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CNP COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions


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Summary

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has authorized federal and state specific waivers intended to provide temporary flexibilities to certain regulatory requirements of the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP). The California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD) is providing frequently asked questions (FAQ) to help clarify both state and federal policy and operational questions for the program operators in the CNPs during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The following FAQs can assist program operators who may have questions on how to operate their programs based on the policy guidance released.

Please note: As a result of additional USDA waivers released on March 9, 2021, this web page is currently being updated.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Programs

  1. How do I apply for funding?

    You do not need to apply, CDE has already applied for funding for all eligible sponsors for both the School Programs Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement (ECR) Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Programs (CACFP) ECR Program.

  2. How will I know if I am eligible?

    CDE will base eligibility on USDA requirements and if you are eligible, you will be included automatically.

    School food authorities (SFA) may eligible for the School Programs ECR Program. Sponsoring organizations (day care home sponsors, sponsors of independent centers, and sponsors of unaffiliated centers), independent child care centers, adult care centers, outside-school-hours care centers, at-risk afterschool centers, emergency shelters, head start, and day care homes may be eligible for the CACFP ECR Program.

    To be eligible:

    • Your operations must have been impacted by COVID-19 during any month March-June 2020

    • You must have been in operation any month March through June 2019 or January and February of 2020

    • You must have resumed operations during any month September through December 2020


    The CDE has submitted additional questions to USDA regarding different scenarios of agencies that may have been open outside of this reference period and are awaiting their response. If, based on USDA guidance, your agency is found to be eligible for this program, you will be automatically included and no further action from you is required. 

    If you have agency-specific questions about eligibility, please email ECR@cde.ca.gov.

  3. If I was closed because of COVID, will I be eligible?

    To be eligible, you must have been in operations at minimum January and February of 2020 and have resumed operations during any month September through December 2020 generating a meal claim. If you were closed for the duration of the reimbursement period March-June 2019, you may still be eligible.

    We have submitted questions to the USDA regarding different scenarios of agencies that may have been open outside of this reference period and are awaiting their response. If, based on USDA guidance, your agency is found to be eligible for this program, you will be automatically included and no further action from you is required. 

  4. Can I receive reimbursement from both programs (Schools and CACFP)?

    Yes. If your agency meets the eligibility requirements for both programs you will automatically receive reimbursement for both programs. There is nothing additional needed from your agency. Your agency is required to maintain documentation of the use of funds separately for the reimbursement received from each program.

  5. When will I get the funds?

    The CDE will distribute the funds as soon as possible, once they are received from the USDA. According to the USDA, the soonest funds could be distributed would be June 2021 and all funds must be distributed by January 21, 2022. The CDE is working to expedite the payments to CACFP Operators due to the transition of the administration of the program to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) starting July 1, 2021.

  6. What can I use the funds for?

    Funds from the CACFP ECR, once deposited in the cafeteria fund, can be used in accordance with normal program requirements but documentation must be maintained. The funds can also be used to reimburse any local source of funds used to supplement the nonprofit school food service account during the reimbursement period (March-June 2020) to offset the impact of pandemic operations on that account. Again, documentation is required.

  7. Can I use funds to purchase equipment?

    Funds from the CACFP ECR Program, once deposited in the cafeteria account, can be used in accordance with normal program requirements but documentation must be maintained. Equipment may be purchased but you will need to update your budget in CNIPS and receive prior approval from your CACFP specialist.

  8. How does the transition of the CACFP from CDE to DSS affect us receiving these funds?

    We do not yet know how the transition will impact this process however it is our goal to expedite payments to the CACFP as best as we can. The CDE is committed to seeing this process through.

  9. What is my role as a day care home (DCH) sponsor, sponsor of unaffiliated centers (SOUC) or sponsor of independent centers (SOIC)?

    Sponsors will calculate reimbursements for affiliated DCH and unaffiliated centers as well as disbursing funds. Affiliated Centers’ reimbursement will be based on administrative funds. SOUC and SOIC reimbursement will be based on existing agreements between sponsors and homes and not exceed 15 percent.

    The CDE plans to host a training for sponsoring organizations later in the spring to assist with answering reimbursement calculations and funds disbursement questions.

SSO/SFSP

  1. If a waiver was extended, do we need to reapply if we were initially approved? Has anything changed on that?

    The waivers that you must opt into are:

    • Area eligibility for open sites for SSO/SFSP
    • Area eligibility for closed enrolled sites for SSO/SFSP
    • Area eligibility for CACFP At-risk sites
    • Meal pattern


    The above waivers require a formal notification to the CDE of your intent, as we have to approve each on a case-by-case basis. If you already applied, you do not need to reapply.

    If your district requires a COVID-19 meal pattern waiver, or if you need to revise your COVID-19 meal pattern waiver, you must submit a COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application.

    To participate in area eligibility for an open SSO/SFSP site or a CACFP At-risk site, a CNP sponsor must complete the online COVID-19 CNP Area Eligibility Waiver Application.

    To participate in area eligibility for closed enrolled sites, an SSO/SFSP sponsor must complete the COVID-19 CNP Area Eligibility Waiver Application.

  2. When can school food authorities (SFA) begin operations under the SSO or SFSP?

    The USDA waivers to allow use of Summer Meal Programs were announced on August 31 and indicated that they were effective immediately. Agencies can begin transitioning to summer meal programs now by updating their Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) applications to reflect the current feeding models that they are implementing.

  3. Under the SFSP or SSO waiver extensions, can SFAs serve students meals on days that schools are closed, such as weekends and holidays?

    Yes. Meals may be offered on weekends and holidays, consistent with SFSP or SSO regulations.

  4. Does the extension by the USDA of the summer feeding options now mean that all children under 18 can be fed even if they are not an enrolled student in our district?

    Yes, if the site is an open feeding site. SFAs may operate open feeding sites through the SFSP or SSO and provide meals to all children ages 18 and under. SFAs operating a closed-enrolled SFSP or SSO site, they may feed only the students enrolled at that site.

  5. Can an SFA choose to operate a closed enrolled site under the USDA waivers?

    Yes, SFAs may operate closed-enrolled sites through the summer programs. When choosing this option, SFAs can only provide meals to students that are enrolled within the site.

  6. If operating a closed-enrolled site, can an SFA also include student's siblings that are not enrolled within our school district?

    If the site wishes to serve siblings that are not enrolled in the school district, the site type must be 'open'. If an SFA is operating a summer feeding site as closed enrolled, they must only feed the children that are enrolled within the site.

  7. Do these waiver extensions only apply to the summer feeding sites that we previously operated, or are districts allowed to add additional feeding sites?

    SFAs may add additional feeding sites to those that have operated under COVID-19 or the Summer Meal Programs. However, under federal regulations, any sites that are within a quarter mile of one another will need to work with their county analyst on options in order to comply with the boundary requirement. Also, complete the COVID-19 CNP Area Eligibility Waiver Application as needed for any sites that are below 40 percent free and reduced-price (F/RP) eligibility.

