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COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs


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.

Overview

In response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a number of nationwide federal waivers and approved state-specific requests intended to provide temporary flexibilities to certain regulatory requirements of the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP). The CNPs referenced are the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Seamless Summer Option (SSO), School Food Service Program (SFSP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). The California Department of Education (CDE) is assisting program operators of the CNPs by posting policy guidance and waivers, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). For the latest announcements and updates, visit the CDE Nutrition What’s New web page.

Background

Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as extended by the Continuing Appropriation Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, and based on exceptional circumstances of the public health emergency related to COVID-19, the USDA is authorized to waive certain requirements for all federal CNPs.
As the pandemic persists, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service continues to release waivers and guidance to state agencies and program operators so that they can:

  • Continue delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students to the extent feasible through, among other options, distance learning or independent study

  • Provide school meals in noncongregate settings through the SSO and CACFP, consistent with the requirements of the CDE and USDA

  • Arrange for supervision for students, to the extent practicable, during ordinary school hours

  • Continue to pay employees

Please refer to the CDE CNP COVID-19 Policy web page for updated information.

Policy

The USDA continues to issue multiple federal policy waivers to provide flexibility on requirements of the CNPs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The USDA has also approved state-specific waivers submitted by the CDE to further address regulatory flexibility during this time. Examples of requirements addressed in CNP waivers include: program operations, noncongregate feeding, meal service time flexibility, parent pick-up, area eligibility, meal pattern, offer versus serve (OVS), monitoring, food service management, and review requirements for state agencies.

To access the policy memos and waivers, visit the CDE COVID-19 Policy and Waivers in CNPs web page.

School Nutrition Program Operations

Provides COVID-19 related implementation guidance for program operators of the School Nutrition Programs (SNP) that operate the NSLP and the SBP during the School Year (SY).

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has released a number of waivers that have allowed SNP Operators to serve meals through the federal SSO or the SFSP when school is in session. As students transition back to the classroom and SNP Operators offer on-site meal service, the FNS has responded by allowing SSO as an option during SY 2021–22, and has released additional waivers to assist with the transition. They have also offered additional SNP flexibilities to support safe and efficient meal service, specifically:

Additionally, on June 11, 2021, the USDA released Questions and Answers for CNP Operations in SY 2021–22 External link opens in new window or tab. and, on July 14, 2021, released Previously Issued Questions and Answers Relating to the Operation of CNPs: Updated for SY 2021–22 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) intended to provide clarification to state agencies and program operators as they operate the CNPs during SY 2021–22.

SY 2021–22 Waiver Applications Summary

Once you have opted into any of the waivers listed below, they are valid for the entire SY 2021–22.

The USDA requires that the following waivers be used only to the extent needed until in-person congregate meals and snacks are able to be resumed safely: noncongregate meal service, meal time flexibilities, parent and guardian pick-up, meal pattern, and on-site monitoring. As a result, the CDE often refers to these “limited use waivers.”

LEAs are encouraged to periodically reevaluate their situation, and use the flexibilities in these limited use waivers only as long as needed.

Waiver Application Description Timeframe
SY 2021–22 Waiver Elections Application

Available for SSO, NSLP, SBP, and CACFP Operators.

Includes:

  • SSO operation

  • SFSP reimbursement for SSO operation

  • OVS high school

  • Area eligibility afterschool flexibilities provided by USDA Child Nutrition (CN) Response Waivers #85, #86, #92, and #93

  • Noncongregate meals

  • Mealtime

  • Parent pick-up

  • On-site monitoring

  • Meal pattern flexibilities provided by USDA CN Response Waivers #87–91, #94, and #96.

Meal pattern waivers require additional applications to be valid (see below).

Valid the entire 2021–22 SY (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022), except for the SNP meal pattern waiver, which began October 1, 2021.

While valid for the full school year, SFAs should routinely evaluate their need for continued COVID-19 CNP waiver flexibilities.

October 1, 2021–June 30, 2022 COVID-19 SNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application Available for NSLP, SBP, and SSO Operators.

Required to operate using meal pattern flexibilities provided in USDA CN Response Waiver #90.

Must be completed and submitted online to adopt the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

Valid the entire SY 2021–22 (October 1, 2021–June 30, 2022) for use on an as-needed basis only.

July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022 COVID-19 CACFP Meal Pattern Waiver Application Available for CACFP Operators.

Required to operate using meal pattern flexibilities provided in USDA CN Response Waiver #91.

Must be completed and submitted online to adopt the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

Valid the entire SY 2021–22 (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022) for use on an as-needed basis only.

FFVP Parent and Guardian Pick-Up Waiver

(Opt-in via email; see FFVP Grant Section below for details.)

Allows school food authorities (SFA) participating in the FFVP to distribute FFVP snacks to a parent or guardian on behalf of their eligible child(ren) without the child(ren) being present. Valid the entire SY 2021–22 (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022), for use on an as-needed basis only.

FFVP Serving at Alternate Sites Waiver

(Opt-in via email; see FFVP Grant Section below for details.)

Allows SFAs participating in the FFVP to offer FFVP snacks to elementary school children at nonFFVP school sites (elementary, middle, or high schools) if the FFVP school is closed or does not have meal service. Effective July 30, 2021, to June 30, 2022. *Limited Use Waiver: Valid the entire SY 2021–22 (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022) for use on an as-needed basis only.

Waiver Applications

On April 20, 2021, the USDA released several waivers for SY 2021–22, which can be found on the CDE COVID-19 Response Nationwide Waivers SY 2021–22 web page. For CNP Sponsors operating the NSLP, SBP, NSLP SSO, or CACFP, the USDA has provided policy guidance on the requirements and conditions for the flexibilities.

The USDA requires that, for a subset of these flexibilities, including noncongregate meals, parent pick-up, and meal time requirements, they only be used to the extent needed until in-person congregate meals and snacks can be resumed safely. For additional guidance on this expectation, please refer to question number four in USDA Policy Memorandum SP 15, CACFP 13, SFSP 08-2021 External link opens in new window or tab. .

Additionally, the USDA also requires the CDE to track the use of these waivers.

Annual Elections: Valid for the Entire 2021–22 SY

You may opt into these waivers at any time during the school year and they are valid until June 30, 2022: SSO operation during the school year, SFSP reimbursement rates for SSO operations during the school year, OVS flexibilities in senior high schools, and area eligibility in afterschool programs.

Limited Use Waivers

The USDA requires that the following waivers be used only to the extent needed until in-person congregate meals and snacks are able to be resumed safely: noncongregate meal service, meal time flexibilities, parent and guardian pick-up, meal pattern, and on-site monitoring. Once an application is submitted and, in the case of the meal pattern waiver, approved, these waivers will be valid for the entire SY 2021–22.

The SY 2021–22 Waiver Elections Application is currently available online.

The USDA also released COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #98, Nationwide Waiver of Local School Wellness Policy (LSWP) Triennial Assessment in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs External link opens in new window or tab. . This waiver extends the deadline to complete the first LSWP triennial assessment from June 30, 2021, to June 30, 2022. Waiver applications were due by June 30, 2021, and this application is now closed.

If you use the flexibilities allowed by any waivers in your operations, you must have an integrity plan. An SSO Integrity Plan Guide is available in the Summer Meals section of the Resources tab of this web page.

Program operators should update site applications in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) for sites operating under SSO for SY 2021–22. CNIPS Program Year (PY) 2021–22 covers SSO operations for the period of October 1, 2021, through September 30, 2022. For SSO site application updates for dates prior to October 1, 2021, please make changes in CNIPS PY 2020–21. CNIPS is now open for the new school year.

