|DATE:||October 9, 2020|
|POLICY MEMO:||COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #62|
|SUBJECT:||Nationwide Waiver to Allow Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children – Extension 51|
Special Nutrition Programs
Child Nutrition Programs
Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the FFCRA) (PL 116-127), as extended by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (PL 116-159), 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 4—granted on Aug. 31, 2020, that expires on Dec. 31, 2020—until June 30, 2021, in conjunction with the Nationwide Waiver to Allow Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option Operations through School Year 2020-21 – Extension, granted on Oct. 9, 2020. 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 the 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 42 USC 1761(f)(3) and program regulations at 7 CFR 210.10(a), 7 CFR 220.2 (Breakfast) and 7 CFR 220.8(a), 7 CFR 225.2 (Meals), and 7 CFR 225.9(d)(7), meals must be served to eligible children. The cited regulations ensure that program operators provide meals directly to children and not allow parents and guardians to pick 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, FNS waives, for all states, the requirements at 42 USC 1761(f)(3), 7 CFR 210.10(a), 7 CFR 225.2 (defining Meals), and 7 CFR 225.9(d)(7) that meals may only be served directly to children. Program operators in a state with an approved waiver allowing SFSP or SSO non-congregate meal distribution during COVID–19-related operations may distribute meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children. Any other requirements referenced in these provisions remain in effect. This waiver is effective immediately, supersedes the previous extension, and remains in effect until June 30, 2021, in conjunction with the Nationwide Waiver to Allow Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option Operations through School Year 2020-21 – Extension, granted on Oct. 9, 2020. 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 SFSP or SSO meals are not distributed to any child. State 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.
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. 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) 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. State agencies should direct questions to the appropriate FNS regional office.
Angela M. Kline
Policy and Program Development Division