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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

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Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Programs

  1. How do I apply for funding?

    You do not need to apply, the 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 Program (CACFP) ECR Program.

  2. How will I know if I am eligible?

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

    School food authorities (SFA) may be 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:

    • You must be a CNP participant and have a current formal agreement with the state agency, or sponsoring agency, if applicable.

    • 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 or February of 2020.

    • For the CACFP ECR Program, you must have resumed operations during any month September 2020 through present day, or provide assurances that you will begin services within 90 days of the end of the public health emergency.

    • For the School Nutrition Programs (SNP), you must have resumed operations during any of the months of September 2020 through present day, or provide assurances that you will file a claim for a month that occurs during the first full semester or equivalent term following the end of the public health emergency.


    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 operation at minimum January or February of 2020, and have resumed operations during any month September through present day, generating a meal claim. If you were closed for the duration of the reimbursement period March–June 2019, you may still be eligible. However, to be eligible you must currently be a CNP participant.

  4. If I self-cancel and close my program permanently, will I still be eligible?

    To be eligible, you must be a CNP participant and have a current formal agreement with the CDE, or your sponsoring agency, if applicable. If you self-cancel and close your program prior to ECR funds disbursement, you will no longer be eligible for the ECR program(s).

  5. 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.

  6. 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, 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).

  7. What can I use the funds for?

    Funds from the CACFP and SNP 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.

  8. Can I use funds to purchase equipment?

    Funds from the CACFP and SNP 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 the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) and receive prior approval from your CACFP or SNP specialist.

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

    Sponsors will calculate reimbursements for DCHs and SOUCs as well as disbursing funds. SOUCs who do not distribute funds to their sites/providers but instead, operate their program with a centralized, aggregated budget, are exempt from completing the Sponsor Calculations Worksheet. In such cases, the CDE will calculate and disburse ECR reimbursement funds directly to the agency.

    DCH Sponsors and SOUCs that disburse meal reimbursements to sites are also responsible for obtaining assurance statements from DCHs and centers wishing to participate in the CACFP ECR Program; these centers are otherwise eligible and have not yet opened services again, but commit to opening within 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic has been declared.

    DCH Sponsor reimbursement will be based on administrative funds. SOUC reimbursement will be based on existing agreements between sponsors and centers 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.

  10. How do I know if I need to provide an assurance statement?

    Assurance statements are only required for those agencies, sponsors, and providers who may be eligible for the ECR Program, but have not yet resumed services as of September 2020 through present day. The CDE has notified all potentially eligible SNP and CACFP Sponsors if an assurance statement was needed and DCH Sponsors and SOUCs have notified those DCHs and centers of the opportunity to submit an assurance statement and qualify for this program.

  11. What happens if we submit a statement of assurances, but for unforeseen reasons we don’t end up reopening?

    The CDE may seek recovery of these funds should you fail to reopen operations. The process for fund recovery is under development.

  12. As a Sponsor of Affiliated Centers (or Center Sponsor), do I need to submit an Assurances Statement for each closed, but potentially eligible site?

    No. Following clarification received by the USDA, it was determined that Sponsors of Affiliated Centers that maintain an aggregated budget and do not distribute reimbursement funds to sites, are not required to collect assurances statements. Because reimbursements are not distributed to sites, Sponsors of Affiliated Centers that maintain an aggregated budget do not need to submit an ECR Sponsor Calculations Worksheet.

SSO

  1. Do we need to reapply for waivers for School Year (SY) 2021–22?

    Yes, the USDA requires for state agencies to track local program operator utilization of waivers for the upcoming school year. Agencies electing to utilize these new waivers must complete the online SY 2021–22 Waiver Elections Application.

    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 meal pattern waiver application. Please review the Meal Pattern FAQs below for more information.

  2. Can schools operate the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) after the regular school year begins in SY 2021–22?

    No. The main purpose of the SFSP is to provide food service to children when schools are closed. Because the USDA Food Nutrition Service (FNS) did not issue a waiver allowing SFSP to operate when schools are open during the regular school year in SY 2021–22, SFSP operations must end when schools reopen for the new school year. When schools reopen for SY 2021–22, school may choose to participate in SSO, NSLP, or the School Breakfast Program (SBP).

