Policy and Handbooks for Summer Meal Programs
Policy Updates and News   

All the most current resources you need to successfully operate the Summer Meal Programs are available here. TDA keeps this page updated with any new policy updates and news, including the following:

  • Handbook release notices with update summaries
  • Form release notices
  • Brand new policy updates that haven’t yet been updated within the handbooks
  • FAQs and other resources, as required

Please bookmark this page and check back periodically.

May 31, 2024 - RELEASE: Waiver Request to Serve Summer Non-Congregate Meals in Cases of Extreme Heat/Poor Air Quality
TDA has released the new Waiver Request to Server Summer Non-Congregate Meals in Cases of Extreme Heat/Poor Air Quality. This form must be used to report non-congregate meals served at outdoor SFSP or SSO sites when one or both of the following has occurred in the area where the site is located:


  • Information on this form, including number of non-congregate meals served, must be reported for each individual site that served non-congregate meals on the reported date.
  • CEs must submit one form for each day this waiver was used, although information for multiple sites operating on a single day can be entered.
  • Sites must upload proof of the heat or air quality event (available from the sites listed above)
  • Sites cannot serve non-congregate meals if there is an alternative, temperature-controlled site available to serve meals in a congregate setting.
  • Meals served under this waiver must be served to children. Parent/Guardian pickup without a child present is not allowable under this waiver.
  • Only a single day’s meals may be bundled at a time. Multi-day bundling is not allowed.
  • Meal service times cannot be changed within 24 hours of the service time listed on the site application. If meal service times are changed, the site must make every effort to notify the community and post signage at the site about the time change.

To access the form, in TX-UNPS, go to either the SFSP or SSO module, select Applications, and then Download Forms (Form SFSP-009 for SFSP and Form SNP-009 for SSO). Note that the form can also be accessed from the waiver portal located in SNP-000.

May 22, 2024 - RELEASE: New and Updated Summer Non-Congregate FAQs and Forms
TDA has released the following new prototype forms to assist rural summer operators in documenting operational activities related to non-congregate service:


Additionally, Summer Non-Congregate FAQs have been updated with new clarifying guidance. Please visit the Summer Non-Congregate Feeding Program page on SquareMeals (https://squaremeals.org/Programs/Summer-Meal-Programs/Summer-Non-Congregate-Feeding-Program) to access the forms and the FAQs. The forms are also located on the NSLP and Summer Meals Administration/Forms pages, as applicable.

May 13, 2024 - RELEASE: USDA SFSP Administration Guide

USDA has released the USDA Summer Food Service Program Administration Guide, which supersedes the previous USDA Administrative Guidance for Sponsors Handbook that was last released in 2016. The new SFSP Administration Guide describes the policies and best practices for successful operation of traditional in-person summer meal sites and alternate meal service options for rural communities. It is tailored to anyone who is interested in learning program policy including, but not limited to, how to participate, apply, administer, and operate the SFSP at various levels.

Note that TDA is still providing additional guidance via the SFSP Supplemental Handbook, and efforts to consolidate USDA's guidance and information from the Supplemental Handbook into a comprehensive TDA SFSP Handbook are currently underway.

USDA's SFSP Administration Guide is linked under the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Handbooks heading below.

May 2, 2024 - RELEASE: Excess Net Cash Resources Plan for CACFP and SFSP
TDA has released a new form for CACFP and SFSP operators that have exceeded the allowable amount of net cash resources to be maintained in the non-profit food service account at any given time (CACFP - 3 months' average expenditure, SFSP only - 1 month average expenditures). This form should be used for internal planning should net cash resources exceed the required limit. As applicable, operators may have to submit the spending plan to TDA in response to required corrective action. This form is available on both the CACFP and Summer Meal Programs Administration/Forms pages.

April 30, 2024 - RELEASE: Updated SFSP Supplemental Handbook
TDA has released an updated SFSP Supplemental Handbook, featuring numerous updates, including material incorporated from USDA's handbook. All updates are listed in the table at the beginning of the document, and updated content is highlighted in yellow throughout. Note that consolidation of USDA's handbook and TDA's Supplemental Handbook will be ongoing throughout the year.


April 17, 2024 - Extreme Heat/Air Quality Non-Congregate Waivers Available in Summer 2024
USDA has approved TDA's request to allow SFSP or SSO non-congregate service on days in which a Heat Advisory/Heat Warning is issued by the National Weather Service, or an Air Quality Index "purple" flag or higher is issued. All operators must notify TDA via the Extreme Heat/Air Quality Non-Congregate Waiver Request form (updated version coming soon) and submit the form for each day that non-congregate meals were served. Note that rural SFSP or SSO sites already approved for non-congregate service do not need to submit this form.

