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School and Child and Adult Day Care Meals

Part of the COVID-19 Guidance for K-12 Schools published on March 17, 2020. Updated August 7, 2020.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Main Web Page

Schools Transition to School Year 2020–21 (Added 26-Jun-2020)

On June 25th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a series of nationwide waivers to provide flexibilities to ensure that children have access to nutritious food to help support optimal learning throughout the entire 2020-2021 School Year. This announcement extends previously issued waivers related to non-congregate feeding, meal service time requirements, parent and guardian pick-up of meals and meal pattern flexibilities. In addition, the USDA announced flexibility for offer versus serve requirements for senior high schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). These waivers are effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

A press release announcing these waivers is available on the USDA web page at https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2020/06/25/usda-provides-flexibilities-ensure-kids-receive-meals-fall.

On June 8, 2020, the CDE issued Stronger Together: A Guide for Safe Reopening of California’s Schools that includes options for blended models of instruction for schools. The reopening guide for schools can be downloaded from the CDE Stronger Together web page: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/strongertogether.asp. Because there is no one size fits all model in the face of a pandemic, blended models of instruction and meal service will vary from school site to school site to ensure social distancing practices comply with local, state and national guidance. Blended models include learning instruction that could be provided on campus or through distance learning. Schools may offer half days of instruction on campus, or choose to limit the number of students physically present on campus on any given school day. The other students may then participate in classes via distance learning. There could also be staggered shifts of students, or students on campus anywhere from zero to five days a week. There is also the possibility that all instruction is completed through distance learning. Continued access to healthy school meals is a crucial component of learning. Food Services need to adapt to all of these possible options to provide meals on campus and also be able to provide meals for students to take home during distance learning for a normal school week. The release of the USDA waiver extensions will allow Food Services to serve meals through these different scenarios.

One Example:

Half of the student population attends in-person learning opportunities four full days per week while the other half is engaged in distance learning opportunities. One day a week, all students would be engaged in distance learning. The students would alternate each week.

Food Services would provide meals to those students on campus while following social distancing practices and on the fourth day provide meals to go for the next day that is distance learning. Food Services would also provide meals for the school week to distance learning students either daily or through multiple meal (bulk meal) service pick-up.

When school opens for the 2020-2021 School Year, the Food Services will need to operate under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). This means schools will need to count and claim meals based on student eligibility, unless operating one of the provisions. Free and reduced-price meal applications will need to be completed if a school is not on a provision. All meals claimed will be either be under the NSLP and or SBP in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS). In addition, Food Services will follow the NSLP and SBP meal patterns. It is important to note that even when a school district implements a blended learning model where some students are on-campus and others participate in distance learning, meals still must be claimed under NSLP and SBP by eligibility unless on a provision.

For more information on these waivers, please see the policy overview below for additional information related to each of these waivers.

Policy Overview (Updated 07-Aug-2020)

On March 13, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-26-20 regarding the physical closure of schools by local educational agencies (LEAs) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order provides that even if schools close temporarily because of COVID-19, LEAs will continue to receive state funding for those days so that they can:

  • Continue delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students to the extent feasible through, among other options, distance learning and/or independent study;
  • Provide school meals in non-congregate settings through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO), consistent with the requirements of the California Department of Education (CDE) and USDA;
  • Arrange for, to the extent practicable, supervision for students during ordinary school hours; and
  • Continue to pay employees.

This guidance provides a framework for how LEAs can continue to deliver high-quality educational and meal opportunities to students when the school site is physically closed and the LEA has suspended onsite instruction. In providing this instruction, it is critical that LEAs take steps to ensure that these opportunities are available to all students, especially disadvantaged students. Safety of staff and students is another critical consideration. With safety in mind, the California Legislature on March 16, 2020, approved an initial $100 million for LEAs and child care centers to cover school cleaning expenses.

On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law H.R. 6201, Title II, COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act. This law modifies USDA food assistance and nutrition programs to allow certain waivers to requirements for all federal Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) which includes:

  • National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
  • School Breakfast Program (SBP)
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
  • Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
  • Summer Seamless Option (SSO)

On March 20, 2020, the USDA issued three new meal service waivers as part of the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act. CNP Operators are required to opt into the waiver flexibilities and this guidance provides information for seeking a waiver:

On March 25, 2020, the USDA issued the following waivers as part of the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act.  

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #5, Nationwide Waiver to Allow Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children External link opens in new window or tab.

    This waiver now allows all CNP Operators to distribute meals to parents or guardians without the child being present. CNP Operators must have written procedures in place to ensure that meals are provided only to parents or guardians of eligible children and that duplicate meals are not distributed for any eligible child. This waiver is not mandatory and eligible program operators are not required to notify the CDE NSD of their intent to offer this flexibility but there are post-reporting requirements.

On March 27, 2020, the USDA issued the following waivers as part of the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act.

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #9, Nationwide Waiver of Monitoring Requirements in the School Meals Program

    This waiver allows the CDE NSD and NSLP/SBP Operators flexibilities for onsite reviews through June 30, 2020 or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier.

CDE NSD will be providing updated monitoring requirements next week.

On March 30, 2020, the USDA granted the CDE a state waiver on eligibility requirements in the SFSP and SSO. CDE NSD will be providing updated requirements next week. Guidance is provided under the Requirements for School Meals During COVID-19 section.

On April 1, 2020, the USDA issued the following waiver as part of the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act.

On April 9, 2020, the USDA issued the following waiver as part of the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act.

  • Policy Memorandum SP 12-2020 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) during COVID-19

    This guidance includes questions and answers to clarify flexibilities of the FFVP during COVID-19. The FFVP is a federal grant program awarded to eligible elementary schools to provide an additional free fresh fruit or vegetable snack to students during the school day as a supplement to (and not part of) the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and to teach students about good nutrition.

  • SP 11-2020, CACFP 06-2020, and SFSP 05-2020: Questions and Answers related to the CNP Monitoring and Reporting Nationwide Waivers External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

    This guidance includes clarification to the CNP Monitoring Nationwide Waivers #7 through #12.

On April 11, 2020, the USDA issued the following waiver as part of the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act.

On April 21, 2020, the USDA issued the following waivers as part of the COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

On April 23 and 24, 2020, the USDA issued the following waivers as part of the COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

On April 27, 2020, the USDA issued the following waiver as part of the COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

On May 6, 2020, the USDA approved the California statewide waiver for SFAs receiving an FFVP grant to allow grantees to distribute the fresh produce snack to the parent or guardian. Distribution can only be at approved FFVP school sites. Guidance is provided under the Requirements for School Meals During COVID-19 section. On May 6, 2020, the USDA approved the California statewide waiver for SFAs receiving an FFVP grant to allow grantees to distribute the fresh produce snack to the parent or guardian. Distribution can only be at approved FFVP school sites. Guidance is provided under the Requirements for School Meals During COVID-19 section.

On May 14, 2020, The USDA issued the following waivers as part of the COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #22, Nationwide Waiver to Allow Non-congregate Feeding in the Child Nutrition Programs—Extension. This waiver extended COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #2. The extension allows the NSLP, the SBP, the CACFP, and the SFSP to waive the congregate feeding requirement. This extension is effective immediately and remains in effect until August 31, 2020.

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #23, Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Service Time Flexibility in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program—Extension. This waiver extended COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #1. The extension allows the NSLP, SBP, and the CACFP to waive the meal service time restrictions in each respective program. This Extension is effective immediately and remains in effect until August 31, 2020. Note that the waiver extension does not apply to the NSLP SSO and SFSP, as these programs received a waiver in the COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #17 waiver.

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #24, Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs—Extension. This waiver extended COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #4 and #13. The extension allows the NSLP, SBP, CACFP, and the SFSP to waive the requirements to serve meals that meet the meal pattern requirements during the health emergency. This extension is effective immediately and remains in effect until June 30, 2020.

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #25, Nationwide Waiver to Allow Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children—Extension. This waiver extended COVID-19 Chile Nutrition response # 5. The extension allows the NSLP, SBP, SSO, and SFSP to waive the requirement that program operators must provide meals directly to children, and allows parents and guardians to pick up meals at non-congregate meal sites on behalf of their children. This Extension is effective immediately and remains in effect until August 31, 2020.