The CDE Nutrition Services Division (NSD) also wants to remind all program operators that there are procurement flexibilities provided by Title 2, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 200.320(f)(2), Noncompetitive Procurements Resulting from a Public Emergency. Also note that if these flexibilities are used, SFAs must continue to document procurements and maintain those records for the appropriate amount of time.

For questions regarding this subject, contact the Procurement Resources Unit by phone at 916-322-8323 or by email at SFSContracts@cde.ca.gov. Please also review the COVID-19 FAQ web page related to procurement.

Finally, individuals serving meals should follow all current COVID-19 prevention and hygiene guidelines including staying home when sick, washing hands for at least 20 seconds prior to handling or distributing food, avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces. Please reference your local public health department guidance for more information.

Noncongregate Feeding and Social Distancing

The USDA Noncongregate Feeding Waiver External link opens in new window or tab. supports access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to COVID-19. The noncongregate waiver under the SSO, NSLP, and SBP for SY 2021–22 is in effect from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. However, as schools begin to safely return to traditional meal service practices, it is the expectation of the USDA that SFAs will limit their use of the noncongregate feeding flexibilities to an as-needed basis only.

If meals are consumed on-site, the distribution and eating areas need to be designed with current social distancing protocols in mind, such as proper shielding between nutrition services staff and students, avoiding overcrowded lines, arranging tables and chairs to maintain the recommended distance, spacing the meal service time, or serving meals in the classroom. Tables and eating areas should be properly cleaned and sanitized and additional handwashing stations should be available to students.

If meals are consumed off-site, the meal distribution sites should be located in areas that are easily accessible to children eligible for free and reduced-price (F/RP) meals. To allow for social distancing, noncongregate meal distribution will vary based on community need and allowability. Examples include:

  • Distributing meals using a school food truck following the school bus routes

  • Sending boxed or bagged meal(s) home with students for up to a week (five days) at a time

  • Establishing a drive through system in the parking lot; parents and guardians can pick up a meal for all children

  • Distributing meals on the weekend for the upcoming week

  • Distributing meals later in the day to allow for easier access for working parents and guardians to pick-up meals

Home Delivery

Delivery of meals can be completed by mail, delivery service, or hand-delivered by school staff. This option is only available to program operators serving students of their own school sites due to student confidentiality regulations. Schools that choose to deliver meals may serve children who are in area eligible locations, or only those who are eligible for F/RP meals. Children who attend Provision 2 or Community Eligibility Provision school sites are considered eligible for delivered meals.

Before initiating a home meal delivery service, schools must obtain written consent from households of eligible children. This consent can be obtained through email or other electronic means. During this process, schools should also confirm the household’s current address and confirm the number of eligible children in the home to ensure the correct number of meals are delivered to the correct location. When address changes or updates are noted, it is advised that SFA staff update these records in both the point-of-sale system and in California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) to ensure that future meals and other benefits are sent to the correct location.

When delivering meals, schools may use a distribution approach that includes meals for multiple days. In such instances, the district should ensure that proper food safety measures and social distancing guidelines are in place. Children do not need to be present for home delivery of meals as long as the school has obtained the household’s written consent. SNP operators should always consider state and local food safety requirements and best practices.

For more information about meal delivery options with SSO during COVID-19, please refer to the USDA COVID-19 SSO/SFSP Meal Delivery Question and Answers External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). Please also review the CDE COVID-19 FAQs web page related to Meal and Snack Distribution and Pick Up.

Summer Food Service Program Reimbursement Rates in SY 2021–22

All program operators that serve meals through the SSO for SY 2021–22 will receive the higher SFSP reimbursement rates under USDA COVID-19 Waiver #86 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

The SFSP offers two levels of reimbursement for meals. Under this waiver, the USDA will provide the higher, Rural or Self-Prep rate for all meals served under the SSO. The SFSP reimbursement rates are posted to the CDE 2021–22 CNP Reimbursement Rates web page. The reimbursement rate for lunch is $4.3175 and the reimbursement rate for breakfast is $2.4625. These rates will apply to meals served from July 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021. After that, the SFSP reimbursement rates will be updated for January 2022 and onward. The CDE will communicate to districts when the updated rates have been announced by the USDA.

Meal Time Flexibilities

The USDA Meal Time Flexibility Waiver External link opens in new window or tab. allows schools to provide meals outside of the prescribed meal service time requirements. The meal time flexibility waiver under the SSO, NSLP, and SBP extends from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. However, as schools begin to safely return to traditional meal service practices, it is the expectation of the USDA that SFAs will limit their use of the meal time feeding flexibilities to an as-needed basis only.

These waivers provide the flexibility to bundle meals together and to provide all of them during one distribution. However, program operators are still required to establish meal service distribution times for each site approved in CNIPS.

Parent or Guardian Pick-up

The USDA Parent Meal Pick-up Waiver External link opens in new window or tab. allows eligible program operators to distribute meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children. The meal time flexibility waiver under the SSO, NSLP, and SBP extends from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. However, as schools begin to safely return to traditional meal service practices, it is the expectation of the USDA that SFAs will limit their use of the parent and guardian pick-up flexibilities to an as-needed basis only.

The USDA has provided additional flexibilities that allow program operators to distribute meals to other authorized individuals on behalf of parents or guardians of eligible children. In order for program operators to allow individuals other than legal parents or guardians to pick up meals on the behalf of eligible children, the program operator must have an integrity plan or procedure in place to ensure that program accountability is maintained and that duplicate meals are not distributed to any eligible child. An SSO and SFSP Integrity Plan Guide is available in the Summer Meals section of the Resources tab of this web page.

To participate in the Parent Meal Pick-up Waiver the following must be in place and retained:

  • Program operators must have a written plan to ensure they are able to maintain accountability and program integrity. This plan can include strategies such as using point-of-service systems, sign in sheets, requesting parent, guardian, or authorized individuals to identify the age, grade, or classroom teacher, asking for a student identification number, and posting guidelines for parents to see and follow.

  • Program operators must have a written process in place to ensure:

    1. Meals are distributed only to parents, guardians, or authorized individuals of eligible children, and

    2. Duplicate meals are not provided for any child.

Examples include offering parent pick-up at select locations or offering parent pick-up in conjunction with providing meals for multiple days.

Implementation of this waiver by program operators is optional.

Area Eligibility Requirements During COVID-19 for Afterschool Programs in SY 2021–22

On April 20, 2021, the USDA released Child Nutrition Response #93: Nationwide Waiver of Area Eligibility in the Afterschool Programs and for Family Day Care Home Providers in School Year 2021–22 External link opens in new window or tab. . This waiver allows schools, regardless of their location, to claim all snacks served through the NSLP Afterschool Snack Program at the free rate. This waiver is effective July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. SFAs need only apply for these flexibilities once and approvals are granted for the complete 2021–22 SY (see Waiver Application Section above).

Area Eligibility Requirements During COVID-19 for SSO Sites During SY 2021–22

The USDA is allowing program operators to provide meals to all students through the SSO during SY 2021–22. While a specific area eligibility waiver has not been issued, USDA Nationwide Waiver #85 to Allow the Seamless Summer Option through SY 2021–22 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), does allow for operators to serve SSO at all participating sites, regardless of a site’s location or type. This includes sites that are not located in area eligible locations and applies to both open and closed-enrolled sites.

