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SNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application SY 2021–22

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has responded to state and school food authority (SFA) concerns by prioritizing the early release of summer and school year 2021–22 Child Nutrition Program waivers.

For the time period beginning now through September 30, 2021, SFAs have two options related to meal pattern waiver elections:

Effective October 1, 2021, SFAs may only operate using the less flexible meal pattern, which permits only the following pattern requirements to be waived:

  • Menus must meet the dietary specification for sodium
  • All grains offered must be whole grain-rich
  • For preschoolers, at least one serving per day, across all eating occasions, must be whole grain-rich
  • Low-fat (1 percent) milk must be unflavored
  • A variety of vegetables from the vegetable subgroups must be offered
  • A variety (at least two different options) of fluid milk must be offered
  • Menus must be planned and offer food components for specified age and grade groups in the stated combinations

School Nutrition Programs (SNP) Operators may request to waive one or more of the SNP meal pattern requirements listed above by submitting an SNP Meal Pattern Waiver (MPW) Application, documenting the flexibilities requested and providing justification for the request(s).

The intent of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) meal pattern waiver is to use these flexibilities only as needed. To comply with this goal, the California Department of Education (CDE) has established the following three timeframes for SNP Operators to opt into the SNP MPW:

  • October 1–December 31, 2021
  • January 1–March 31, 2022
  • April 1–June 30, 2022

Each SNP MPW is valid from the date the SNP Operator receives an approval email from the CDE through the end of each time period. For example, an SNP MPW Application submitted for the October 1–December 31, 2021 timeframe, is only valid from the date the SNP Operator receives an approval email from the CDE through December 31, 2021. SNP MPW requests are not automatically approved upon submission.

SNP Operators who need to continue to waive the specific meal pattern requirements allowed in USDA Nationwide Waiver COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #90External link opens in new window or tab. after December 31, 2021, must resubmit an SNP MPW Application for the next timeframe (e.g., January 1–March 31, 2022), and receive an approval email from the CDE before using the flexibilities.

The CDE will notify SNP Operators when the SNP MPW Applications are available for the January 1–March 31, 2022 and April 1–June 30, 2022 timeframes.

Starting October 1, 2021, all previously submitted School Breakfast Program (SBP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) MPW Applications expire. Note that there were some meal pattern flexibilities that were allowed under USDA Nationwide Waiver COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response #74External link opens in new window or tab., that are no longer allowed. For example, SNP Operators may no longer waive the SNP meal pattern requirements for fruit, meat and meat alternates, and other meal components that are not reflected in the bulleted meal pattern waiver allowances found above.

Additional information is available in the Meal Pattern Flexibilities section in the SNP tab of the CDE COVID-19 Guidance for Child Nutrition Programs web page. Please thoroughly read the information on this web page prior to submitting an SNP MPW Application.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the CDE SNP MPW Team by email at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, July 28, 2021
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