For operators that have already received a waiver for non-congregate feeding and meal service time flexibility, you do not need to re-apply for a new waiver. For those operators that have not submitted a request for these flexibilities, you will need to opt in for waiver numbers 22 and 23. More information on this waiver application will be forthcoming.

On May 19, 2020, the USDA released the following policy guidance.

On June 3, 2020, the USDA released the following policy guidance.

On June 5, 2020, the USDA issued the following waiver as part of the COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

On June 8, 2020, the USDA issued the following waivers as part of the COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

On June 8, 2020, the USDA approved the CDE’s waiver request to allow for the distribution of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable snack at SSO and SFSP sites that are not elementary schools through June 30, 2020. See the FFVP section below for instructions on how to apply for this waiver.

On June 10, 2020, as part of the COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the USDA issued the following CNP flexibility waiver extension as part of the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act:

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #32, Nationwide Waiver to Extend Area Eligibility Waivers through August 31, 2020. Child Nutrition Response #32 extends the area eligibility flexibilities for previously approved Statewide waiver from June 30, 2020, to August 31, 2020, for operators of the SSO and SFSP.

On June 16, 2020, the USDA issued the following waiver to support states whose USDA Foods entitlement calculation may be adversely impacted by COVID-19:

On June 25, 2020, the USDA issued the following waivers to support schools transitioning into school year 2020–21:

On July 30, 2020, the USDA issued the following waiver as part of the COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

On August 4, 2020, the USDA issued the following waivers as part of the COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #39, Nationwide Waiver of Monitoring Requirements for Sponsors in the Child and Adult Care Food Program—Extension. This waiver extends COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #27. The extension allows CACFP Operators flexibilities with certain site monitoring requirements. This waiver extension remains in effect until September 30, 2021.

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #40, Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirements for State Agencies in the Child and Adult Care Food Program—Extension 2. This waiver extends COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #28. The waiver extension allows the CDE NSD flexibilities for CACFP onsite reviews through September 30, 2021.

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #41, Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirements in the School Meals Program—Revised—Extension 2. This waiver extends COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #29. The extension allows the CDE NSD and NSLP/SBP Operators flexibilities for onsite reviews. This waiver extension remains in effect until June 30, 2021.

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #42, Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirements for Sponsoring Organizations in the Summer Food Service Program—Extension 2. This waiver extends COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #30. The waiver extension allows SFSP Operators flexibilities for onsite reviews through September 30, 2021.

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #43, Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirements for State Agencies in the Summer Food Service Program—Extension 2. This waiver extends COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #31. The waiver extension allows the CDE NSD flexibilities for SFSP onsite reviews through September 30, 2021.

Considerations for Serving Non-congregate Student and Child and Adult Day Care Meals during COVID-19

Federal nutrition meal programs play a critical role in responding to the nutritional needs of at-risk communities during a pandemic response. The CDE received federal Child Nutrition Program waivers from USDA to support local communities during COVID-19 school or child and adult day care site dismissals or closures.

The purpose of the School and Child and Adult Day Care Meals Guidance is to provide the requirements and information for offering non-congregate meals due to school or child and adult day care site dismissals or closures related to COVID-19.

Requirements for School Meals During COVID-19 (Updated 15-May-2020)

Schools or other community organizations can request approval to operate the SSO or SFSP and serve non-congregate meals during COVID-19 at school sites that are dismissed or closed by submitting a request to SNPINFO@cde.ca.gov. The CDE Nutrition Services Division (NSD) can approve existing schools that typically operate SSO or SFSP in the summer months to open a COVID-19 SSO or SFSP site within 24 hours to 36 hours of their request. For these sites, no meal applications or fees are collected from children. CDE staff are monitoring this email address regularly.

The following is important information to include in the request:

  • Name of organization/school and list of school site closures the non-congregate food distribution will serve
  • Timeframe for starting meal distribution
  • Method(s) of meal distribution
  • Outreach efforts to communicate meal distribution
  • Method to focus services to families with children eligible for free and reduced-price meals
  • Basic information on meal counting, food safety, and oversight of the meal distribution, including information to offer foods for multiple days

On April 21, 2020, USDA released Response #17 waiver which extended meal time flexibilities through September 30, 2020. All new SSO and SFSP sponsors (who were not operating during anticipated school closures) will need to complete an application. To opt-in to this waiver please complete the application at SFSP Extension Waivers.

To be eligible for federal reimbursement, meals can be served to all children 18 years and younger in communities where 50 percent or more of the children are eligible for free and reduced-priced meals. In communities with schools that have a student eligibility of less than 50 percent free or reduced-priced meals, the non-congregate meal distribution method needs to focus services to children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Schools need to have reliable eligibility processes such as using existing Point of Service systems or rosters.

More than one meal type can be offered to each child. The meal types that each child can receive per day include any one of the following combinations:

  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Breakfast and snack
  • Lunch and snack
  • Two snacks

The USDA and the CDE NSD encourage CNP Operators to meet the nutrition standards for each CNP to the greatest extent possible; however, we are aware that some CNP Operators may experience challenges in the availability of some food and beverage items that contribute to a reimbursable meal. For example, CNP Operators who are required to provide whole grain-rich foods may have difficulty obtaining them due to shortages during COVID-19. Schools operating the NSLP, SBP, SSO, and/or SFSP may request a meal pattern requirements waiver if they are unable to serve certain menu requirements due to disruptions in the availability of food or other impacts of COVID-19. The CNP Operator must complete the online Meal Pattern Waiver Application.

Once a CNP Operator submits the application, the CDE NSD will send an email notification that the waiver request was approved or you will be contacted by a nutrition specialist to provide additional technical assistance.

The Meal Pattern Waiver is the only waiver that requires you to seek approval on a case by case basis. If your school previously submitted a COVID-19 meal pattern flexibility waiver request while operating the SSO/SFSP during the unanticipated school closures, you do not need to reapply for another waiver under the NSLP and SBP UNLESS, you need to revise your meal pattern request.

If you need to change your meal pattern waiver from the original request, you do need to submit a revised request.

CNP Operators may email CNPMealPatternWaiver@cde.ca.gov with additional questions regarding meal pattern requirements.

The Resource Section of this guidance includes a link to all meal rates. Below are the 2020 federal reimbursement rates for SFSP meals:

Type of Meal Rural or Self-Prep All Other Site Types
Breakfast
$2.3750
$2.3300
Lunch or Supper
$4.1525
$4.0875
Snacks
$0.9775
$0.9550

Delivery of Non-Congregate Meals to Promote Social Distancing

Meal distribution sites should be located in areas that are easily accessible to children eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Schools do not need to distribute meals on a school site and can distribute them at another site convenient to the community such as, but not limited to, local food banks, resource centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, community centers, and libraries.

To allow for social distancing, non-congregate meal systems can vary based on community need and it is recommended that meals be taken away from the site and consumed elsewhere. Examples include:

  • Distributing meals using a school food truck
  • Sending a box or bag meal(s) home with students for multiple days up to one week (five days)
  • Keeping some school sites open to allow students to receive a meal
  • Partnering with local libraries that remain open to serve meals that are practicing social distancing
  • Setting up a drive through system in the parking lot to minimize contact. Families can drive through and pick up a meal for all children in the vehicle.

The first option is to offer non-congregate meal systems. If meals are consumed on site, the distribution and eating areas need to be created with social distancing protocols such as avoiding lines, arranging tables and chairs six feet apart, or spacing the meal service time. Tables and eating areas should be properly cleaned and sanitized and additional hand washing stations available to students.

The Parent Meal Pick-up Waiver allows eligible program operators to distribute meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children. To participate in this waiver, you must have an approved non-congregate feeding waiver. There are no additional requirements to notify the CDE NSD that the waiver has been implemented. However, program operators must have a written plan/procedure in place and retain accurate records of the meals served under the waiver and report to the CDE NSD at the conclusion of the COVID-19 emergency feeding.

To participate in this waiver the following must be in place and retained:

  • Program operators must have a written plan to ensure they are able to maintain accountability and program integrity. Such as utilizing point of service systems, sign in sheets, request parent or guardian to identify the age, grade or classroom teacher or ask for student identification number, and post guidelines for parents to see and follow.
  • Program operators must have a written process in place to ensure that meals are distributed only to parents or guardians of eligible children, and that duplicate meals are not provided for any child. Examples include offering parent pick-up at select locations or offering parent pick-up in conjunction with providing meals for multiple days.