Meal Pattern Flexibilities

School Year 2021–22

The USDA has reissued an NSLP, SBP, and SSO meal pattern waiver effective October 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. This is considered a new waiver.

Meal pattern exceptions granted for dates prior to October 1, 2021, are no longer valid.

SNP Operators must submit a new request for any meal pattern waiver applying on or after October 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.

The COVID-19 meal pattern waiver is designed to support access to nutritious meals while minimizing challenges due to COVID-19 related issues. The USDA encourages program operators to maintain and meet the nutrition standards for each program to the greatest extent possible.

From October 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022, SNP Operators can only submit waiver requests for the following meal pattern requirements:

  • That menus meet the dietary specification for sodium

  • That all grains offered be whole grain-rich

  • That, for pre-schoolers, 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

The meal pattern requirements listed above are the only requirements for which waiver requests will be considered. This means that SNP Operators will be required to meet all other meal pattern requirements. For more information on SNP meal patterns, visit the CDE NSLP and SBP Meal Patterns web page.

SNP Operators must complete the October 1, 2021–June 30, 2022 COVID-19 SNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application online and obtain approval to implement the meal pattern requirements. Reminder: SFAs will no longer be required to opt into the SY 2021–22 meal pattern waiver more than once, unless the SFA is requesting an additional meal pattern waiver option.

Offer Versus Serve (OVS)

The USDA released Child Nutrition Response # 92: Nationwide Waiver to Allow OVS Flexibility for Senior High Schools in SY 2021–22 External link opens in new window or tab. that allows NSLP and SSO Operators to use OVS during SY 2021–22 anytime from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.

Keep in mind that this flexibility already exists for SBP. SFAs need only apply for these flexibilities once and approvals are granted for the complete SY 2021–22 (see Waiver Application Section above).

Monitoring Requirements During COVID-19

Onsite monitoring is a critical part of a sponsor’s ability to ensure the sites they administer comply with the regulations and policies involving the service and safety of meals to their local communities. Previous to COVID-19, all SSO Sponsors were required to review each site at least once during its operation. In order to accommodate social distancing and its goal of restricting the spread of COVID-19, the USDA has waived the on-site monitoring requirement until 30 days after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has declared the end of the public health emergency. During this time, remote monitoring is encouraged.

To promote social distancing while maintaining program integrity and federal nutrition and safety standards, the CDE recommends that sponsors perform their monitoring site activities off-site (e.g., desk audit, video visits).

Use of USDA Foods During COVID-19

Due to COVID-19 and the Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for California, CNPs that are participating in the USDA Food Distribution Program (FDP) and are operating noncongregate meal service can use their USDA Foods to serve noncongregate meals during COVID-19.

Additionally, there are two more ways that USDA Foods may be used or donated:

  • If CNP Operators or local educational agencies (LEA) have excess or perishable USDA Food inventory that they are unable to use, they may donate items to nonprofit or charitable organizations such as food banks. Additional USDA guidance on this can be found in CDE Management Bulletin CNP-02-2018: Guidance on Donation of Leftover Food in CNPs. Please note that donated foods cannot be claimed as a food loss.

  • Disaster relief organizations may designate CNPs as feeding sites or request that CNPs provide their USDA Foods to other feeding sites. USDA Foods may only be released upon request to recognized disaster relief organizations such as the American Red Cross or the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services as outlined in CDE Management Bulletin 02-401: Use of USDA Foods in Disaster Feeding. The USDA has also stated that during disaster feeding, agencies can use a “to-go” serving method in order to maintain safe health practices and that this approach will fulfill the congregate feeding requirement.

USDA Foods Entitlement Waiver

On January 25, 2021, the CDE NSD received approval from the USDA to opt-in to the second extension of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Waiver NSLP USDA Foods Calculations.

This waiver allows the CDE to continue to use SY 2018–19 Total Lunches Served data to calculate the estimated entitlement for SY 2021–22 for all recipient agencies during the upcoming ordering period. Most importantly, this waiver specified that the USDA would not conduct the annual reconciliation process in November 2021, which would update SY 2021–22 entitlement to final SY 2020–21 NSLP lunches served data.

Instead, the USDA intends on resuming the annual reconciliation process after SY 2021–22, in November 2022, where SY 2021–22 USDA Foods entitlement will be finalized using actual SY 2021–22 lunch counts.

If you have any questions regarding the use of USDA Foods during a disaster, please email FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Grant

The USDA has granted the CDE NSD two waivers for the FFVP for use during SY 2021–22:

  • FFVP Parent Pick-up Waiver: allows SFAs participating in the FFVP to distribute FFVP snacks to a parent or guardian on behalf of their eligible child(ren) without the child(ren) being present. Effective July 21, 2021, to June 30, 2022.

  • Serving FFVP at Alternate Sites Waiver: allows SFAs participating in the FFVP to offer FFVP snacks to elementary school children at nonFFVP school sites (elementary, middle, or high schools) if the FFVP school is closed or does not have meal service. Effective July 30, 2021, to June 30, 2022.

To participate, SFAs must demonstrate that the waivers do not result in an increase to the overall cost of the FFVP. These waivers are categorized as “Limited Use Waivers” and should be used on an as-needed basis only.

Effective Date

While the use of these waivers is available for use during SY 2021–22, the USDA requires that both of these waivers be used only to the extent needed until in-person FFVP snacks can be resumed safely. Additionally, the USDA also requires the CDE to track the use of these waivers.

How to Opt-in

If you plan to implement the FFVP Parent Pick-Up Waiver or the Serving FFVP at Alternate Sites Waiver, please send an email to FFVP@cde.ca.gov to opt-in.

In the subject line of the email, please include:

  1. The SY you are referring to (for example: SY 2021–22)
  2. “Waiver Opt-in:”
  3. The name of your SFA (for example: ABC Unified School District)
  4. The waiver you are opting into (for example: FFVP Parent Pick-Up Waiver)

For example, “SY 2021–22: Waiver Opt-in: ABC Unified School District: FFVP Parent Pick-Up Waiver.”

In the body of the email, please include:

  1. When opting-in to use the FFVP Parent Pick-Up Waiver, please describe:

    1. Your plan for how you will provide FFVP snacks only to parents or guardians of eligible children, and

    2. How you will ensure that no duplicates are distributed to any child.

  2. When opting-in to use the Serving FFVP at Alternate Sites Waiver, please list:

    1. The name(s) of the FFVP sites that are closed that will use this waiver, and

    2. The name(s) of the alternate site(s) that will serve FFVP snacks only to eligible children while using this waiver.

Within the next year, all 2021–22 FFVP grantees who opt-in to use the waiver(s) will receive an email to complete the mandatory report(s).

Please contact the CDE FFVP Team by email at FFVP@cde.ca.gov with any questions.

Community Eligibility Provision Deadline

On March 26, 2021, the USDA released Child Nutrition Response #82: Nationwide Waiver of Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Deadlines in the NSLP and SBP External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). This waiver applies to LEAs administering the NSLP and SBP through the CEP. The goal of this waiver is to allow LEAs additional time to safely gather accurate identified student and benefits data in order to meet CEP requirements. LEAs electing CEP, when establishing a new ISP, may calculate their ISP using data drawn at any time during the prior school year (July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021). In addition, on July 22, 2021, the USDA issued Policy Memorandum SP 18-2021: CEP Operations During SY 2021–22: Questions and Answers External link opens in new window or tab. . This guidance provides clarification to state agencies and program operators that participate, or intend to participate, in CEP while operating under nationwide waivers.