  8. Is it mandatory for SFAs to return to the Summer Meal Programs or can they continue to provide meals through the NSLP or School Breakfast Program (SBP)?

    Implementation of the new waivers is not mandatory. The CDE recommends that SFAs use the meal program that best fits their needs.

  9. Can an SFA switch from SSO to SFSP? If so, how do we do that?

    It is up to the SFA to determine which of the summer programs that they wish to operate. If an SFA wishes to apply for the SFSP, they must go through the new sponsor process to be approved to operate the program. The CDE highly encourages SFAs to serve through the SSO as it streamlines the administrative requirements for those SFAs that are already approved to operate the NSLP/SBP.

  10. Can an SFA that has already started the school year opt into these waivers or must they continue with the NSLP/SBP?

    Schools may choose to operate under the SFSP or the SSO even if the school year has begun or if the agency has started meal service through the NSLP/SBP. Please ensure that your CNIPS application is updated and reflects the correct meal service model that your agency is operating. Also, complete the area eligibility waiver as needed for any sites that are below 40 percent F/RP eligibility. Please note that students who previously paid for school meals must be reimbursed.

  11. What about SFAs who have never participated in SSO/SFSP? Will they be able to apply?

    Yes, agencies that have not previously participated in SSO or SFSP can apply to participate under this waiver. The CDE highly recommends that school districts apply through the SSO, as the application process is streamlined for districts that are already approved on the NSLP/SBP.

  12. If one of the school sites in our district returns to a form of in-person learning, can we still provide meals through the summer programs?

    Yes, the new waivers allow the district the discretion to determine if SSO/SFSP or NSLP meets their needs and to serve through the end of the school year, June 30, 2021.

  13. Are SFAs that are operating the SFSP or SSO for the entirety of SY 20-21 allowed to collect and process free and reduced price meal applications?

    On January 5, 2021, the USDA released Policy Memo SP-05 2021, CACFP-04 2021, SFSP-04, 2021 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) which allows SFAs to continue to collect F/RP meal, even if operating the SFSP or SSO for School Year (SY) 2020–21. Applications collected may be used for local control funding formula (LCFF) purposes.

  14. Do we have to conduct verification on applications that we have already received?

    Yes, per USDA Policy Memorandum SP 04-2021, any Local Education Agency (LEA) that collected meal applications will need to complete verification no later than February 28, 2021.

  15. Will SFAs with an Administrative Review (AR) this year now have an SSO review and an NSLP review?

    If an SFA is already scheduled for a School Nutrition Program (SNP) AR, does not submit an NSLP claim for reimbursement for at least 10 days, and is only operating SSO in SY 2020–21, they will not have an SNP AR in SY 2020–21. If the SFA operates NSLP and SSO in SY 2020–21, they will have both programs reviewed. The CDE has submitted a waiver to the USDA to waive certain requirements of the review to lessen the burden on the SFA.

  16. How do I submit for claims for SSO in the CNIPS?

    The instructions for SSO claim reimbursement entry start on page 57 of the CNIPS SNP User Manual. The manual can be downloaded directly online from the CDE School Nutrition Program 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 FAQ web page.

  17. Why is direct certification (DC) required if we are operating SSO/SFSP all year?

    While eligibility determinations are not required for summer meal programs, USDA policy states that DC must be completed at least three times a year.

    The NSD supports the ongoing effort to complete DC because it supports the following: identifying student population for the community eligibility provision; supplemental and concentration grant funding for LCFF; identifying students to carry out the Every Student Succeeds Act; identifying students for Medi-Cal enrollment; and other student benefits defined locally.

  18. Will program operators have an SFSP review?

    If they are new to SFSP, they will have a review in whatever year they add onto the program. The CDE has submitted a waiver to the USDA for review flexibilities for reviews during Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2020–21.

NSLP Provision 2

  1. We were approved to establish a Provision 2 base year in SY 2020–21. We plan to operate the NSLP all year, do we need to establish a new base year in the following school year?

    No, Provision 2 schools that operate the NSLP the entire school year will have sufficient data to establish a base year in SY 2020–21 and will not be required to reestablish in SY 2021–22. However, Provision 2 schools that operated SSO/SFSP for all or part of the school year, will need to reestablish a base year in SY 2021–22.

  2. We were approved to establish a Provision 2 base year in SY 2020–21. If we operated SSO/SFSP for all or part of the school year do we need to reapply to establish a new base year in SY 2020–21?

    At this time the NSD plans to automatically update SY 2020–21 approved Provision 2 cycles to begin a new base year in SY 2021–22. Provision 2 schools will be provided an opportunity to opt out should they no longer want to establish a base year in SY 2021–22.

  3. We were approved for Provision 2 streamlined base year. However, our collection of meal applications has been greatly reduced due to distance learning. How will this affect our base year?

    The NSD is considering options to assist schools with a streamlined base year. The solutions will depend on the individual circumstances of the LEA. Please consult your SNP analyst.

Administrative Reviews

  1. Will program operators have an SFSP review?

    If they are new to SFSP, they will have a review in whatever year they add onto the program. For all other program operators, the CDE received approval from the USDA to waive certain state SFSP review requirements through September 2021. This waiver will allow the CDE to review less SFSP operators during FFY 2020–21.

  2. Will my AR still occur this year?

    If your agency is scheduled for an SNP AR in SY 2020–21, does not submit an NSLP claim for reimbursement for at least 10 days, and is only operating SSO or SFSP through June 2021, your review will be rescheduled for SY 2021-22. If your agency submitted an NSLP claim for at least 10 days of operation, you will have an SNP AR this year. Please work closely with your Child Nutrition Consultant to coordinate a date that works best for your SFA. If the scheduled date cannot be met due to circumstances related to COVID-19 or a natural disaster, your review may be moved to next year on a case-by-case basis.

    Please Note: The SNP ARs will be completed remotely.

  3. What documentation must a sponsor have during an AR 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 AR.

Verification

  1. We plan to operate SSO/SFSP the entire school year and previous guidance from NSD stated we do not have to complete verification. What do we do now?

    Per USDA Policy Memorandum SP 04-2021, LEAs that collected meal applications will need to complete verification no later than February 28, 2021.

  2. Our LEA collected some meal applications at the start of the school year, but retroactively claimed all meals under the SSO/SFSP. Are we required to complete verification?

    Yes. Per USDA Policy Memorandum SP 04-2021, all LEAs that collected school meal applications are required to complete verification no later than February 28, 2021.

  3. Our LEA is operating SSO/SFSP for the entire school year and we have not collected any meal applications for SY 2020–21, what should we do in regards to verification?

    LEAs that did not collect any meal applications for SY 2020–21 are not required to complete verification activities; however, these LEAs will need to complete verification reporting.

  4. Our LEA collected meal applications and then switched to collecting alternative income applications. Do we have to complete verification?

    Yes, verification must be conducted for school meal applications. Information on verification and sample size can be found in the USDA Eligibility Manual School Meals web page External link opens in new window or tab.. Alternative income applications are used to determine income eligibility for LCFF purposes and are not subject to verification procedures. For more information about verification, please visit the CDE SNP Verification Materials Web Page.