Implementation of this waiver by CNP Operators waiver is not mandatory.

Schools and community organizations that are operating SSO or SFSP during COVID-19 can also request approval to offer children shelf-stable meals for multiple days by submitting a request to SNPINFO@cde.ca.gov. Please note, USDA is expected to issue additional guidance on the heightened monitoring requirements for providing meals for multiple days.

Individuals serving meals should follow all COVID-19 prevention and hygiene guidelines including staying home when sick, washing hands for at least 20 seconds prior to handling or distributing food, avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces. The California Department of Public Health has developed COVID-19 food service employee health and personal hygiene information, which can be found in the Resource Section of this guidance.

On April 21, 2020, the USDA release guidance on the allowability to use OVS in the SFSP. The guidance allows both SFAs and non-SFAs to use OVS specific to SFSP. The waiver will remain in effect until September 30, 2020. To opt-in to this waiver please complete the application at SFSP Extension Waivers.

Home Meal Delivery During School Closure

Schools that have been approved for non-congregate feeding may deliver meals directly to student homes with CDE NSD approval. Delivery of meals can be completed by mail, delivery service, or hand-delivered by school staff. This option is only available to districts serving students of their own school sites due to student confidentiality regulations. Schools may submit a request to SNPINFO@cde.ca.gov.

Schools that choose to deliver meals may serve children who are in area eligible locations, or only those who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Children who attend Provision 2 or Community Eligibility Provision school sites are considered eligible for delivered meals.

Before initiating a home meal delivery service, schools must obtain written consent from households of eligible children. This consent can be obtained through e-mail or other electronic means. During this process, schools should also confirm the household’s current address and confirm the number of eligible children in the home to ensure the correct number of meals are delivered to the correct location.

When delivering meals, schools may utilize a distribution approach that includes meals for multiple days. In such instances, the district should ensure that proper food safety measures and social distancing guidelines are in place. Children do not need to be present for home delivery of meals as long as the school has obtained the household’s written consent.

For more information about meal delivery options during this COVID-19 outbreak, please see the USDA’s Question and Answer document External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

Monitoring Requirements During COVID-19 (Updated 15-May-2020)

Onsite monitoring is a critical part of an SSO and SFSP sponsor’s ability to ensure the sites they administer comply with the regulations and policies involving the service and safety of meals to their local communities. All SSO and SFSP sponsors are required to visit each site during the first week of operation, and review the food service operations at least once during the first four weeks of operation. All SSO sponsors are required to review each site at least once during its operation. In order to accommodate social distancing and its goal of restricting the spread of COVID-19, the USDA is allowing the CDE to waive the onsite monitoring requirement. On April 21, 2020, the USDA extended the first week monitoring requirement waiver from June 30, 2020, to September 30, 2020. USDA has not extended the first four weeks of operation waiver which will expire on June 30, 2020.

All SSO or SFSP sponsors wishing to participate in this monitoring waiver, but have not been approved prior to May 1, 2020, must complete the streamlined online CNP Monitoring Flexibility Waiver Application. To promote social distancing while maintaining program integrity and federal nutrition and safety standards, the CDE recommends that SSO and SFSP sponsors perform their monitoring site activities offsite, e.g., desk audit, video visits.

On April 21, 2020, the USDA extended the first week monitoring requirement waiver for SFSP sponsors operating from June 30, 2020, to September 30, 2020. The SFSP sponsors that want to waive their first week site visits after June 30, 2020 should complete the application at SFSP Extension Waivers.

Area Eligibility Requirements During COVID-19 (Added 09-Apr-2020)

The USDA on March 30, 2020, issued the area eligibility waiver in response to a CDE request to waive the requirements that open sites in the SSO and SFSP be located in areas where at least 50 percent of the participants are eligible for free or reduced-price meals (FRP). The Area Eligibility waiver allows the CDE to replace the 50 percent threshold with a lower 40 percent threshold. For sites that are below the 40 percent FRP threshold, the CDE can accept from CNP sponsors additional reasons of how the eligibility rates have changed due to COVID-19, e.g., percentage of business closures in the area, increase in SNAP participation, increase participation in local food banks, or increased unemployment.

To participate in this waiver, an SSO or SFSP sponsor must complete the streamlined online Area Eligibility Waiver Application. On June 10, 2020, the USDA extended the Area Eligibility Waiver to remain in effect until August 31, 2020, or until the expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, or whichever is earlier.

On April 21, 2020, the USDA issued a waiver for area eligibility for SSO and SFSP closed enrolled sites. This guidance allows the CDE to waive SFSP and SSO program regulations to collect applications to determine site eligibility when the closed-enrolled site is area eligible. The waiver will remain in effect until September 30, 2020. To opt-in to this waiver please complete the application at SFSP Extension Waivers.

Local School Wellness Policy Triennial Assessment During COVID-19 (Updated 03-Jul-2020)

This waiver option expired on June 30, 2020. LEAs that submitted a waiver must complete their triennial assessment by June 30, 2021. LEAs that did not submit a waiver must complete their triennial assessment by June 30, 2020. LEAs are not required to submit their assessment to the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD). The triennial assessment and other LSWP requirements will be reviewed during the LEAs next administrative review.

On April 23, 2020, the USDA issued a waiver for the LSWP triennial assessment. This waiver allowed LEAs participating in the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program to submit a request to the CDE NSD extending the deadline to complete their first LSWP triennial assessment from June 30, 2020, to June 30, 2021.

Communication to Families

In order to ensure that parents, guardians, and students are aware of the availability of meals, schools and community organizations should communicate in multiple languages the availability of meals as widely as possible. Communication strategies to consider include:

  • Public announcements on radio or television
  • Email blasts
  • Social media messages
  • Automated phone calls
  • Website announcements
  • Newspaper notifications
  • Community partner newsletters
    • Food banks
    • Mayor’s Office
    • Boys and Girls Club
    • YMCA
    • Community Centers
    • Faith-based organizations

CA Meals for Kids Mobile App

The CDE CA Meals for Kids mobile app has been updated to help students and families find meals during COVID-19 related emergency school closures. The information identifies site location and meal service times. Only those COVID-19 sites that LEAs have submitted through the online Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) are populated in this mobile app. The app is updated daily. The app is available for free download through Apple’s App Store External link opens in new window or tab., Google’s Play Store External link opens in new window or tab., and Microsoft’s App Store External link opens in new window or tab. web pages.

Use of USDA Foods During COVID-19

Due to COVID-19 and the Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for California, CNPs that participate in the USDA Food Distribution Program and have an approved waiver for non-congregate meal service can use their USDA Foods to serve meals during COVID-19.

Additionally, there are two more ways that USDA Foods may be used or donated:

  • If CNP Operators or LEAs have excess or perishable USDA Food inventory that they are unable to use, they may donate items to nonprofit or charitable organizations such as food banks. Additional USDA guidance can be found at CNP-02-2018, Please note that foods donated cannot be claimed as a food loss.

  • Disaster relief organizations may designate CNPs as feeding sites or request that CNPs provide their USDA Foods to other feeding sites. USDA Foods may only be released on request to recognized disaster relief organizations such as the American Red Cross or the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services as outlined in Management Bulletin (MB) 02-401 Use of USDA Foods in Disaster Feeding.

If you have any questions regarding the use of USDA Foods during a disaster, please contact FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov.

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (Updated 07-Aug-2020)

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the CDE, in a joint effort, are administering the federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program. As of July 27, 2020, the CDSS has issued P-EBT cards to over 3.5 million children throughout the state, providing over $1.3 billion to eligible families.

Those households with a pending application who provided an email address to the CDSS have received a communication informing them that the CDE and CDSS has been unable to determine their P-EBT eligibility. If a household believes that this determination was made in error, they can appeal the decision and provide additional information to determine their P-EBT eligibility.

