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A School Food Authority’s Guide to School Meals: Table of Flexibilities

To view as a printable PDF, click here.

While many schools will return to their regular cafeteria meal service this year, some may continue with socially distant meal service models, such as grab-and-go meals or meals in the classroom. Some schools will provide a virtual learning option for students who are not ready to return to in-person learning this fall, for example, due to an increased risk of severe illness and/or special healthcare needs. The table below provides a summary of the flexibilities and options available to schools under some possible scenarios.

Flexibilities/Options In-Person Learning Hybrid learning due to COVID-19 Temporary virtual learning due to COVID-19

Meal service flexibilities

  • Non-congregate feeding
  • Meal service times
  • Parent/guardian pick-up
Meal service flexibilities most likely are not needed, but can be used when necessary for safety reasons. Meal service flexibilities may be used, as needed, for children learning virtually. Meal service flexibilities may be used, as needed, during virtual learning.
Meal pattern flexibilities Targeted flexibilities may be used as needed; for example, schools may conduct emergency noncompetitive procurement or request targeted waivers due to supply chain disruptions related to COVID-19. Targeted flexibilities may be used as needed; for example, schools may need certain flexibilities for virtual learners who receive grab-and-go meals, and may conduct emergency noncompetitive procurement or request targeted waivers due to supply chain disruptions related to COVID-19. Targeted flexibilities may be used as needed; for example, schools may need certain flexibilities for grab-and-go meals during virtual learning, and may conduct emergency noncompetitive procurement or request targeted waivers due to supply chain disruptions related to COVID-19.
Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Children may be eligible on days when they experience a COVID-related absence; review the state’s P-EBT plan to understand the school’s role in the event of a change in the school’s operating status. Children may be eligible for P-EBT on virtual learning or COVID-related absence days; work with the state to provide the data necessary to ensure the timely distribution of benefits. Children may be eligible for P-EBT on virtual learning or COVID-related absence days; work with the state to provide the data necessary to ensure the timely distribution of benefits.
Meal claiming flexibilities Schools may serve and claim all meals free through the Seamless Summer Option of the National School Lunch Program and receive the Summer Food Service Program reimbursement rates, regardless of the learning model.
Afterschool care program flexibilities Schools may participate in the afterschool care program flexibilities, and serve and claim all meals and snacks at the free rate, regardless of their location, and regardless of the learning model.
Resources
10/22/2021