor or outdoor location where congregate meals are served, a stop on a delivery route of a mobile congregate meal service, or the distribution location or route for a non-congregate meal service. However, a child's residence is not considered a non-congregate meal site for program monitoring purposes.

Area Eligibility Requirements for Open and Restricted-Open Sites

Open and restricted-open sites must be located in “areas in which poor economic conditions exist”, or area eligible locations (7 CFR 225.2). Area eligible locations are geographic areas where at least 50 percent or more of the children residing in that area qualify for free or reduced-price (F/RP) meals. Program operators can determine area eligibility through any of the following methods:

  • The attendance area of a school in which at least 50 percent of the enrolled children have been determined eligible for F/RP school meals.
  • A geographic area, based on the most recent census data available, where at least 50 percent of the children residing in the area are eligible for F/RP school meals.
  • Area eligibility can also be established through documentation from other approved data sources demonstrating that at least 50 percent of the children in the geographic area qualify for F/RP school meals. The other approved data sources include:
    • Departments of welfare
    • Zoning commissions
    • USDA’s Rural Development housing authorities
    • Housing and Urban Development housing authorities
    • Local housing authorities
    • Migrant organizations
    • Tribal authorities

When school or census data are used to establish area eligibility for SFSP sites, new documentation is required every five years (7 CFR 225.6[g]).

For more information on area eligibility of open and restricted-open site types, please refer to the Area Eligibility in Child Nutrition Programs management bulletin and USDA Policy Memo SFSO 03-2017 Area Eligibility in Child Nutrition Programs.

SFSP Site Types

There are three common types of sites: open sites including restricted-open sites, camps (residential and nonresidential), and closed-enrolled sites. These site types are defined in 7 CFR 225.2.

Open Sites

At open sites, meals are available to any child in the community on a first-come, first-served basis. Open sites are located in areas where 50 percent or more of the children residing in the area are eligible for F/RP school meals. Program operators may use school or census data to determine area eligibility. Participant enrollment is not necessary at an open site (7 CFR 225.2). To encourage participation and ensure access to meals, program operators must annually announce in the media serving the area from which it draws its attendance the availability of free meals (7 CFR 225.15[e]). Additional outreach strategies are recommended to encourage participation, including the use of flyers, banners, email, and social media.

Restricted-open Sites

An open site may be classified as a restricted-open site if a sponsor chooses to restrict or limit the site’s attendance for reasons of security, safety, or control. This site type may not be selected as a matter of preference or be used as an option for summer schools. The classification of an SFSP site as Restricted-open must be based on legitimate control issues (for example, due to space limitations at the feeding site) or safety concerns (e.g., construction in certain areas of the site) requiring limiting access to the site. Meals at this site type must be offered on a first come, first served basis, and sponsors must demonstrate the need for this option to the satisfaction of the CDE (7 CFR 225.2).


Camps are sites that offer regularly scheduled food service along with organized activities for enrolled residential or day participants. Unlike open and restricted-open sites, sponsors of both residential and nonresidential camps do not have to establish area eligibility. However, they must collect and maintain individual income eligibility applications. Camps are only reimbursed for meals served to enrolled children who meet the F/RP meals eligibility standards (7 CFR 225.16[b][1]). Failure to properly document individual children’s eligibility and maintain appropriate records may result in meals served being disallowed and not eligible for reimbursement.

For more information on determining individual income eligibility for camp participants, please refer to 7 CFR, Section 225.15(f).

Closed-enrolled Sites

Closed-enrolled sites are sites which serve only enrolled children, as opposed to the community at large. At least 50 percent of the enrolled children at the closed-enrolled site must be eligible for F/RP school meals (7 CFR 225.2).

