Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

COVID-19 Policy and Waivers in CNPs


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.

Back to the COVID-19 Guidance in CNPs web page

Summary

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to issue federal policy waivers to provide flexibility on requirements of the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The USDA has also approved state-specific waivers submitted by the California Department of Education (CDE) to further address regulatory flexibility during this time. Topics include: Program operation, noncongregate feeding, meal service time flexibility, parent pick-up, area eligibility, meal pattern, offer versus serve, monitoring, food service management, and review requirements for state agencies.

The following waivers require additional CDE oversite: (1) Area Eligibility for Seamless Summer Option (SSO)/Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) (Area Eligibility and Area Eligibility of Closed Enrolled Sites), (2) Area Eligibility for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) at-risk sites, and (3) Meal Pattern Flexibilities for all CNPs. Information on applying for these waivers is provided in the sections below.

The following federal and state waivers and policy memos are separated by topic, select the specific topic of interest below:

CDE Waiver Application Summaries

The chart below provides a summary of the required waiver applications to be submitted by CNP Operators in order to participate in the flexibilities offered by the federal and state waivers listed on this page:

Summer 2021 Waiver Applications Summary

Waiver Application Description Timeframe
COVID-19 2021 Summer Operations Waiver Extensions Application Available for SSO, SFSP, and CACFP Operators.

Required to operate 2021 summer programs using USDA Child Nutrition (CN) Response Waivers #73–81.

Includes noncongregate feeding, mealtime, parent pick up, area eligibility*, first week site visits for the SFSP, offer vs. serve in the SFSP, and meal pattern* flexibilities.

*Area eligibility and meal pattern waivers require additional application to be valid (see below).
Must be completed and submitted online prior to adopting the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

Valid through September 30, 2021.

COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application

See additional School Nutrition Program (SNP) Meal Pattern Waiver option below.

Available for National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), and SSO Operators.

Required to operate using meal pattern flexibilities provided in USDA CN Response Waiver #74.
Must be completed and submitted online prior to adopting the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

Valid through September 30, 2021.
October 1–December 31, 2021 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.

Note: Waiver #90 offers less meal pattern flexibility than Waiver #74.

Must be completed and submitted online prior to adopting the flexibilities allowed under the waiver. Program operators may choose to use this waiver in place of Waiver #74 if desired.

Valid October 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021.

July 1–December 31, 2021 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 prior to adopting the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

Valid July 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021.
Summer 2021 CNP Area Eligibility Waiver (Closed) Available for SSO, SFSP, and CACFP open enrolled and closed sites.

Required to operate area eligibility flexibilities provided in USDA CN Response Waiver #80.
Must be completed and submitted online prior to adopting the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

Valid through September 30, 2021.

School Year (SY) 2021–22 Waiver Applications Summary

*Visit CDE’s COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs SNP and CACPF tabs for more information on Annual and Limited Use Waivers, found in the Waiver Application Summary section.

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

Annual Waivers: Includes SSO operation, SFSP reimbursement, offer versus serve high school, area eligibility afterschool flexibilities provided by USDA CN Response Waivers #85, #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 prior to adopting the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

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

*Limited Use Waivers: Valid July 1, 2021, through December 31, 2022; except meal pattern waiver which begins October 1, 2021.

COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application Available for SSO, NSLP, and SBP Operators.

Required to operate using meal pattern flexibilities provided in USDA CN Response Waiver #74.

Note:
This application also serves as meal pattern waiver application for summer 2021; you only need to complete one waiver application for summer and school year operations through September 30, 2021.

The SNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application for October 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022, is not yet available.

Valid through September 30, 2021.

July 1–December 31, 2021 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 prior to adopting the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

Valid July 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021.
Local School Wellness Policy (LSWP) Triennial Assessment Waiver Application (Closed) Available for NSLP and SBP Operators.

Required to extend the LSWP Triennial Assessment deadline to June 30, 2022, provided under USDA CN Response Waiver #98.
Must have been completed and submitted by June 30, 2021.

Valid July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.

FFVP Parent and Guardian Pick-up Waiver

Opt-in via email at FFVP@cde.ca.gov.

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.

In the subject line of the email, please include:

  • SY 2021–22,“Waiver Opt-in:”, the name of your SFA, the waiver you are requesting.

In the body of the email describe:

  • Your plan for how you will provide FFVP snacks only to parents or guardians of eligible children, and
  • How you will ensure that no duplicates are distributed to any child.
*Limited Use Waiver: Valid now through December 31, 2021.

FFVP Serving at Alternate Sites Waiver

Opt-in via email at FFVP@cde.ca.gov.

