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State Meal Mandate for Distance Learning


The purpose of this web page is to inform local educational agencies that the state law established by Senate Bill 98 in June 2020, in response to COVID-19, required school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to provide nutritionally adequate meals to eligible distance learners. This requirement expired on June 30, 2021.

To meet the nutritional needs of students during the COVID-19 pandemic, program operators are encouraged to continue to provide access to meals to students that are engaged in distance learning or independent study through the Seamless Summer Option for School Year (SY) 2021‒22. Federal waivers for noncongregate feeding and meal time flexibility allow program operators the ability to serve all students, regardless of their chosen learning model.

While the mandate to provide meals for distance learners expired on June 30, 2021, the requirement to provide one nutritionally adequate meal every school day still applies when students are on campus, whether students are normally engaged in distance learning or independent study.

California Education Code (EC)Section 49550 requires school districts and county offices of education to provide nutritionally adequate meals to pupils who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals every school day. EC Section 47613.5 extends this requirement to charter schools. Charter schools offering nonclassroom-based instruction must also offer at least one nutritionally adequate meal for eligible pupils on any school day that the pupil is scheduled for educational activities lasting two or more hours at a school site, resource center, meeting space, or other satellite facility operated by the charter school.

Program operators are encouraged to provide meals to all enrolled students under SY 2021–22 federal waivers. However, the state meal mandate only applies in instances when students are on campus.

An updated management bulletin will be forthcoming.

Contact Information
If you have any questions regarding the subject, please contact your county’s School Nutrition Programs (SNP) Specialist. A list of SNP Specialists is available in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System, Form ID Caseload. You can also contact Jeremy Partsch, SNP Unit Office Technician, by phone at 916-322-3005 or 800-952-5609, Option 2, or by email at jpartsch@cde.ca.gov to be directed to your SNP Specialist.
Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, September 7, 2021
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