Families that wish to request an appeal may do so by submitting a P-EBT Appeal Form External link opens in new window or tab. online. Appeals must be submitted by Monday, August 17. A final communication will be sent to all households that submit an appeal request informing them if they were determined eligible for P-EBT benefits.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Grant (Updated 03-Jul-2020)


On May 6, 2020, the USDA approved the state waiver to allow FFVP grantees to distribute FFVP to parent or guardians without the child being present. This waiver is effective immediately and will remain in effect until June 30, 2020, or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency. The following is required to participate in this FFVP Parent Pick-up Waiver:

  • FFVP grantees must send an email to FFVP@cde.ca.gov and detail a plan to provide FFVP foods only to parents or guardians of eligible children, and include how no duplicate FFVP snacks are distributed to any child.
  • FFVP SFAs grantees opting to use this waiver must complete a mandatory report about the impact of the waiver and must demonstrate that the waiver did not result in an increase to the overall cost of the FFVP.

On May 19, 2020, the USDA released Policy Memorandum SP 19-2020 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) during Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Questions and Answers #2 External link opens in new window or tab.. It provides clarification on questions related to the administration of the FFVP during unanticipated school closures during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This is intended as a supplement to Policy Memorandum SP 12-2020 FFVP during COVID-19 External link opens in new window or tab..

These flexibilities are effective immediately and will remain in effect until June 30, 2020, or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier.

On June 8, 2020, the USDA approved the CDE’s waiver request to allow for the distribution of the FFVP snack at SSO and SFSP sites that are not elementary schools.  The FFVP grantees interested in implementing this waiver must send an email to FFVP@cde.ca.gov to opt-in, and list the name(s) of the FFVP sites that are closed that will use this waiver and the name(s) of the SSO and SFSP site(s) that will serve the FFVP snacks while utilizing this waiver. Within the next year, all FFVP grantees who opt-in to use the waiver will receive an email to complete a mandatory report. This waiver is effective immediately and will remain in effect until June 30, 2020, or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier.

Both the Parent Pick-up and non-FFVP sites state waivers expired on June 30, 2020; however, as the new FFVP grant year begins the CDE is assessing whether there is a need to request an extension for both waivers for the new grantees in SY 2020–21.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the California Department of Education FFVP Team, by phone at 916-322-9943 or by email at FFVP@cde.ca.gov

Summer Transition (Added 15-May-2020)

On April 21, 2020, the USDA released COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #21, Nationwide Waiver to Extend Unanticipated Closure Operations through June 30, 2020. This guidance delays the transition from NSLP SSO and SFSP operations during COVID-19 to traditional SSO and SFSP operations to June 30, 2020. The extension provides additional support and flexibility for program operators to make a smooth transition to traditional summer operations this year. Specifically, the waiver allows program operators to continue to operate the SFSP or SSO programs under current unanticipated school closure requirements until June 30, 2020. The new guidance has resulted in the CDE being able to waive its new requirement that all sponsors submit their applications by May 15, or thirty days prior to the initiation of meal service operations, whichever came first. 

For Summer 2020, CDE NSD will be working with SFSP sponsors for submission of their application packets by the following dates:

Requirements for CACFP Meals During COVID-19 (Updated 07-Aug-2020)

The USDA requires Program Operators to request prior approval from the CDE NSD before using any of the three meal service waivers:

  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #1 and #23, Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Service Time Flexibility in the CNPs
  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #2 and #22, Nationwide Waiver to Allow Non-congregate Feeding in the CNPs
  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #3, Nationwide Waiver of the Activity Requirement in NSLP Afterschool Snacks and CACFP At-risk Afterschool Meals and Snacks

The Program Operator must complete the CDE Application for COVID-19 CACFP Agency Waivers.

After submitting your waiver request, you will be notified by email that your waiver(s) were approved.

For CACFP non-congregate COVID-19 meal service, only enrolled infants, children, and adults are eligible to receive meals. The CACFP has three meal patterns based on age group: infants, children and adults. Below are the links to each meal pattern.

The Resources Section of this guidance includes a link to various CACFP meal reimbursement rates by program type. CACFP Operators may serve any one of the following combinations:  

  • Breakfast, Lunch, and a Snack
  • Breakfast, Dinner, and a Snack
  • Breakfast and 2 snacks
  • Lunch, Dinner, Snack
  • Lunch and 2 Snacks
  • Dinner and 2 Snacks

CACFP Operators can contact their county specialist with questions regarding allowable meal combinations or email CACFPWAIVER@cde.ca.gov with any additional questions regarding the COVID-19 CACFP waiver process.

The USDA and the CDE NSD encourage CACFP Operators to meet the nutrition standards for child care centers, child care homes, At-risk afterschool care centers, emergency shelters, and adult day care homes to the greatest extent possible; however, we are aware that CACFP Operators may experience challenges in the availability of some food and beverage items that contribute to a reimbursable meal. For example, CACFP Operators who are required to provide whole grain-rich foods may have difficulty obtaining them due to shortages during COVID-19. CACFP Operators may request a meal pattern requirements waiver if they are unable to serve certain menu requirements due to disruptions in the availability of food or other impacts of COVID-19. The CACFP Operator must complete the online Meal Pattern Waiver Application.

Once a CACFP Operator submits the application, the CDE NSD will send an email notification that the waiver request was approved or you will be contacted by a nutrition specialist to provide additional technical assistance.

The Meal Pattern Waiver is the only waiver that requires you to seek approval on a case by case basis. If you previously submitted a COVID-19 meal pattern flexibility waiver request, you do not need to reapply for another waiver UNLESS, you need to revise your meal pattern request.

If you need to change your meal pattern waiver from the original request, you do need to submit a revised request.

CACFP Operators may email CNPMealPatternWaiver@cde.ca.gov with additional questions regarding meal pattern requirements.

The Parent Meal Pick-up Waiver allows eligible program operators to distribute meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children. To participate in this waiver, you must have an approved non-congregate feeding waiver. There are no additional requirements to notify the CDE NSD that the waiver has been implemented. However, program operators must have a written plan and retain accurate records of the meals served under the waiver and report to the CDE NSD at the conclusion of the COVID-19 emergency feeding.

To participate in this waiver the following plans must be in place and retained:

  • Program Operators must have a written plan to ensure they are able to maintain accountability and program integrity. Such as utilizing point of service systems, request parent or guardian to identify the age, grade or classroom teacher or ask for student identification number, and post guidelines for parents to see and follow.
  • Program Operators must have a written process in place to ensure that meals are distributed only to parents or guardians of eligible children, and that duplicate meals are not provided for any child. Examples include only offering parent pick-up at select locations or offering parent pick-up in conjunction with providing meals for multiple days.

Implementation of this waiver by CACFP Operators is not mandatory.

Onsite monitoring is a critical part of a CACFP sponsor’s ability to ensure the sites they administer comply with the regulations and policy involving the service and safety of meals to their local communities. All CACFP sponsors are required to review each site three times a year, with two of those visits being unannounced. In order to accommodate social distancing and its goal of restricting the spread of COVID-19, the USDA is allowing the CDE to reduce the number of onsite monitoring visits to two, and reduce the number of unannounced visits to one. To participate in this waiver, a CACFP sponsor must complete the online CNP Monitoring Flexibility Waiver Application.

Although the USDA has reduced the sponsor’s onsite monitoring requirements for existing sites, the waiver does not remove all of the administrative requirements sponsors must follow when adding a new site. All new sites must still meet the federal requirements at 7 CFR, Section 226.6(d). Below are some of the requirements described in the federal regulation:

  • Licensing requirements or staff/child ratios
  • Health and safety requirements for emergency shelters
  • Health/sanitation permit
  • Fire/building safety permit
  • Suitability of facilities

USDA is allowing some flexibility for new site reviews. The CACFP sponsor must still conduct a review in the first four weeks of operation, but it can be done through a desk audit. To apply for this waiver, the CACFP sponsor must complete the online CNP Monitoring Flexibility Waiver Application.

On June 17, 2020, the California Department of Education (CDE), recognizing the need to maximize the opportunity for meals served during the summer, submitted a waiver to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow program operators to continue to operate the At-risk Afterschool Meals component of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) past June 30. Regrettably, the USDA has denied the CDE’s waiver request.

June 30, 2020, was the last day program operators could operate the At-risk Afterschool Meals component of the CACFP until the start of the regular school year for 2020–21.

Home Meal Delivery for CACFP (Updated 17-Apr-2020)

CACFP sponsors that have been approved for non-congregate feeding may deliver meals directly to the homes of children or adults participating in CACFP with CDE NSD approval. Delivery of meals can be completed by mail, delivery service, or hand-delivered by staff, volunteers, community organizations, or others. This option is only available to CACFP sponsors that have already received CDE Non-congregate and, if applicable, Meal Service Time waivers. CACFP sponsors can submit a request to CACFPWAIVER@cde.ca.gov.

