|January 12, 2024
|SFSP 03-2024, SP 05-2024
|Implementation Guidance for the Rural Non-congregate Option Provisions of the Interim Final Rule, Establishing the Summer EBT Program and Rural Non-Congregate Option in the Summer Meal Programs
Child Nutrition Programs
Child Nutrition Programs
On Dec. 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (the Act) (PL 117-328). The Act amended section 13 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, 42 USC 1761, to include the authorization of a permanent, rural non-congregate meal service through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) which the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is extending to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Seamless Summer Option (SSO). Per the statutory requirement, on Dec. 29, 2023, FNS published an interim final rule, Establishing the Summer EBT Program and Rural Non-Congregate Option in the Summer Meal Programs. This rulemaking, effective Dec. 29, 2023, codified the permanent rural non-congregate summer meal service for both SFSP and SSO, as well as created the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children Program (summer EBT). While non-congregate summer meal service for rural areas was initially implemented through FNS guidance during summer 2023, that guidance is superseded by the interim final rule.
This memorandum includes an attachment highlighting key information on the new regulatory requirements for non-congregate summer meal service in rural areas. The attachment:
- Reviews previously applicable regulatory requirements,
- Specifies previously applicable FNS guidance, including summer 2023 initial implementation guidance, and
- Details the regulatory changes effected by the interim final rule.
FNS intends to issue additional guidance for implementation of the rural non-congregate summer meal service provisions, including Q&As.
FNS appreciates the exceptional efforts of state agencies and local program operators working to meet the nutritional needs of participants during the summer months. SFSP and SSO rely on innovative and collaborative efforts to provide summer meals to children in need. We look forward to working with our program partners and other stakeholders to support administration and operation of the non-congregate meal service for rural communities.
State agencies are reminded to distribute this memorandum to program operators immediately. Program operators should direct any questions concerning this guidance to their state agency. State agencies with questions should contact the appropriate FNS regional office.
J. Kevin Maskornick
Community Meals Policy Division