Meal Service During Unanticipated School Closures
Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin
Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information
To: Child Nutrition Program Operators
Attention: Program Operators, Executive Operators, and Business Officials
Date: March 2020
Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture SP 04-2020, CACFP 03-2020, and SFSP 03-2020
Supersedes: U.S. Department of Agriculture SP 55-2016, CACFP 26-2016, SFSP 18-2016
Subject: Meal Service During Unanticipated School Closures
This management bulletin provides guidance on the Child Nutrition Programs flexibilities available during unanticipated school closures. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Memorandum SP 04-2020, CACFP 03-2020, SFSP 03-2020: Meal Service During Unanticipated School Closures supersedes SP 55-2016, CACFP 26-2016, and SFSP 18-2016.
On November 5, 2019, the USDA released policy memo SP 04-2020, CACFP 03-2020, SFSP 03-2020: Meal Service During Unanticipated School Closures. Schools may face unanticipated closures due to natural disasters, unscheduled major building repairs, court orders relating to school safety, labor disputes, or when approved by the state agency. Unanticipated school closures prevent children from receiving educational instruction and the nutritious meals they would normally receive.
Program operators participating in the School Nutrition Programs (SNP), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) or the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), are encouraged to use the flexibilities described in this policy memo to help ensure that children do not experience a lapse in food security when extreme weather or other events force area schools and child care facilities to close. It is also suggested that program operators develop written policies and procedures related to unanticipated school closures.
You can view SP 04-2020, CACFP 03-2020, and SFSP 03-2020 on the USDA Meal Service During Unanticipated School Closures web page at https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/meal-service-during-unanticipated-school-closures.
Operating the Summer Meal Programs
During unanticipated school closures, school food authorities (SFA) may determine that operating the SFSP or the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Seamless Summer Option (SSO) is a feasible option. If SFAs are approved by the California Department of Education (CDE) to serve meals during unanticipated school closures, these meals, like all SFSP and SSO meals, are reimbursed at the appropriate reimbursement rates. If there is an unanticipated school closure and child care centers or day care homes in the area are also affected, children that normally attend those centers or homes may participate in the SFSP or SSO meal service during the closure and receive meals at no cost. SFSP and SSO sites operating during an unanticipated school closure are open to all children age 18 and under.
When unanticipated school closures occur, the CDE may exempt experienced sponsors and SFAs from submitting a new application if the sponsor participated in the SFSP at any time during the current year or in either of the prior two calendar years. New program operators applying for participation in the program due to unanticipated school closures are exempt from the application submission deadline. Area eligibility requirements still apply during unanticipated school closures.
The CDE is required to monitor SFSP Operators that serve meals during unanticipated school closures consistent with the requirements at Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), Section 225.7(d). Preapproval visits for sponsors approved to operate during unanticipated school closures from October through April (or at any time of the year in an area with a continuous school calendar) are not required and may be conducted at the discretion of the CDE during unanticipated school closures. Additionally, when the same SFA personnel administer the SFSP as well as the NSLP, the CDE is not required to conduct a review of the SFSP in the same year in which the NSLP operations have been reviewed and determined to be satisfactory.
Section 13(c)(1) of the National School Lunch Act (Title 42, U.S. Code, Section 1761[c]), requires that meals served to children not in school during an unanticipated closure may only be reimbursed if the meals were served at nonschool sites. SFSP and SSO meals may no longer be served at school sites during unanticipated school closures; per 7 CFR, Section 225.6(d)(1)(iv), without a waiver approved from CDE. All complete waiver requests are approved by Food and Nutrition Service and CDE based on relevant statutory and regulatory requirements and demonstration on how the requested waiver will further program priorities.
To request a waiver for any area not covered under a Major Disaster Declaration, the program operator must provide the CDE with the following information:
- How the waiver would facilitate the ability of the program operator to carry out the purpose of the program
- Describe the goals of the waiver to improve services under the program and the expected outcomes if the waiver is granted
- A description of the impediments to the efficient operation and administration of the program
Operating the At-risk Afterschool Meals Component of the Child and Adult Care Food Program
The CDE may allow afterschool centers to continue serving meals and snacks through At-risk Afterschool Meals component of CACFP during unanticipated school closures. When operating during unanticipated school closures, afterschool centers must continue to meet At-risk Afterschool requirements, including the mandate to offer education or enrichment activities. The CDE may approve afterschool centers that normally offer a snack and supper after school to instead choose to offer either lunch and a snack or breakfast and a snack. These meals and snacks are reimbursed through CACFP at the free rate. The program operator would contact the CACFP program specialist for approval to temporarily change their meal offerings. The information will be updated and noted in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS).
For more information on participation in the SNP, please refer to the CDE SNP web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/463710.
For more information on participation in the SSO, please refer to the CDE SSO web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/478533.
For more information on participation in the SFSP, please refer to the CDE SFSP Information web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/483485.
For more information on participation in the CACFP, please refer to the CDE CACFP web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/461704.
If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact your SNP, CACFP, or SFSP Specialist.
SNP: The SNP County Specialist is in the CNIPS Download Forms section, Form ID Caseload. You can also contact the SNP Office Technicians (OT) by phone at 916-322-3005 or 916-322-1450 to be directed to your SNP Specialist.
CACFP: The CACFP Specialist Contact List is in the CACFP CNIPS Download Forms section, Form ID CACFP 01. You can also contact the CACFP OT by email at CACFP@cde.ca.gov.
SFSP: The SFSP Specialist Contact List is in the SFSP CNIPS Download Forms section, Form ID SFSP 01. You can also contact the Summer Meals Unit OT by email at SFSP@cde.ca.gov.