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Summary of Current COVID-19 Child Nutrition Program Response Nationwide Waivers
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The table conveniently details all of the nationwide waivers issued to date by the USDA in response to the coronavirus.

For each of the 37 nationwide waivers and waiver extensions issued to date, this resource provides the waiver number, the title, programs to which it applies, its release date, the end date, a brief summary of what the waiver does, and additional notes and caveats. It was also includes the Q&A memoranda issued by the USDA to provide clarification and additional guidance around the nationwide waivers and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was recently updated to include a list of waivers by expiration date to help track various extensions.

This now reflects the USDA's extension of state-requested area eligibility waivers for open sites in the SFSP and SSO since the extension was granted nationwide.

Many states have requested and received waivers allowing parents to pick up produce served through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) without their child present as well as to approve alternate FFVP distribution sites, but these are not available as nationwide waivers.

This was last updated on 6/29/2020 to include the extension of four waivers through June 2021 for the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program. It also includes a new waiver of the Offer Versus Serve requirement for lunch in high schools.

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FAQs on Child Nutrition Program Options During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Looking for information on your options for feeding kids during school closures and through the summer?

Now that the school year has ended, some of the program options have changed, but many waivers remain in place. The original FAQ on serving meals during coronavirus-related school and child care closures was recently overhauled and turned in to a separate resource on serving meals during summer 2020. The original FAQ is still posted here for reference along with the summer 2020 FAQ.

The new summer 2020 FAQ answers questions on general program requirements and flexibilities, who is eligible to receive meals, what types or organizations can be a summer meals program sponsor or site, monitoring and visit requirements, menus and meal options, the waiver request process, and the relationship between child nutrition programs and Pandemic EBT.

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Strategies & Tactics to Reach Kids with Meals During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Do you need tips and ideas for safe and efficient non-congregate meal service?

Emerging Strategies & Tactics For Meal Service During School Closures Related To The Coronavirus offers ideas on how to get meals to kids affected by school closures. This resource highlights meal distribution strategies that schools and community organizations have already started putting into place across the country in response to widespread school closures due to the coronavirus. In addition to breaking down distribution plans into four main models -- drive thru or curbside distribution, walk-up distribution, mobile or bus route delivery, and direct home delivery -- it also includes guidance and ideas for staffing, staff safety, planning for emergencies, meal preparation, menus and meal options, distribution logistics, communication, and partnerships. The resource page also includes a separate document with ideas and recommendations specifically tailored to child nutrition program state agencies.

For a shorter resource focused on how to keep your staff safe and healthy while ensuring continued meal service for kids and families, check out Emergency Planning and Staff Safety Tips.

The Educator's Guide to Emergency Meals helps educators understand what school meals look like now during prolonged school closures due to the coronavirus and identify ways that they can help ensure students are accessing the critical nutrition they need.

Always defer to guidance from the USDA or your state agency, and please consult with your state agency before implementing a new strategy in order to ensure compliance. If you have a staff member diagnosed with COVID-19, please work with local public health officials to determine the appropriate course of action given local guidelines.

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Summer Meals
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Emergency Planning and Staff Safety Tips

This short resource will help you keep your staff healthy and plan for what happens if someone does get sick.

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Comparison of Usual Summer and Afterschool Meal Requirements to Current COVID-19 Flexibilities
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This chart breaks down how these programs usually work and the options currently available to help program operators adapt to the coronavirus.

The chart covers information on both the Summer Food Service Program & Seamless Summer Options as well as CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals, including:

  • The meals reimbursed by each program

  • Eligible sites

  • Eligible participants

  • The congregate meal service requirement

  • Meal service time requirements

  • Allowable days of operation, including weekends, spring break, and other non-school days

  • Meal requirements

  • Claim submission deadlines

  • Record keeping requirements

  • Procurement

  • Site monitoring

  • Unanticipated school closures

 

This was updated on 7/1/20 to reflect recent waiver extensions, the expiration of the Unanticipated School Closure Extension waiver and ending of CACFP At-Risk Afterschool for the 2019-2020 school year, and other guidance.

