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Food Safety Inspection for SY 2020–21

This information is to remind the Program Operators participating in the Seamless Summer Feeding Option, National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and School Breakfast Program (SBP) of the requirement to obtain two food safety inspections at each site from their state or local environmental health department (LEHD) annually. In addition, Program Operators are required to report to the California Department of Education (CDE) on the inspection activities.

The CDE Nutrition Services Division appreciates the exceptional effort of our Program Operators working to meet the needs of students during this challenging time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has offered reporting flexibility for the 2021­­–22 School Year (SY) due to COVID–19. Additional guidance is provided below.

Reporting Food Safety Inspections

Considering extensive school building closures and modified procedures due to COVID–19, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) realize that reporting the inspections may result in incomplete data collection for SY 2020–21. Therefore, the USDA FNS released COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #72External link opens in new window or tab.(PDF), which waives the food safety inspection reporting requirement for program operators for SY 2020–21. As a result, the CDE will not open the Food Safety Inspection Survey for SY 2020–21 in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System.

Please note, that the flexibility provided by the USDA waives the reporting requirement for SY 2021–22. However, program operators are required to obtain food safety inspections in the 2021–22 SY, and report those results in SY 2022–23.

Obtaining Food Safety Inspections and Documentation Requirements

Program Operators that were unable to obtain the two mandatory food safety inspections because the LEHD could not provide such services, must request a copy of the response from the LEHD stating why the department could not conduct the inspections. If the Program Operator did not receive a response from the LEHD, please keep a copy of the letter or email sent to the LEHD requesting the inspections.

The USDA provided additional guidance and flexibility to support local educational agencies (LEA):

  • Program Operators that were unable to obtain a food safety inspection because the LEHD suspended inspections due to the COVID–19 emergency must obtain documentation from the health department that these inspections were suspended.
  • Program Operators unable to obtain a food safety inspection because the school district was closed need to demonstrate that the school district was closed; therefore, unable to obtain the food safety inspection.

Both these circumstances would be considered outside the control of the LEA; and therefore, would not be held against them during an administrative review.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Lori Porter, Child Nutrition Consultant, Southern School Nutrition Programs Unit, by email at or Mia Bertacchi, Child Nutrition Assistant, Northern School Nutrition Programs Unit, by email at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, June 17, 2021
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