Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Nutrition Services Operational Planning Fall 2020


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Main Web Page

Description

This page provides considerations for serving meals while reducing the risk of COVID-19 in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.  For further information on serving student meals, refer to the California Department of Education (CDE) Guidebook for the Safe Reopening California's Public Schools.

Meal Service Operational Changes for COVID-19
Stakeholder Input
Meal Service Scenarios

Meal Service Operational Changes for COVID-19

The chart below outlines operational changes for various meal service topics and compares the 2019 practices with recommended modifications for COVID -19 meal service to promote safety. Use this chart to help identify modifications needed when schools reopen.

Meal Service Topic 2019 Practices COVID-19 Modifications to Consider
Personal Protective Equipment
  • Gloves
  • Aprons
  • Gloves
  • Masks
  • Disposable Aprons
Cafeteria Students sit next to each other elbow to elbow
  • Cafeteria at 30-50 percent capacity; 6 feet apart
  • Meals in the classroom; Grab-n-go meals
Salad Bar
  • Bulk Service
  • Students choose items
Individually wrapped (IW) Products
Offer Versus Serve (OVS) Offer choices and required for high schools
  • Serve unitized meals
  • Option to offer modified OVS providing choice of fruit, vegetable, or milk
  • Nationwide waiver for OVS to provide Flexibility for senior high schools
Point of Service Pin Pads Students manually enter
  • Scanners with plexiglass glass
  • Sanitize frequently
  • Use pencil or Topi to enter Student ID
  • Hand sanitizer
Share Tables
  • Share tables
  • Share coolers
No share stations
Staffing Standard schedule for serving meals in the cafeteria and ensuring food safety and sanitation Modified staff schedules to accommodate different meal service models and enhanced cleaning schedules

Stakeholder Input

When planning for a new service model, it is important to identify stakeholders that may need to provide buy-in to the plan including district leadership, the school board, students, parents, and the community. In addition, it is vital that your service model align with local, state, and federal requirements including guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Meal Service Scenarios

The following provides a review of different meal service options and the considerations that need to be made with each scenario.

Scenario 1: Distance Learning

In this scenario, all school campuses are closed, and all students participate in distance learning.

Mobile Meal Service Option

Offer distance learner meal pick-up at some or all school sites

Onsite Meal Service Option

None

Hot Food

Package individually in “to go” containers with reheating instructions including Critical Control Points (CCP).

Cold Food/Salad Bars
  • Packaged in the same container with food safety instructions
  • Consider using bulk foods when serving multiple meals for multiple days
USDA Nationwide Waivers for the 2020–21 School Year
  • Meal Service Time Flexibility
  • Noncongregate Feeding
  • Meal Pattern Flexibility
  • Offer Versus Serve for Senior High
  • Parent/Guardian Meal Pick Up
Items Needed
  • Packing Materials for Mobile Meal Service
  • Procedures for meal counting and claiming
Communication Updates
  •   District Message to Families
  •   District/Department Social Media   Board Communications

Scenario 2: Hybrid Learning or Blended Learning Model

In this scenario students might come to school once or a few times per week or some students may come to campus for face-to-face instruction while others participate in distance learning.

Mobile Meal Service Options
  • Offer both distance learner meal pick-up and on-site meal service for those students on campus
  • Offer distance learner meal pick-up at all or some school sites. Food packaged cold with reheating instructions including CCP
Onsite Only Meal Service Options
  1. Meals in the classroom
    • Food assembled, sealed in containers and delivered to the classroom
    • Food held in warmers or on ice as appropriate
  2. Meals served in the cafeteria
    • Reduced capacity to allow for social distancing and six feet spacing
    • Staff may plate items for students based on choices
  3. Grab and Go kiosks
    • Prepackaged food items assembled in to go containers or bags and served at carts station on campus
    • Food held in warmers or on ice as appropriate
Cold Food/Salad Bars
  • Packaged in the same container with food safety instructions
  • Consider using bulk foods when serving multiple meals for multiple days
USDA Nationwide Waivers for the 2020–21 School Year

Students receiving instruction on campus:

  • Meal Service Time Flexibility
  • Noncongregate Feeding
  • Meal Pattern Flexibility
  • Offer Versus Serve for Senior High

Students receiving instruction through distance learning:

  • Meal Service Time Flexibility
  • Noncongregate Feeding
  • Meal Pattern Flexibility
  • Offer Versus Serve for Senior High
  • Parent/Guardian Meal Pick Up
Items Needed
  • Meals in the classroom: Packing materials and insulated delivery bags.
  • Meals served in cafeteria: To assist with safety and social distancing floor decals, signs, and plexiglass on registers.
  • Grab and Go kiosks: Carts with plexiglass and social distancing floor decals.
  • Updated meal counting and claiming procedures that match all service models.
Communication Updates
  • District Message to Families
  • District/Department Social Media
  • Board Communications

Scenario 3: All Students on Campus in Staggered Shifts

In this scenario, all schools are open, and students participate in either a morning or afternoon schedule

Onsite Meal Service Options
  1. Meals in the classroom
    • Food assembled, sealed in containers and delivered to the classroom
    • Food held in warmers or on ice as appropriate
  2. Meals served in the cafeteria
    • Reduced capacity to allow for social distancing and six feet spacing
    • Staff may plate items for students based on choices
  3. Grab and Go kiosks
    • Prepackaged food items assembled in to go containers or bags and served at carts station on campus
    • Food held in warmers or on ice as appropriate
Cold Food/Salad Bars

Packaged in the same container with food safety instructions.

Consider using bulk foods when serving multiple meals for multiple days.