Before initiating a home meal delivery service, CACFP sponsors much first obtain written consent from households of eligible children or participating adults. This consent can be obtained through email or other electronic means. During this process, CACFP sponsors should also confirm the household’s current address and confirm the number of eligible children or participating adults in the home to ensure the correct number of meals are delivered to the correct location. The CACFP sponsor must take all necessary actions to ensure that the confidential information is handled appropriately at all times and by all organizations involved with meal delivery.

When delivering meals, CACFP sponsors may utilize a distribution approach that includes meals for multiple days. In such instances, the sponsor should ensure that proper food safety measures and social distancing guidelines are in place. Children and adults participating in CACFP do not need to be present for home delivery of meals as long as the CACFP sponsor has obtained the household’s written consent. If the meals are shelf stable, no one need be present, as long as the address has been verified. CACFP sponsors should always consider state and local food safety requirements and best practices.

For more information about CACFP meal delivery options during COVID-19, please see the USDA’s Question and Answer document External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

Resources (Updated 07-Aug-2020)

Video: May 19, 2020 Thought Partners Webinar

Video: June 9 and June 16 Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinars

Video: June 30 Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar

Video: July 14 Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar

Log of SFAs Using COVID-19 Waiver

CDE NSD Nutrition What’s New Disaster Tab

SFSP Meal Pattern Guidance and Sample Menus

SFSP Meal Pattern External link opens in new window or tab.

USDA COVID-19 SFSP and SSO Meal Delivery Questions and Answer Guides External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

SFSP and SSO Reimbursement Rates

CACFP Reimbursement Rates

CDE Disaster Resources

USDA Guidance on Human Pandemic Responses External link opens in new window or tab.

CDPH School Guidance External link opens in new window or tab.

California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Certified List of California Producers by County External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

California Volunteers Office of the Governor External link opens in new window or tab.

CDC Fact Sheet - How to Protect Yourself and Others External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

CDC Fact Sheet – Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

CDC Fact Sheet – What you need to Know About COVID-19 to Protect Yourself and Others External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

School Nutrition Association COVID-19 On-Demand Webinars External link opens in new window or tab.

CDE Fact Sheet – Child Nutrition Program Flexibilities During COVID-19 (PDF)

CDE Fact Sheet – Serving Summer Meals During School Closures Due to COVID-19 (PDF)

CDE Fact Sheet – Safe Food Handling Practices During COVID-19 (PDF)

CDE Fact Sheet – COVID-19 Health and Safety Considerations During Food Service Preparation and Delivery (PDF)

CDE Fact Sheet – Child Nutrition Programs Community Engagement Response to COVID-19

CDE Fact Sheet – Creating an Emotionally Healthy and Safe Child Nutrition Environment in Challenging Times (PDF)

CDE Fact Sheet – Providing Bulk Foods During the COVID-19 Pandemic (PDF)

CDE Handout – We Want to Keep You Healthy and Safe (PDF)

USDA Fact Sheet - Child Nutrition Program Meal Service During COVID-19 External link opens in new window or tab.

USDA Fact Sheet - Feeding Kids When Schools Are Closed Due to COVID-19 External link opens in new window or tab.

USDA Fact Sheet - SSO: Providing Multiple Meals at a Time During COVID-19 Pandemic External link opens in new window or tab.

CDC Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs External link opens in new window or tab.

CDC Considerations for Schools External link opens in new window or tab.

World Central Kitchen and James Beard Foundation – Safety First: Serving Food and Protecting People During COVID-19 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

School Nutrition Association Thought Starters on Opening schools For SY 2020-21 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions (Updated 12-Jun-2020)

  1. Can we ask for a statewide USDA waiver so CNP operators do not have to apply individually to CDE?

    Unfortunately not at this time. While USDA issued a national waiver process, it still requires CDE to approve each school or community organization request to operate SSO, SFSP or CACFP during COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the CDE needs to be involved to approve the request so that the sponsor has the pathway to submit reimbursement claims through our CNIPS.

  2. What are the implications of expanding the eligibility for free meals? How can we provide maximum flexibility around meals?

    Reimbursement through federal funds requires adherence to the eligibility requirements. At this time, deviation from these requirements will require the use of additional local funds. Schools, child and adult day care centers, and community organizations need to follow the eligibility requirements, so the meals can be reimbursable through federal dollars. The state is assessing non-federal funding opportunities and will update this guidance accordingly, including any federal allocation once details are finalized. Serving meals under SFSP is the most flexible meal pattern for school operators. At this time, CACFP operators must continue to use the CACFP meal patterns. School, child and adult day care centers, and community organizations should notify CDE NSD immediately if they are experiencing difficulties in purchasing the required meal components. CDE NSD must and will work through USDA to seek approval for additional flexibility.

  3. What are options around helping with the distribution of meals?

    Schools, community organizations, and CACFP operators approved to operate meal service flexibilities during COVID-19, can offer non-congregate meal service at schools and non-school sites. Some schools and child and adult day care centers are serving meals as grab-and-go and through a drive through service. With CDE approval, CNP operators that have the capacity to meet the food safety requirements can distribute shelf-stable meals for multiple days. Sample shelf-stable menus, using the SFSP meal pattern, is available in the Resources section.

  4. How can food vendors and companies help?

    Schools or other community organizations can contract with food vendors or other similar companies to provide meals. A CNP operator can conduct a noncompetitive procurement in the event of an emergency such as COVID-19. Emergency is defined as a “sudden, unexpected occurrence that poses a clear and imminent danger, requiring immediate action to prevent or mitigate the loss or impairment of life, health, property, or essential public services.” (California Public Contract Code Section 1102). COVID-19 meets this definition.

  5. If an LEA does not currently have a summer food service program, are they required to start one during the school closure period as a condition of continuing to receive state funding?

    LEAs are not required to start a summer food service program, but we would expect LEAs to meet this moment by implementing the necessary programs to do what they can to meet the needs of their students while schools are closed. CDE NSD can approve existing schools that typically operate SSO or SFSP in the summer months to open a COVID-19 SSO/SFSP site within 24 hours to 36 hours of their request. Information on how to apply is available at COVID-19 SSO/SFSP

  6. In order to receive reimbursement, is it required to have children present at the time of meal distribution?

    On March 25, 2020 and May 14, 2020, the USDA issued state agency guidance that allows CDE NSD to establish a process and reporting system that holds CNP operators accountable to ensure meals are only provided to parents or legal guardians of eligible children when the child is not present for meal distribution. CNP operators must also ensure that duplicate meals are not distributed to any child. CDE will update this guidance in the coming days to reflect the state-established process.

  7. Can CNP operators allow children to pick up multiple days of meals at a time?

    Yes. The USDA waiver allows for the CDE to approve requests for CNP operators to provide multiple meals, up to one week (five days) at a time to children.

  8. Can schools send home meals with children for weekend consumption?

    On April 4, 2020, the USDA provided verbal guidance to the CDE that USDA is now allowing for the serving and claiming of meals served over the weekend. This is only during the operation of the SSO/SFSP programs.

  9. Should schools be providing meals to students 18–22 that have an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) during emergency meal service?

    Yes. All students over age 18 that are enrolled in school and who meet the state agency’s definition of disabled, may receive meals under the Seamless Summer Option (SSO). Some districts are ensuring food service staff at the meal sites are aware of the written medical statements or the IEP/nutrition plan so that students are receiving appropriate and safe meals. Also, staff need to ensure that HIPAA (privacy) protocols are followed. One suggestion might be for school staff to provide copies of medical statements or the IEP/nutrition plan in a binder that is available to staff at all feeding sites.

  10. How are reimbursements for meals lost due to unanticipated school closures handled?

    In Child Nutrition Programs, reimbursements are provided only for actual meals served. California Education Code Section 49505 provides guidance that the CDE may provide school districts and county offices of education, participating in the National School Lunch Program, that have been closed as a result of a state or federally declared disaster, a reimbursement equal to the average daily participation times the average combined state and federal reimbursement rate received by the district or county office in the month prior to the closure. These funds are intended to pay for salaries and other fixed expenses of child nutrition programs.

