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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 California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD) received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a number of state-specific and national waivers granting needed meal service and administrative flexibilities for:

CDE Waiver Applications

The USDA requires state agencies to track local program operator utilization of waivers. Agencies electing to utilize CNP waiver flexibilities for Summer 2022 and School Year (SY) 2022–23 must complete the respective online application.

Waiver Application Description Timeframe
Summer 2022 Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Waiver Elections

Available for SSO, SFSP, NSLP, and SBP.

Includes CNP Operation waivers and Administrative waivers such as:

  • SSO and SFSP operation waivers- area eligibility, closed enrolled site eligibility, SFSP reimbursement for SSO operation, first week site visits, offer versus serve (OVS) in high school; noncongregate meals, mealtime, parent pick- up, and on-site monitoring
Administrative waivers - local school wellness policy (LSWP) triennial assessment (TEA), food service management company (FSMC) contract duration, administrative review (AR) onsite requirements, and use of prior year eligibility determinations.

This waiver application is open and available through September 30, 2022.

Waiver valid dates vary; see more information below for each waiver.

Note: State-specific waivers issued for noncongregate meals, mealtime, and parent pick-up require documentation of direct impact of COVID-19 on operations to substantiate use.  Federal nationwide waivers of the same topic issued early July do not require COVID-19 impact as a condition of use.

SY 2022–23 School Nutrition Program (SNP) Waiver Elections

Available for NSLP, SBP, SMP, and FFVP, as well as SFSP and SSO in the event of unanticipated school closures.

Includes SNP Operation waivers and Administrative waivers such as:

  • SNP operation waivers- noncongregate meals, mealtime, parent pick-up, and offer versus serve
SNP Administrative waivers - local school wellness policy (LSWP) triennial assessment (TEA), food service management company (FSMC) contract duration, administrative review (AR) onsite requirements, and use of prior year eligibility determinations.

This waiver application is open and available through June 30, 2022.

Waiver valid dates vary; see more information below for each waiver.

State-Specific and Federal Waivers

The waivers described in this section were issued by the USDA as either a state-specific waiver or a nationwide waiver to offer State Agencies and Child Nutrition Program Operators needed flexibilities to sustain meal service during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Beginning in May, the USDA approved state-specific waivers through their authority in Section 12(l) of the National School Lunch Act. Later, on June 25, 2022, the President signed the Keep Kids Fed Act, which allowed for the subsequent release of nationwide waivers. The nationwide waivers replace previously-approved state waivers of the same subject, where applicable, and provide greater flexibility.

Program Operation and Administration

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

Topic Date Issused Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
First Week Site Visits (CA State Waiver) 4/8/22 SFSP 5/1/22 through 4/30/23
for summer meal operations only

Waives the requirement for SFSP operators to visit each of their sites at least once during the first week of operation. Program operators are still required to conduct a full review of food service operations at each site within the first four weeks of operations, as well as maintain a reasonable level of site monitoring.

School Year flexibilities are for use during unanticipated school closures only.

Local School Wellness Policy Triennial Assessment

(CA State Waiver #7)
5/18/22 NSLP, SBP, SFSP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23 Allows SFAs whose local school wellness policy triennial assessment is due June 30, 2022 a one-year extension.

Use of Prior Year Eligibility Determinations for SY 2022–23

(CA State Waiver #26)
6/22/22 NSLP & SBP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23 Provides flexibility for sites that operated SSO in SY 2021–22. If no recent eligibility determination exists, Program Operators can utilize free and reduced-price meal data from SY 2019–20 to establish the 30-day carryover for SY 2022–23.

Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Identified Student Percentage (ISP) Data

(CA State Waiver)

04/26/22 NSLP & SBP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23 Waives the requirement for Program Operators to use April 1 data for calculating Identified Student Percentages (ISP). Program Operators may calculate ISPs using data drawn any time during the prior SY (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022).
CEP Election Deadline Flexibility for SY 2022–23 (CA State Waiver) 7/7/22 NSLP and SBP 9/30/22 Waives the requirement for LEAs to notify the State Agency and submit Identified Student Percentage (ISP) documentation by June 30 of the current school year. Instead LEAs that intend to elect CEP for SY 2022–2023 must submit ISP documentation to State agency by September 30, 2022.


Reimbursement

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

Topic Date Issued Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
SFSP Reimbursement Rates for SSO (Nationwide Waiver #109) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) 6/30/22 SSO 6/30/22 through 9/30/22 for summer meal operations only For summer 2022, establishes the payment rates for SSO meals and snacks at the level of reimbursement paid for SFSP.