  3. Does the extension by the USDA of the summer feeding option 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 SSO and provide meals to all children ages 18 and under. SFAs operating a closed-enrolled SSO site may feed only the students enrolled at that site. In addition, persons with mental or physical disabilities as defined by the State who are participating in a school program, or persons enrolled in a Residential Child Care Institute under 21 years of age may be provided with SSO meals.

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

    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?

    Implementation of the new waivers is not mandatory. The CDE recommends that SFAs use the meal program that best fits their needs. However, it should be noted that for the 2021–22 SY, the USDA is reimbursing meals served under SSO using the higher SFSP rates; these meals are also eligible for state reimbursement. As a result, there is an economic incentive to serve SSO during the 2021–22 SY.

  7. Can an SFA operate SFSP after the regular SY begins in SY 2021–22?

    No. SFSP operations must end when schools reopen for the new SY. When the new SY begins, SFAs can operate the SSO or the NSLP/SBP.

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

    Yes, agencies that have not previously participated in SSO can apply to participate under this waiver.

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

    Yes, the new waivers allow the district the discretion to determine if SSO or NSLP meets their needs and to serve through the end of the school year, June 30, 2022.

  10. Are SFAs that are operating the SSO for the entirety of the 21–22 SY allowed to collect and process free and reduced-price (F/RP) meal applications?

    On June 11, 2021, the USDA released Policy Memorandum SP 14-2021, CACFP 13-2021, SFSP 08-2021 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) which allows SFAs to continue to collect F/RP meal applications, even if operating the SSO for SY 2021–22. Applications collected may be used for local control funding formula (LCFF) purposes and to determine eligibility for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT).

  11. 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.

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

    While eligibility determinations are not required for the SSO, 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.

  13. Under Child Nutrition Response #86: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Summer Food Service Reimbursement Rates in SY 2021–22, SFAs may claim SSO meals and snacks at the SFSP free rate. Does this mean SFAs may claim breakfast, lunch, and snack at the SFSP rate each day meals are served?

    No. This waiver does not change the maximum number of meals that can be served through SSO each day. SFAs participating in SSO may serve and claim up to two meals, or one meal and one snack, per child, per day. For example, an SFA could choose to serve breakfast and lunch, breakfast and snack, or lunch and snack. For SY 2021–22, the meals and snacks an SFA opts to serve through SSO may be claimed at the SFSP reimbursement rate. Meals or snacks served through other CNPs would be claimed at the appropriate Program reimbursement rate. For example, if an SFA also serves suppers through the CACFP At-risk Afterschool Program, the suppers would be claimed at the CACFP reimbursement rate for suppers.

  14. May SFAs operating SSO during SY 2021–22 and earning SFSP reimbursement rates also receive additional reimbursement amounts tied to NSLP/SBP operations, including the NSLP 7 cent performance-based reimbursement and 2 cent differential, and SBP severe need payments?

    No. These additional payments are specifically tied to the receipt of NSLP/SBP base reimbursement rates and may not be paid to SFAs receiving the higher SFSP reimbursements during SY 2021–22.

  15. Is there an expectation that SFAs participating in SSO in SY 2021–22 will return to NSLP/SBP operations at some point during the school year?

    No. SFAs that participate in SSO for SY 2021–22 may operate SSO for the full duration of the school year. Operating the SSO provides administrative flexibility for schools and maximizes access for children, while also giving schools additional financial support to provide nutritious meals. Furthermore, by not collecting money for meals, schools have maximum flexibility to serve meals in a way that prioritizes health and safety. Allowing SSO for the full duration of the school year speeds up service of meals and facilitates Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for safe meal service, and reduces contact and potential exposure to COVID-19.

  16. May any school, regardless of its location, provide meals through the SSO beginning on July 1, 2021?

    Yes. If you wish to provide meals through the SSO in SY 2021–22, you will need to opt-in to this flexibility using the SY 2021–22 Waiver Elections Application. FNS has said that providing schools greater flexibility to distribute meals at a variety of safe meal sites that serve a smaller number of children will support social distancing and community safety during the summer months and into the school year. During COVID-19 operations in SY 2021–22, any school, regardless of its location, may serve free meals to all children through SSO.

