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Exemptions to the Standard Lunch Period

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

To: National School Lunch Program Sponsors

Number: 02-120

Attention: Food Service Director

Date: August 2002

Subject: Exemptions to the Standard Lunch Period

Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture Policy Memorandum: Exemptions to the Lunch Period (April 3, 2002); Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations Section 210.10(l)(1)
Supersedes: U.S. Department of Agriculture All Points Bulletin dated December 17, 1992

This Management Bulletin provides information regarding exemptions to the lunch service times specified in National School Lunch Program (NSLP) regulations. Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR) Section 210.10(l)(1) states that schools must offer lunches between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and that schools may request an exemption from this requirement from the California Department of Educations, Nutrition Services Division (NSD).

The NSD will evaluate each request from a school food authority (SFA) to serve lunch before 10:00 a.m. and after 2:00 p.m. to establish that the situation meets one of the following criteria:

Standard 1: Reasonable variances from the lunch service requirements are necessary to accommodate special circumstances in schools. For example, a school that has a need to extend lunch service hours to 2:30 p.m. due to either capacity concerns or because of extended school hours.

Standard 2: A school operates at a non-traditional time, for example, some work-study programs allow high school students to work in the morning or afternoon hours and attend high school classes in the late afternoon/evening. This approval will be contingent on the following: (a) these alternative programs provide students an opportunity to obtain the minimum requirements needed for graduation at a non-traditional time, and (b) it is not possible to serve lunch at a more traditional time.

The SFA will not be required to request approval annually after NSD approves an alternate lunch time. However, if the conditions change, the SFA is required to inform NSD in writing. In addition, if the special circumstances (such as overcrowding) are time limited (such as the planned building of an additional school), NSD will grant the approval for a specified calendar period. Similarly, if the school is moving toward eliminating the need to serve lunch earlier than 10:00 a.m. or later than 2:00 p.m., the exemption request will be granted for only a specified calendar period.

To request an exemption, submit the Standard Lunch Period Exemption Request form, which is available in the CNIPS Download Forms section, Form ID SNP-36. The NSD will notify the SFA of its decision. For as long as the exemption approval is applicable, the SFA must maintain records of the request and a list of all approved sites. If circumstances change and the approved exemption no longer applies, the SFA must maintain the records for three years from the end of the school year and the beginning of the exemption.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, March 29, 2021
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