Meal Pattern/COVID-19 Meal Pattern Waiver/Potable Water

  1. Will COVID-19 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 noncongregate meal service, program operators should consider how individuals who require meal modifications will be identified and served. See also questions under Accommodations.

  2. If a waiver was extended, do we need to reapply if we were initially approved? Has anything changed on that?

    The waivers that you must opt into are:

    • Area eligibility for open sites for SSO/SFSP
    • Area eligibility for closed enrolled sites for SSO/SFSP
    • Area eligibility for CACFP At-risk sites
    • Meal pattern


    The above waivers require a formal notification to the CDE of your intent, as we have to approve each on a case-by-case. If you already applied, you do not need to reapply.

    If your district requires a COVID-19 meal pattern waiver, or if you need to revise your COVID-19 meal pattern waiver, you must submit a COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application.

  3. How does the court decision regarding the CNPs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements Final Rule affect SY 2020-21?

    The 2018 CNPs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements Final Rule (which allowed flavored 1 percent milk, only half of the grains to meet the whole grain-rich criteria, and sodium Target 1 levels) was overturned by U.S. District Court in April 2020. This means that for SY 2020–21, program operators no longer have those flexibilities, and must revert to the 2012 meal pattern requirements, unless they are currently operating under a COVID-19 CNP Meal Waiver.

    As a result of the court’s decision, the current meal pattern requirements are as follows:

    1. For NSLP, SBP, and CACFP (for children over age 6) flavored milk may only be nonfat.

    2. For NSLP and SBP all grains served must be whole grain-rich.

    3. For NSLP and SBP must meet Target 2 weekly sodium levels.


    Keep in mind, however, that you may submit a COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application as allowed by the USDA Meal Pattern Waiver #63 currently in place for SY 2020–21.

  4. Can we use the COVID-19 Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver if we are not able to comply with the 2012 meal pattern requirements for milk, grains, or sodium requirements?

    Yes. The USDA has stated that the use of the COVID-19 Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver (effective through June 30, 2021) for SY 2020–21 is allowable if program operators cannot meet the 2012 meal pattern requirements brought about from this court decision. The USDA understands that procurement for SY 2020–21 was underway when the court decision relating to the 2018 CNPs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements Final Rule was rendered and, therefore, operators may have challenges meeting these reinstated requirements. Program operators wanting to use the COVID-19 meal pattern waiver for these specific flexibilities will need to submit a COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application. For questions regarding the COVID-19 meal pattern waiver, please send an email to CNPMealPatternWaiver@cde.ca.gov.

  5. Can CNP Operators waive the age/grade group requirements using the COVID-19 Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver for SY 2020–21?

    Yes. If a program operator has justification that serving one age/grade group meal pattern is necessary to provide nutritious meals while minimizing exposure to COVID-19, then they may submit a COVID-19 meal pattern waiver, indicating which meal components for which programs will not be met. Use this link to access the COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application.

    The USDA encourages program operators, when possible, to use the overlap between the requirements in different age and grade groups to offer a single menu to multiple grade groups without the use of a COVID-19 meal pattern waiver. For example, operators may offer the same breakfast menu to all children in grades K–12. Likewise, operators may offer the same lunch menu to all children in grades K–8. The meal pattern for grades 9–12 at lunch requires larger amounts of food to meet the nutritional needs of older children. If an operator requests to serve the same lunch meal to K–12, it is encouraged for the operator to provide extra food to the grade 9–12 students, such as an extra piece of fruit.

  6. If I continue to operate the NSLP/SSO, SBP/SSO, or SFSP through June 30, 2021, do I need to apply for a COVID-19 meal pattern waiver if I cannot offer two different types of milk given the limited availability refrigeration in our COVID-19 meal distribution process?

    Yes. Under program regulations for NSLP/SSO, SBP/SSO, or SFSP, those meals must meet the meal pattern requirements. However, per the COVID-19 Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver, the USDA allows program operators to waive meal pattern requirements, including milk, for these programs through June 30, 2021. Therefore, program operators who are unable to offer a variety of fluid milk (at least two different options), should submit a COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application requesting milk requirements be waived for each applicable program. For any questions regarding the COVID-19 meal pattern waiver please send an email to CNPMealPatternWaiver@cde.ca.gov.

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

    All program operators that are unable to meet one or more meal pattern requirements in efforts to support access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to COVID-19, may apply for a COVID-19 meal pattern waiver. The program operator must complete the online COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application. Once a program operator submits the application, the CDE will send an email notification that the waiver request was approved. The meal pattern flexibility waiver will remain in effect as needed through June 30, 2021. Program operators can email CNPMealPatternWaiver@cde.ca.gov with additional questions regarding the meal pattern.

  8. Are schools required to provide potable water to students eating lunch at school when lunch is served in the classroom?

    Yes. When lunch is served in the classroom, schools are required to make water available during the meal service. Schools are generally required to make potable water available to students where meals are served during the meal service (Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations [7 CFR], Section 210.10[a][l][i]). While not typically served in the classroom, lunch in the classroom does help accommodate social distancing required during the COVID-19 pandemic. When lunch is served in the classroom, the potable water requirement does apply.

  9. Are schools required to provide potable water to students eating breakfast at school when breakfast is served in the classroom?

    No. Consistent with SBP regulations for potable water (7 CFR, Section 220.8[a][1]), while water must be made available when breakfast is served in the cafeteria, schools are not required to make water available when breakfast is served outside of the cafeteria. Please note however, that schools are encouraged to make potable water available in all meal service locations, and throughout the school day, as safety permits.

  10. Are schools required to provide potable water to students who are doing virtual learning and who are not eating lunch at school?

    No. The requirement that schools make potable water available to students where lunch is served during the meal service assumes that lunch will be consumed onsite. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when lunch is consumed outside of the school (i.e., lunches are provided by meal delivery, picked up by parents or guardians, etc.), students would not be able to consume the potable water at the onsite location even if it were offered. Accordingly, the potable water requirement does not apply. As noted above, the requirement to provide potable water with school breakfast only applies when breakfast is served in the cafeteria (7 CFR, Section 220.8[a][1]).

CACFP/At-risk/Waiver Applications/Annual Updates

  1. If a waiver was extended, do we need to reapply if we were initially approved? Has anything changed on that?

    The waivers that you must opt into are:

    • Area eligibility for open sites for SSO/SFSP
    • Area eligibility for closed enrolled sites for SSO/SFSP
    • Area eligibility for CACFP At-risk sites
    • Meal pattern


    The above waivers require a formal notification to the CDE of your intent, as we have to approve each on a case-by-case. If you already applied, you do not need to reapply.

    If your district requires a COVID-19 meal pattern waiver, or if you need to revise your COVID-19 meal pattern waiver, you must submit a COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application. See also COVID-19 meal pattern waiver FAQs.