  17. May SFAs operating SSO in SY 2021–22 serve weekend and holiday meals through SSO?

    No. Consistent with supporting a transition back to more traditional school year operations, SFAs may not provide weekend or holiday meals through the SSO when school is in session during the regular 2021–22 SY. However, SSO weekend meals will remain available during unanticipated school closures. Furthermore, weekend or holiday meals may be provided through the CACFP At-risk Afterschool Meals Program, which is more widely available in SY 2021–22 due to the area eligibility waiver (Nationwide Waiver #93). In addition, SFAs may continue to provide holiday meals during extended school break periods of 10 days or more, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.

  18. May SFAs operate SSO at nonschool sites in SY 2021–22?

    Yes, SFAs participating in SSO have maximum flexibility to serve meals in a way that prioritizes health and safety, including serving meals at nonschool sites. However, FNS encourages SFAs to operate SSO at school sites when possible. As schools transition back to in-person learning, SFAs may choose to offer meals only at their school sites.

  19. When can SFAs operating SSO begin to claim meals at the SFSP reimbursement rate?

    SFAs electing to operate SSO by opting into this flexibility using the SY 2021–22 Waiver Elections Application may begin claiming SSO meals at the SFSP rate on July 1, 2021. This means that an SFA could begin to receive the higher SFSP reimbursement during summer operations, before the official start of the SFA’s school year. SFAs operating SSO may continue to claim meals at the SFSP rate through June 30, 2022.

  20. May any type of SSO site claim meals at the SFSP rate after July 1, 2021?

    Yes; if SFAs elect the flexibility of serving SSO during the school year using the SY 2021–22 Waiver Elections Application, any SSO site, including closed-enrolled sites and academic summer schools, may receive the SFSP reimbursement rate beginning July 1, 2021.

  21. Which SFSP reimbursement rates will be used for SFAs operating the SSO during SY 2021–22?

    SFAs operating the SSO during the SY 2021–22 will receive the combined reimbursement rates established for rural or self-prep sites, regardless of location, effective July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.

    The 2021 reimbursement rates are posted the CDE 2021–22 CNP Reimbursement Rates web page. SSO meals served during SY 2021–22 will receive the 2021 SFSP rates of $4.3175 for lunch and $2.4625 for breakfast. SFSP rates are adjusted annually, so these rates will change January 1, 2022. All SSO meals are also eligible for additional state meal reimbursements.

NSLP and Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

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

    Based on the public health emergency due to COVID-19, the USDA FNS established a nationwide waiver to support the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) while schools are responding to COVID-19.

    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, 2020, and June 30, 2021

    • CEP Requirement: Elect CEP for Following SY
      • Annual Application Deadline: June 30
      • New Extended Application Deadline: September 30, 2021

Administrative Reviews

  1. Will program operators have an SFSP review?

    If program operators are new to the SFSP and did not successfully participate in federal fiscal year (FFY) 2018–19, they will have a review in whatever year they add on to the program. Program operators who successfully participated in the SFSP in FFY 2018–19, but not in FFY 2019–20 due to COVID-19 may participate in FFY 2020–21 as a returning sponsor. 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 2021–22, does not submit an NSLP claim for reimbursement for at least 10 days, and is only operating SSO through June 2022, you will have an abbreviated SNP AR per USDA COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #97. If your agency submitted an NSLP claim for at least 10 days of operation, you will have a non-abbreviated 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 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 2021–22?

    Yes, per USDA Policy Memo SP-05 2021, CACFP 04-2021, SFSP 04-2021 External link opens in new window or tab. , verification will be required for meal applications received during SY 2021–22.

  2. Our local educational agency (LEA) is operating SSO for the entire school year and we do not plan to collect any meal applications for SY 2021–22, what should we do in regards to verification?

    LEAs that do not collect any meal applications for SY 2021–22 are not required to complete verification activities; however, these LEAs will need to complete verification reporting.

