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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 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: Area Eligibility for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) at-risk sites, and 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:

School Year (SY) 2021–22 Waiver Applications Summary

Visit CDE’s COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs SNP and CACFP tabs for more information on Annual and Limited Use Waivers.

As a reminder, once you have opted into any of the waivers listed below, they are valid for the full 2021–22 SY.

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 environment, 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 Seamless Summer Option (SSO), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), and CACFP Operators.

Includes: SSO operation, Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) reimbursement for SSO operation, offer versus serve (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 SY, 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.

Complete and submit online to adopt the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

Valid the entire 2021–22 SY, October 1, 2021, through 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.

Complete and submit online to adopt the flexibilities allowed under the waiver.

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

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.

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

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

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
09/22/21 Noncongregate Feeding SY 2021–22 #101 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) SFSP 06/30/22 N/A
04/20/21
NSLP, SBP, CACFP, SSO
06/30/22
N/A

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).

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
09/22/21 Meal Service Time Flexibilities During Unanticipated School Closures SY 2021–22 #102 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) SFSP 06/30/22 N/A
04/20/21
NSLP, SBP, CACFP, SSO
06/30/22
N/A

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
09/22/21 Parent Pick-Up During Unanticipated School Closures SY 2021–22 #103 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) SFSP 06/30/22 N/A
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

Area Eligibility

The area eligibility waiver allows schools and at-risk afterschool care centers, regardless of their location, to claim all NSLP snack and CACFP at-risk afterschool program meals and snacks at the free rate. (See also additional area eligibility waiver under State Waivers below.)

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
09/22/21 Area Eligibility Waiver During Unanticipated School Closures SY 2021–22 #104 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) SFSP 06/30/22 N/A
04/20/21
Area Eligibility in the Afterschool Programs and Family Day Care Home (DCH) Providers SY 2021–22 #93 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP Afterschool Snack, CACFP At-risk After School Program, Family DCH CACFP
06/30/22
N/A

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 202122 #90 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP, SSO
06/30/22
N/A

Offer Versus Serve

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

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

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.)

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Previous Waivers
09/15/21
Fiscal Action Flexibility for Meal Pattern Violations related to COVID-19 Supply Chain Disruptions #100 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP, SSO
06/30/22
N/A
09/15/21
Waiver of the Annual Half Aggregate Monitoring Requirement in the SFSP #99 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SFSP
09/30/22
N/A
05/21/21

School Meal Programs Administrative Reviews of SSO #97 (SY 2021–22) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

NSLP, SBP, SSO
Final Day of SY 21–22
N/A
04/20/21
Onsite Monitoring in the SNPs – Extension #94 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SBP
30 days after federal declaration of the end of the public health emergency

Monitoring Waiver for SA #41 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

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

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:

  • Program Operations During Unanticipated School Closures SY 2021–22 #105
  • Monitoring #29
  • Onsite Monitor for SA Waiver #9
  • Community Eligibility Provision Deadline Extension for SY 21–22 # 82
  • Review Requirements for SA #20
  • Waiver Educational Enrichment #3
  • Extend Community Eligibility Provision Deadlines #6, #82
  • Extend Claims for January and February #12
  • Delay Transition to Summer #21
  • Program Operation #56, #59
  • Reimbursement for Meals Served Prior to Notification of Approval #57, #69
  • Noncongregate Feeding #2, #22, #33, #44, #54, #61, #75
  • Meal Service Time Flexibilities #1, #17, #23, #34, #50, #66, #78
  • Parent Pick-up #5, #25, #35, #47, #55, #62, #76
  • Area Eligibility: CACFP At-risk sites #58, #68; Closed Enrolled Sites #14, #48, #64, #80; Open Sites #32, #46, #52, #60, #77
  • NSLP, SBP, CACFP Meal Pattern #4, #13, #24, #26, #36, #70
  • SSO, SFSP Meal Pattern #38, #45, #53, #63, #74
  • OVS: NSLP Senior High Schools #37, SFSP #16, #51, #67, #79
  • Allowance for 2019 SFSP Sponsors to Operate as Experienced Sponsors in FY 2021 #83
  • First Week Site Visit for SFSP Sponsors #15, #49, #65, #81
  • State Agency SFSP Onsite Monitoring #11, #31, #43
  • SFSP Sponsoring Organizations Monitoring #10, #30, #42
  • LSWP Triennial Assessment #18
  • Selected CNP Reporting Requirements #72

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

Seamless Summer Option (SSO) & Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Summer 2022

The following are waivers that allow flexibilities for Seamless Summer Option and Summer Food Service Program Operations for Summer 2022.

Notice Date Waiver Applicable Program Expiration Date Description
04/25/2022 Waiver of the Requirement to Use Meal Applications to Determine Area
SFSP, SSO
04/30/23
Program operators are allowed to establish area eligibility for closed-enrolled sites using school or census data as defined in USDA policy memo SFSP 03-2017, Area Eligibility in Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).
04/08/2022 Waiver of First Week Site Visit for Operators in Good Standing SFSP 04/30/23 Operators in good standing that successfully operated the SFSP in the previous year, and/or successfully participated in the CACFP or the NSLP may utilize this waiver. Program operators are still required to conduct a full review of food service operations at each site within the first four weeks of operations.
04/08/2022 Waiver of Meal Service Time Restrictions SFSP, SSO 04/30/23 Regulatory limits on the amount of time that must elapse between meal service and the duration of meal service are waived. Program operators are still required to comply with application requirements to establish meal service times for each site.

Monitoring Waivers in California

These waivers exempt certain state agency review requirements for program operators who are in good standing and operating the CNPs 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 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
09/09/20
FFVP Parent Pick-up for SY 2021–22*
FFVP
06/30/22
Parent Pick-up for SY
2020–21 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

* Email the FFVP Team at FFVP@cde.ca.gov to request a copy.

Expired State Waivers

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
04/04/22 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.
09/29/21 Policy Memo SP 22-2021, CACFP 17-2021, SFSP 10-2021 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) NSLP, SBP, SSO, CACFP This policy memo provides questions and answers related to CNP Operations during SY 2021–22.
08/09/21
Policy Memo SP 19-2021: FFVP Operations for SY 2021 Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
FFVP
This policy memo provides questions and answers related to FFVP Operations during SY 2021–22.
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 SY 2021-22.
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.
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: Wednesday, May 11, 2022
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