Additionally, this waiver extends the following CEP requirements:

  • Data Used to Calculate ISP Deadline: extended to anytime between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021

  • SY 2021–22 CEP Application Deadline: September 30, 2021

Communication to Families

In order to ensure that parents, guardians, and students are aware of the availability of meals, schools and community organizations should communicate as widely as possible and in multiple languages. Communication strategies to consider include:

  • Public announcements on radio or television
  • Email blasts
  • Social media messages
  • Automated phone calls
  • Website announcements
  • Newspaper notifications
  • Community partner newsletters
    • Food banks
    • Mayor’s Office
    • Boys and Girls Club
    • YMCA
    • Community centers
    • Faith-based organizations

CACFP Operations

Provides COVID-19 related implementation guidance for CACFP Operators. CACFP Operators include all types of centers (child and adult care centers, at-risk afterschool [ARA] programs, emergency shelters [ES]) and day care home (DCH) sponsoring organizations.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has released a number of waivers that offered additional flexibilities to support safe and efficient meal service, specifically:

SY 2021–22 Waiver Applications Summary

Waiver Application Description Timeframe
SY 2021–22 Waiver Elections Application Available for SSO, NSLP, SBP, and CACFP Operators.

Annual Waivers: Includes SSO operation, SFSP reimbursement, OVS high school, area eligibility afterschool flexibilities provided by USDA Child Nutrition (CN) Response Waivers #85, #86, #92, and #93.

Limited Use Waivers: Includes noncongregate meals, mealtime, parent pick- up, on-site monitoring, meal pattern flexibilities provided by USDA CN Response Waivers #87–91, #94, and #96.

Meal pattern waivers require additional applications to be valid (see below).
Must be completed and submitted online to adopt the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

Annual Waivers: Valid the entire SY 2021–22 (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022).

Limited Use Waivers: Valid the entire SY 2021–22 (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022) for use on an as-needed basis only.
July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022 COVID-19 CACFP Meal Pattern Waiver Application Available for CACFP Operators.

Required to operate using meal pattern flexibilities provided in USDA CN Response Waiver #91.
Must be completed and submitted online to adopt the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

Valid the entire SY 2021–22 (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022) for use on an as-needed basis only.

Waiver Background

In the past several months, FNS has released a number of guidance documents. In some instances, these policy memos have overlapping timeframes and timelines. Additionally, some broader CACFP guidance can be found within waivers titled School Year (SY) 2021–22 and having an effective start date of July 1, 2021. We recognize that this may cause some confusion. For school-based programs, the waiver title and whether the waiver applies to summer meals or school meals will guide you to which flexibilities apply. For others, the waiver effective dates will be your guide.

Additionally, on June 11, 2021, the USDA released Questions and Answers for CNP Operations in SY 2021–22 External link opens in new window or tab. intended to provide clarification to state agencies and program operators as they operate the CNPs during SY 2021–22.

For all waivers, you must report to the CDE which flexibilities you are using. It should also be noted that SY 2021–22 waivers are considered new waivers and, as a result, CNP Operators must report their elections and usage of these waivers to the CDE, and any flexibilities granted previously will not carry over.

In addition, on April 9, 2021, the USDA issued guidance for state agencies to implement Section 1107 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which allows meals to be provided through the CACFP to homeless, young adults ages 18–24. For more information on serving meals to homeless, young adults, please contact your county specialist.

Waiver Applications

On April 20, 2021, the USDA released several waivers for SY 2021–22, which can be found on the CDE COVID-19 Response Nationwide Waivers SY 2021–22 web page.

The USDA requires that a subset of these flexibilities only be used to the extent needed until in-person congregate meals and snacks can be resumed safely. For additional guidance on this expectation, please refer to question number four in USDA Policy Memorandum SP 15, CACFP 13, SFSP 08-2021 External link opens in new window or tab..

Additionally, the USDA also requires the CDE to track the use of these waivers.

The SY 2021–22 Waiver Elections Application is currently available online.

Annual Elections: Valid for the Entire SY 2021–22

For CACFP Operators, only the Nationwide Waiver of Area Eligibility for Family DCH Providers is available for annual elections. You may opt into this waiver at any time during the school year and it is valid for the entire SY 2021–22.

Limited Use Waivers

The USDA requires that the following waivers be used only to the extent needed until in-person congregate meals and snacks are able to be resumed safely noncongregate meal service, meal time flexibilities, parent and guardian pick-up, meal pattern, and on-site monitoring. Once an application is submitted and, in the case of the meal pattern waiver, approved, these waivers will be valid for the entire SY 2021–22.

If you use the flexibilities allowed by any waivers in your operations, you must have an integrity plan. A CACFP Integrity Plan Guide is available in the CACFP section on the Resources tab of this web page and in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) Download Forms.

More information on the waivers that require additional CDE oversite, including area eligibility for CACFP at-risk sites and meal pattern flexibilities, is provided in the sections below.

The Nutrition Services Division (NSD) also wants to remind all program operators that there are procurement flexibilities provided by Title 2, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 200.320(f)(2), Noncompetitive Procurements Resulting from a Public Emergency. Also note that if these flexibilities are used, CACFP Operators must continue to document procurements and maintain those records for the appropriate amount of time.

For questions regarding this subject, contact the Procurement Resources Unit by phone at 916-322-8323 or by email at SFSContracts@cde.ca.gov. Please also review the CDE COVID-19 FAQ web page related to procurement.

Finally, individuals serving meals should follow all current COVID-19 prevention and hygiene guidelines including staying home when sick, washing hands for at least 20 seconds prior to handling or distributing food, avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces. Please reference your local public health department guidance for more information.

Noncongregate Feeding

The USDA Noncongregate Feeding Waiver External link opens in new window or tab. supports access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to COVID-19. The USDA has reissued this waiver for SY 2021–22 and it is in effect from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. However, as children begin to safely return to child care settings, it is the expectation of the USDA that program operators will limit their use of the noncongregate feeding flexibilities to an as-needed basis only. For CACFP noncongregate COVID-19 meal service, only enrolled infants, children, and adults (in adult DCHs and centers, and emergency shelters) are eligible to receive meals.

If meals are consumed on-site, the distribution and eating areas need to be designed with current social distancing protocols in mind, such as proper shielding between nutrition services staff and students, avoiding overcrowded lines, arranging tables and chairs to maintain the recommended distance, and spacing the meal service time. Tables and eating areas should be properly cleaned and sanitized and additional hand washing stations should be available to participants.

If meals are consumed off-site, the meal distribution sites should be located in areas that are easily accessible to the population you serve. To allow for social distancing, noncongregate meal distribution can vary based on community need and allowability. Enrichment activities are still required, even for weekend meals, for those operators that participate in CACFP At-Risk.

Examples include:

  • Distributing meals using a food distribution truck

  • Sending boxed or bagged meal(s) home with children for up to a week (seven days during summer) at a time, if approved in the CNIPS for weekend meal service

  • Establishing a drive-through system in the parking lot to minimize contact

  • Distributing meals on the weekend for the upcoming week, if approved in the CNIPS for weekend meal service

  • Distributing meals outside of the 9 a.m.–5 p.m. business day to allow for easier access for working parents and guardians to pick-up meals

Home Delivery

While noncongregate feeding is contraindicated due to COVID-19 safety precautions, CACFP operators may deliver meals directly to the homes of children or adults participating in the CACFP. Delivery of meals can be completed by mail, delivery service, or hand-delivered by staff, volunteers, community organizations, or others.