In accordance with 7 CFR 225.6(a)(2), the CDE must establish criteria for approving closed-enrolled sites to ensure that the operation of a closed-enrolled site does not limit program access in the area where the site is located. The CDE requires closed-enrolled sites to establish eligibility through the individual income eligibility of the children attending the site. This can be achieved by either:

  • Obtaining aggregate data certifying eligibility status of enrolled children for free and reduced-price meals from schools where the children receive meals under the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program
  • Requesting that parents or guardians of enrolled children complete an income eligibility form

The CDE may permit a closed-enrolled site to operate and use area eligibility to determine site eligibility if at least one of the following criteria is met:

  1. A site may operate as closed-enrolled using area eligibility if there is a documented safety concern at the meal site.
  2. A site may operate as closed-enrolled if there is another nearby open site. In this case, the site operates as closed-enrolled to protect program integrity and prevent duplication of meal services.
Additional Site Definitions

The following are additional important site definitions codified in 7 CFR 225.2.

Vended Site

A vended site is one that serves unitized meals, with or without milk, that were procured through a formal agreement or contract with: (a) public agencies or entities such as a school food authority; (b) private, nonprofit organizations; or (c) private, for-profit companies such as a commercial food distributor or food service management company (7 CFR 225.2).

Self-preparation Site

A self-preparation site is a site that prepares the majority of meals that will be served at its site or receives meals prepared at its sponsors’ central kitchen. The site does not contract with a food service management company for unitized meals, with or without milk, or for management services (7 CFR 225.2).

Please note: A site may operate as both vended and self-prep, if more than one meal is offered.

Unaffiliated Site

An unaffiliated site is a site that is legally distinct from the sponsor (7 CFR 225.2).

New Site

A new site is a site which did not participate in the program in the prior year, an experienced site that is proposing to operate a non-congregate meal service for the first time, or as determined by the CDE, a site which has experienced significant staff turnover from the prior year (7 CFR 225.2).

Rural Site

The Interim Final Rule expanded the definition of a rural site in the SFSP. A rural site means:

  • A rural site is any area in a county which is not a part of a Metropolitan Statistical Area based on the Office of Management and Budget's Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas;
  • Any area in a county classified as a non-metropolitan area based on USDA Economic Research Service's Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Urban Influence Codes;
  • Any census tract classified as a non-metropolitan area based on USDA Economic Research Service's Rural-Urban Commuting Area codes;
  • Any area of a Metropolitan Statistical Area which is not part of a Census Bureau-defined urban area;
  • Any area of a state which is not part of an urban area as determined by the secretary;
  • Any subsequent substitution or update of the aforementioned classification schemes that Federal governing bodies create; or
  • Any pocket within a Metropolitan Statistical Area which, at the option of the CDE and with approval from the USDA Food and Nutrition Services Western Region Office, is determined rural in character based on other data sources.
Meal Service Options for SFSP Sites

Urban sites are required to serve congregate meals. Rural sites can be approved by the CDE to provide either a congregate or a non-congregate meal service. These meal service options are further defined in 7 CFR 225.2.

Congregate Meal Service

A congregate meal service is a food service at which meals that are provided to children are consumed on site in a supervised setting.

Non-congregate Meal Service

A non-congregate meal service is a food service at which meals are provided for children to consume all the components off site. Non-congregate meal service must only be operated at sites designated as “Rural” with no “Congregate meal service,” as determined in 7 CFR 225.6(h)(3) and 7 CFR 225.6(h)(4).

Conditional non-congregate Site

A conditional non-congregate site is a site which qualifies for Program participation because it conducts a non-congregate meal service for eligible children in an area that does not meet the definition of areas in which poor economic conditions exist and is not a Camp, as defined in this section.

Compliance Notification

Program operators are required to accurately report site information to the CDE, including properly classifying the site type and eligibility data in each SFSP site application in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (7 CFR 225.6[a][3]). Documentation demonstrating that the eligibility requirements for each site are met, as outlined in sections 225.2 and 225.6(g) of 7 CFR, must be retained with the sponsors records and made available upon request.

Eligibility requirements for rural non-congregate and conditional non-congregate sites are more restrictive. Documentation supporting rural designation is required and must be provided to and approved by the CDE prior to any rural site's approval. New documentation is required every 5 years (7 CFR 225.6[g]).

If a program operator incorrectly reports site information, the CDE may require a site to cease operations and may disallow all meals served at that site.

Contact Information

If you have questions regarding this subject, please contact the Summer Nutrition Programs and Grants Unit by email at

Questions:   Summer Nutrition Programs |
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, April 03, 2024
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