Noncongregate Feeding

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

Topic Date Issued Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
Non-Congregate Feeding for Summer 2022 Operations (Nationwide Waiver #111) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) 7/6/22 SFSP and SSO 7/6/22 through 9/30/22
for summer meal operations only
Waives the requirement for CNP Operators to serve meals in a congregate setting and for meals to be consumed onsite.

This waiver replaced CA State-specific Waiver #1 for SSO and SFSP noncongregate feeding and is less restrictive in that the nationwide waiver does not require COVID-19 meal service impact in order to use these flexibilities.

Non-congregate Summer 2022 Meal Service (CA State Waiver #1) 5/18/22 SFSP and SSO 5/1/22 through 7/5/22
for summer meal operations only
Replaced by Nationwide Waiver #111

Waives the requirement for CNP Operators to serve meals in a congregate setting and for meals to be consumed onsite.

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is directly limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Non-congregate SY 2022–23 Meal Service (CA State Waiver #3) 5/18/22 NSLP and SBP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23

Waives the requirement for SNP Operators to serve meals in a congregate setting and for meals to be consumed onsite.

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is directly limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Non-congregate SY 2022–23 Milk Service (CA State Waiver #12) 5/18/22 SMP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23

Waives the requirement for CNP Operators to serve milk in a congregate setting and for meals to be consumed onsite.

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate milk service is directly limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noncongregate Meal Service During Unanticipated School Closures in SY 2022–23 (CA State Waiver  #16) 5/18/22 NSLP and SBP 10/1/22 through 4/30/23

Waives the requirement for SNP Operators to serve meals in a congregate setting and for meals to be consumed onsite.

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is directly limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Meal Service Time Flexibility

The Meal Service Time Flexibility waiver allows for program operators to serve meals outside of standard meal times. (See also additional meal service time wavier under State Waivers below).

Topic Date Issued Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
Meal Time Requirements for SFSP and SSO (CA State Waiver) 4/8/22 SFSP and SSO 5/1/22 through 7/5/22

Replaced by:

  • Nationwide Waiver #113 for routine operations of SFSP and SSO starting July 6, 2022
  • CA State Waiver #18 for Unanticipated School Closures #18 starting October 1, 2022

Waives the requirement for minimum elapsed times between meal services and maximum durations of individual meal services. Program Operators must still document meal service times for each site in the California Nutrition Information Payment System (CNIPS).

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meal Time Requirements for Summer 2022 Operations (Nationwide  Waiver #113) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) 7/6/22 SFSP and SSO 7/6/22 through 9/30/22
for summer meal operations only

Waives the requirement for minimum elapsed times between meal services and maximum durations of individual meal services.

Note: Program Operators must still document meal service times for each site in the California Nutrition Information Payment System (CNIPS).

This waiver replaced CA State-specific Waiver for Meal Time Requirements in SSO and SFSP and is less restrictive in that the nationwide waiver does not require COVID-19 meal service impact in order to use these flexibilities.
Meal Service Times in SY 2022–23 (CA State Waiver #5) 5/18/22 NSLP and SBP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23

Waives the requirement for minimum elapsed times between meal services and maximum durations of individual meal services.

Note: Program Operators must still document meal service times for each site in the California Nutrition Information Payment System (CNIPS).

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meal Service Times for Unanticipated School Closures in SY 2022–23 (CA State Waiver #18) 5/18/22 SFSP and SSO 10/1/22 through 4/30/23

Waives the requirement for minimum elapsed times between meal services and maximum durations of individual meal services.

Note: Program Operators must still document meal service times for each site in the California Nutrition Information Payment System (CNIPS).

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 also be approved for noncongregate feeding waiver and must have a written plan in place to ensure program integrity.

Topic Date Issued Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
Parent and Guardian Pick Up for Summer 2022 Operations (Nationwide Waiver #112) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) 7/6/22 SFSP and SSO 7/6/22 through 9/30/22
for summer meal operations only
Allows a parent or guardian to pick up the meal(s) for students.

Note: Program Operator must be approved for noncongregate feeding waiver and must have a written plan to ensure program integrity.

This waiver replaced CA State Waiver #2 for SSO and SFSP Parent Pick Up and is less restrictive in that the nationwide waiver does not require COVID-19 meal service impact in order to use these flexibilities.

Parent and  Guardian Pick Up for Summer 2022 Operations (CA State Waiver #2) 5/18/22 SFSP and SSO 5/1/22 through 7/5/22

Replaced by Nationwide Waiver #112

Allows a parent or guardian to pick up meal for students. Program Operator must be approved for noncongregate feeding waiver and must have a written plan to ensure program integrity.