Before initiating a home meal delivery service, CACFP operators must first obtain written consent from households of eligible children or participating adults. This consent can be obtained through email or other electronic means. During this process, CACFP operators should also confirm the household’s current address and confirm the number of eligible children or participating adults in the home to ensure the correct number of meals are delivered to the correct location. The CACFP operators must take all necessary actions to ensure that the confidential information is handled appropriately at all times and by all organizations involved with meal delivery. The CACFP operator must have a Memorandum of Understanding 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.

When delivering meals, CACFP operators may use a distribution approach that includes meals for multiple days (up to seven days). In such instances, the operators should ensure that proper food safety measures and social distancing guidelines are in place. Children and adults participating in CACFP do not need to be present for home delivery of meals as long as the CACFP operator has obtained the household’s written consent. If the meals are shelf stable, no one needs to be present, as long as the address has been verified. CACFP operators should always consider state and local food safety requirements and best practices.

For more information about CACFP meal delivery options during COVID-19, please see USDA’s CNP Meal Service during Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks: Questions and Answers #3 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). Please also review the CDE COVID-19 FAQs web page related to procurement.

Meal Service Times Flexibilities

The USDA Meal Time Flexibility Waiver External link opens in new window or tab. allows CACFP Operators to provide meals outside of the prescribed meal service time requirements. The USDA has reissued this waiver effective July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. However, as children begin to safely return to traditional child care settings, it is the expectation of the USDA that CACFP Operators will limit their use of the meal time feeding flexibilities to an as-needed only basis.

These waivers provide the flexibility to bundle meals together and to provide them during one distribution. However, program operators are still required to establish meal service distribution times for each site approved in the CNIPS.

CACFP Operators may serve any one of the following combinations: 

  • Breakfast, lunch, and a snack
  • Breakfast, dinner, and a snack
  • Breakfast and two snacks
  • Lunch, dinner, snack
  • Lunch and two snacks
  • Dinner and two snacks

CACFP Operators can contact their county specialist with questions regarding allowable meal combinations or email CACFPWAIVER@cde.ca.gov with any additional questions regarding the COVID-19 CACFP waiver process.

Meal Pattern Flexibilities

The USDA has reissued a CACFP meal pattern waiver effective July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. Meal pattern exceptions granted for dates prior to July 1, 2021, are no longer valid. CACFP Operators must submit a new request for any meal pattern waiver applying on or after July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

The COVID-19 meal pattern waiver is designed to support access to nutritious meals while minimizing challenges due to COVID-19 related issues. The USDA encourages program operators to maintain and meet the nutrition standards for each program to the greatest extent possible.

From July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022, CACFP Operators may submit waiver requests for only the following three meal pattern requirements:

  • 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

The meal pattern requirements listed above are the only requirements for which waiver requests will be considered. This means that CACFP Operators will be required to meet all other meal pattern requirements. These flexibilities should be used only on an as-needed basis. For more information on CACFP meal patterns, visit the CDE CACFP Meal Patterns web page.

CACFP Operators must obtain approval to implement waivers of the meal pattern requirements.

The COVID-19 CACFP Meal Pattern Waiver Application is currently open. If the CACFP Operator does not receive an email notification after submitting the application, or has additional questions, send an email to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) CACFP Meal Pattern Waivers inbox at CACFPMPW@dss.ca.gov and CACFP staff will follow up.

Parent or Guardian Pick-up

The USDA Parent Meal Pick-up Waiver External link opens in new window or tab. allows eligible program operators to distribute meals to a parent, guardian, or authorized individuals to take home to their children. The USDA has reissued this waiver effective July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. However, as children begin to safely return to traditional child care settings, it is the expectation of the USDA that CACFP Operators will limit their use of the meal time feeding flexibilities to an as-needed basis only. For additional guidance on this USDA expectation for the waiver, please refer to question number four of USDA Policy Memorandum SP 15, CACFP 13, SFSP 08-2021 External link opens in new window or tab. .

The USDA has provided additional flexibilities that allow program operators to also distribute meals to other authorized individuals on behalf of parents or guardians of eligible children. In order for program operators to allow individuals other than legal parents or guardians to pick up meals on the behalf of eligible children, the program operator must have an integrity plan or procedure in place to ensure that program accountability is maintained and that duplicate meals are not distributed to any eligible child. Program operators must have a written integrity plan and retain accurate records of the meals served under this waiver and report to the CDE NSD at the conclusion of the COVID-19 emergency. A CACFP Integrity Plan Guide is available in the CACFP section of the Resources tab of this web page.

To participate in the Parent Meal Pick-up Waiver the following plans must be in place and retained:

  • Program Operators must have a written plan to ensure they are able to maintain accountability and program integrity. This plan can include strategies such as using a point-of-service system; requesting a parent, guardian, or authorized individual to identify the age, grade, or classroom teacher; asking for a student identification number; and posting guidelines for parents to see and follow.

  • Program Operators must have a written process in place to ensure:

    1. Meals are distributed only to parents, guardians, or authorized individuals of eligible children, and

    2. Duplicate meals are not provided for any child.

Examples include only offering parent pick-up at select locations or offering parent pick-up in conjunction with providing meals for multiple days.

Implementation of this waiver by CACFP Operators is optional.

CACFP At-Risk Area Eligibility Waiver

The USDA has reissued the area eligibility waiver in the afterschool programs for family day care home providers for SY 2021–22 effective July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. This waiver allows schools, regardless of their location, to claim all afterschool snacks at the free rate and all at-risk programs afterschool care centers, regardless of their location, to apply to participate in the CACFP and claim all meals and snacks at the free rate. Finally, day care homes, regardless of their location, can receive Tier 1 reimbursement rate for all meals and snacks provided during this time period. The CDE will be applying the Tier 1 reimbursement rate to meals served at all sites regardless of whether or not their site application has Tier 1 or Tier 2 listed.

To apply for this waiver, complete the SY 2021–22 Waiver Elections Application; approvals are valid for the full effective period July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.

Monitoring Requirements During COVID-19

Except for the allowance that all monitoring reviews happen off-site, all monitoring waiver flexibilities under the CACFP expired on September 30, 2020. Monitoring is a critical part of a CACFP Sponsor’s ability to ensure that the sites that they administer comply with the regulations and policies addressing the service and safety of meals. All CACFP Sponsors must now revert to the requirements regarding the frequency of site reviews including reviewing each site three times a year, with two of those visits being unannounced, and no more than six months elapsing between reviews.

However, the Nationwide Waiver of On-site Monitoring Requirements for Sponsors in the CACFP—Extension allows all reviews to be handled remotely (i.e., off-site) until 30 days after the end of the public health emergency, as declared the by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

All new sites must still meet the federal requirements of Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 226.6(d). Below are some of the requirements described in the federal regulation:

  • Licensing requirements or staff/child ratios
  • Health and safety requirements for emergency shelters (ES)
  • Health/sanitation permit
  • Fire/building safety permit
  • Suitability of facilities

The USDA is allowing some flexibility for new site reviews. The CACFP Sponsor must still conduct a review in the first four weeks of operation, but it can be done through a desk audit.

CACFP Operators can contact their county specialist with questions regarding off-site monitoring or email CACFPWAIVER@cde.ca.gov with any additional questions regarding the COVID-19 CACFP waiver process.

