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Rural Designations in the Summer Meal Programs

On January 19, 2024, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the release of a revised policy memorandum, Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) 04-2024, SP 06-2024: Rural Designations in the Summer Meal Programs – Revised.

This memorandum has been updated to include revisions to the definition of rural as provided in the interim final rule, Establishing the Summer EBT Program and Rural Non-Congregate Option in the Summer Meal Programs External link opens in new window or tab., published in the Federal Register on December 29, 2023.

Revised Definition of Rural:

The revised definition allows the use of multiple recognized federal definitions and classifications to designate areas as rural without further USDA approval, as well as the option for the California Department of Education (CDE) with Food and Nutrition Service Regional Office approval, to identify additional pockets that are rural in character based on other data sources. The revised definition will ease administrative burden and streamline the site identification and approval process for the CDE and Program Operators.

In addition to the revised definition of rural, the Food and Nutrition Service Rural Designation Map External link opens in new window or tab. has been updated and is included in the memorandum. This tool can assist sponsors in identifying rural sites.

The complete policy can be viewed on the USDA Summer Food Service Program web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Program Operators are encouraged to view the updated Rural Designation Map and determine if their existing summer meal sites are now considered rural and eligible for non-congregate meal service.

The CDE will issue a management bulletin on this topic as deemed necessary.

Contact Information

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

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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