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CACFP Meal Pattern Waiver Application SY 2021–22


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On April 20, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response #91: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Specific Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) for School Year (SY) 2021–22 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), which allows CACFP Operators to submit a request to the California Department of Education (CDE) to waive one or more of the following three CACFP meal pattern requirements, effective July 1, 2021:

  1. That at least one serving per day, across all eating occasions, must be whole grain-rich
  2. That the crediting of grains by ounce equivalents (oz eq) must be fully implemented by October 1, 2021
  3. That low-fat (1 percent) milk must be unflavored

Note: The California Healthy Beverages in Child Care Act does not allow flavored milk to be served to children in licensed centers and homes. Therefore, the flexibility to waive the requirement that low-fat (1 percent) milk must be unflavored only applies to milk served to:

  • Adults in adult day care centers
  • Children six years and older in unlicensed centers
  • Participants ages 18 through 24 in emergency shelters (meals are only reimbursable to this age group until the date the COVID–19 health emergency is lifted)

The USDA and the California Department of Education (CDE) encourage CACFP Operators to meet the CACFP meal pattern requirements to the greatest extent possible, but recognize that in some situations, it might not be possible. CACFP Operators may request to waive one or more of the CACFP meal pattern requirements listed above by submitting a CACFP Meal Pattern Waiver (MPW) Application, documenting the flexibilities requested and providing justification for the request(s).

The intent of the USDA meal pattern waiver is to utilize only as needed. To comply with this goal, the CDE has established the following three timeframes for CACFP Operators to opt into the CACFP MPW:

  • July 1–December 31, 2021
  • January 1–March 31, 2022
  • April 1–June 30, 2022

Each CACFP MPW is valid from the date the CACFP Operator receives an approval email from the CDE through the end of each timeframe. For example, a CACFP MPW Application submitted for the July 1–December 31, 2021 timeframe, is only valid from the date the CACFP Operator receives an approval email from the CDE through December 31, 2021. CACFP MPW requests are not automatically approved upon submission.

CACFP Operators who need to continue to waive the specific meal pattern requirements allowed in the USDA COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response #91 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) after December 31, 2021, must resubmit a CACFP MPW Application for the next timeframe (e.g., January 1–March 31, 2022), and receive an approval email from the CDE before using the flexibilities.

The CDE will notify CACFP Operators when the CACFP MPW Applications are available for the January 1–March 31, 2022 and April 1–June 30, 2022 timeframes.

Starting July 1, 2021, all previously submitted MPW Applications expire. CACFP Operators may no longer waive the meal pattern requirements that were allowed under the USDA COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #91 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).For example, CACFP Operators may no longer waive the CACFP meal pattern requirements of limiting juice to one serving per day and ensuring breakfast cereals contain 6 grams of sugar or less per dry ounce after June 30, 2021.

Additional information is available in the Meal Patterns Flexibilities section of the CACFP tab of the CDE COVID–19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs web page. Please thoroughly read the information on this web page prior to submitting a CACFP MPW Application.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the CDE MPW Team by email at CACFPMPW@cde.ca.gov.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, June 17, 2021
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