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Seamless Summer Option (SSO)

Information about the federal Seamless Summer Option opportunity that allows public schools to combine features of the School Nutrition Programs and the Summer Food Service Program along with reduced paperwork requirements.

The Seamless Summer Option (SSO) is a federal and state funded program that encourages school food authorities (SFA) participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP) to provide meals in low-income areas during the summer. The SSO combines features of the NSLP, SBP, and Summer Food Service Program. Program Operators of the SSO may operate at community or recreational centers, libraries, camps, schools, and other eligible summer meal sites. Participating in the SSO reduces paperwork, administrative burdens, and makes it easier for SFAs to feed children in low-income areas during traditional summer vacation periods and during school vacation periods of longer than ten days for year-round schools.

For SSO content related to COVID-19 in the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP), visit the California Department of Education (CDE) COVID-19 Guidance in the CNPs web page.

Meal Pattern Requirements

Program operators of the SSO are required to use the meal patterns and dietary specifications established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop menus and serve meals to students. Below are meal patterns that SSO program operators must use for each meal.

Meal Meal Pattern Description
Breakfast SBP Meal Pattern In the SSO, when program operators offer breakfast, they must use the SBP meal pattern.
Lunch NSLP Meal Pattern In the SSO, when program operators offer lunch, they must use the NSLP meal pattern.
Supper NSLP Meal Pattern In the SSO, when program operators offer supper, they must use the NSLP meal pattern.
Snack Snack (Supplement) Meal Pattern External link opens in new window or tab. In the SSO, when program operators offer a snack, they must use the Snack (Supplement) Meal Pattern.

For questions and answers regarding meal service, please visit the CDE SSO Frequently Asked Questions, and select the Meal Service and Claiming link.

How to Apply

To apply for the SSO, SFAs must update their Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) External link opens in new window or tab. account by adding participating sites to the site application(s) Seamless Summer link for each proposed site that plans to operate the SSO. Please remember to apply at least 30 days prior to the start of your SSO program.

Reminder: To ensure all program requirements are met, please consult with your program specialist prior to beginning meal service.

In addition, the CDE is required under federal regulations to ensure that all program sponsors accurately report their site service information in the CNIPS. Therefore, if a program sponsor incorrectly reports their service information, the CDE may disallow all meals served at that site. This information is also used to populate the site finder information on the California (CA) Meals for Kids mobile application and the USDA and CDE web pages so it is important that this information be accurate. If you have any questions regarding the status of your SSO sites, please contact the Community Nutrition Programs Unit by phone at 916-324-6153, or by email at, to be directed to your SSO specialist.

SSO Guidance


Resource Description
CDE CA Meals for Kids Mobile Application web page The CA Meals for Kids mobile application helps to find nearby California Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs (SMP) sites through iOS, Android, or Microsoft devices.
CDE Farm to Summer Celebration Week web page This web page provides information about Farm to Summer Celebration Week for SMP operators. It includes background, celebration activities, trainings, partners, resources, previous awardees, and contact information.
CDE CNP Course Catalog web page Visit the CNP Course Catalog database for assistance with professional standards requirements, professional development, and compliance needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers regarding the SSO provides additional program participation and operation information. To access FAQs, visit the CDE SSO Frequently Asked Questions web page.


If you have further questions regarding the SSO, please contact the Summer Meals Unit by email at to be directed to your SMPs specialist.

Follow @CDENutrition on Twitter.

Questions:   Summer Meals Unit | 916-324-6153
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, April 28, 2021
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