  11. Do I have to accommodate special diets during the COVID-19 under my SSO?

    Yes. LEAs are required to ensure students with special needs have equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from the school meals program. All persons in the community who are 18 years of age and under and those persons over age 18 who meet the state agency’s definition of mentally or physically disabled may receive meals under the Seamless Summer Option (SSO).

    Below are options that other districts have implemented as a result of the COVID-19 waiver process:

    • Have completed/signed written medical statements or the individual educational plan (IEP)/nutrition plan at feeding sites to confirm the students are receiving appropriate and safe meals. Also, ensure that HIPAA (privacy) protocols are followed. Suggestion: copies of medical statements or the IEP/nutrition plan put in a binder that is available to staff at all your feeding sites.
    • If viable, home delivery can be an option. Refer to the USDA COVID-19 SFSP and SSO Meal Delivery Using Existing Authority Q&A web document External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).
    • Distributing multiple days’ worth of meals (i.e., 5 days of meals) is possible for your special needs’ students. Please submit a request to SNPINFO@cde.ca.gov.

  12. Will meal pattern waivers affect a program operator’s responsibility to make meal modifications for participants with disabilities?

    No. During this public health emergency, program operators are not relieved of their obligation to provide meal modifications for participants with disabilities. When planning a non-congregate meal service, program operators should consider how individuals who require meal modifications will be identified and served.

  13. Can you provide some successful strategies regarding how to distribute multiple days of meals in one transaction? Staff and families are concerned and want to limit exposure as much as possible.

    The strategies can vary by each district. When distributing multiple meals at a time, your district should take steps to ensure that local health department COVID-19 guidelines and food safety requirements are being met. The Resource section includes a link to the CDPH COVID-19 school guidance and fact sheets for food handling. You must also consider how you will ensure program integrity to prevent, meals being distributed to the same family from more than one site. These assurances should demonstrate that you have taken some safeguards to protect program integrity. The program operator must have written documentation of their processes and procedures for providing multiple meals. An example could include having sign in sheet with days of meals provided.

  14. If I am not able to meet the meal pattern requirements, for example the vegetable subgroups, what do I do?

    All CNP Operators that are unable to meet one or more meal pattern requirements due to disruptions in the availability of food or other impacts of COVID-19, may apply for a meal pattern waiver. The CNP Operator must complete the online Meal Pattern Waiver Application. Once a CNP Operator submits the application, the CDE will send an email notification that the waiver request was approved. CNP Operators may email the CNPMealPatternWaiver@cde.ca.gov with additional questions regarding the meal pattern.

  15. Is the option to allow parents and guardians to pick up meals for children mandatory?

    No, this is a local CNP Operator decision. Only CNP Operators with approved non-congregate feeding waivers may choose to offer this option.

  16. What are some methods that my agency can implement to meet the program integrity requirements of the parent pick-up waiver?

    The processes that each agency puts into place will be unique in order to meet their local needs. Some general recommendations could include:

    • Utilize a point of sale system for meals that are picked up by parents and guardians.
    • Request that a parent or guardian provide their students identification number at time of pickup.
    • Request that a parent or guardian identify the age, grade and classroom teacher of the children they are picking up meals for.
    • Only offer parent meal pickup at select site locations.

    Only offer parent meal pickup in conjunction with providing meals for multiple days. This approach, when combined with only offering parent meal pickup at select sites helps reduce concerns with program integrity.

  17. What are the reporting requirements for the parent pick-up waiver?

    The CDE will collect information from sponsors utilizing this waiver and other COVID-19 waivers at the conclusion of COVID-19 emergency feeding. Sponsors must keep accurate records of their waiver requests and the meals served under these waivers and have written plans in place.

  18. How do I submit for claims for Seamless Summer in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS)?

    The instructions for Seamless Summer Options (SSO) claim reimbursement entry start on page 57 of the CNIPS School Nutrition Programs User Manual. The manual can be downloaded directly online from the CDE School Nutrition Programs CNIPS training web page.

    Additional claims assistance is available on the CDE Fiscal Nutrition Services web page. For frequently asked questions, please visit the SSO Frequently Asked Questions web page.

  19. What agency should I contact if I suspect price fixing, or other price manipulations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for wholesale commodities?

    For any suspected price manipulation of meat and poultry commodities, an SFA should contact the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Packers and Stockyards Division at psdcomplaints@usda.gov.

    For all other wholesale commodities, you should contact the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission. More information can be found at www.justice.gov and www.ftc.gov. You may also submit a complaint directly to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division at www.justice.gov/atr/citizen-complaint-center.

  20. What agency should I contact if I suspect price gouging associated with the COVID-19 pandemic at the retail level for consumers?

    You should contact the California State Attorney General’s office at https://oag.ca.gov/report. More information can be found at www.consumerresources.org, which provides a host of consumer protection information from the state and territory attorneys general, including actions attorneys general are taking to protect consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The Department of Justice created a task force External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) to address COVID-19-related market manipulation, hoarding, and price gouging. More information about the Department of Justice’s efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

  21. If an CNP operator has limited time for procurement due to a sudden supply disruption directly resulting from COVID-19, would they be allowed under the Emergency Noncompetitive Solicitation regulation at Title 2, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 200.320(f)(2)?

    Yes. COVID-19 meets the regulatory intent of an emergency. Therefore, any CNP experiencing supply disruptions directly arising from COVID-19 could use the Emergency Noncompetitive Solicitation. For example, a sponsor has contracted with a vendor for milk. Due to supply chain disruptions the vendor is not able to meet their contractual obligation; the sponsor could directly contact another milk vendor to ensure no disruption to meal service.

  22. Should all purchases under the Emergency Noncompetitive Solicitation be tracked using the typical vendor tracking sheet with a note of which exemption was used?

    Yes. Federal regulations require the procuring agency to document how they performed their procurement, including their reasoning for the use of competitive procurement exceptions.

  23. What level of declaration would need to be made that would end the use of Emergency Noncompetitive solicitations?

    Since CNPs are federal programs, it would be when the public health emergency declaration has expired. However, the CDE understands that because an emergency has passed, the after-effects upon the supply chain may not have ended. If an CNO operator concludes that the Emergency Noncompetitive Solicitation is still needed, they should first contact the CDE at SFSContracts@cde.ca.gov.

  24. What are the requirements for initiating home meal delivery for a household?

    Schools must first obtain written consent from households of eligible children (this could include email or other electronic means) that the household wants to receive delivered meals. In addition, schools should confirm the household’s current contact information and the number of eligible children in the household to ensure the correct number of meals are delivered to the correct location.

  25. Can a school district partner with an outside organization to deliver meals to student homes?

    Yes, however, the school must be the entity that makes the first contact about meal delivery with the households of eligible children, and must notify the household if contact information will be shared with an external organization. Once the school receives written consent from the parent or guardian to release contact information, the schools may share the information with other organizations involved with meal delivery.

  26. What are the requirements for using a private vendor to deliver meals to student homes?

    If the school is using a private vendor, then they must have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the vendor concerning the confidentiality requirements. The MOU should include information such as what will be disclosed, how the information will be used, how the information will be protected from unauthorized uses and disclosures, and penalties for unauthorized disclosure. The school must ensure data is handled appropriately at all times and by all organizations involved with meal delivery to safeguard household confidentiality.

  27. Do Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) or interagency agreements (IA) between two SFAs for meal service need to be competitively solicited?

    No. Federal policy guidance encourages schools to contract with other schools in order to foster greater economy and efficiency.

  28. How detailed should an MOU or IA be?

    There are no federal requirements for what should be in a MOU or IA. However, since this is a legal document intended to hold at least two parties to specific duties, the agreement should have the following information:

    • Term date
    • Terms and conditions for meal delivery
      • Number of meals
      • Type of meal(s) – lunch, breakfast, etc.
      • Where will the meals be delivered
      • Delivery schedule – once per day, five days per week (excepting holidays)
    • Consideration – how much will be paid per meal
    • Identification of the parties to the agreement and a signature by an authorized agent for each party
    • All contracts in excess of $10,000 must have a clause that addresses termination for cause and for convenience.

      For additional information, SFAs should contact the SFSContracts@cde.ca.gov for additional information.
  29. Does CACFP allow meal deliveries and, if so, what is the process?

