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CNP COVID-19 Policy Guidance


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Summary

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued federal policy waivers to provide flexibility on requirements of the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The USDA 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 are provided in the sections below. Program operators must maintain written procedures that outline plans to ensure program integrity to avoid duplication of meals served to a child in your meal service distribution.

The CDE Nutrition Services Division will be releasing a midyear assessment survey that all program operators will need to complete. This assessment will provide required information and additional data that the CDE must report back to the USDA. Program operators must maintain written procedures that outline plans to ensure program integrity to avoid duplication of meals served to a child in your meal service distribution. This assessment will occur in the Winter of 2020.

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

*The asterisk next to the federal policy memo waivers indicates that the waivers have been issued by the USDA, but have not yet been posted on the USDA web page. The federal waivers will be posted by the CDE when made available by the USDA.

Federal Waivers

Program Operation

The Program Operation waiver allows program operators to operate SFSP and SSO through December 31, 2020. Program operators do not need to fill out a CDE waiver to implement this type of operation.

Notice Date Waiver Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
09/11/20
Allow Reimbursement for Meals Served Prior to Notification of Approval #57 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SFSP
12/31/20
None
08/31/20
Program Operation #56 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
12/31/20
None

Noncongregate Feeding

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

Notice Date Waiver Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
08/31/20
Noncongregate Feeding #54 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
12/31/20
Noncongregate Feeding #44*
Noncongregate Feeding #2 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
06/25/20
Noncongregate Feeding #33 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), CACFP
06/30/21
Noncongregate Feeding #22 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 Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
08/31/20
Meal Service Time Flexibilities #50 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
12/31/20
Meal Service Time Flexibilities #17 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
06/25/20
Meal Service Time Flexibilities #34 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP, CACFP
06/30/21
Meal Service Time Flexibilities #23 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Meal Service Time Flexibilities #1 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Parent 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 Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
08/31/20
Parent Pick-Up #55 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
12/31/20
Parent Pick-Up #47 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
06/25/20
Parent Pick-Up #35 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP, CACFP
06/30/21
Parent Pick-Up #25*
Parent Pick-Up #5 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Area Eligibility

The Area Eligibility waiver provides flexibility to the requirements that open sites in the SSO/SFSP and CACFP at-risk sites 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, increase 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 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.

Notice Date Waiver Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
09/18/20
Area Eligibility CACFP at-risk Sites #58 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
CACFP At-risk After School Program
12/31/20
None
08/31/20
Area Eligibility Open Sites #52 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
12/31/20
Area Eligibility #46*
Area Eligibility #32 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
08/31/20
Area Eligibility for Closed Enrolled Sites #48 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
12/31/20
Area Eligibility for Closed Enrolled #14 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

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 Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
08/31/20
Meal Pattern #53 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
12/31/20
Meal Pattern #45 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Meal Pattern #38 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
06/25/20
Meal Pattern #36 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP, CACFP
06/30/21
Meal Pattern #26 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Meal Pattern #24 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Meal Pattern #13 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Meal Pattern #4 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Offer versus Serve

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

Notice Date Waiver Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
08/31/20
OVS #51*
SFSP
12/31/20
OVS in SFSP #16 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
06/25/20
OVS #37 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP (Senior High)
06/30/21
None

Monitoring Waivers

The Monitoring Waivers allows CACFP Operators flexibilities with certain site monitoring requirement.

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.

Notice Date Waiver Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
04/24/20
FSMC #19 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SFSP
09/30/20
N/A

Review Requirement for SA

The Review Requirement for SA waiver provides flexibilities to the state agency’s CACFP monitoring requirements for reviews in the current year.

Notice Date Waiver Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
04/24/20
Review Requirement for SA #20 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
CACFP
09/30/20
N/A

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

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

The Parent Pick-up Waiver allows school food authorities (SFA) participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) to distribute the 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 the 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 Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
09/09/20
Serving FFVP at Alternate Sites for School Year (SY) 2020–21 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
FFVP
06/30/21
Serving FFVP at Alternate Sites for SY 2019–20
09/09/20
Parent Pick-up for SY 2020–21 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
FFVP
06/30/21
Parent Pick-up for SY
2019–20

Additional Expired State Waivers

The following state waivers have expired:

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

USDA Questions and Answers Policy Memos

Notice Date Policy Memo Program Applicable to Description
09/11/20
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 to December 2020.
06/16/20
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Opt-In Waiver for School Year 2020–2021 National School Lunch Program USDA Foods Entitlement Calculations External link opens in new window or tab.
NSLP
This waiver allows states the option of choosing the meal count from either the prior SY, 2019–20, as is typical, or from two years prior, SY 2018–19, for the USDA’s calculation of Food Distribution Program entitlement. If you have questions please email FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov
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-Questions and Answers External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
All CNPs
This document provides clarifications on questions related to COVID-19: Child Nutrition Responses #14-17 for SFSP and SSO.
04/21/20
SP 15-2020, CACFP 09-2020, SFSP 08-2020. CNP Meal Service during Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks: Questions and Answers #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
SP 14-2020, CACFP 08-2020, SFSP 07-2020: CNP Meal Service during Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks Questions and Answers 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
SP 13-2020, CACFP 07-2020, SFSP 06-2020: CNP Nationwide Waivers: Questions and Answers External link opens in new window or tab.
CACFP, SFSP
This guidance includes questions and answers related to Nationwide waivers during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
04/09/20
SP 11-2020, CACFP 06-2020, and SFSP 05-2020: Questions and Answers related to the CNP Monitoring and Reporting Nationwide Waivers External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
CNPs, FFVP
This guidance includes questions and answers to clarify flexibilities for CNP waivers and to clarify flexibilities of the FFVP during COVID-19.
Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 22, 2020
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