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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
February 1, 2024

Dear Child Nutrition Program Partners,

2024 Summer Meal Programs

The California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division is excited to announce the start of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) season. The SFSP and SSO are federally funded, state-administered programs that serve free meals to children ages eighteen and younger when school is out of session. Summer meals provide children with access to essential nutrition during school closures and summer break periods.

Summer meal sites are located in communities where at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. All meals must meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition requirements. Paperwork or personal information is not required for children to participate. Organizations eligible to participate in Summer Meal Programs include schools, camps, nonprofits, tribal governments, and government agencies. Sponsor Applications are due by May 15, 2024.

After successful pilots last summer, the USDA has announced some exciting new changes that will go into effect for summer 2024. Organizations participating in the Summer Meal Programs in rural areas will have the opportunity to serve meals in a non-congregate manner. This policy change will allow for children in rural areas to have increased access to nutritious meals over the summer months. Organizations in rural communities can choose to deliver meals, provide multiple days worth of meals at a time, and allow for parents and guardians of children to pick up meals on their behalf.

In addition to non-congregate feeding, the USDA has also released a series of new policies designed to streamline the administration of the Summer Meal Programs while also protecting program integrity. Combined with the launch of the permanent Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer Program, the Summer Meal Programs align more closely with California’s commitment to Universal Meals more than ever before. The CDE will soon be announcing listening sessions, SFSP training opportunities and releasing a series of new management bulletins to support organizations operating the Summer Meal Programs.

For more information about Summer Meal Programs, visit CDE's Summer Meal Programs web page at For more information about the California Universal Meals Program, visit the CDE Nutrition What's New web page at If your agency is interested in becoming a sponsor or hosting a meal site, contact the Summer Meals Unit by email at

The CDE encourages program partners to share the value of the Summer Meal programs with partnering agencies that may be able to reach communities in need. This includes rural community partners, migrant farm worker organizations, tribal leaders and any other organizations working to combat hunger in the state of California. Partners can promote Summer Meal Sites in your communities. Sites can be located on the CDE's Summer Meal Service Site web page at In addition, you can locate summer meals from your mobile phone by downloading the CDE CA Meals for Kids Mobile Application at

Nutrition Services Division

California Department of Education

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Last Reviewed: Tuesday, February 13, 2024
Related Content
  • CA Meals for Kids Mobile Application
    A mobile application that locates nearby California Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs sites.
  • Summer Meal Programs
    Federal meal programs for children from low-income areas during vacation and off-track periods.
  • Summer Meal Service Sites
    Provides parents and referral agencies with a list of locations where children may receive free nutritious meals during school vacation and off-track periods.

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