Communication to Families

In order to ensure that parents, guardians, and students are aware of the availability of meals, schools and community organizations should communicate as widely as possible and in multiple languages. Communication strategies to consider include:

  • Public announcements on radio or television
  • Email blasts
  • Social media messages
  • Automated phone calls
  • Website announcements
  • Newspaper notifications
  • Community partner newsletters
    • Food banks
    • Mayor’s Office
    • Boys and Girls Club
    • YMCA
    • Community centers
    • Faith-based organizations

Reimbursements

The federal reimbursement program discussed in the entries below does not require program operators to complete an application.

Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement

Overview

On January 26, 2021, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released Policy Memorandum SP-06, CACFP-05-2021, CNP Emergency Operating Costs During COVID-19: Implementation Guidance for State Agencies External link opens in new window or tab. . The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (the Act), made federal funding available through state agencies to program operators of the NSLP, SBP, and CACFP for the purposes of covering emergency operational costs reimbursement (ECR) incurred from March–June 2020 due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Operational costs related to meal service under the SSO and the SFSP during this same time period, and as a result of the flexibilities under COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #59 External link opens in new window or tab. , are included in this program as well. These funds will be provided through two temporary reimbursement programs: School Nutrition Programs (SNP) ECR Program and the CACFP ECR Program.

Please Note: This funding does not include the following programs: Special Milk Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and funds received through grant opportunities like the NSLP Equipment Assistance Grants or standalone and nonschool operators of SFSP.

Background

On January 26, 2021, the USDA FNS released Policy Memo CNP Emergency Operating Costs During COVID-19: Implementation Guidance for State Agencies External link opens in new window or tab. . On March 15, 2021, the USDA FNS released subsequent guidance and questions and answers titled: Child Nutrition Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Programs: State Agency Implementation Plan Template and Q&A Guidance External link opens in new window or tab. . Additionally, on August 11, 2021, USDA FNS released a third set of Question and Answers, titled Child Nutrition Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Programs: Q&As #3 External link opens in new window or tab. .

To participate, state agencies must opt-in by submitting an application to FNS and then later provide a more detailed implementation plan. The CDE Nutrition Services Division (NSD) has already submitted an application to USDA FNS as well as the required Implementation Plans. CNP Operators do not need to submit an application to either the CDE or USDA FNS to participate in this program.

Eligibility

SNP ECR Program

In order for school food authorities (SFAs) to be eligible to receive payments under this program, SFAs must have a current program agreement with the CDE, operations must have been impacted by COVID-19 during any month March–June 2020, and you must have filed a valid NSLP/SBP/SFSP/SSO meal claim through the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) as detailed below:

  • Any month March–June 2019 or January or February 2020; and

  • Any of the months of September 2020 through present or provide assurances to CDE 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.

Note: standalone or nonschool operators of the SFSP are not eligible to receive payments through this program.

CACFP ECR Program

CACFP operators eligible to receive payments under this program include institutions (day care homes, sponsoring organizations, independent child care centers, adult care centers, outside-school-hours care centers, at-risk afterschool centers, and emergency shelters), unaffiliated centers, and/or day care homes, who have a current program agreement with the CDE, whose operations were impacted by COVID-19 during any month March-June 2020 and who have filed a valid meal claim through CNIPS as detailed below:

  • Any months March–June 2019 or January or February 2020; and

  • Any of the months of September 2020 through present or provide assurances to the CDE that you will file a claim within the first 90 days after the end of the public health emergency.

Program operators participating in the School Nutrition ECR Program can also receive payments through the CACFP ECR Program if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Compliance

The SNP and CACFP Operators and all institutions receiving ECR funds will be required to provide and maintain information on how the funds were spent or the plans for spending them. The CDE will be issuing a survey to participating program operators to collect this information in December 2021 or January 2022.

Application Information

Program operators of the SNP and CACFP do not need to fill out an application to receive the ECR funding. The CDE has already submitted the application to the USDA on behalf of all SNP and CACFP Operators.

Reimbursement Payments

Funds for both SNP and CACFP ECR Programs must be distributed to program operators by January 31, 2022. The timeline for disbursement of funds will depend on USDA approval and disbursement of funds to the states. The CDE will distribute funds as soon as possible. Please note that while funds must be offered to all eligible program operators, program operators can choose to reject some or all of the funds offered.

Reimbursement Calculations

The amount of funding provided to each program operator is determined by a formula established under the Act. The CDE will automatically calculate and disburse all reimbursement amounts to eligible SNP Operators, CACFP institutions, and sponsoring organizations (Day Care Home [DCH] Sponsors, Sponsors of Unaffiliated Centers [SOUC] and Sponsors of Independent Centers [SOIC]). DCH Sponsors and SOUCs will calculate and disburse all reimbursement amounts to eligible sites and providers (See Additional ECR Information—CACFP Only section below).

The reimbursement amount is approximately equal to 55 percent of lost revenue by month from April–June 2020, as compared to those same time periods in 2019. For March 2020, the reimbursement amount is approximately equal to 27.5 percent of lost revenue as compared to March 2019.

Since there are program operators that were not operating in 2019, two categories of operators were developed, those that are classified as “new program operators” and those that are classified as “all other program operators.” Each category has its own calculation formula that determines the reimbursement owed to the program operator.

A “new program operator” is defined as one that is operating for the first time, and generally speaking, did not file claims during the reference period of March-June 2019 because they were not yet participating in the CNP. When there is no 2019 reference month for comparison, “new operators” will use the average of January and February 2020 reimbursement amounts in place of the 2019 reference month. If the program operator has only one month January or February 2020, a ‘zero’ for the missing month will be used to calculate the average. In some cases, an agency may not have participated in the CNP during the early months of the reference period but then started their participation during the later months of the reference period. These agencies would use a combination of the “new program operator” and “all other program operators” formula to calculate reimbursements. Conversely, if an operator started their operations during the initial months of the reference period but then did not operate in the later months of the reference period, then all reimbursement months would utilize the “all other program operators” calculation formula.

The reimbursement for “all other program operators” is calculated by subtracting the total reimbursement amount for the reference month 2020 from the reimbursement amount from the corresponding 2019 month and multiplying by 55 percent.

Categories are determined on a month by month basis for each of the months in the March–June 2019 reference period.

Sample Calculations

April 2020 ECR Amount:

  • “All other program operators”

    • (April 2019 Reimbursement – April 2020 Reimbursement) x 0.55

  • “New program operator”

    • [(Average of January and February 2020 Reimbursement) – (April 2020 Reimbursement)] x 0.55

There are a few special circumstances related to payment calculations:

  • For the month of March 2020, the total amount of calculated reimbursement is divided by two.

  • If the calculation for any given month results in a negative number, then the program operator will not receive emergency funds for that month.

For examples of each type of calculation, please refer to the USDA Q&A for Program Reimbursement for Emergency Operational Costs for Child Nutrition Programs during the COVID-19 Pandemic External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

Using Reimbursement Funds

ECR funds may be used to reimburse any local source of funds that supplemented the nonprofit school food service account during the reimbursement period to offset the impact of pandemic operations on that account. The program operator must maintain documentation supporting these reimbursements for future audit or oversight purposes. Any remaining funds must be deposited in the nonprofit school food service account and be used in accordance with normal program requirements. The CDE will be issuing a survey to program operators to obtain this information in December 2021 or January 2022.

Additional ECR Information—CACFP Only

The CDE will calculate reimbursement amounts for institutions, DCH Sponsors, and SOUCs. There are some additional responsibilities for CACFP Sponsors outlined below.