Allows SFAs participating in the FFVP to offer FFVP snacks to elementary school children at non FFVP school sites (elementary, middle, or high schools) if the FFVP school is closed or does not have meal service.

In the subject line of the email, please include:

  • SY 2021–22,“Waiver Opt-in:”, the name of your SFA, the waiver you are requesting.

In the body of the email describe:

  • The name(s) of the FFVP sites that are closed that will use this waiver, and
  • The name(s) of the alternate site(s) that will serve the FFVP snacks only to eligible children while using this waiver.
*Limited Use Waiver: Valid now through December 31, 2021.

Federal Waivers

Program Operation

The Program Operation waivers address certain aspects of specified CNP operations, including program type and applications.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
04/20/21
Program Operation SY 2021–22 #85 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO
06/30/22
N/A

Reimbursement

These policies provide guidance regarding reimbursement of meals and snacks served during the COVID-19.

Noncongregate Feeding

The Noncongregate Feeding waiver allows program operators to serve meals and for students to consume them off-site.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
04/20/21
NSLP, SBP, CACFP, SSO
06/30/22
N/A
03/09/21
SSO, SFSP
09/30/21

Noncongregate Feeding #61 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Noncongregate Feeding #54 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Noncongregate Feeding #44 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Noncongregate Feeding #2 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Meal Service Time Flexibility

The Meal Service Time Flexibility waiver allows for program operators to serve meals outside of standard meal times.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
04/20/21
Meal Service Time Flexibilities SY 2021–22 #88 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP, CACFP, SSO
06/30/22
N/A
03/09/21
Meal Service Time Flexibilities #78 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
09/30/21

Meal Service Time Flexibilities #66 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Meal Service Time Flexibilities #50 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Meal Service Time Flexibilities #17 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Parent and Guardian Pick-Up

The Parent Pick-up waiver allows a parent or guardian to pick up the meal(s) for students. Program Operator must be approved for noncongregate feeding waiver and must have a written plan to ensure program integrity.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
04/20/21
Parent Pick-Up SY 2021–22 #89 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP, CACFP, SSO
06/30/22
N/A
03/09/21
Parent Pick-up #76 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
09/30/21

Parent Pick-up #62 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Parent Pick-up #55 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Parent Pick-up #47 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Community Eligibility

The USDA Food Nutrition Service (FNS) extended statutory and regulatory deadlines relating to Community Eligibility Provision reporting and election during the public health emergency due to COVID-19.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
03/26/21
Community Eligibility Provision Deadlines #82 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP
09/30/21
N/A

Area Eligibility

The Area Eligibility waiver provides flexibility to the requirements that open sites in the SSO/SFSP be located in areas where at least 50 percent of the participants are eligible for free or reduced-price meals (F/RP). The Area Eligibility waiver allows the CDE to replace the 50 percent threshold with a lower 40 percent threshold. For sites that are below the 40 percent F/RP threshold, the CDE can accept from CNP Sponsors additional reasons of how the eligibility rates have changed due to COVID-19, e.g., percentage of business closures in the area, increase in SNAP participation, increased participation in local food banks, or increased unemployment. To participate in Area Eligibility, an SSO/SFSP/CACFP Sponsor must complete the online CNP Area Eligibility Waiver Application.

The Area Eligibility waiver was also issued for SSO/SFSP closed enrolled sites. This guidance allows the CDE to waive SFSP/SSO program regulations to collect applications to determine site eligibility. To participate in Area Eligibility for Closed Enrolled Site, an SSO/SFSP sponsor must complete the online application at CNP Area Eligibility Waiver Application.

Please note: For open or closed sites, if you have already applied, you do not need to apply again. However, new sites will require you to submit the application and to update your Child Nutrition Information and Payment System Site Application.

Meal Pattern

The Meal Pattern waiver allows program operators flexibility for the federal meal pattern requirements. To apply for a meal pattern waiver, visit the CDE Meal Pattern Waiver Application.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
04/20/21
Meal Pattern SY 202122 #91 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
CACFP
06/30/22
N/A
04/20/21
Meal Pattern SY 2021–22 #90 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP, SSO
06/30/22
N/A
03/09/21
Meal Pattern #74 Summer 2021 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO
09/30/21
N/A

Offer Versus Serve

The Offer Versus Serve (OVS) waiver allows both SFAs and nonSFAs to apply OVS under the rules followed for the SFSP.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
04/21/21
OVS SY 2021–22 #92 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP and SSO (Senior High)
06/30/22
N/A
03/09/21
OVS #79 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SFSP
09/30/21

OVS #67 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

OVS #51 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

OVS in SFSP #16 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Monitoring Waivers

The Monitoring Waivers allow program operators and the state agency flexibilities with certain site monitoring requirements.