    To participate in area eligibility for an open SSO/SFSP site or a CACFP At-risk site, a CNP sponsor must complete the online COVID-19 CNP Area Eligibility Waiver Application.

    To participate in area eligibility for closed enrolled sites, an SSO/SFSP sponsor must complete the COVID-19 CNP Area Eligibility Waiver Application.

  2. For the At-risk meal component of the CACFP, must enrichment be offered to participants? What about on the weekends?

    Yes, the activity requirement is still in effect and must be offered to all participants who show for the afterschool meals, whether it's on a school day, a holiday, or the weekend (this includes regular school vacation periods). Please note that you may offer the activity strictly through distance learning. Please review additional responses below that provide guidance on providing enrichment opportunities during distance learning. See also the following question.

  3. Are take-home study packets acceptable for enrichment activities? May we offer multiple take-home study packets at one time, to cover us for the enrichment for days or weeks at a time?

    Take-home study packets are acceptable; and yes, you may offer them in bulk, as long as you continue to offer them in tandem with the afterschool meals to any participant who has not yet been offered the packet and for the duration of time it is meant to cover. This means you would, at a minimum, need to advertise the presence of the study packet each day. For example, if you offer the study packets on Monday to cover all enrichment activities for that week, you should continue to offer them to new participants and also advertise them to enrolled participants, so that everyone present for the meals is aware of, and knows how to obtain, a packet.

  4. How do we describe the enrichment activities in the CACFP application online in CNIPS?

    If your site or sites are already approved in the CNIPS CACFP module, you do not have to change the enrichment description. In this case, the CNIPS locks that field for the five-year cycle for each approved site.

    If, however, your site or sites are not yet approved in the CNIPS CACFP module, and your enrichment is going to be distance-based, you would simply provide a summary description of the activity. For example, if you plan to hand out self-study packets with arts and crafts or nutrition-based education, a one or two sentence description is acceptable. If you are still unsure of how to describe the activity in CNIPS, reach out to your assigned CACFP Specialist for further assistance.

  5. Do we still have to document meal counts and attendance for At-risk?

    Yes. The following procedures will meet the minimum expectations of the regulations waived with USDA Policy Memorandum SP 05-2021, CACFP 04-2021, SFSP 04-2021: Questions and Answers Relating to the Nationwide Waiver to Allow Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option Operations during School Year 2020-2021 External link opens in new window or tab.:

    1. Closed Enrolled Sites Serving CACFP At-risk Meals:

      1. Sites can use a tally system and/or meal count forms with the daily attendance rosters and/or enrollment documents to meet the attendance record requirement.

      2. As parents or legal guardians pick-up meals, the site can use tally marks to record the number of meals served.

      3. The site will need to record the number of left-over meals that will be served the following day.

      4. As part of the day end procedures, daily tally documents should be compared with attendance rosters and/or enrollment documents to ensure meal counts are correct. Daily tally documents should be kept with attendance rosters and/or enrollment documents for record keeping purposes.

      5. For your Administrative Review (AR), you will be required to provide your tally documents and/or meal count forms which includes left-over meals, with the daily attendance rosters and/or enrollment documents to support the meals claimed.

      6. Your Integrity plan should reflect the above attendance and meal counting and claiming procedures.

    2. Open Sites serving CACFP At-risk Meals:

      1. Sites can use a tally system and/or meal count forms with enrollment rosters for the serving site and the neighboring schools the site is serving to meet the attendance record requirement.

      2. As parents or legal Guardians pick-up meals, the site can use tally marks to record the number of meals served.

      3. The site will need to record the number of left-over meals that will be served the following day.

      4. As part of the day-end procedures, daily tally documents should be compared with attendance rosters and/or enrollment documents and transport records to ensure meal counts are correct. Daily tally documents should be kept with attendance rosters and/or enrollment documents and transport records for record keeping purposes.

      5. For your Administrative Review, you will be required to provide the tally documents and/or meal count forms which includes left-over meals, with enrollment rosters and transport records to support the meals claimed.

      6. Your integrity plan should reflect the above attendance and meal counting and claiming procedures.
  6. Since an open site serving CACFP At-risk meals is allowed to meet attendance record requirements by using a tally system and/or meal count forms with enrollment rosters for serving the site and the neighboring schools the site is serving, what constitutes a “neighboring school”?

    The definition of a neighboring school is at the discretion of the School Food Authority (SFA) and would be based on the SFA’s knowledge of their surrounding community and should be included in their written program integrity plan.

  7. How often should a school site operating the CACFP At-Risk collect enrollment documents from the neighboring schools that the site is serving?

    At a minimum, the site operating the CACFP At-risk must collect enrollment records from the neighboring schools a minimum of one time per school year. However, it is at the discretion for the site to collect enrollment records more than one time per year should they decide more frequent records would be helpful, though this is not required.

  1. Are we allowed to serve CACFP At-risk plus SSO/SFSP, now that the USDA has extended the summer program waivers?

    Yes, you may operate them simultaneously. Please remember that, unless specifically waived, all program eligibility and operating requirements are still in effect. Also, participants should not receive more than the number of reimbursable meals allowed in each program for which they are eligible. Finally, USDA has requested, when distributing multiple meal types, that they be labeled accordingly, example breakfast, lunch, or snack.

  2. Does CACFP allow meal deliveries and, if so, what is the process?

    Yes. The process for meal delivery is:

    1. Submit a written request for approval to provide meal deliveries by email to your CDE NSD CACFP specialist.

    2. 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)

    3. 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.

    4. The CACFP Operator must have a Memorandum of Understanding (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.

    5. 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.


    See also Meal and Snack Distribution/Pick Up section.

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

    Yes, if a child was receiving meals through either or both of these programs, then they can continue to receive meals. If a child was not receiving meals through the CACFP or NSLP, then the child is not eligible to receive meals through the CACFP 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..

    See also the response to the previous question as well as the Meal and Snack Distribution/Pick Up responses.

  4. 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 COVID-19 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.

State Meal Mandate

  1. Are SFAs required to provide a meal five days a week when students are distance learning?

    Per the state meal mandate, SFAs are required to provide meals for all days in which school is in session, including distance learning models. For more information, review Management Bulletin SNP-11-2020 California's State Meal Mandate and the CDE State Meal Mandate web page. See question 4 of this section for more information.

  2. Does the State Meal Mandate apply in instances where a child participates in instruction by distance learning?

    Yes. Section 34 of the Budget Bill amended California Education Code (EC) sections 49550 and 47613.5 to add distance learning as an instructional model to require school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to provide nutritionally adequate meals for pupils who are eligible for F/RP meals whether engaged in in-person instruction or distance learning. For more information, review Management Bulletin SNP-11-2020 California's State Meal Mandate and the CDE State Meal Mandate web page.

  3. A charter school is not providing meals directly to their students at this time, but rather directing them to open, community feeding sites in their attendance area. Is the charter school meeting the state meal mandate requirement in this scenario?

    No, EC sections 49550 and 47613.5 state that a “school district, county superintendent of schools and charter school shall provide each needy pupil with one nutritionally adequate free or reduced-price meal during each school day…”. This requirement is not met by a charter school directing a needy pupil to a community feeding site. The charter school is the entity that is required to provide one nutritionally adequate F/RP meal to a needy pupil.

  4. School districts are providing bulk meal distribution, one day a week to all of their students. During this distribution, they provide meals for the entire week (Monday-Friday). Some students attend classes in person through a hybrid learning model. Is a school also required to provide a meal to the children when on campus even if it has already provided meals through bulk distribution?

    Yes, a school is required to provide a meal to the children whenever children are on campus, even if the children have already been provided meals through bulk distribution. EC sections 49550 and 47613.5 state that a “school district, county superintendent of schools and charter school shall provide each needy pupil with one nutritionally adequate free or reduced-price meal during each school day…”. Food Services should consider providing meals to those students on campus while following social distancing practices and meals to-go for the students engaged in distance learning. To-go meals may be distributed through bulk distribution. For information, tips and considerations for bulk meal distribution, consult USDA’s Bulk Foods Handout External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

    The intent of the state meal mandate is to ensure that meals are available to needy students when students are on campus. Students should not be expected to bring meals that were previously distributed by LEAs on campus to consume during breakfast or lunch breaks. If students are on campus during nutrition breaks, meals should be made available to them.

    However, the NSD recognizes that in certain hybrid learning situations students may not be on campus at breakfast or lunch time. In those situations the school should adopt a meal service model that best fits the need of the students. In situations where students are not on campus during the traditional meal service hours and have received a grab and go meal for the day, the state meal mandate has been fulfilled.

    For specific questions related to your school meal operations, please contact your child nutrition consultant or school nutrition programs specialist. An updated county caseload is available in the CNIPS download forms, form ID Caseload.

Meal and Snack Distribution and Pick Up

  1. Under SSO and SFSP, will parents be allowed to pick up meals for their children?

    Yes, the USDA waivers announced on August 31, 2020, include the parent meal pick-up option.

  2. Under the SFSP or SSO waiver extensions, can SFAs serve students meals on days that schools are closed, such as weekends and holidays?

    Yes. Meals may be offered on weekends and holidays, consistent with SFSP or SSO regulations.

  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 noncongregate meal service at schools and nonschool sites. Some examples of noncongregate meal service are grab-and go meals through walk-up or drive-through service. Program operators that have the capacity to meet the food safety requirements can distribute meals for multiple days at a time (up to a maximum of seven days). For meal distribution during winter break, which may be more than seven days, please refer to question #20 below. The COVID-19 Guidance in Child Nutrition Programs Resources tab includes sample menus using shelf-stable items.
  4. School districts are providing bulk meal distribution, one day a week to all of their students. During this distribution, they provide meals for the entire week (Monday-Friday). Some students attend classes in person through a hybrid learning model. Is a school also required to provide a meal to the children when on campus even if it has already provided meals through bulk distribution?

    Yes, a school is required to provide a meal to the children whenever children are on campus, even if the children have already been provided meals through bulk distribution. EC sections 49550 and 47613.5 state that a “school district, county superintendent of schools and charter school shall provide each needy pupil with one nutritionally adequate free or reduced-price meal during each school day…”. Food Services should consider providing meals to those students on campus while following social distancing practices and meals to-go for the students engaged in distance learning. To-go meals may be distributed through bulk distribution. For information, tips and considerations for bulk meal distribution, consult USDA’s Bulk Foods Handout External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

  5. In order to receive reimbursement, is it required to have children present at the time of meal distribution?
    The USDA has extended the Parent Meal Pick-up Waiver for the duration of SY 2020–21 for the NSLP, SBP, CACFP and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) and until June 30, 2021, for SSO and SFSP. The Parent Meal Pick-up Waiver allows eligible program operators to distribute meals and snacks to a parent, guardian, or authorized individuals for eligible children. However, program operators must have a written plan/procedure in place to avoid distribution of duplicate meals. Program operators must also retain accurate records of the meals and snacks served under the waiver and report to the CDE NSD at the conclusion of the COVID-19 emergency feeding.
  6. Can CNP Operators allow children (or guardians) to pick up multiple days of meals at a time?
    Yes. The USDA waiver allows for CNP Operators to provide multiple meals, up to one week (7 days) at a time to children or their guardians. For meal distribution during winter break, which may be more than seven days, please refer to question #20 below. For information, tips and considerations for bulk meal distribution, consult USDA’s Bulk Foods Handout External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).
  7. 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 COVID-19 Guidance in Child Nutrition Programs Resources tab includes a link to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) COVID-19 School Guidance documents. For the FAQs, visit the CDPH California Department of Public Health Schools Guidance FAQs web page External link opens in new window or tab.. You can also find industry guidance on the CDPH COVID-19 Industry Guidance: School and School Based Programs web page External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), and food delivery guidance on the CDPH Home Food Delivery and Food Bank Guidelines web page External link opens in new window or tab.. For information, tips and considerations for bulk meal distribution, consult USDA’s Bulk Foods Handout External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

    You must also consider how you will ensure program integrity to prevent meals being distributed for the same child at 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 a sign-in sheet with days of meals provided. The CDE has created a helpful resource titled SSFP and SSO Integrity Plan Guide (DOCX) to help you in developing your integrity plan.

    Note that seven is the maximum number of days for which multiple meals can be distributed. For meal distribution during winter break, which may be more than seven days, please refer to question #20 below.

    Successful SFA strategies for providing bulk meals include providing children ready to serve, prepackaged meals. For example, a food box containing five days of served cold or ready-to-heat labeled lunch entrees with separate, individually wrapped fruit and vegetables, and milk.
  8. Is the option to allow parents and guardians to pick up meals for children mandatory?

    No, this is a local CNP Operator decision. We encourage CNP Operators to use all flexibilities in a manner which maximizes participation while ensuring program integrity.

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

    The CDE will collect information from sponsors using this waiver and other COVID-19 waivers during our midyear assessment, which will be released this Winter (2020). Sponsors must keep accurate records of their waiver requests and the meals served under these waivers and have written plans in place to avoid distribution of duplicate meals.

  10. 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:

    1. Use a point-of-sale system for meals that are picked up by parents and guardians.

    2. Request that a parent or guardian provide their students identification number(s) at the time of pickup.

    3. Request that a parent or guardian identify the age, grade, and classroom teacher of the children for whom they are picking up meals.

    4. Only offer parent meal pick-up at select site locations.

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


    The CDE has created a helpful resource titled SSFP and SSO Integrity Plan Guide (DOCX) to help you in developing your integrity plan.

  11. How detailed should a meal delivery MOU or Interagency Agreement (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:

    1. Term date

    2. Terms and conditions for meal delivery
      1. Number of meals
      2. Type of meal(s)—lunch, breakfast, etc.
      3. Location of meal delivery
      4. Delivery schedule—once per day, five days per week (excepting holidays)

    3. Consideration—the payment per meal

    4. Identification of the parties to the agreement and a signature by an authorized agent for each party

    5. 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 SFSContracts@cde.ca.gov.