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parent and  Guardian Pick Up SY 2022–23 (CA State Waiver #4) 5/18/22 NSLP and SBP 7/1/22 through 6/30/22 Allows a parent or guardian to pick up meal for students. Program Operator must be approved for noncongregate feeding waiver and must have a written plan to ensure program integrity.

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parent and Guardian Pick Up SY 2022–23 Special Milk Program (CA State Waiver #13) 5/18/22 SMP 7/1/22 through 6/30/22

Allows a parent or guardian to pick up milk for students. Program Operator must be approved for noncongregate feeding waiver and must have a written plan to ensure program integrity.

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate milk service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parent and  Guardian Pick Up for Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) (CA State Waiver #14) 5/18/22 FFVP 7/1/22 through 6/30/22

Allows a parent or guardian to pick up the FFVP snack for students. Program Operator must be approved for noncongregate feeding waiver and must have a written plan to ensure program integrity.

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate FFVP snack service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parent and  Guardian Pick Up for Unanticipated School Closures in SY 2022–23 (CA State Waiver #17) 5/18/22 SFSP and SSO 10/1/22 through 4/30/23 Allows a parent or guardian to pick up meal for students. Program Operator must be approved for noncongregate feeding waiver and must have a written plan to ensure program integrity.
Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Area Eligibility

The area eligibility waiver allows schools and SFSP sites, regardless of their location, to claim program meals at the free rate. The following waiver flexibilities may only be used during summer meal service. While these waivers are valid into September, once your summer meal service ends, the use of these flexibilities must also end. Program Operators should continue to ensure that meal sites are targeting benefits to children in need.

Topic Date Issued Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
Area Eligibility (Nationwide Waiver #107) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) 6/30/22 SSO and SFSP 6/30/22 through 9/30/22 for summer meal operations only Waives the requirement for open sites to be located in areas of “poor economic conditions.” Program Operators should continue to ensure that meal sites are targeting benefits to children in need.
Closed Enrolled Site Eligibility (Nationwide Waiver #108) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) 6/30/22 SSO and SFSP 6/30/22 through 9/30/22 for summer meal operations only Waives the requirement for closed-enrolled sites to use income eligibility applications to determine site eligibility in SFSP and SSO. This waiver permits CNP Operators to use school or census data as defined in USDA Policy Memo SFSP 03-2017 Area Eligibility in CNPs External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). This waiver does not apply to camps that receive meal reimbursement.
Closed Enrolled Site Eligibility (CA State-specific Waiver) 4/8/22 SSO and SFSP 5/1/22 through 6/29/30

This state-specific waiver was replaced by Nationwide Waiver #108.

Waives the requirement for closed enrolled sites to use income eligibility applications to determine site eligibility in SSO and SFSP. This waiver permits CNP Operators to use school or census data as defined in USDA Policy Memo SFSP 03-2017 Area Eligibility in CNPs External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). This waiver does not apply to camps that receive meal reimbursement.

Offer Versus Serve

The Offer Versus Serve (OVS) waiver waives the requirement for SFAs to participate in OVS.

Topic Date Issued Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
Offer versus Serve in SFSP (CA State-specific Waiver) 6/6/22 SFSP 5/1/22 through 4/30/23

Non-school food authority sponsors may utilize offer versus serve, which allows children to decline some of the foods offered in a reimbursable breakfast, lunch, or supper.

School Year flexibilities are for use during unanticipated school closures only.

Offer versus Serve (CA State-specific Waiver #6) 5/18/22 NSLP and SBP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23

Waives the requirement for SNP Operators of high schools to participate in OVS.

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Monitoring Waivers

The Monitoring Waivers allow program operators and the state agency flexibilities with certain site monitoring requirements. (See also additional monitoring waiver under State Waivers below.)

Topic Date Issued Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
SFSP On-Site Monitoring Waiver (CA State-specific Waiver) 7/1/22 SFSP 7/18/22 through 9/30/22 Provides flexibility for SFSP Program Operators to conduct site monitoring off-site. Note that monitoring activities are still required.
Onsite Monitoring in the SNPs – Extension #94 04/20/21 NSLP and SBP 30 days after federal declaration of the end of the public The Monitoring Waivers allow Program Operators and the CDE flexibilities with certain onsite monitoring requirements. Note that monitoring activities must still be conducted


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.

Topic Date Issued Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
FSMC Contract Duration (CA-specific State Waiver #8) 5/18/22 NSLP, SBP, SFSP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23

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.

Use these flexibilities for the duration and extent that they are needed.

Onsite Requirement for Periodic Onsite Visits when Utilizing a FSMC (CA State-specific Waiver #9) 5/18/22 NSLP, SBP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23 Waives the periodic onsite visit requirement for Program Operators utilizing a FSMC. Note that monitoring activities are still required.