    Yes. At a minimum the CACFP operator can deliver meals directly to homes but first they must have been approved for the Non-congregate waiver. If the meal delivery will be outside the established meal service times, then the CACFP operator must also be approved for the Meal Service Times waiver as well. The process for meal delivery is:

    • Submit a written request for approval to provide meal deliveries by email to your CDE NSD CACFP Specialist to do meal deliveries.
    • Contact and receive written consent from the household of enrolled children and adult participants. At this time, the sponsor must also:
      • Confirm the location of the meal delivery, and
      • Inform the household that their contact information will be shared with an external organization (if applicable)
    • After written consent from the parent or guardian or adult participant to release contact information, then the information may be shared with other organizations involved with the meal delivery. The CACFP operator must have a MOU with the vendor concerning confidentiality requirements, e.g., what can be disclosed, how the information may be used, how the information will be protected, and penalties for unauthorized disclosure. The CACFP operator must ensure the data is handled appropriately at all times and by all organizations involved with meal delivery to safeguard household confidentiality.

  30. Does the child or adult CACFP participant need to present for home meal delivery?

    No. As long as the CACFP operator has received the household’s written consent and verified the address, the child or adult participant does not need to be present. If the meals are shelf-stable, then no one needs to be present. However, the CACFP operator should always be mindful of California and local food safety requirements and best practices.

  31. Are sponsors able to serve meals and snacks at the same site from multiple CNPs?

    Yes. If one sponsor is operating multiple CNPs at one site, or is sharing a site with another sponsor operating a different CNP, all meals and snacks eligible under each CNP is allowable may be served at the site to each child or adult eligible under the CNP rules. The sponsor(s) serving meals at the site must have procedures in place to ensure that only eligible children under each program receive a meal(s).

    For example, a CNP sponsor is approved to operate both SFSP and CACFP At-Risk. If the SFSP site is an “Open Site” then all children coming to the site are eligible to receive up to two meals, or one meal and one snack in any combination except lunch and supper. The CACFP At-Risk site can only serve meals to children enrolled at the school, unless the site allows drop-ins. The program allows for one meal or one snack per day per child. The sponsor, under the SFSP rules, can serve each child coming to the site up to two meals per day; however, they must have procedures in place to ensure that only the children enrolled in the At-Risk receive an extra meal or snack.

  32. In CACFP, can children or adult participants, pick up multiple meals at the same time?

    Yes. If the CACFP sponsor has received CDE NSD approval for the Non-Congregate Feeding and Meal Service Time waivers, then children or adult participants can pick up multiple meals at the same time.

  33. Can a Child Care Center that operates CACFP and is closed due to COVID-19 provide non-congregate meals to enrolled children?

    Yes. If the CACFP sponsor has received CDE NSD approval for the Non-Congregate Feeding Waiver, then the CACFP institution and facilities have the ability to provide meals through a variety of methods, including pick-up schedules with designated times for distribution.

    If the CACFP sponsor also has received CDE NSD approval for the Meal Service Times waiver, then the CACFP sponsor could provide the maximum number of meals for the day, multiple days, or the week at one time.

  34. Do you need to have “And Justice for All” (AJFA) posters on mobile routes for COVID-19 meal distribution?

    Yes. The AJFA poster must be prominently displayed in all facilities and locations that distribute program benefits or administer services. Due to COVID-19, if printed AJFA posters are not available for display, paper copies may be substituted as necessary, including use of the 2015 AJFA poster, if new (2019) posters have not been received. Meals delivered from stationary vans or buses should display the AJFA poster. For vehicles making door-to-door drop deliveries at homes and businesses, the AJFA poster does not need to be displayed.

  35. What is the maximum number of Program meals and snacks that can be claimed for reimbursement each day?

    Many program operators participate in multiple programs. Under the federal waivers, a child may still participate in more than one program, but in no circumstances shall a child receive more than the number of meals allowed in each program for which they are eligible. The maximum number of meals that may be served by each program type is as follows:

    • NSLP: Up to one lunch per child per day
    • NSLP Afterschool Snack Service: Up to one snack, per child, per day
    • NSLP Seamless Summer Option: Up to two meals, or one meal and one snack, per child, per day, in any combination except lunch and supper
    • SBP: Up to one breakfast per child, per day
    • CACFP: Up to two meals and one snack, or two snacks and one meal, per child or adult participant, per day
    • CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals Component: Up to one meal and one snack, per child, per day
    • CACFP Emergency Shelters: Up to three meals per resident 18 years and younger, per day
    • SFSP: Up to two meals, or one meal and one snack, per child, per day in any combination except lunch and supper

  36. May program operators serving meals through the Summer Food Service Program or the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option during an unanticipated school closures serve meals on weekends or previously scheduled days off, such as spring break and teacher work days?

    Yes. When schools are closed for an unanticipated school closure due to COVID-19, with CDE NSD approval, SFSP and SSO sites may serve meals on days when schools had originally planned to be closed, including weekends.

  37. Will my administrative review still occur this year?

    School Nutrition Program (SNP) Administrative Reviews (ARs) with entrance dates between April and June 2020 can be rescheduled to a later date within the review year. Please work closely with your Child Nutrition Consultant (CNC)/ Child Nutrition Assistant (CNA) to coordinate a date that works best for the District. If the rescheduled date cannot be met due to circumstances related to COVID 19, your review may be moved to next year's review cycle on a case-by-case basis. If your entrance SNP AR already occurred, your CNC/ CNA will work with your District to complete the review as much as possible in a time frame that works best for your District.

    Child and Adult Food Care Program ARs with entrance dates between April and September 2020 can be rescheduled to a later date within the review year. Please work closely with your CNC/ CNA to coordinate a date that works best for your Agency. If the rescheduled date cannot be met due to circumstances related to COVID 19, your review may be moved to next year's review cycle on a case-by-case basis. For CACFP ARs with entrance dates that have already occurred, your CNC/ CNA will work with your Agency to complete the review as much as possible in a time frame that works best for your Agency.

  38. Because July 1, 2020, will be six years after I contracted with a FSMC I will need to solicit for a new FSMC contract. Due to COVID-19, I will not be able to competitively solicit for a new FSMC contract. Can I do a noncompetitive procurement for a one-year contract?

    Yes. On April 24, 2020, the USDA issued the FSMC Contract Duration Waiver. The waiver temporarily removes the regulatory restrictions limiting FSMC contracts to one base year plus a maximum of four one-year extensions. Therefore, sponsors may use the emergency noncompetitive procurement to negotiate a one-year FSMC extension of new contract for SY 2020-21. Contracts resulting from noncompetitive proposals may not exercise renewal options.

  39. If I use the emergency noncompetitive proposal for a new one-year FSMC contract, do I need to still receive CDE prior approval for the FSMC contract?

    Yes. The USDA FSMC Contract Duration Waiver does not remove the requirement for the sponsor to receive state agency pre-approval. More information regarding the FSMC pre-approval process is located at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sn/fsmcproc.asp#bidInformal. For a copy of the CDE Model Fixed-Price FSMC Contract go to the CNIPS Download Forms section and upload Form ID No. PRU 07.  

  40. If my FSMC contract does not allow for additional extensions, do I need to rebid or can I extend the FSMC contract?

    The USDA FSMC Contract Duration Waiver only removes the regulatory restriction of extending a contract beyond the four one-year extensions. The CDE recommends working closely with your agency legal counsel to discuss options including the viability of an emergency noncompetitive proposal for one-year.

  41. Why is CACFP not included in the FSMC contract Nationwide Waiver #19?

    CACFP was not included in the COVID-19 Nationwide Waiver #19 because CACFP regulations do not have a five-year limit on FSMC contracts. The NSLP and SFSP regulations, on the other hand, do limit the FSMC contract to a maximum of five years and the waiver was intended to allow program operators to extend their contractual relationships without having to competitively resolicit for a new FSMC contract.

  42. Can Head Start programs deliver meals to children enrolled in the home-based program option?

    Yes, if a child was receiving meals through either/both of these programs, then they can continue to receive meals if the sponsor has been approved for a non-congregate waiver. If a child was not receiving meals through the CACFP and/or NSLP, then the child is not eligible to receive meals through the CACFP and/or NSLP. However, children may go to an SFSP or SSO open site to receive a free meal. To locate SFSP and SSO sites in your community, download the CA Meals for Kids mobile app. The app is available for free download through Apple’s App Store External link opens in new window or tab., Google’s Play Store External link opens in new window or tab., and Microsoft’s App Store External link opens in new window or tab..

