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Summer Meal Site Proximity Requirements

This management bulletin supersedes SNP-24-2019, SFSP-04-2019 and provides guidance on the quarter mile site proximity requirements for Seamless Summer Option (SSO) and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Operators.

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: Summer Food Service Program Operators

Attention: Program Operators

 

Number: SNP-01-2024; SFSP-05-2024

Date: February 2024

Reference: Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), Section 225, SFSP 15-2023 Best Practices for Determining Proximity of Sites in the Summer Food Service Program; SFSP-05-2017 Summer Food Service Program Questions and Answers; SP 09-2017 2017 Edition of Questions and Answers for the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option

Supersedes: SNP-24-2019; SFSP-04-2019

Subject: Summer Meal Site Proximity Requirements


Background

The California Department of Education (CDE) must ensure that Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) service sites are not serving the same group of children for the same meal type per 7 CFR, Section 225.6(h)(1)(ii) and SP 09-2017 2017 Edition of Questions and Answers for the National School Lunch Program’s SSO. To meet these regulations, the CDE requires a quarter mile (0.25 miles) or greater distance between summer meal sites.

Exceptions to the Site Proximity Requirement

The CDE recognizes that there may be exceptions to the minimum distance requirement to ensure sufficient access to meals. On a case-by-case basis, the CDE may approve two or more sites that are less than one quarter mile apart. Examples of exceptions to the quarter mile requirement may include:

  • Physical conditions that limit access to a meal site, such as:
    • Lack of sidewalks
    • A busy highway that cuts through a neighborhood
    • Other conditions that would pose a safety risk to children walking from one site to another
  • Sites that appeal to specialized groups of children (these types of sites must use a method, such as hand stamping, that ensures that children do not receive duplicative meals), which may include:
    • Specific age groups, such as when a site at an elementary school attracts primarily young children, while a site at a nearby teen center attracts primarily teens
    • Children with special dietary requirements, such as for kosher or halal meals
  • Timing (offering the same, short meal service times to avoid the possibility of children traveling from one site to another)
  • Adjacent site types are closed-enrolled or camp

While typically a site may only have one SFSP/SSO operator, there are circumstances under which more than one operator may service a site. For example, an SSO operator may serve breakfast at a site, while another SSO or SFSP operator serves lunch at this same site. These meal services may be allowed (SP 09-2017, Question 16); however, the proximity circumstances must still be noted in the respective site application(s), and supporting documentation retained. 

Should multiple operators apply to serve for the same site or same group of children in the same geographical area, the CDE will approve sites based on a priority list required by 7 CFR 225.6(b)(5). The priority list for sponsoring agencies is as follows:

  • Public or nonprofit private school food authorities 
  • Public and private nonprofit organizations that have successfully operated the SFSP in a prior year 
  • New public agencies
  • New private nonprofit organization operators 

The CDE may also take additional factors into consideration before approving the sites for service, including, but not limited to: submission date; viability, capability, and accountability; term and consistency of operator service; and whether the operator can demonstrate full effort to prevent an overlap of services.

Compliance

SFSP and SSO operators must use their Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) site applications to report if they are under one quarter mile away from another site. Program operators must explain any methods that are implemented to prevent an overlap of services.

Sponsors must retain documentation of the barriers and provide it to the CDE upon request.

The CDE is required under federal regulations to ensure that all program operators accurately report their compliant site information in each SFSP or SSO site application (7 CFR 225.6[a][3]) in CNIPS. 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. Therefore, it is important for operators to accurately report their site services. 

Resources

The CDE has developed instructions to help operators navigate meeting this site application requirement. Operators can find a complete step by step guide on the CNIPS Download Forms page.

  • SFSP Operators: Form ID SFSP Job Aid 7 Site Proximity Job Aid
  • SSO Operators: Form ID Instructions SSO Site Proximity Job Aid
Contact Information

If you have questions regarding this subject, please email SFSP@cde.ca.gov to be directed to your SFSP Specialist, or SSFO@cde.ca.gov to be directed to your SSO Specialist.

Questions:   Summer Nutrition Programs | SFSP@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Thursday, February 22, 2024
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