  3. 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 patter waiver (MPW)?

    As of October 1, 2021, the SBP, NSLP, and SSO MPW contains different waiver options than the previous MPW, so agencies must submit and be approved for a new SBP, NSLP, or SSO MPW. The MPW will be valid October 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. All previous MPW submissions will no longer be valid as of October 1, 2021. Applications must be submitted and approved, in order to use the flexibilities available in the waiver.

    As of July 1, 2021, the CACFP MPW contains different waiver options than the previous MPW, so agencies must submit and be approved for a new CACFP MPW. The MPW will be valid July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. All previous MPW submissions will no longer be valid as of July 1, 2021. Applications must be submitted and approved, in order to use the flexibilities available in the waiver.

    To apply for a meal pattern waiver, use the appropriate CNP MPW application:


    Additional information on the SNP MPW is located in the SNP tab on the CDE COVID-19 Guidance in the CNPs web page.

    Additional information on the CACFP MPW is located in the CACFP tab on the CDE COVID-19 Guidance in the CNPs web page.

  2. What do I do if I am not able to meet the meal pattern requirements?

    The meal pattern requirements that may be waived are determined by the CNP that is being implemented.

    From July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022, the only CACFP meal pattern components that can be waived are:

    • That at least one serving per day must be whole grain-rich

    • That the crediting of grains by ounce equivalents must be fully implemented by October 1, 2021

    • That low-fat milk (1 percent) must be unflavored


    Additional information on the CACFP MPW, including the MPW application, is located in the CACFP tab on the CDE COVID-19 Guidance in the CNPs web page.

    From October 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022, the only SNP meal pattern waiver components that can be waived are:

    • That menus meet the dietary specification for sodium

    • That all grains offered be whole grain-rich

    • That, for preschoolers, at least one serving per day, across all eating occasions, must be whole grain-rich

    • To offer a variety of vegetables from the vegetable subgroups

    • To offer a variety (at least two different options) of fluid milk

    • That low-fat milk must be unflavored

    • To plan menus and offer food components for specified age/grade groups in the stated combinations


    Additional information on the SNP MPW, including the MPW application, is located in the SNP tab on the CDE COVID-19 Guidance in the CNPs web page.

    If a waiver is not available for the meal pattern component you are struggling to meet, connect with your assigned analyst. You can find your analyst in CNIPs. For schools, go to Download Forms, Form ID caseload; for CACFP go to Download Forms, Form ID CACFP 01.

    Also note that due to the significant supply chain issues that SNP operators are facing, the FNS has offered states some latitude when assessing fiscal actions for noncompliance with meal pattern requirements. If supply chain issues are at the root of your meal pattern concerns, maintain documentation and connect with your analyst or Child Nutrition Consultant.

    If USDA extends these same flexibilities to CACFP, the CDE will notify Program Operators as soon as possible.

  3. Can SNP Operators waive the age/grade group requirements using the COVID-19 Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver for SY 2021–22?

    Yes. COVID-19 Nationwide Waiver #90 allows an NSLP, SBP, or SSO Operator to waive the age/grade group requirements. If an NSLP, SBP, or SSO 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 an SNP MPW Application. Additional information about the SNP MPW, is located in the SNP tab on the CDE COVID-19 Guidance in the CNPs web page.

    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 an MPW. 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.

  4. How does the court decision regarding the CNPs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements Final Rule affect meal service?

    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 the U.S. District Court in April 2020. This means that program operators no longer have those flexibilities, and must revert to the 2012 meal pattern requirements, unless they are operating under an approved COVID-19 Meal Pattern 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 six) 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.
  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 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 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]).

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
    • Area eligibility for closed-enrolled sites for SSO
    • 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.

    The current CACFP MPW is valid from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022, and contains different MPW options than the previous waivers (refer to MPW information above).

    Additional information on the CACFP MPW is located in the CACFP tab on the CDE COVID-19 Guidance in the CNPs web page.