Overview of Sponsor Role

DCH Sponsors and SOUCs are required to support site and provider participation in this program by:

  • Determining the eligibility status of each provider or site

  • Conducting outreach to closed providers and sites to determine whether or not they wish to participate and plan to resume meal service

    • If providers plan on resuming CACFP services, collecting and maintaining an assurance statement

  • Completing the Sponsor Calculations Worksheet and submitting it to the CDE by July 16, 2021

  • Reporting how ECR funds were spent at the completion of the program

    • The CDE will provide more details on this at a later date

  • Verification of funds disbursed to sites/providers

    • Resubmit the updated Sponsor Calculations Worksheet to the CDE by February 1, 2022. Specific instructions will be provided at a later date.

If an SOUC does not distribute funds to their sites/providers but instead, operates their program with a centralized, aggregated budget, then they are exempt from completing the Sponsor Calculations Worksheet. In such cases, the CDE will calculate and disburse ECR reimbursement funds directly to the agency.

The CDE hosted a CACFP ECR Funds Training External link opens in new window or tab. in May 2021, outlining the process for sponsors to determine site/provider eligibility and reimbursement.

ECR Sponsor Calculations Worksheet

The ECR Sponsor Calculations Worksheet is a template excel file that is available in Download Forms section of the CNIPS. This file is required to be used by CACFP Sponsoring Organizations of DCHs (Form ID, CACFP 93) and Unaffiliated Centers (Form ID, CACFP 94) to track and determine eligibility of sites and providers, calculate reimbursement payments, and maintain assurance statements for those sites/providers who elect to submit an assurance statement (see Assurance Statements below).

This file must be completed and returned to the CDE ECR@cde.ca.gov inbox by July 16, 2021. Supporting documentation for the meal claim reimbursements noted in the ECR Sponsor Calculations Worksheet should be available upon request.

If an SOUC does not distribute funds to their sites/providers but instead, operates their program with a centralized, aggregated budget, then they are exempt from completing the Sponsor Calculations Worksheet. In such cases, the CDE will calculate and disburse ECR reimbursement funds directly to the agency.

Assurance Statements

The ECR Program requires that all CACFP Operators who have not yet resumed services, but who are otherwise eligible for the program, be given the opportunity to confirm their eligibility. If a provider or site operated any months March–June 2019, or January or February of 2020, they are potentially eligible for this voluntary program. Program Operators that provide assurance statements that they will resume CACFP operations and file a meal claim within 90 days of the end of the public health emergency will receive reimbursement through this program. For updates on the status of the public health emergency, please refer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Emergency web page External link opens in new window or tab. .

Statements of assurances should be collected by DCH Sponsors and Unaffiliated Center sponsoring organizations, prior to disbursement of ECR funds. All assurance statement documentation, including examples of outreach to closed centers or providers, should be kept on-site and readily available upon request. Statement of assurances must include the following criteria:

  • Be in writing (all forms of written communication are acceptable, including web-based/digital formats)
  • Be signed by the site/provider and contain their contact information
  • Display the date on which the assurance was submitted to the sponsor
  • Acknowledge that the state agency may seek recovery of funds from the CACFP sponsoring organization should the site/provider fail to resume operations within the applicable timeframe

For your convenience, the CDE has developed an assurance statement template you may use. If your agency prefers to customize a form, it must contain all the requirements listed above. Keep in mind you must collect all assurance statements and document them in the Sponsor Calculations Worksheet, which must be submitted to the CDE by July 16, 2021.

To access the CDE Assurance statement template (Form ID, CACFP 92), visit the CNIPS External link opens in new window or tab. Download Forms section.

For CACFP providers who hold an agreement with the state agency, such as Independent Centers and Center Sponsors, the period to provide assurances has closed.

Administrative Fees

This federal program includes administrative support for DCH Sponsors and SOUCs.

  • Administrative reimbursements for DCH Sponsors will be automatically calculated and disbursed to DCH Sponsors by the CDE.

  • SOUCs can retain up to 15 percent of total site meal reimbursement amounts per their agreement for sponsor administrative costs. The Sponsor Calculations Worksheet will assist SOUCs with calculating the administrative fees they can retain from reimbursements generated through this program.

  • The ECR Program does not provide administrative reimbursement for Independent Centers (CACFP agencies overseeing one site).

Contacts and Additional Information

The CDE NSD is providing FAQs to help clarify both state and federal policy and operational questions for program operators in the CNPs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following FAQs include questions on the ECR Programs. To access the FAQs, visit the CDE CNP COVID-19 FAQ web page. You may also contact the ECR Team at ECR@cde.ca.gov with your questions.

Webinars

Townhall Meetings—School Nutrition Programs Only

During the COVID-19 disaster, the CDE has hosted a series of Tuesday Town Hall meetings to help program operators hear the latest news from the CDE and to hear from colleagues their strategies, perspectives, and best practices. Below are the available recorded webinars. Information on participating in the live Town Hall meetings is posted on the CDE Nutrition Services Division (NSD) Nutrition What’s New web page under the Disaster Tab.

Please Note: After a live Town Hall meeting, it takes approximately two weeks for the recording to become available.

Title Applicable to
September 28, 2021, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar School Nutrition Program (SNP) Operators, Chief Business Officers (CBO), Food Service Directors (FSD), and Superintendents
August 24, 2021, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
July 27, 2021, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
June 22, 2021, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
May 25, 2021, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
April 27, 2021, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
March 23, 2021, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
February 23, 2021, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
January 26, 2021, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
December 8, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
November 10, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
October 20, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents
October 6, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents

September 22, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar

SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents

August 25, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar

SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents

August 11, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar

SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents

July 28, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar

SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents

July 14, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents

June 30, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinar

SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents

June 9 and June 16, 2020, Tuesday @ 2: School Nutrition Town Hall Webinars

SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents

May 19, 2020: Thought Partners Webinar

SNP Operators, CBOs, FSDs, and Superintendents

ECR Webinars—SNP and CACFP

The CDE provided informational webinars on the ECR Program. Below are the previous webinars. For upcoming webinars, the announcements and details will be posted on the CDE NSD Nutrition What’s New web page under the Disaster Tab.

Additional Webinars

For additional webinars, visit the Institute of Child Nutrition’s School Nutrition Association COVID-19 On-demand Webinars web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Resources

Below are resources to help support program operators and staff during COVID-19. 

SNP

Title Description
CDE: 2021–22 SNP Integrity Plan (DOCX) The 2021–22 SNP Integrity Plan Guide will assist program operators in the development of standard operating procedures and help identify some of the required documents program operators must collect and maintain to meet SNP requirements. This guide also provides prompting questions that program operators should consider and answer when developing an integrity plan.

CACFP

Title Description
CDE: CACFP Integrity Plan (DOCX) The CACFP Integrity Plan Guide will assist program operators in the development of standard operating procedures and help identify some of the required documents program operators must collect and maintain to meet CACFP requirements. This guide also provides prompting questions that program operators should consider and answer when developing an integrity plan.

Summer Meals

Title Description
CDE: SSO and SFSP Integrity Plan (DOCX) The SSO and SFSP Integrity Plan Guide will assist program operators in the development of standard operating procedures and help identify some of the required documents program operators must collect and maintain to meet SSO and SFSP requirements. This guide also provides prompting questions that program operators should consider and answer when developing an integrity plan.

CDE: SFSP Meal Pattern Guidance and Sample Menus

Includes guidance and sample menus to provide CNP Operators ideas for how to serve meals that meet the SFSP meal pattern requirements.

USDA: SFSP Meal Pattern web page External link opens in new window or tab.