USDA Nationwide Waivers for the 2020–21 School Year

Students receiving instruction on campus:

  • Meal Service Time Flexibility
  • Noncongregate Feeding
  • Meal Pattern Flexibility
  • Offer Versus Serve for Senior High

Students receiving instruction through distance learning:

  • Meal Service Time Flexibility
  • Noncongregate Feeding
  • Meal Pattern Flexibility
  • Offer Versus Serve for Senior High
  • Parent/Guardian Meal Pick Up
Items Needed
  • Meals in the Classroom: Packing materials and insulated delivery bags
  • Meals served in cafeteria: To assist with safety and social distancing floor decals, signs, and plexiglass on registers
  • Grab and Go kiosks: Carts with plexiglass and social distancing floor decals
  • Updated Meal counting and claiming procedures
Communication Updates
  • District Message to Families
  • District/Department Social Media
  • Board Communications

Scenario 4: All Students on Campus

In this scenario, all schools are open, and all students participate in classroom education at the same time.

Onsite Meal Service Option
  1. Meals in the classroom
    • Food assembled, sealed in containers and delivered to the classroom
    • Food held in warmers or on ice as appropriate
  2. Meals served in the cafeteria
    • Reduced capacity to allow for social distancing and six feet spacing
    • Staff may plate items for students based on choices
  3. Grab and Go kiosks
    • Prepackaged food items assembled in to go containers or bags and served at carts station on campus
    • Food held in warmers or on ice as appropriate
Cold Food/Salad Bars

Packaged in the same container with food safety instructions.

Consider using bulk foods when serving multiple meals for multiple days.

USDA Nationwide Waivers for the 2020–21 School Year
  • Meal Service Time Flexibility
  • Noncongregate Feeding
  • Meal Pattern Flexibility
  • Offer Versus Serve for Senior High
Items Needed
  • Meals in the classroom: Packing materials and insulated delivery bags
  • Meals served in cafeteria: To assist with safety and social distancing floor decals, signs, and plexiglass on registers
  • Grab and Go kiosks: Carts with plexiglass and social distancing floor decals
  • Updated meal counting and claiming procedures
Communication Updates
  • District Message to Families
  • District/Department Social Media   Board Communications

Scenario 5: Unanticipated School Closure

In this scenario, one school or all schools in a district close suddenly.

Mobile Meal Service Option

Seek CDE approval to offer meal service to affected site(s) through the Seamless Summer Option and Summer Feeding Service Program due to unanticipated school closure.

Onsite Meal Service

None at affected schools

Hot Food

Package individually in “to go” containers with reheating instructions.

Cold Food/Salad Bars

Packaged in the same container with food safety instructions.

Consider using bulk foods when serving multiple meals for multiple days.

USDA Waivers Needed
  • Meal Service Time Flexibility
  • Noncongregate Feeding
  • Meal Pattern Flexibility
  • Parent/Guardian Meal Pick Up
Items Needed

Packing materials for Mobile Meal Service.

Communication
  • District Message to Families
  • District/Department Social Media   
  • Board Communications

Contact Information

If you have questions about planning for you meal service operations, please contact contact Mia Bertacchi, Child Nutrition Assistant, Northern School Nutrition Program Unit (SNPU), by phone at 916-445-1261 or by email at mbertacchi@cde.ca.gov, or Lori Porter, Child Nutrition Consultant, Southern SNPU, by phone at 916-322-1454 or by email at lporter@cde.ca.gov.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Related Content
  • Additional Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources
    Additional resources curated by the California Department of Education (CDE) pertaining to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Coronavirus Response and School Reopening Guidance
    Information and resources regarding CDE's COVID-19 response efforts, including the guidance document for safely reopening schools for the 20-21 school year.
  • Nutrition
    Resources and information related to child nutrition, nutrition education, food distribution programs, and the Child Nutrition and Physical Activity Advisory Council.
  • Nutrition What's New
    News and announcements relating to nutrition for program operators and contacts.
Recently Posted in Nutrition
  • 2020–21 CACFP Mandatory Training (updated 15-Jan-2021)
    Announcement for the 2020–21 Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Mandatory Training.
  • USDA Nationwide Waiver Questions and Answers #4 (added 15-Jan-2021)
    On January 5, 2021, USDA released Policy Memorandum SP 05-2021, CACFP 04-2021, SFSP 04-2021, Questions and Answers Relating to the Nationwide Waiver to Allow SFSP and SSO Operators during School Year 2020ꟷ21 Q&As #4.
  • 2021 SFSP Reimbursement Rates (added 12-Jan-2021)
    On December 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) 2021 reimbursement rates for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks.
  • CNAC Member Recruitment 2021 (added 12-Jan-2021)
    The State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) Child Nutrition Advisory Council (CNAC) is recruiting for positions for 2021.
  • 2021–22 FFVP Request for Applications Announcement (added 12-Jan-2021)
    The California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD) announces a grant opportunity for elementary schools to participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).

  • SSO and SFSP Integrity Plan (added 12-Jan-2021)
    The Nutrition Services Division (NSD) has developed a Seamless Summer Option (SSO) and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Integrity Plan guide to support program operators.
  • 2021–22 CNP Reimbursement Rates (added 06-Jan-2021)
    Child Nutrition Program (CNP) meal reimbursement rates.
  • 2021–22 SBP and SMP Start-up and Expansion Grants (added 06-Jan-2021)
    Availability of School Year 2020–21 School Breakfast Program (SBP) and Summer Meal Programs (SMP) Start-up and Expansion Grants.
  • Penn State Better Kid Care Educational Resources (added 30-Dec-2020)
    Penn State Better Kid Care trainings developed for child care program staff to provide guidance on how to protect themselves and children during the COVID-19 pandemic and changes to policy and practices for CACFP Operators.
  • 2020–25 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (added 30-Dec-2020)
    On December 29, 2020, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 were released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS).