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CNP COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions


Important Notice: CACFP Program Moved to CDSS

The Early Childhood Development Act of 2020 (Senate Bill (SB) 98, Chapter 24, Statutes of 2020) authorized the transfer of child care and development programs administered by the California Department of Education to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) effective July 1, 2021. The content on this page may not be current and involves the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) that has moved to CDSS. Visit the CDSS CACFP web page External link opens in new window or tab. or call 1-833-559-2420 for more information.

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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.

Frequently Asked Questions

[Help]

SSO & SFSP

  1. Do we need to reapply for waivers for Summer 2022?
    Yes, the USDA requires the CDE to track local program operator utilization of waivers. Agencies electing to utilize waivers for Summer 2022 and School Year (SY) 2022–23 must complete the online waiver application forms:

    • Summer 2022: Summer 2022 and Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) Administration Waiver Elections

    • School Year (SY) 2022–23 : School Year 2022–23 School Nutrition Programs Waiver Elections

  2. Can schools operate the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) or Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) after the regular school year begins?

    No. The federal waiver allowing SSO and SFSP during normal SY operations expired June 30, 2022. Additionally, the main purpose of the summer meal programs are to provide food service to children when schools are closed. Because the USDA Food Nutrition Service (FNS) did not issue a waiver allowing SSO or SFSP to operate when schools are open during the regular school year, SSO and SFSP operations must end when schools reopen for the new school year.

    SSO and SFSP may be operated during unanticipated school closures. The USDA approved a series of waivers for use during unanticipated school closures to support continued meal service when congregate meal service is directly limited by the COVID-19 pandemic. These waivers include non-congregate meal service, parent and guardian meal pick-up, meal service time, and alternate site waivers during Unanticipated School Closures for the period of October 1, 2022, through April 30, 2023.

  3. What are the options for determining Area Eligibility for SSO and SFSP meal service for Summer 2022?

    On June 30, 2022, the USDA released the following two waivers establishing area eligibility for SSO and SFSP:

  4. Can an SFA choose to operate a closed-enrolled site through SSO?

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

  5. 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 an SSO site as closed-enrolled, they must only feed the children that are enrolled within the site.

  6. Is it mandatory for SFAs to serve meals through SSO or can they continue to provide meals through the NSLP or SBP?

    SFAs can serve National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) during the summer as a part of summer instructional days. California’s Universal Meal program is effective July 1, 2022, and, in order to receive funding, both a reimbursable breakfast and lunch must be served each instructional day at no cost to students.

  7. How do I submit 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.

NSLP and Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

  1. Do we need to apply for waivers for School Year (SY) 2022–23?

    Yes, the USDA requires the CDE to track local program operator utilization of waivers. Agencies electing to utilize waivers for SY 2022–23 must complete the School Year 2022–23 School Nutrition Programs Waiver Elections online application form.

  2. What is the CEP application deadline for SY 2021–22?

    Based on the public health emergency due to COVID-19, the USDA FNS approved two California state-specific waivers 1) to request to extend the CEP election deadline, permitting local educational agencies (LEAs) that intend to elect CEP for SY 2022–23 to submit ISP documentation to the CDE by September 30, 2022 and 2) waiving the requirement for Program Operators to use April 1 data for calculating the Identified Student Percentage (ISP), allowing them instead to use data drawn any time during the prior SY (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022).

    This waiver made the following adjustments to annual CEP deadlines:

    • CEP Requirement: Data Used to Calculate Identified Student Percentage (ISP)
      • Annual Data Deadline: April 1
      • New Extended Data Deadline: Anytime between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022

    • CEP Requirement: Elect CEP for Following SY
      • Annual Application Deadline: June 30
      • New Extended Application Deadline: September 30, 2022
  3. What is the date that we use to determine our Identified Student Percentage (ISP) for our CEP application?

    USDA approved CDE’s waiver request which will allow SFAs to use data from any time between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 to establish ISP for CEP.

Administrative Reviews

  1. Will my SFSP AR occur this year?

    The response to this question depends on the category to which your agency belongs; see below:

    • If program operators are new to the SFSP, they will have a review in whatever year they add on to the program.

    • Program Operators who are operating the SFSP in FFY 2021–2022 and operated the SFSP during FFY 2019–2020, but did not operate in FFY 2020–2021, are considered new operators, and will be reviewed during summer of 2022.

    • Program Operators who operated the SFSP during FFY 2019–2020, 2020–2021, and did not have a review during those years, will be reviewed during summer of 2022.

    • Program Operators who were reviewed during summer of 2021 and significant operational problems were found, may be reviewed again in summer of 2022.

    Please work closely with your Child Nutrition Consultant to coordinate a date that works best for your program.

  2. Will my SNP AR occur this year?

    The response to this question depends on the category to which your agency belongs; see below:

    • If your agency is new to operating the NSLP in FFY 2022–2023, your agency will have a full SNP AR during the 2022–2023 school year.

    • If your agency was scheduled for an SNP AR in FFY 2021–2022, and your AR was moved to FFY 2022–2023 due to a COVID-19 emergency, your agency will have a full SNP AR during the 2022–2023 school year. 

    • If your agency was reviewed during FFY 2021–2022 and significant operational problems were found, your agency may be reviewed again during the 2022–2023 school year.

    Please work closely with your Child Nutrition Consultant to coordinate a date that works best for your SFA.

    Please Note: The SNP ARs will be completed remotely until 30 days after the end of the public health emergency.

  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. Are SFAs required to conduct verification for SY 2022–23?

    Unless the SFA is operating on a provision (CEP, P2 or P3), verification is required for meal applications received during SY 2022–23.

  2. 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/Potable Water

  1. How can I apply for a meal pattern waiver (MPW)?
    As of June 30, 2022, all meal pattern flexibilities issued through national waivers have expired. CNP Program Operators must follow the meal pattern guidance for all programs:
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 on-site. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when lunch may be consumed outside of the school (i.e., picked up by parents or guardians, etc.), students would not be able to consume the potable water at the on-site 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]).

State Meal Mandate

  1. Are SFAs required to provide meals when students are distance learning?

    Beginning with the 2022–23 SY, public school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools are required to provide two nutritionally adequate meals (one breakfast and one lunch) to students on each instructional day in which students are on campus. The state meal mandate does not apply on days that students are not physically on campus for learning.

  2. Does the state meal mandate apply to nonclassroom based charter schools?

    Nonclassroom-based charter schools must comply with the state meal mandate requirements and offer a free meal to needy pupils who are scheduled for educational activities, as defined in EC Section 49010, lasting two or more hours at a school site, resource center, or other satellite facility operated by the charter school.

Meal and Snack Distribution and Pick Up

  1. Will parents be allowed to pick up meals for their children?

    Summer 2022 meal service guidance for parent pick up and noncongregate meals differs based on the time reference.  For SFSP and SSO Summer 2022 meal service between May 1, 2022, and July 5, 2022, the USDA issued a California state-specific waiver that required congregate meal service to be impacted by COVID-19 in order to use the parent pick up, noncongregate and meal service time waiver flexibilities  With the signing of the Keep Kids Fed Act, the USDA then released national waivers for parent pick up, noncongregate and meal service time on July 5, 2022.  These national waivers replaced the state-specific waivers and offered more flexibility, in that these waivers did not require COVID-19 impact in order to use these flexibilities.

    For SY 2022–23, meal service must be directly impacted by COVID-19 in order for an SFA to utilize the flexibilities offered for non-congregate meal service, meal service time, and parent/guardian pickup waivers and an SFA must opt in via the online waiver elections form. The parent/guardian pick up must be used in combination with the noncongregate meals and meal service time waiver. 

    An LEA experiencing the following situations qualifies for the use of these waivers.  ONLY the situations listed below will substantiate use:

    • School closure due to COVID-19.

    • Classroom quarantine due to COVID-19. Student illness or quarantine due to COVID-19.

    • Staff shortages due to COVID-19 illness or quarantine.

    • Mandate or recommendations from national, state, or local governing body not to congregate due to COVID-19.

    • Service to student groups where the majority are unvaccinated.

      • For example, children under 5, while COVID-19 vaccinations for this age group are unavailable, or immune compromised groups.

      • Note that the waiver flexibilities can be used for these student groups only and may not apply to entire campuses.

    • Documented delays in obtaining supplies and equipment due to COVID-19, that prevents the ability to provide congregate meal service

    SFAs are required to keep documentation on file and to use these flexibilities only for duration and time needed. Additionally, use of the parent pick up waiver requires implementation of an Integrity Plan to ensure duplicate meals are not distributed.

  2. Can CNP Operators allow children (or guardians) to pick up multiple days of meals at a time?
    In order to use the Summer 2022 and SY 2022–23 waiver flexibilities, SFAs must opt into these waivers using the online waiver election forms. Use of the parent pick up waiver during summer or SY requires an Integrity Plan to ensure duplicate meals are not distributed.

    The nationwide summer waivers for SFSP and SSO for noncongregate meals, parent pick up and meal service time released July 6, 2022 allows for bulk meal distribution to parents and guardians. The same waivers are available for the time period of May 1, 2022, through July 5, 2022 however, in order to use these flexibilities, congregate meal service must be directly impacted by COVID-19. Please review question #1 above for more information regarding COVID-19 impacts on congregate meal service.

    For SY 2022–23, meal service must be impacted by COVID-19 in order for an SFA to utilize the flexibilities offered for non-congregate meal service, meal service time, and parent and guardian pickup waivers and an SFA must opt in via the online waiver elections form. The parent and guardian pick up must be used in combination with the noncongregate meals and meal service time waiver.
  3. Can you provide some successful strategies regarding how to distribute multiple days of meals in one transaction?
    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). For information, tips, and considerations for bulk meal distribution, consult USDA’s Bulk Foods Handout(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.

    SNP Operators with an approved waiver application can provide up to five days of meals at a time.

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 via Snap survey. Sponsors will be required to report, at minimum, the use of this waiver and how the waiver flexibilities benefited children. Sponsors must also 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.

    If the parent pick-up waiver was used between May 1, 2022 and July 5, 2022, sponsors should keep record of the COVID-19 impact on congregate meal service and the duration of the impact.

  6. 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 student's 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 two helpful integrity plan resources, one for SNPs and one for SFSP/SSO. These have been updated from previous years and are available in the Resources tab of the CDE’s COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs web page.

  7. How detailed should a meal delivery MOU or Interagency Agreement (IA) be?

    There are no federal requirements for what should be in an 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.

  8. What are the requirements for initiating home meal delivery for a household during summer 2022 SFSP and SSO meal service?

    If you are providing home delivered meals from May 1, 2022, through July 5, 2022 through SSO and SFSP, your agency must maintain documentation of the impact of COVID-19 on congregate meal service and the duration of this impact. Beginning July 6, 2022 and through September 30, 2022 for summer meal service only, COVID-19 impact on congregate meal service is not required in order to use these waivers.

    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.

    SFAs must also have an approved meal time flexibility and noncongregate meals waivers.

    If you choose to partner with an outside or private organization to deliver meals to students' homes you must also:

    • 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

    • For private vendors, you 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. Only then can the schools share the information with other organizations involved with meal delivery.

  9. 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, the USDA encourages the meals be labeled by program.

    For example, a CNP Sponsor is approved to operate both the SSO and CACFP At-risk Program. If the SSO 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 SSO 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.

  10. 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.

Accommodations

  1. Do I have to accommodate special diets during 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.

  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 the 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, Code of Federal Regulations (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 food service management company (FSMC) contract. Can I do a noncompetitive procurement for a one-year contract?

    Yes, the USDA issued the CA state-specific FSMC Contract Duration Waiver. The waiver allows FSMC contracts that may expire by or around June 30, 2022, to be extended through SY 2022–23. Therefore, sponsors may use the emergency noncompetitive proposal procurement method to negotiate a one-year FSMC extension for SY 2022–23. 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, sponsors still need to obtain CDE approval prior to execution. The 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?

    Sponsors will need to rebid their FSMC contract.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)

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

    When operating congregate meal service, the FFVP snack may only be served during the school day (i.e., not before school or during afterschool programs). This provides an opportunity to incorporate a nutrition lesson along with the service of produce. The FFVP cannot be served during the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs’ reimbursable meal service periods. Your school however, does have the flexibility to schedule FFVP during the school day (and at school activities during the school day) for students at a participating school.

    In the event of an unanticipated school closure, and with approved waivers on file for noncongregate meals, the FFVP snack may be distributed outside the hours of a regular school day. If distributed the FFVP snack to parents, a parent and guardian pick up waiver during unanticipated school closures will also need to be on file and an Integrity Plan must be in place to ensure duplicate meals and snacks are not distributed.

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

    The FFVP snack service must mirror the meal service of the site; for example, if a site is serving meals in a congregate setting, then the FFVP snack service must also be provided in a congregate setting.

    For SY 2022–23, congregate meal service must be directly impacted by COVID-19 in order for an SFA to utilize the flexibilities offered for non-congregate meal service and parent/guardian pickup. SFAs must complete the online waiver application form in order to use these flexibilities.

  3. If the FFVP awarded site is closed due to COVID-19 during SY 2022–23, can we distribute the FFVP snack service at an alternate site?

    Yes. If an FFVP awarded site is closed due to COVID-19, the FFVP grantee may select an alternate, non-FFVP school site (elementary, middle, or high school) to distribute the FFVP snacks to the eligible elementary school children. The SFA must complete the online waiver application and opt into the Serving FFVP at Alternate Sites Waiver for SY 2022–23. The SFA must maintain documentation substantiating the site closure due to COVID-19 as well as the duration of the closure and the name of the alternate site where the FFVP snack was served. This information will be requested as a part of a mandatory waiver use report.

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 the SSO 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 the provision of meals in noncongregate settings are allowable costs during Summer 2022 meal service, with appropriate waivers in place. All purchases must continue to meet the required criteria of being reasonable, allocable, and necessary. Meal delivery during SY 2022–23 is only permissible in the event of unanticipated school closures, and with appropriate waivers on file.

  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. Also keep in mind that noncongregate meals during SY 2022–23 can only be served when COVID-19 directly impacts congregate meal service and an SFA has completed an online waiver application form.

  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. Can Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Operators that have received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), made available through the Small Business Administration and qualified lending partners, use CNP funds received from the state (CNP federal funds) to pay back a PPP loan?

    As per the guidance provided in USDA Policy Memorandum SP16_CACFP14-2021: Consolidated Q&As on Operation of Child Nutrition Programs, updated for School Year 2021–22 External link opens in new window or tab. , released July 14, 2021, response to question #2 notes:

    Congress authorized the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 to help businesses facing extenuating circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic to cover their payroll expenses. Some sponsors have used PPP funds to pay for CNP labor expenses. Under certain circumstances, a PPP loan may be forgiven.

    • If the PPP loan is forgiven: Any CNP expenses paid for using those forgiven PPP funds may not be claimed using CNP funds since they have already been paid with another source of federal funding.

    • If the PPP loan is not forgiven: CNP funds may only be used to repay that portion of the loan which was used to cover allowable CNP expenses. This is consistent with existing guidance outlined in FNS Instruction 796-2 Rev. 4 (refer to heading titled Costs Funded from Other Sources and Under Recovery of Costs). Program operators using CNP funds to repay any portion of a PPP loan must fully document such repayments and be able to demonstrate that funds were properly allocated and that such repayments were limited to the portion of the loan that was used to cover allowable expenses under the CNPs. In most circumstances, FNS anticipates that the same payroll cost allocation used by the program operator under normal procedures will continue to apply when considering PPP repayments, though exceptions may occur.


    However, please note that interest due in connection with a PPP or other loan repayment is not an allowable cost and may not be paid using federal CNP funds, per requirements at 2 CFR, Section 200.449(a). Program operators are further reminded that CNP funds may only be used to pay for allowable CNP expenses. For any portion of a PPP loan that was used to pay for nonprogram expenses, CNP funds may not be used for repayment.

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 2019 AJFA poster since the new (2022) 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

    • SSO: 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. Our Local School Wellness Policy Triennial Assessment is due June 30, 2022, can we receive an extension?

    On May 18, 2022, the USDA approved CDE’s request to allow SFAs whose local school wellness policy triennial assessment is due June 30, 2022 a one-year extension. SFAs wishing to use this extension must complete an online waiver application form; the opt in option for this waiver is in both the Summer and SY waiver elections survey.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, October 18, 2022
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