The summer meal pattern for breakfast, snack, lunch, and supper for grades K–12.

USDA: COVID-19 SFSP and SSO Meal Delivery Questions and Answer Guide External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

The Question and Answer guide for serving meals during COVID-19.

CDE: Serving Summer Meals During School Closures Due to COVID-19 Fact Sheet (PDF)

This handout is a quick reference fact sheet for Serving Summer Meals During School Closures Due to COVID-19 for the SFSP and the SSO.

USDA SSO: Providing Multiple Meals at a Time During COVID-19 Pandemic Fact Sheet External link opens in new window or tab.

SSO: Providing Multiple Meals at a Time During the Coronavirus Pandemic

CDE: CNP Flexibilities During COVID-19 Fact Sheet (PDF)

 

This handout summarizes the guidance and flexibilities for SNPs operating the SSO, SFSP and CACFP during COVID-19 school closures or site dismissals.

Access to Food

Title Description

USDA: School Meals Programs: Providing Multiple Meals at a Time During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic External link opens in new window or tab.

This publication provides bulk foods consideration, tips, best practices, and sample menus for school meals program operators who wish to distribute multiple meals at one time.
CDE: Providing Bulk Foods During the COVID-19 Pandemic Fact Sheets (PDF) This handout provides Questions and Answers for CNP Operators in regards to using and offering bulk foods.

California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Certified List of California Producers by County External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

This is CDFA’s list of certified farmer’s market sellers. As this is a nationally declared emergency, please note that Title 2, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 200.320(f)(2), allows sponsors to engage in noncompetitive solicitations due to supply chain disruptions.

CDE: CNPs Community Engagement Response to COVID-19

CNPs are important to maximizing food resources, supporting disaster relief, and promoting food assistance programs. This web page provides CNP Operators resources to assist communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Best Practices

Title Description

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Considerations for Schools External link opens in new window or tab.

This web page provides a listing of best practices, considerations, and resources for returning to school.

USDA: CNP Meal Service During COVID-19 Fact Sheet External link opens in new window or tab.

This fact sheet contains best practices for parent pick-up of meals and snacks, helpful suggestions, and safety reminders.
CDE: Meal Service for CACFP Operators during COVID-19 (PDF) This tip sheet provides CACFP Operators with guidance on reducing the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission during CACFP meal service, a list of frequently asked questions and answers, and suggestions for supporting children at meals while family style meal service is not in practice.

Safety Information

Title Description

CDE: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California's Public Schools

This guidance was created through the statewide reopening schools task force that fostered a collaborative process for our educators and stakeholders to lend their important voices. Also informed by the technical assistance and advice of many health and safety organizations including the CDC, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the intent of this document is to be a guide for the local discussion on safely reopening schools.

CDE: COVID-19 Health and Safety Considerations During Food Service Preparation and Delivery Fact Sheet (PDF)

This handout provides best practices to ensure the health and safety of staff and the public when providing meals during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

CDE: Creating an Emotionally Healthy and Safe Child Nutrition Environment in Challenging Times Fact Sheet (PDF)

This handout provides suggestions on how to create an emotionally healthy and safe child nutrition environment in this challenging time.

CDE: Hoja informativa sobre la creación de un entorno de nutrición infantil emocionalmente saludable y seguro en tiempos difíciles (PDF) Este folleto ofrece sugerencias sobre cómo crear un entorno de nutrición infantil emocionalmente saludable y seguro en este momento desafiante.

CDE: Safe Food Handling Practices During COVID-19 Fact Sheet (PDF)

This handout is for program operators to provide in student meals to demonstrate safe food handling practices during COVID-19.

CDC: How to Protect Yourself and Others Fact Sheet External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

This handout talks about how COVID-19 spreads and what we can all do to decrease the spread.

CDC: What you need to Know About COVID-19 to Protect Yourself and Others Fact Sheet External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

This handout explains what COVID-19 is, how it is spread, what to do if you contract it, social distancing practices, and more.

CDC: Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

This web page gives information about which types of cloth face coverings to choose and how to wear them properly.

World Central Kitchen and James Beard Foundation Safety First: Serving Food and Protecting People During COVID-19 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

This guide book titled Safety First: Serving Food and Protecting people during COVID-19 assists food service staff in keeping everyone safe.

CDE: Food Safety Handout (English and Spanish) (PDF) This handout can be printed and included with meals to provide food safety instructions to families and students.

Other Resources

Title Description
Listos California Toolkit External link opens in new window or tab. An effort of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), Listos California has developed a disaster preparedness guide in a variety of languages, including Chinese, Hmong, Russian, Spanish, Punjabi, and Vietnamese. Toolkit elements include COVID-19 guidance for immigrants, safety tips for wildfires, training curriculum, scripts and videos and tips for caregivers and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

USDA: Feeding Kids When Schools Are Closed Due to COVID-19 Fact Sheet External link opens in new window or tab.

Fact sheet on the USDA meal waivers and feeding kids when schools are closed due to COVID-19.

Safe Schools for All Hub External link opens in new window or tab.

The CDPH web page provides updates and information on COVID-19 guidance specifically for schools.

USDA Guidance on Human Pandemic Responses External link opens in new window or tab.

This web page includes Automatic State Flexibilities, Additional USDA Authorities, Partnering to Ensure Access to Food, USDA Information, and Federal Resources.

California Volunteers Office of the Governor External link opens in new window or tab.

This web page is a place to sign-up and join California for All, so we can all safely help our communities in response to COVID-19. Here are some ways you can make a difference: donate to food banks, donate blood, check-in on neighbors, support nonprofits, deliver meals to seniors in need, and more.

School Nutrition Association Thought Starters on Reopening Schools For School Year 2020–21 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

This resource is a thought starter for food service directors and staff, that gives information on procurement priorities, staffing strategies, tackling trainings, monitoring staff health, cleaning and sanitizing, and more!

FAQs

The CDE Nutrition Services Division is providing frequently asked questions (FAQ) to help clarify both state and federal policy and operational questions for program operators in the CNPs during the 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. To access the FAQs, visit the CDE CNP COVID-19 FAQ web page.

Contacts

School Nutrition Program (SNP) Analysts

For questions regarding the SNP, contact your SNP Analyst on the CDE SNP Specialist Directory web page.

CACFP Analysts

For questions regarding the CACFP, contact your CACFP Analyst on the CDE CACFP Contact List web page.

SFSP Team

For questions regarding the SFSP, you can contact the SFSP team by email at SFSP@cde.ca.gov.

USDA Foods Team

For more information about USDA Foods, contact the Food Distribution Unit by email at FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov.

Claims and Reimbursement Analysts

If you need assistance with claims and reimbursement, please contact your assigned fiscal analyst which you can find on the CDE Nutrition Services web page, under the Analyst Directory Tab.

If you have any questions regarding the disaster reimbursement claims, contact the Nutrition Services Division (NSD) at NSDDisasterClaims@cde.ca.gov.

COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Assistance

SBP, NSLP, SSO meal pattern waiver questions before October 1, 2021, please contact the NSD at CNPMealPatternWaiver@cde.ca.gov.

CACFP meal pattern questions, please contact the NSD at CACFPMPW@cde.ca.gov.

FFVP Team

If you have any questions regarding the FFVP, please contact the FFVP Team at FFVP@cde.ca.gov.

Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement (ECR)

If you have questions regarding the ECR, contact the ECR Team at ECR@cde.ca.gov.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, November 22, 2021
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