  12. 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 that the correct number of meals are delivered to the correct location.

  13. 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

    • Notify the household if contact information will be shared with an external organization

    • Obtain written consent from the parent or guardian to release contact information

    Only then can the schools share the information with other organizations involved with meal delivery.
  14. What are the requirements for using a private vendor to deliver meals to student homes?

    If the school is using a private vendor, they must have an 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.

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

    Yes, if a child was receiving meals through either or both of these programs, then they can continue to receive meals. 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. .

    See also previous details about the meal delivery process and agreements with vendors.

  16. Does the child or adult CACFP participant need to be 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.

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

    Yes. If one sponsor is approved to operate 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 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) at the appropriate meal service times (as applicable). Additionally, USDA encourages the meals to be labeled by program.

    For example, a CNP sponsor is approved to operate both the SFSP and CACFP At-risk Program. 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 and 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 Program receive an extra meal or snack.

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

    Yes. Note that program operators must have a written plan/procedure in place and retain accurate records of the meals served to report to the CDE NSD at the conclusion of the COVID-19 emergency feeding or during the midyear assessment. Up to seven days of meals and snacks may be distributed at a single time. For meal distribution during winter break, which may be more than seven days, please refer to question #20 below.

  19. What should we do with undelivered or leftover meals?

    Program operators should exhaust all alternatives permitted by program regulations and state and local health and sanitation codes before they discard food. Options include using leftovers in subsequent meal services, or transferring food to other sites. When it is not feasible to reuse leftovers, program operators may donate excess food to a nonprofit organization, such as a community food bank, homeless shelter, or other nonprofit charitable organization. For additional information on donations tracking and reporting, please reach out to the Resource Management Unit at SNPCafeFundQuestions@cde.ca.gov.

  20. How can we provide bulk distribution of meals for time periods greater than seven days, like the winter holidays?

    For the winter holidays, the USDA has allowed states to set parameters for SFAs and non-SFAs wishing to distribute more than seven days of meals for SSO, SFSP, and CACFP At-risk. Distribution of bulk meals for multiple days (whether for pick up or home delivery) brings with it concerns for food safety and the necessity of greater communication to families regarding menus, meal components with food items clearly identified, and meal preparation instructions. Families may also be challenged by the space required for proper food storage and operators need to consider alternatives.

    Program operators are required to update their integrity plans to address these elements if they plan to distribute more than seven days of meals for the winter holiday. When making these updates, program operators should follow guidance in USDA Policy Memo SP-013-2020, CNP Nationwide Waiver Q&A, #18 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

    We also recommend that you consult the helpful resource titled SSFP and SSO Integrity Plan Guide (DOCX) to help you in developing your integrity plan.

    Program Operators:

    • Must include the required components in the proper minimum amounts for each reimbursable meal being claimed;

    • Must ensure that food items are clearly identifiable as making up reimbursable meals;

    • Are strongly encouraged to provide menus with directions indicating which items are to be used for each meal and the portion sizes;

    • Should consider whether households have access to the needed food storage and food preparation appliances; and

    • Should ensure that only minimal preparation is required and that food is not provided as ingredients for recipes that require chopping, mixing, baking etc.


    Additionally, program operators wishing to distribute more than 14 days of meals must:

    • Submit a request to their SNP analyst

    • Establish an opt-in protocol

    • Submit their updated integrity plans to the CDE NSD for approval prior to bulk meal distribution


    Finally, it is strongly recommended that program operators consult with local health authorities and seek the advice of legal services prior to submitting a request to distribute more than 14 days of meals.

Accommodations

  1. Do I have to accommodate special diets during the COVID-19?

    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 or under, and those persons over age 18 who meet the state agency’s definition of mentally or physically disabled, may receive meals under the CNPs.

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

    1. Maintain copies of the completed and signed written medical statements or the Individualized Educational Program (IEP)/nutrition plan at feeding sites to confirm the students are receiving appropriate and safe meals. When implementing this practice, it is important to ensure that Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (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 of your feeding sites.

    2. If viable, home delivery can be an option. Refer to the USDA COVID-19 SFSP and SSO Meal Delivery Using Existing Authority Question & Answer web document External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

    3. Distributing multiple days’ worth of meals (up to a maximum of seven days of meals and snacks at a time) is possible for your special needs’ students.
  2. Should schools be providing meals to students 18–22 that have an 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 CNPs. 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.

Procurement & Solicitations

  1. If a CNP Operator has limited time to conduct a procurement process due to a sudden supply chain disruption resulting directly from COVID-19, are they allowed to conduct a noncompetitive procurement under the regulations in Title 2,CFR, Section 200.320(f)(2) that allow procurement by noncompetitive proposals during public emergencies?

    Yes. The COVID-19 pandemic meets the regulatory intent of an emergency. Therefore, CNP Operators experiencing supply chain disruptions arising directly from COVID-19 may conduct a noncompetitive procurement.

    Example: A CNP Operator contracted with a milk vendor prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to supply chain disruptions, the vendor is not able to meet their contractual obligation. Under 2 CFR, Section 200.320(f)(2), the CNP Operator may conduct a noncompetitive procurement with another milk vendor to ensure that there is no disruption to the meal service. Please note: The USDA clarified that the use of this regulatory provision should not result in a contract that exceeds one year in duration.

    As a reminder, CNP Operators must continue to document procurement details and maintain those records for the appropriate amount of time. Please note that COVID-19 meal pattern waivers are available to address the challenges in meeting meal pattern requirements due to procurement challenges. See meal pattern FAQs.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 just because an emergency has passed, the after-effects on the supply chain may not have ended. If a CNP Operator concludes that the Emergency Noncompetitive Solicitation is still needed, they should first contact the CDE at SFSContracts@cde.ca.gov.

  4. Do MOUs or IAs 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.

  5. 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 January 6, 2021, the USDA issued the FSMC Contract Duration Waiver—Extension 1. The waiver allows FSMC contracts that may expire by or around June 30, 2021 to be extended through SY 2021—22. Therefore, sponsors may use the emergency noncompetitive proposal procurement method to negotiate a one-year FSMC extension for SY 2021–22. Extended FSMC contracts are limited to one-year only. Prior approval from the CDE is still required.

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

    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 on the CDE Procurement in SNPs web page. For a copy of the CDE Model Fixed-price FSMC Contract go to the CNIPS External link opens in new window or tab. Download Forms section and download Form ID No. PRU 07.

  7. 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's legal counsel to discuss options, including the viability of an emergency noncompetitive proposal for one-year.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

  1. Can FFVP Operators provide the fruit or vegetable service outside of a regular school day?

    Yes. Under COVID-19, elementary schools operating FFVP may serve fresh fruits and vegetables to students at the time the operators determine to be appropriate.

  2. Can FFVP Operators provide the fruit or vegetable service in a noncongregate setting?

    Yes. Under COVID-19, elementary schools operating FFVP can serve fresh fruits and vegetables in a noncongregate setting, including through home delivery and grab and go.