Food Service Management

The Food Service Management waiver provides flexibilities to the federal requirement that food service management company (FSMC) contracts may not exceed one base-year plus four one-year extensions. Under the waiver, SFAs and SFSP Sponsors may enter into one-year contracts with FSMCs through a noncompetitive proposal. The CDE must still provide prior approval.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
01/06/21
FSMC #71 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SFSP
06/30/22

Local School Wellness Policy (LSWP) Triennial Assessments

The LSWP Triennial Assessment waiver allows local educational agencies (LEA) participating in the NSLP or SBP to submit a request to the CDE to extend the deadline to complete their first LSWP triennial assessment. The CDE must still provide prior approval. The deadline to request this extension was June 30, 2021.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
06/11/21
LSWP Triennial Assessment #98 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP
SY 2020–21
LSWP Triennial Assessment #18 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Selected Reporting Requirements

The Reporting Requirements waiver is allowing selected reporting requirements to be waived for SAs and LEAs.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
01/07/21
Selected CNP Reporting Requirements #72 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP
SY 2020–21
N/A

USDA Foods

This waiver allows states 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. This waiver also specifies that the USDA will not conduct the annual reconciliation process in November 2021; as a result, SY 2021–22 entitlement will not be updated to SY 2020–21 NSLP lunches served data.

Other Federal Waivers

Additional Expired Federal Waivers

The following USDA waivers have expired:

For all USDA waivers, visit the USDA California: COVID-19 Waivers and Flexibilities web page External link opens in new window or tab..

State Waivers

Monitoring Waivers in California

These waivers exempt certain state agency review requirements for program operators who are in good standing and operating the CNP’s during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
01/26/21
Oversight Plan Waiver External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SFSP, SSO
06/30/23
N/A

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) in California

The Parent Pick-up Waiver allows SFAs participating in the FFVP to distribute FFVP snacks to a parent or guardian on behalf of their child(ren) without the child(ren) being present. The Serving FFVP at Alternate Sites Waiver allows SFAs participating in the FFVP to offer FFVP snacks at non FFVP school sites (elementary, middle, or high schools) if the FFVP school(s) is closed or does not have meal service.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
09/09/20
Serving FFVP at Alternate Sites for SY 2021–22
FFVP
06/30/22
Serving FFVP at Alternate Sites for SY 2020–21
09/09/20
FFVP Parent Pick-up for SY 2021–22
FFVP
06/30/22
Parent Pick-up for SY
2020–21

The following state waivers have expired:

For a list of all COVID-19 state agency waiver requests to the USDA, visit the USDA Waiver Request web page.

