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CN COVID-19 Meal Times Nationwide Waiver - Extension

EO Guidance Document #
FNS Document #
COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #23
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
PDF Icon State Guidance Memo (213.39 KB)
DATE:May 14, 2020
POLICY MEMO:COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #23
SUBJECT:Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Service Time Flexibility in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program – EXTENSION1
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 establishing a nationwide waiver to support access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID–19). This waiver extension applies to the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program.

This extension does not apply to the Summer Food Service Program or the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option; those programs are covered in COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #17, Nationwide Waiver of Meal Service Time Restrictions in the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option.

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 program regulations at 7 CFR 210.10(l), 220.8(l), and 226.20(k), child nutrition program meals must follow meal service time requirements. However, FNS recognizes that in this public health emergency, waiving the meal service time requirements will support streamlined access to nutritious meals.

Therefore, pursuant to the FFCRA authority cited above, FNS waives, for all states, the requirements at 7 CFR 210.10(l) and 220.8(l). State agencies may also adjust the time of meal service, as addressed at 226.20(k), including suspension of meal times as needed in the Child and Adult Care Food Program during the public health emergency.

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.