    To participate in area eligibility for an open SSO 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 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 2020-21 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 children, 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 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 children, 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 AR, 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 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 of 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, 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, the USDA has requested, when distributing multiple meal types, that they be labeled accordingly, for 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. 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)

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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 and Pick Up section.

    Note that to participate in meal delivery you must have completed a 2021 Summer Operations Waiver Application for meal time and noncongregate flexibilities.

  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 SSO open site to receive a free meal. To locate 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 and 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?

    The state meal mandate no longer applies to students engaged in distance learning. In SY 2021–22, public school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools are required to provide one nutritionally adequate meal to students eligible for F/RP meals and are learning on campus. Exceptions exist for nonclassroom based charter schools.

    Senate Bill 98 (2020) that extended the state meal mandate to students engaged in distance learning, expired on June 30, 2021. However, schools are encouraged to provide meals to students learning off campus because the federal meal time, noncongregate, and parent pick-up waivers allow for a grab-and-go option. For more information, review CDE Management Bulletin SNP-07-2021 California State Meal Mandate for SY 2021–22.

  2. 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, California Education Code (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.

  3. 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. Although the state meal mandate no longer applies to students engaged in distance learning, schools may make grab-and-go meals available to those students. 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 SNP 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, will parents be allowed to pick up meals for their children?

    Yes, the current parent and guardian pick-up waiver for SSO is in effect until June 30, 2022. All SSO Operators must complete the online SY 2021–22 Initial Waiver Elections Application in order to use these flexibilities.

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

    In SY 2021–22, weekend and holiday meal service is no longer allowed, with the exception of unanticipated school closures.

  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 CACFP and five days for SSO). The COVID-19 Guidance in Child Nutrition Programs Resources tab includes sample menus using shelf-stable items.

  4. In order to receive reimbursement, is it required to have children present at the time of meal distribution?
    The USDA has provided a Parent Meal Pick-up Waiver for SSO to use as needed through June 30, 2022. 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.

    To participate in the parent pick-up flexibilities, program operators must submit an online application:



    For any questions regarding these waivers, please contact your respective program’s county specialist.

  5. 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 five days during SY 2021–22, and more for holiday breaks lasting 10 days or longer at a time to children or their guardians. For multiple SSO meal distribution greater than 5 days, please reach out to your SNP analyst for guidance. For information, tips, and considerations for bulk meal distribution, consult USDA’s Bulk Foods Handout External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

    To participate in the parent pick-up flexibilities, program operators must submit an online application:



    For any questions regarding these waivers, please contact your respective program’s county specialist.

  6. 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). 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.

    SNP Operators with an approved waiver application can provide up to five days of meals at a time, and over holidays lasting ten or more days.

    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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 helpful resource titled SSFP and SSO Integrity Plan Guide (DOCX) to help you in developing your integrity plan.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    For home delivery during the school year, SFAs must 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.

  12. 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 SSO open site to receive a free meal. To locate 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..

    For home delivery, program operators must have an approved meal time flexibility and noncongregate meals waivers.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

    Yes, if your agency completed the SY 2021–22 NSD Waiver Elections Application. 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, and more for school holidays lasting 10 or more days.

  16. 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.

    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 five days) 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 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. 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 (FFVP)

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

    Yes. Elementary schools operating the FFVP may serve fresh fruits and vegetables to students at the time the operators determine to be appropriate, even if that time is outside of a regular school day.

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

    Yes. Although many schools will be back to normal operations during the upcoming school year, due to the continued public health emergency and given possible school building closures and continued implementation of alternate instructional models that allow for social distancing, elementary schools operating the FFVP may serve fresh fruits and vegetables in a noncongregate setting, including through home delivery.

  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 the 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.

    Also note that the CDE was granted two state-specific waivers to support FFVP distribution during school closures due to COVID-19:

    • Waiver to allow FFVP participating schools to offer the FFVP foods at nonFFVP schools (elementary, middle, or high schools) if the FFVP school(s) is closed or does not have meal service.

    • Waiver to allow parents or guardians to pick up FFVP foods on behalf of their child(ren) without the child(ren) being present.

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 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.

  8. 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 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

    • 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

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, November 17, 2021
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