While a site does not need approval prior to serving non-congregate meals under these conditions, TDA will verify that there was an officially declared extreme heat or air quality warning for the affected area and notify the sponsor that the non-congregate meals served on the requested day are allowable. Any non-congregate meals served on days when these warnings were not in effect will be disallowed, as will any non-congregate meals served on days for which a request form was not submitted.


April 5, 2024 - RELEASE: Rural Summer Non-Congregate Request Form and Resources
The request form for eligible SFSP and SSO operators wanting to serve non-congregate summer meals in rural areas this summer is now open and available on the
Summer Non-Congregate Feeding Program page. Before submitting the form, Contracting Entities should complete the following:


  • Using the Summer 2024 Non-Congregate Eligibility Map, first validate that the intended site is rural and is more than 2 miles away from the next nearest site.
  • Read the posted Non-Congregate FAQs very carefully. Requirements for non-congregate feeding have changed since non-congregate feeding was allowable statewide during the pandemic. Operators should know what is expected of a successful non-congregate site and evaluate its operations to determine if the site can be in compliance. Note that these FAQs serve as the official "handbook" for Summer Non-Congregate service until updates to the official program handbooks can be made.
  • If the site is rural and in good standing, ensure that a site application has been submitted in TX-UNPS prior to submitting the Non-Congregate Request Form. Sites must be approved or conditionally approved within TX-UNPS prior to being approved for non-congregate service.

All interested operators are encouraged to register for the Overview of Summer Non-Congregate Feeding webinar being held April 17, 2024, at 2:00 pm. Please register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ww6JyNsRSIeuhzZGwaN8Xg

An additional presentation will also be given at this year’s MegaCon conference. Operators are encouraged to start preparing now. After reading the FAQs, think about flexibilities that make sense for your site, procedures that must be developed, and strategic site locations. Note that the application process requires more information than years past per guidance from USDA. Please consult with your Education Service Center about any questions you may have after reading through all of TDA's guidance.

February 9, 2024 - RELEASE: School Data for Area Eligibility Report
TDA must, on an annual basis, publish a list of schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in which at least one-half of the children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. The School Data for Area Eligibility 2023-2024 report, based on October 2023 claims data for non-CEP schools and the April 2023 CEP ISP report for CEP schools, has been posted to SquareMeals in the following locations:


January 4, 2024 - RELEASE: NEW Duplicative Costs FAQ
TDA has released
 a set of FAQs related to duplicative costs. A duplicative cost is an unallowable expense that results from a Contracting Entity (CE) paying for the same service under multiple contracts using federal funding. Duplicative costs occur when a CE enters a contract for a service currently provided by TDA or partners of TDA, including Education Service Centers (ESCs) and the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN). The Duplicative Costs FAQs are posted on the NSLP, CACFP, and Summer Programs Resources pages (under Policy Documents). This guidance will also be added to Program handbooks in future updates.

October 26, 2023 - RELEASE: New Micro-Purchase Log
TDA has released a new Micro-Purchase Log for SFSP on the Summer Meals Program Administration/Forms page. This optional form allows Contracting Entities to track all informal micro-purchase transactions and associated information throughout the Program Year.

USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Handbooks  Minimize 
To read the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) handbooks, visit the USDA SFSP handbooks page at https://www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/administration-guide.

TDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Supplemental Handbook  Minimize 

Within the TDA SFSP Supplemental Handbook (updated April 30, 2024), TDA provides additional guidance that clarifies and/or supplements policy provided by USDA in the Administrative Guidance for Sponsors (AGS) and policy memos. The TDA SFSP Supplemental Handbook models the organizational structure of AGS, for the CE’s ease of use. Note that TDA is currently in the process of consolidating information from USDA's SFSP Handbook with information currently in the SFSP Supplemental Handbook so that SFSP operators have a single handbook to reference for program guidance

USDA Policy Memos  Minimize 
USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issues policy memoranda to provide guidance on implementing SFSP. Click here to see these memos on the USDA site.

Seamless Summer Option (SSO) Policy  Minimize 
For guidance on operating the SSO, CEs should refer to Section 11 of the Administrator’s Reference Manual (ARM) by clicking here. This section of the ARM also provides guidance on the Texas Summer Mandate.

Is a food item creditable? Find out with the Food Buying Guide

Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help. Additional translations services available as well.

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ad-3027.pdf, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

1. Mail:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
2. Fax: (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
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