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Nationwide Non-Congregate Feeding Waiver- Extension

EO Guidance Document #
FNS Document #
COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #22
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Policy Memo (207.92 KB)
DATE:May 14, 2020
POLICY MEMO:COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #22
SUBJECT:Nationwide Waiver to Allow Non-congregate Feeding in the Child Nutrition Programs – Extension 1
TO:Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the FFCRA) (PL 116-127) and based on the exceptional circumstances of this public health emergency, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is extending a nationwide waiver to support access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID–19). This waiver extends the Nationwide Waiver to Allow Non-congregate Feeding in Child Nutrition Programs, granted on March 20 that expires on June 30, 2020. This waiver extension applies to the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Food Service Program (the child nutrition programs).

Section 2202(a) and (b) of the FFCRA permits the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a waiver for all states for the purposes of providing meals under the child nutrition programs, with appropriate safety measures, as determined by the Secretary.

Under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act at 42 USC 1753(b)(1)(A) and 42 USC 1761(a)(1)(D), and program regulations at 7 CFR 225.6(e)(15) and 226.19(b)(6)(iii), child nutrition program meals must be served in a congregate setting and must be consumed by participants on site. However, FNS recognizes that in this public health emergency, waiving the congregate meal requirements is vital to ensure appropriate safety measures for the purpose of providing meals and meal supplements.

Therefore, pursuant to the FFCRA authority cited above, FNS waives, for all states, those requirements at 42 USC 1753(b)(1)(A), 42 USC 1761(a)(1)(D), and 7 CFR 225.6(e)(15), to serve meals through the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Summer Food Service Program in a congregate setting. FNS also waives, for all states, requirements at 7 CFR 226.19(b)(6)(iii), to serve meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program in a congregate setting.

This waiver is effective immediately, and remains in effect through Aug. 31, 2020.

Consistent with section 2202(a)(2) of the FFCRA, this waiver applies automatically to all states that elect to use it, without further application. If the state agency elects to implement these flexibilities, it must notify its respective FNS regional office, which will acknowledge receipt. State agencies should inform local program operators of the flexibilities provided by this waiver as quickly as possible, and work in partnership with local operators to provide meals to all participants in a safe and accessible manner. Elections and approvals under the initial waiver will continue under this extension; no further action is needed.

As required by section 2202(d), each state that elects to be subject to this waiver must submit a report to the Secretary not later than 1 year after the date such state received the waiver. The report must include:

  • A summary of the use of this waiver by the state agency and local program operators, and
  • A description of whether and how this waiver resulted in improved services to program participants.

FNS stands ready to provide assistance to areas impacted by the coronavirus and intends to continue supporting access to nutritious meals.

FNS appreciates the exceptional effort of state agencies and local program operators working to meet the nutritional needs of participants during a challenging time. State agencies should direct questions to the appropriate FNS regional office.

Angela M. Kline
Policy and Program Development Division


1 Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 USC 801 et seq.), the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs designated this waiver as not major, as defined by 5 USC 804(2).

Page updated: December 20, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.