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Waivers Affecting School Year 2022–23


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On May 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved nine state specific waivers to provide flexibilities to California program operations during School Year (SY) 2022–23. Section 12(l) of the National School Lunch Act provides the authority to the USDA to issue these waivers.

While the goal of the Child Nutrition Programs for SY 2022–23 is to transition to traditional meal, snack, and milk service, the USDA recognizes that there may continue to be COVID-19 related impacts.

The waivers listed below provide flexibilities for occasions when Child Nutrition Program operations are experiencing COVID-related impacts in the following programs: the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Special Milk Program (SMP), and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), NSLP Seamless Summer Feeding Option (SSO), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

COVID-19 Limitation

The USDA approved the state waivers to support access to nutritious meals while state agencies continue to mitigate the administrative, fiscal, and operational challenges exacerbated by COVID-19. As a result, these state waivers may only be used when a program operator’s meal service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Limitations can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Site closure or quarantine due to COVID-19
  • Staff shortages due to COVID-19 illness or quarantine
  • Mandate or recommendations from national, state, or local governing body not to congregate due to COVID-19
  • Service to groups where the majority are unvaccinated
    • For example, immune compromised groups
    • Note: the waiver flexibilities can be used for these groups only and may not apply to entire site that serve a broader population
  • Documented delays in obtaining supplies and equipment due to COVID-19, that prevents the ability to provide congregate meal service

Waiver information and important details are as follows:

Noncongregate Meals–State Waiver #3 (NSLP and SBP); State Waiver #12 (SMP); State Waiver #16* (SSO/SFSP)

Waives the requirement for program operators to serve meals/milk in a congregate setting, and for meals/milk to be consumed onsite. For NSLP, SBP, and SMP this waiver is valid July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.

*State Waiver #16 applies during unanticipated school closures and is valid October 1, 2022 through April 30, 2023.

Parent and Guardian Pick Up–State Waiver #4 (NSLP and SBP); State Waiver #13 (SMP); State Waiver #14 (FFVP); State Waiver #17* (SSO/SFSP)

Waives the requirement that meals may only be served directly to children. Allows for parent or guardian to pick up the meal(s)/milk for eligible children. For NSLP, SBP, SMP, and FFVP this waiver is valid July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.

Note: Program operators must have an integrity plan to prevent duplicate meals, snacks or milk service when using any of the parent and guardian pick up waivers.

*State Waiver #17 applies during unanticipated school closures and is valid October 1, 2022 through April 30, 2023.

Meal Service Times–State Waiver #5 (NSLP and SBP); State Waiver #18* (SSO/SFSP)

Waives meal service time requirements. Allows for program operators to serve meals outside of standard meal times. For NSLP and SBP this waiver is valid July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.

*State Waiver #18 applies during unanticipated school closures and is valid October 1, 2022 through April 30, 2023.

Offer Versus Serve–State Waiver #6 (NSLP)

Waives the requirement for school food authorities (SFAs) of Senior High Schools to participate in offer versus serve. This waiver is valid July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.

Local School Wellness Policy (LSWP) Triennial Assessment–State Waiver #7 (NSLP)

Waives the requirement for local education agency (LEA) program operators to report and publish LSWP triennial assessments until June 30, 2023. LEAs required to complete LSWP triennial assessment by June 30, 2022, may choose to complete their assessment on time or by June 30, 2023.

Note: Program operators should use this flexibility for the duration and extent needed.

Food Service Management Company (FSMC) Contract Duration–State Waiver #8 (NSLP)

Waives the requirement for program operators that contract with an FSMC to contract for no longer than one year, with option for yearly renewal not to exceed four years.

Permits program operators to extend existing FSMC contracts that would not be otherwise eligible for extension through SY 2022–23 or June 30, 2023. The California Department of Education (CDE) must still provide prior approval of contract extensions.

Note: Program operators should use this flexibility for the duration and extent needed.

This waiver is valid July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.

Administrative Review (AR) Onsite Requirement–State Waiver #9 (NSLP and SBP)

Waives the requirement for program operators and state agencies to conduct portions of the AR onsite. While the requirement to conduct onsite monitoring is suspended, monitoring is still required.

Note: Program operators should use this flexibility for the duration and extent that it is needed.

This waiver is valid through June 30, 2023.

Alternate Site–State Waiver #15 (FFVP)

Waives the requirement to for state agencies to approve FFVP foods at sites that are elementary schools. Allows SFAs participating in the FFVP to offer FFVP snacks at non FFVP school sites (elementary, middle, or high schools) if the FFVP school(s) is closed or does not have meal service. This waiver is valid July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.

Service of School Meals at School Sites During Unanticipated School Closure–State Waiver #19 (SSO/SFSP)

Waives the requirement that limits operation of SFSP during unanticipated school closure to non-school sites, and extends the service of meals at school sites to SSO during unanticipated school closure. This waiver is valid October 1, 2022 through April 30, 2023.

Waiver Elections Survey

In August, the CDE plans to issue an online SY 2022–23 Child Nutrition Program Waiver Elections survey.

Required Reporting

The CDE is required to collect information about the use of COVID-19 related waivers, and will issue a mandatory survey to program operators to gather this information. Reporting will include but is not limited to; how the waivers impacted meals service, improved services to children, and reduced program paperwork.

To fulfill the conditions of these waivers, the CDE is asking Program Operators to maintain documentation of the impact of COVID-19 on SY 2022–23 meal service and program operations. In addition, the use of the parent pick-up waiver requires that program operators have an integrity plan to prevent duplicate meals, milk, or snack service.

Contact Information

For any questions regarding these waivers, please contact your respective program’s County Specialist. The County Specialist for each program can be found in the Download Forms section of each respective program’s module in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment SystemExternal link opens in new window or tab., Download Forms section:

  • School Nutrition Programs (including SSO): Form ID Caseload
  • SFSP: Form ID SFSP 01
Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, July 26, 2022
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