USDA Questions and Answers Policy Memos

Notice Date Policy Memorandum Applicable Program Description
07/22/21
Policy Memo SP 18-2021: Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP, SSO
This policy memo provides questions and answers related to CEP Operations during SY 2021–22.
07/14/21
Policy Memo SP 16-2021, CACFP 14-2021: Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NLSP, SBP, CACFP, SSO
This policy memo provides updates to questions and answers previously released in Calendar Year 2020.
06/11/21
Policy Memo SP 15-2021, CACFP 13-2021 SFSP 08-2021: Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP, SSO, CACFP
This policy memo provides questions and answers intended to provide clarification to CNP Operators during SY 2021–22.
01/05/21
Policy Memo SP 05-2021, CACFP 04-2021, SFSP 04-2021: Q&As #4 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
All CNPs
This policy memo provides questions and answers related to the Nationwide Waiver to allow SFSP and SSO during School Year 2021.
11/02/20
Policy Memo SP 04-2021, CACFP 03-2021, SFSP 03-2021: Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
All CNPs
This policy memo includes questions and answers intended to provide clarification to state agencies and program operators in the CNPs.
10/23/20
Policy Memo SP 03-2021: Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Operations for SY 2020–21 during COVID-19 Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
FFVP Grantees
This policy memo provides questions and answers intended to clarify the operations of the FFVP during the COVID-19 pandemic.
10/14/20
Policy Memo SP 01-2021, CACFP 01-2021, SFSP 01-2021: Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
All CNPs
This policy memo provides clarification related to the operation of the NSLP, SBP, SSO, SFSP, and CACFP during the COVID-19 pandemic.
09/11/20
Policy Memo SP 25-2020, CACFP 14-2020, SFSP 14-2020: Questions and Answers Relating to the Nationwide Waiver to Allow SFSP and SSO through December 2020 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
All CNPs
This policy memo provides questions and answers relating to the nationwide waiver to allow SFSP and SSO through December 2020.
06/03/20
Policy Memo SP 21-2020, CACFP 12-2020, SFSP 12-2020: Questions and Answers related to FSMC Contracts and Allowable Costs during the COVID-19 Pandemic External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
All CNPs
It provides further guidance related to the flexibility provided under COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #19. Additional questions and answers address documentation requirements for food safety inspections; as well as allowable costs as they pertain to personal protective equipment, provision of noncongregate meal service, staff salaries, and nonrefundable program costs.
05/19/20
Policy Memo SP 18-2020, SFSP 10-2020: SFSP and NSLP SSO Nationwide Waivers–Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
All CNPs
This document provides clarification on questions related to COVID-19: Child Nutrition Responses #14–17 for SFSP and SSO.
04/21/20
Policy Memo SP 15-2020, CACFP 09-2020, SFSP 08-2020: CNP Meal Service during Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks: Q&As #4 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
All CNPs
This guidance includes questions and answers to provide clarification on the public health emergency.
04/11/20
Policy Memo SP 14-2020, CACFP 08-2020, SFSP 07-2020: CNP Meal Service during Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks: Q&As #3 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
CNPs
This guidance includes questions and answers to clarify meal service for the CNPs during COVID-19.
04/11/20
Policy Memo SP 13-2020, CACFP 07-2020, SFSP 06-2020: CNP Nationwide Waivers: Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
CACFP, SFSP
This guidance includes questions and answers related to Nationwide waivers during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
04/09/20
Policy Memo SP 11-2020, CACFP 06-2020, and SFSP 05-2020: Q&As related to the CNP Monitoring and Reporting Nationwide Waivers External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
CNPs
This guidance includes questions and answers to clarify flexibilities for CNP waivers and to clarify flexibilities of the CNPs during COVID-19.
Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, September 16, 2021
Related Content
  • CNP COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
    Provides Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for program operators of the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs
    Provides background information, policy waivers, guidance, claiming and reimbursements requirements, resources, FAQs, and state agency contacts for program sponsors operating the Child Nutrition Programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Nutrition
    Resources and information related to child nutrition, nutrition education, food distribution programs, and the Child Nutrition and Physical Activity Advisory Council.
  • Nutrition What's New
    News and announcements relating to nutrition for program operators and contacts.
Recently Posted in Nutrition
  • September 28, 2021 Tuesday at 2 Webinar (added 26-Oct-2021)
    September 28, 2021 Tuesday at 2: School Nutrition Program Webinar.
  • 2021 NSLP Equipment Assistance Grant (added 25-Oct-2021)
    Availability of the 2021 NSLP Equipment Assistance Grant Request for Application.
  • Universal Meals Listening Session Webinar #2 (added 22-Oct-2021)
    On November 2, 2021 at 2 p.m. the Nutrition Services Division (NSD) is hosting the second in a series of listening sessions for the newly established California Universal Meals Program.
  • CA LSWP Triennial Assessment Template Webinar (added 14-Oct-2021)
    The California Local School Wellness Policy Collaborative is hosting Winning at Wellness webinars every two months to provide an opportunity for schools to discuss updates in local school wellness policy requirements, best practices and resources.
  • SNP AR Prereview Training for Schools (added 14-Oct-2021)
    4. The School Nutrition Program (SNP) Administrative Review (AR) Prereview Training for schools provides an overview of the AR and shares tips, strategies, and best practices for a successful AR.

  • SNP AR Prereview Training for RCCIs (added 14-Oct-2021)
    The School Nutrition Program (SNP) Administrative Review (AR) Prereview Training for residential child care institutions (RCCI) provides an overview of the AR and shares tips, strategies, and best practices for a successful AR.
  • Procurement Options in Public Emergencies (added 11-Oct-2021)
    Procurement option information related to supply chain disruptions.
  • CACFP ECR Listening Session October 28 2:00 PM (added 06-Oct-2021)
    The California Department of Education (CDE) is announcing a Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) listening session to review the next steps for the Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Program.
  • COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #101-106 (added 04-Oct-2021)
    On September 22, 2021, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service released policy memos #101-106 that provide flexibilities for service institutions operating the SFSP and SSO during unanticipated school closures due to COVID-19.
  • SNP Meal Pattern Waiver for SY 2021–22—REMINDER (added 30-Sep-2021)
    The Nutrition Services Division (NSD) is sending a reminder regarding the School Nutrition Program’s (SNP) Meal Pattern Waiver (MPW) application that applies from October 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.