  43. Can CACFP sponsoring organizations add new centers and facilities during the COVID-19 emergency?

    Yes. Sponsoring organizations can add new centers and day care homes that are providing care during the coronavirus pandemic. However, sponsoring organizations must complete all aspects of the application and approval process. It is up to each sponsor to determine if they have the capacity to add centers and facilities based on their systems and other resources, such as the availability of inspections and licensing.

  44. Are children who are still receiving school meals through COVID-19 emergency feeding sites eligible to participate in P-EBT?

    Yes. P-EBT benefits are in addition to, not in lieu of, free and reduced-price meal benefits. Children who receive P-EBT may still continue to receive meals at COVID-19 emergency sites.

  45. How does P-EBT work for students attending schools that are providing meals through a Provision such as Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2?

    For the purposes of P-EBT, all students who attend a Provision school are considered free and reduced-price meal eligible. If students are directly certified, they do not need to apply and will automatically receive a P-EBT card in the mail. If students are not directly certified and do not receive a P-EBT card by May 22nd, they can apply for P-EBT online.

  46. Where can we find more information about Pandemic-EBT?

    The California Department of Social Services Pandemic-EBT web page has a variety of resources to assist school districts with outreach for P-EBT: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/home/pandemic-ebt. Resources include an outreach toolkit, Frequently Asked Questions, and informational flyers in English, Spanish and Chinese.

  47. What should I do if my school district is unable to obtain a second food safety inspection from our local county health department due to COVID-19?

    School districts are required to request two food safety inspections from their local county health departments each school year. If you are unable to obtain two food safety inspections, please retain documentation demonstrating that you made every effort to obtain an inspection. COVID-19 will be considered as an acceptable reason as to why a district was not able to obtain two food safety inspections during the 2019–20 school year.

  48. In 2018 the USDA rescinded multiple SFSP memoranda. Has the CDE received USDA waivers for any of the policies?

    Yes. COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #14 through #17 deal specifically with the rescinded waivers (see above for more details). For program operators that wish to opt-in to the waiver(s) please complete the application at SFSP Extension Waivers.

  49. Does the State Meal Mandate apply in instances in which a child participates in instruction via distance learning?

    Yes. Section 34 of the Budget Bill amended EC 49550 and EC 47613.5 to add distance learning as an instructional model and requires school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to provide, at a minimum, one nutritionally adequate meal (breakfast and/or lunch) for pupils who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals whether engaged in in-person instruction or distance learning. For more information, please review the SB 98 State Meal Mandate web page.

  50. Can we continue to pay food service employees with the cafeteria fund (also known as the nonprofit school food service account) while on leave due to school site closure?

    Yes. Cafeteria funds may be used to pay for employee leave during school closure due to COVID-19. Such funds may be used to support salaries and wages for those employees that consistently support Child Nutrition Programs when school is in session.

    Timekeeping documentation during the COVID-19 period should be consistent with the type of documentation the employees would typically complete when school is in session (semi-annual certification or Personnel Action Report). In addition, the documentation should be consistent with employee's regular work hours when school is in session, but contain the notation COVID-19 for the absence period.

    Should an LEA receive disaster funds for lost salaries and wages and other costs, the cafeteria fund should be replenished accordingly when funds are received. For more information about disaster assistance, please see the CDE Disaster Response–Child Nutrition Programs web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sn/mbcnp022015.asp. For questions about employee timekeeping, please reach out to the Resource Management Unit at snpcafefundquestions@cde.ca.gov.

  51. What options do districts have to pay employees working to support SSO or SFSP during COVID-19?

    LEAs can use the reimbursement monies received for claiming meals served to pay for employee’s salaries.

  52. Can the CACFP At-risk Afterschool programs operate this summer?

    Under the USDA’s extended unanticipated school closure waiver, these programs may continue to operate until June 30, 2020, or until the programs transition to SFSP or SSO service, whichever comes first.

  53. What documentation must a sponsor have during an administrative review if they are unable to obtain a food safety inspection during COVID-19 the emergency?

    If a sponsor is unable to obtain a food safety inspection because the State or local health department has suspended inspections due to the COVID-19 emergency, a sponsor would need documentation (e.g., a letter) from the health department that these inspections have been suspended. If the sponsor was unable to obtain a food safety inspection because the sponsor is closed, the sponsor would just need to show that the sponsor was closed and therefore unable to obtain the food safety inspection. Both of these circumstances are outside the control of the sponsor and therefore would not be held against them during an administrative review.

  54. Is the purchase of personal protective equipment or other supplies that are intended to prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19 an allowable cost?

    Yes. Personal protective equipment (e.g., surgical masks, cloth masks, face masks, gloves) as well as cleaning and sanitary supplies are allowable costs during the current public health emergency, provided that such purchases are made in support of child nutrition program operations. All purchases must continue to meet the required criteria of being reasonable, allocable, and necessary.

  55. May funds from the nonprofit food service account be used to cover meal delivery costs and/or the purchase of supplies to facilitate non-congregate meal service during the public health emergency?

    Yes. Expenses related to meal delivery and/or provision of meals in non-congregate settings are allowable costs. All purchases must continue to meet the required criteria of being reasonable, allocable, and necessary.

  56. May funds from the nonprofit food service account be used to purchase bottled water (as an alternative to water fountains and other on-site options) for non-congregate meals served during the public health emergency?

    Yes. The purchase of potable water to supplement meals served in non-congregate settings is an allowable cost. For further information, please refer to policy memoranda SP 28-2011: Water Availability During NSLP Meal Service, CACFP 20-2016: Water Availability in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and SP 49-2016, CACFP 18-2016: Resources for Making Potable Water Available in Schools and Child Care Facilities. Milk is expected to be served as part of each reimbursable meal and potable water may not be provided as a substitute for milk.

  57. May sponsors pay staff salaries using funds from the nonprofit foodservice account when employees are unable to work due to mandatory closures related to the current public health emergency? Is compensation in the form of hazard pay for employees who are still working also allowable?

    Yes, but only when such employee absences are covered under the sponsor’s established personnel policies. The USDA has determined that sponsors with such policies may continue to pay out salaries and benefits to their employees during mandatory closures due to COVID-19, which qualify as an “authorized absence from the job” for affected employees in accordance with the requirements of 2 CFR, Section 200.431(b). These payments must be consistent with the sponsor’s policy of paying salaries (under extraordinary circumstances) from all funding sources, federal and non-federal, and must be fully allocable. Compensation in the form of hazard pay for employees continuing to work is further considered an allowable cost, provided that such compensation is similarly permissible under the sponsor’s personnel policies, and the hazard pay in question is reasonable.

    Any of these covered personnel costs may be charged retroactively to the date upon which mandated staff absences and/or work that occurred when the hazardous conditions related to COVID-19 began. Sponsors may draft a new personnel policy if they don’t have an existing one in place covering leave, salaries, and benefits during unexpected and extraordinary circumstances. Any new or updated policies must be fully in accordance with federal program regulations, and consistent in their payment of salaries and benefits regardless of the funding sources used/available.

  58. How should sponsors approved to operate any of the child nutrition programs treat non-refundable costs for events and activities that were canceled due to COVID-19 closures and social distancing protocols?

    If the sponsor expended funds for an approved and otherwise allowable cost (e.g., travel, meeting registration, supplies) for an event or activity that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 closures, and those costs were not refunded by the vendor, the sponsor may charge those costs to their program. Sponsors should keep records of the original expense, and their attempt to obtain refunds. Sponsors should also ensure that any materials of value, such as travel vouchers, supplies, materials, etc., that can be repurposed or used at a later date, are used for the operation of the child nutrition program or a related activity. This flexibility applies only to costs incurred prior to March 17, 2020.

  59. How do I apply for COVID-19 Disaster Reimbursement?

    Please visit the Application for COVID-19 Disaster Relief web page. This page includes instructions for submitting a disaster reimbursement request. For specific questions related to your disaster claim, please contact the CDE via e-mail at NSDDisasterClaims@cde.ca.gov.

Questions:   California Department of Education | 916-319-0800
Last Reviewed: Monday, August 10, 2020
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