Successful Non-Congregate Meal Service Models for Rural Areas: Implementation Guide

In approved states beginning summer 2023, Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and NSLP Seamless Summer Option (SSO) sponsors can operate non-congregate programs in rural communities without access to a congregate meal site.

For more information, check out USDA's guidance: 

This resource outlines effective models for non-congregate meal service. Use this guide to find strategies and tactics to execute a successful non-congregate summer meals program in your rural community.

Please reach out to your state agency to confirm the availability of non-congregate meal service and allowable models. Note: States are not required to make the non-congregate option available this summer. State agencies had to submit a plan to USDA for approval by April 1, 2023 to allow non-congregate meal service in summer 2023.

This resource includes:

  • Important definitions related to non-congregate meal service and rural areas

  • Considerations for non-congregate meal service

  • Meal service models (descriptions, tips, and considerations)

    • Drive-thru or crubside pick-up

    • Walk-up distributions

    • Mobile route distributions

    • Direct home delivery

  • Logistical considerations including equipment lists

  • Communication strategies

  • Tips for partnerships 

You can look up a site's rural and area eligibility status with No Kid Hungry's Summer Meals Eligibility Map. The map includes area eligibility data along with rural eligibility for non-congregate meal service.