  3. Can the FFVP fruit or vegetable service be provided at the same time as another CNP meal service?

    Yes. Under COVID-19, elementary schools operating FFVP can provide the FFVP service alongside other CNP meals. This means that elementary schools that are operating other CNPs during an unanticipated school closure, such as the SFSP, or the NSLP SSO, may provide FFVP foods along with SFSP or SSO meals at the same time. Please note: FFVP foods may only be provided at elementary schools currently approved to operate the program. However, if the FFVP awarded elementary school is operating as an open site, FFVP foods may be provided to any children attending the site.

Paying for Staff and Other Expenses

  1. 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 CNPs 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, 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–CNPs web page. For questions about employee timekeeping, please reach out to the Resource Management Unit at SNPCafeFundQuestions@cde.ca.gov.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 CNP operations. All purchases must continue to meet the required criteria of being reasonable, allocable, and necessary.

  4. Can funds from the cafeteria fund be used to cover meal delivery costs or the purchase of supplies to facilitate noncongregate meal service during the public health emergency?

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

  5. Can funds from the cafeteria fund be used to purchase bottled water (as an alternative to water fountains and other on-site options) for noncongregate meals served during the public health emergency?

    Yes. The purchase of potable water to supplement meals served in noncongregate settings is an allowable cost. For further information, please refer to USDA Policy Memoranda SP 28-2011: Water Availability During NSLP Meal Service External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), CACFP 20-2016: Water Availability in the CACFP External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), and SP 49-2016, CACFP 18-2016: Resources for Making Potable Water Available in Schools and Child Care Facilities External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). Please note that milk is expected to be served as part of each reimbursable meal and potable water may not be provided as a substitute for milk.

  6. Can sponsors pay staff salaries using funds from the cafeteria fund 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 nonfederal, 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 that 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 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.

  7. How should sponsors approved to operate any of the CNPs treat nonrefundable 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 CNP or a related activity. This flexibility applies only to costs incurred prior to March 17, 2020.

COVID-19 Disaster Relief (State Funded)

  1. Can I still submit a COVID-19 disaster claim?

    No. The final filing date to submit the online application for COVID-19 disaster claims was October 30, 2020.

  2. I need to revise the information within my previously submitted application, but the October 30, 2020, deadline has already passed. What do I do?

    If your application was submitted by the October 30, 2020, deadline, your fiscal analyst will continue to work with you to finalize the details of your COVID-19 disaster claim through March 5, 2020. Note that this is a final deadline. Revisions or corrections to claims will not be accepted after March 5, 2020.

  3. Who is eligible to receive COVID-19 disaster relief?

    Program operators, including, school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, residential child care institutions, and private schools participating in the NSLP, SBP, SSO, and SFSP which had sites that were temporarily closed or meals served was reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the months of March through August 2020 are eligible.

  4. Are CACFP sponsors eligible for disaster relief?

    No. CACFP sponsors are not eligible to receive Prop 98 COVID-19 disaster relief. Pursuant to the 2020 Budget Act, Sec 118 External link opens in new window or tab., COVID-19 disaster relief is limited to school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, residential childcare institutions, and private schools participating in the NSLP, SBP, SSO, and SFSP. Also see California EC Section 49505(c) External link opens in new window or tab. for more information regarding disaster claim requirements.

    However, on January 26, 2021, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released policy memo SP 06-2021, CACFP 05-2021 Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Emergency Operating Costs During COVID-19: Implementation Guidance for State Agencies External link opens in new window or tab.. This memo provides an overview of the federal funding made available to state agencies through the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Operators, including those participating in the CACFP. This funding provides partial reimbursement of emergency operating costs incurred from mid-March through June 2020, inclusive, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The CDE has already applied on behalf of all eligible program operators. All eligible CACFP Operators will be automatically included.

    For more information on the CACFP ECR Program, visit the Reimbursement tab on the COVID-19 Guidance in the CNPs web page.

  5. We served meals on days that we normally would not serve, such as weekends, holidays (i.e. spring break), or teacher work days. Are those considered operational days?

    Yes. USDA Policy Memo SP-14-2020, CACFP 08-2020, SFSP 07-2020 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) allows program operators to serve SFSP or SSO meals on weekends or previously scheduled days off, such as spring break and teacher workdays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please ensure your meal service calendar is revised and approved within your CNIPS application to reflect the correct days of service.

  6. When determining the number of days negatively impacted by COVID-19, would I include summer school if my school district was scheduled to have summer school?

    Yes. If summer school meal service was negatively impacted by COVID-19, those sites and days of operation, up to August 31, 2020, can be claimed.

  7. Where do I find out what my site ID numbers are?

    Site ID numbers can be located in CNIPS, on your claims in the Claim Site List page.

  8. How can I check the status of my application?

    Your fiscal analyst began validating the application data as it was received. Multiple or duplicate application submissions, data inconsistencies, as well as frequent requests for updates causes delays in the review process. The final review for reimbursement will begin in Spring 2021. Prior to that, the CDE will not have updates regarding the status of your application.

  9. How will the CDE calculate the disaster claim amount?

    The CDE will calculate COVID-19 claim payment amounts using the steps listed below:

    1. Determine the prior period average daily participation (ADP).

    2. Multiply the ADP by the combined state and federal rates.

    3. Multiply that amount by the number of closure or negatively impacted days.

    4. Subtract any funding received and expended from other sources for nutrition related expenses. This includes the $0.75 rate increase for eligible breakfasts and lunches served from March 13, 2020, (when statewide closures due to COVID-19 began) through August 2020. This also includes the ECR funding made available by USDA. Please review the January 26, 2020, policy memo USDA SP 06-2021, CACFP 05-2021 Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Emergency Operating Costs During COVID-19: Implementation Guidance for State Agencies External link opens in new window or tab. for more information.
  10. Some COVID-19 disaster claims have priority over others. Can you clarify which claims will be given priority and why?

    The 2020 Budget Act, Section 118 External link opens in new window or tab. established a priority order for COVID-19 disaster claim payments.

    First priority for receiving Prop 98 disaster relief will be given to those program operators that made an effort to serve eligible meals to eligible pupils and had some or all sites that closed and served zero meals.

    If Prop 98 funds are available after first priority claims have been paid, program operators that served a reduced number of eligible meals to eligible pupils will receive disaster relief.

    For program operators that had some sites closed and other sites open and serving a reduced number of meals, the CDE will first determine the total reimbursement for sites that were closed. If Prop 98 funds remain available, the CDE will then determine reimbursements for sites that remained open and served a reduced number of meals. Whether your entire claim falls under one priority or both, the CDE will be issuing just one payment check for the entire COVID-19 disaster claim.

    If the CDE does not have sufficient funds to reimburse all disaster claims, then all reimbursement amounts will be prorated.

  11. When will I receive the payment from this disaster claim?

    At this time, the Prop 98 COVID-19 disaster claim payment timeframe has yet to be determined. While the CDE had hoped to begin issuing payments sometime in Spring 2021, the implementation of the USDA ECR Program funding (see Question 10 above) will delay COVID-19 disaster claim payments, as these payments must be issued prior to the Prop 98 payments.