Alternate Site Waivers

These waivers allow for the establishment of alternate sites for snack or meal service when approved sites are closed due to unanticipated school closures related to COVID-19.

Topic Date Issued Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
Meal Service at School Sites for Unanticipated School Closures in SY 2022–23 (CS State-specific Waiver #19) 5/18/22 SFSP and SSO 10/1/22 through 4/30/23

Waives the requirement that limits operations during an unanticipated school closure to non-school sites.

Flexibilities should only be implemented by Program Operators when congregate meal service is directly limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

FFVP Snack Service at Alternate Sites (CA State-specific Waiver #15) 5/18/22 FFVP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23 Waives the requirement to for the CDE to approve FFVP foods at sites that are elementary schools. Allows FFVP operators  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.


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

State Agency Waivers for Program Operations

These waivers exempt certain state agency reporting requirements and review requirements for Program Operators who are in good standing and operating the CNPs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Topic Date Issued Applicable Program Dates Valid Description
Oversight Plan Waiver External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) 1/26/21 NSLP 1/26/21 through 6/30/23 USDA approved CDE’s proposal to add a sixth year to the SNP review cycle.
Waiver of the Annual Half Aggregate Monitoring Requirement in the SFSP #99 09/15/21 SFSP 9/15/21 through 9/30/22 Waives the requirement that the CDE annually review a number of sponsors whose program reimbursements, in the aggregate, account for at least one-half of the total program reimbursements in the State in the previous year.

Administrative Review Onsite Requirements

 (CA State-specific Waiver #9)

5/18/22 NSLP, SBP, SFSP 1/31/20 through 6/30/23 Waives onsite monitoring requirements for CDE; monitoring activities continue to be required and may occur offsite.

FNS-874 Second (Independent) Review of Applications

(CA State-specific Waiver #10)
5/18/22 NSLP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23 Waives the requirement that CDE must submit a report describing the results of the second reviews of eligibility determinations conducted by each Local Educational Agency (LEA) on March 15, 2023. LEAs must still collect school lunch program applications in SY 2022–23 and conduct independent reviews as applicable.

FNS-640 Administrative Review Data Report

(CA State-specific Waiver #11)
5/18/22 NSLP 7/1/22 through 6/30/23 Waives the requirement to submit the FNS-640 report due March 1, 2023, which would provide data collected from administrative reviews conducted SY 2021–22.
Fiscal Action Flexibilities for Meal Pattern Violations Related to COVID-19 (Nationwide Waiver #110) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) 6/30/22 NSLP and SBP 6/30/22 through 6/30/23 Waives the requirement for the CDE to apply fiscal action for missing food components or missing production records and for repeated violations involving milk type and vegetable subgroups if the Program Operator can demonstrate that these violations are related to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions.

At-a-Glance Comparison Chart

The USDA has developed a comparison table to assist program operators as they transition from SY 2021–22 operations under COVID-19 nationwide waivers and flexibilities to operations designed around their own unique circumstances for SY 2022–23. This at-a-glance comparison chart provides an overview of how specific program flexibilities have changed since SY 2021–22, and the flexibilities available for the upcoming school year to support program operations. The chart is available on our USDA website at: School Meals Programs Comparison Table of Flexibilities for School Year 2021–22 and School Year 2022–23 External link opens in new window or tab..

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
04/21/22 Transitioning to Standard Child Nutrition Operations and the Keep Kids Fed Act of 2022 Follow-Up Questions and Answers from Webinars for School Year 2022–23 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) The CNPs This USDA Q & A document is to help answer questions regarding transitioning back to normal child nutrition operations.
5/13/2022 Policy Memo SP 10-2022, CACFP 08-2022, SFSP 04-2022 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) SSO, Afterschool Snack Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACF) This policy memo provides guidance on establishing are eligibility for Summer 2022 and SY 2022–23. USDA waived the requirement that program operators use meal applications to determine area eligibility for closed-enrolled. Program Operators are allowed to establish area eligibility for closed-enrolled sites using school or census data.
04/04/22 Policy Memo SP 08-22, CACFP 07-22, SFSP 03-22 External link opens in new window or tab. NSLP, SBP, CACFP, SSO, SFSP This policy memo provides guidance on the substitution of vegetables for fruit in the SBP, prohibits procurement of raw or processed poultry products from the People’s Republic of China, and provides guidance related to the pricing of paid lunches.
10/15/21 Policy Memo SP 23-2021, CACFP 18-2021 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) NSLP, SBP, CACFP This policy memo provides questions and answers related to Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) emergency procurement due to supply chain disruptions.
Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, October 18, 2022
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