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COVID-19 Policy and Waivers in CNPs


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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 Novel Coronavirus (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 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:

*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 June 30, 2021. Program operators do not need to fill out a CDE waiver to implement this type of operation.

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
10/09/20
Noncongregate Feeding #61 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
06/30/21

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)

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.

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
10/09/20
Parent Pick-up #62 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SSO, SFSP
6/30/21

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)

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 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
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 free and reduced-price (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.

Offer Versus Serve

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

Notice Date Waiver Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
10/09/20
OVS #67 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SFSP
06/30/21

OVS #51 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
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 allow program operators and the state agency 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, SFA 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 Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
1/06/21
FSMC #71 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP, SFSP
6/30/21

Selected Reporting Requirements

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

Notice Date Waiver Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
01/07/21
Selected CNP Reporting Requirements #72 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
NSLP and SBP
SY 2020-21
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 SFAs 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
FFVP 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

SFSP Monitoring Waiver

These waivers exempt the review cycle requirements for sponsors in good standing who are operating the SFSP during the COVID-19 pandemic. The waiver would limit the CDE to reviewing new agencies approved to operate the SFSP and any SFSP Operator that experienced significant operational problems in the year prior.

Notice Date Waiver Program Applicable to Expiration Date Previous Waivers
12/09/20
SFSP Monitoring Waiver External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
SFSP
6/30/21

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

USDA Questions and Answers Policy Memos

Notice Date Policy Memo Program Applicable to Description
01/05/21 Policy Memorandum 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 Memorandum 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 Memorandum 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 Memorandum 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
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.
06/16/20
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. (PDF)
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–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
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
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
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
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, January 27, 2021
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