  12. How will I receive the disaster claim payment?

    A payment check will be mailed directly to the program operator.

COVID-19 Disaster Relief (Federally Funded)

  1. Will COVID-19 disaster claims be paid from federal funds?

    Both federal and state funding has been made available to program operators who were impacted by COVID-19. Prop 98 COVID-19 disaster claims will be paid using Prop 98 state funds and are contingent upon the availability of those funds. If the CDE does not have sufficient Prop 98 state funds to reimburse all 2019–20 disaster claims (including non-COVID-19 disaster claims, such as wildfires), then all reimbursement amounts will be prorated. The CDE will calculate these claims using data submitted through the online application process, as well as prior period data as required by the 2020 Budget Act.

    Although Prop 98 COVID-19 disaster claims will be paid from state funds, federal funding has been made available to provide other emergency disaster relief. Federal CARES Act funds have been made available to increase reimbursement rates by $0.75 for eligible meals served in March through August 2020. Additionally, Federal Consolidated Appropriations Act funds have also been made available to provide relief to School Nutrition Program (SNP) and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsors.

  2. Are federal CARES funds available to pay COVID-19 disaster claims?

    In accordance with the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, $112,231,000 has been allocated from the Federal Trust Fund to increase rates for specific meals served during the COVID-19 pandemic. An additional $80 million in Prop 98 state funds has also been allocated for this same purpose. This combined supplemental funding provides eligible program operators an increased rate of $0.75 for breakfasts and lunches served during statewide closures from March 13, 2020, through August 2020, inclusive. The CDE began issuing rate increase payments in December 2020 for meals served April through August 2020, and expects payments to be completed for meals served in March 2020 in Spring 2021.

  3. What is the source of CARES Act funds?

    CARES Act funding is federal funding appropriated through federal legislation, directing funds to states, local governments, and other entities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  4. Who is eligible to receive the additional $0.75 rate increase for meals served during statewide closures?

    Program operators, including, school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, residential childcare institutions, and private schools participating in the NSLP, SBP, SSO, and SFSP that served meals from March 13, 2020, (when statewide school closures began) through August 2020, are eligible for the additional $.075 rate increase.

  5. When will we receive the additional $0.75 rate increase for meals served during statewide closures?

    The CDE began issuing rate increase payments in December 2020 for meals served in April 2020 through August 2020, inclusive. Most sponsors began receiving those warrants in January 2021 for this time period.

    For March 2020 meals, the CDE sent a survey to the field to identify the meals served during COVID-19 and has been working with sponsors to verify the information provided in order to determine the number of meals eligible for the increased rate. Due to the extended processing time for this month specifically, sponsors can expect to receive payment checks during Spring 2021.

  6. I am an eligible program operator, but my agency did not actually close. Am I still eligible to receive the $0.75 rate increase?

    Yes. Eligible program operators participating in the NSLP, SBP, SSO, and SFSP that served meals from March 13, 2020, through August 2020, will receive the additional rate for breakfasts and lunches served during that timeframe.

  7. I received the $0.75 rate increase payment. How do I determine if this was made from federal or state funds?

    As a reminder, the supplemental rate increase is funded using both Federal CARES funds and State Proposition 98 funds. Most program operators’ payments will be made from just one of the two funding sources. The information below will assist in identifying these payments within the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS).

    Once logged into CNIPS, on the Claims Tab in the blue menu bar, select “Payment Summary” under Item. In the Payment Summary screen, there are four fields that will help provide important details regarding your $0.75 rate increase payments, including the Schedule Number, State Year, Fund Authority, and Account Description.

    • Schedule Number: This is found on the far left of the Payment Summary screen. The “SUP-” prefix indicates that this is a supplemental reimbursement for the 75-cent rate increase.

    • State Year: This is found to the right of the Schedule Number. Remember that eligible meals spanned two Fiscal Years. March through June payments are reflected under the 2019–20 payment summary and July through August payments are reflected under the 2020-21 payment summary.

    • Fund Authority: This is found on the far right of the Payment Summary screen. Temporarily, CNIPS will reflect that these payments are made from Federal funds, regardless of whether they were actually Federal CARES or State Prop 98 funds. This is a technical issue that we are working to correct. For your internal record keeping, when identifying the funding source, please use the Account Description information instead.

    • Account Description: This is found on the second line of the Payment Summary screen, directly below the Schedule Number. This reflects whether the funds were Federal CARES funds or State Prop 98, or both. Please refer to this Account Description section when determining the funding source.
  8. What resource code do I use to report the $0.75 rate?

    The CDE School Fiscal Services Division has created two new standardized account code structure (SACS) resource codes to be used to record these supplemental revenues depending on if the funds were identified as federal or state. Once the funding source has been identified, please ensure the revenue is deposited into the cafeteria fund and recorded using the respective resource codes below:

    • Resource 5316, Child Nutrition: COVID CARES Act Supplemental Meal Reimbursement (Federal funds)

    • Resource 7027, Child Nutrition: COVID State Supplemental Meal Reimbursement (State funds)

    Both resource codes are now available in the SACS tables of valid code combinations. If you have questions about the accounting for these funds using the new resource codes, please contact the School Fiscal Services Division at SACSINFO@cde.ca.gov.

    Some charter schools do not use the SACS to account for program revenues and expenditures. These agencies should ensure that revenues and expenditures are accounted for in a manner that demonstrates the deposit and use of funds for the SNP and Summer Meals Programs.

Additional FAQs

  1. 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.
  2. 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 (DOJ) or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). More information can be found at the DOJ website External link opens in new window or tab. and the FTC website External link opens in new window or tab.. You may also submit a complaint directly to the DOJ’s Antitrust Division by visiting the Citizen Complaint Center web page External link opens in new window or tab..

  3. 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 Consumer Complaint Against a Business/Company web page External link opens in new window or tab.. More information can be found on the Consumer Resources website External link opens in new window or tab., 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 DOJ created a task force to address COVID-19-related market manipulation, hoarding, and price gouging. For more information about the DOJ’s efforts, visit the DOJ Coronavirus Response web page External link opens in new window or tab. and to access the memorandum that created the task force, select the Memorandum for All Heads of Department Components and Law Enforcement Agencies External link opens in new window or tab..

  4. 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. You may continue to use the 2015 AJFA poster if new (2019) posters have not yet 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 Daytime Childcare and At-risk: 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

    • FFVP: Once per day and minimum three times per week
  7. What is the status of the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program for SY 2020–21?

    The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act extended P-EBT through September 2021. The extension of P-EBT for this school year requires that the USDA review and approve updated State Agency plans prior to the issue of benefits. At this time, the USDA has not approved a California plan for P-EBT benefits for this school year, and as a result, benefits have not yet been issued.

    For more information about the status of P-EBT, please visit the California Department of Social Services Pandemic EBT web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, March 23, 2021
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