|DATE:||August 20, 2020|
|CODE:||COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #47|
|SUBJECT:||Nationwide Waiver to Allow Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children – Extension 3 1|
Special Nutrition Programs
Child Nutrition Programs
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 Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children - EXTENSION, granted on May 14, 2020, that expires on Aug. 31, 2020, until Sept. 30, 2020, or for the duration of summer operations, whichever is earlier. This waiver extension applies to the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
Section 2202(a) of FFCRA permits the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a waiver for all states for the purposes of providing meals and meal supplements under the child nutrition programs with appropriate safety measures with respect to COVID–19, as determined by the Secretary.
Under program regulations at 7 CFR 210.10(a), 220.2 (Breakfast) and 220.8(a), 225.2 (Meals), and 225.9(d)(7), meals must be served to eligible children. The cited regulations envision program operators providing meals directly to children, not to parents and guardians picking up meals at non-congregate meal sites on behalf of their children. However, FNS recognizes that in this public health emergency, continuing to require children to come to the meal site to pick up meals may not be practical and in keeping with the goal of providing meals while also taking appropriate safety measures.
Therefore, pursuant to the FFCRA authority cited above, under this waiver, program operators in a state with an approved waiver allowing non-congregate meal distribution during COVID–19-related operations may distribute meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children. However, state agencies must have a plan for ensuring that program operators are able to maintain accountability and program integrity. This includes putting in place processes to ensure that meals are distributed only to parents or guardians of eligible children, and that duplicate meals are not distributed to any child. Agencies may want to consult local program operators when developing their plans, as local program operators are best situated to determine how to provide these assurances.
This waiver is effective immediately and remains in effect until September 30, 2020, or for the duration of summer operations, whichever is earlier. As a reminder, SFSP and SSO may no longer be operated once schools are open for student instruction, which includes both in person and virtual learning. Planned full or partial building closures are not considered unanticipated school closures for SY 2020-2021.
Consistent with section 2202(a)(2) of 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. 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) of FFCRA, 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 appreciates the exceptional effort of state agencies and local program operators working to meet the nutritional needs of participants during a challenging time. Agencies should direct questions to the appropriate FNS regional office.
Angela M. Kline
Policy and Program Development Division