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FAQs on Pandemic-EBT and Coronavirus Response-SNAP
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Looking for information on Pandemic-EBT and Coronavirus Response SNAP?

Visit this resource, "FAQs on Pandemic-EBT and Coronavirus Response-SNAP" to get the answers to your questions.

This resource is based on USDA’s guidance to states on implementing the new Coronavirus Response SNAP (CR-SNAP) and Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Updated based on information available as of 6/29/2020.

What is new:

  • Pandemic-EBT: 47 states (along with the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands) are approved for P-EBT with the most recent approval of Montana, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and South Carolina. We encourage states to take advantage of this vital policy to feed children. P-EBT is not considered in a public charge test. Hence, participation in the program does not affect the immigration status of children or parents.
  • Online SNAP purchasing pilot: The number of states that are approved to allow SNAP households to use their EBT card for online food purchase from approved retailers reached 43 with the most recent approval of Kansas. Only state-approved retailers are eligible to participate in the pilot, which includes Walmart and Amazon in the majority of states.

The questions answered in this resource are:

1. What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (H.R 6201)?
2. Where can I find a summary of the FFCRA?
3. What is P-EBT?
4. Who is eligible for P-EBT?
5. What must states do to implement P-EBT?
6. What guidance is available from USDA on P-EBT?
7. If my state implements P-EBT, will my school or sponsoring organization still be able to serve non-congregate meals?
8. Is P-EBT available to children who are affected by child care closures?
9. Which states have been approved for P-EBT?
10. What are the CR-SNAP benefit increases authorized by FFCRA?
11. Who is eligible for CR-SNAP?
12. Are families receiving P-EBT for their children also eligible to receive CR-SNAP authorized by the FFCRA?
13. How much is the CR-SNAP allotment?
14. How will CR-SNAP be issued?
15. Which states have been approved for CR-SNAP?
16. Are states required to submit waiver requests on work requirements for Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) in SNAP?
17. What additional SNAP operational and administrative flexibilities are provided to states under FFCRA?
18. What other waivers and flexibilities are states requesting from USDA to improve program operation and reach of SNAP in the Pandemic declaration?
19. Where can I find a full list of nationwide waivers issued by USDA on SNAP and Child Nutrition Programs?

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Resources for State and Local Elected Officials

Are you a policymaker looking for resources and recommendations to respond to food insecurity among your constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Among the critical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity is one of the most widespread and solvable. This resource - Supporting Schools, Communities, and Nutrition Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Recommended State Policy Actions - lists some options available to state policymakers to unlock the potential of federal and state food and nutrition programs and ensure that families and children have the support they need throughout this unprecedented crisis and beyond. 

Leverage Federal Waivers, Resources and Programs

  • Implement and Strengthen Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) to ensure that families of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals have access to commensurate grocery benefits. 
  • Enlist Waivers and USDA-Authorized Flexibilities to strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Draw Down Federal Emergency Relief Funds, like those listed below, to provide schools, local governments, and other entities have access to federal funds to support nutrition assistance in response to COVID-19. 
    • The CARES Act allocated more than $30 billion in emergency relief to schools and school districts struggling to operate during the COVID-19 outbreak. See our supplemental resource—The CARES Act: An Overview of Federal Funding for Schools and School Districts—for more information about these funds.
      • The Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund (GEERF), established by CARES Act, provides a total of $3 billion to Governors to support school districts impacted by the pandemic and their efforts to maintain core functionality and ongoing essential and emergency educational services including funding any other services that Governors deem critical for students.
      • The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF), established by the CARES Act, appropriates $13.5 billion to support Local Educational Agencies' effort to provide a range of services and activities to meet the unique needs of low-income children and schools such as funding for planning and coordination of essential services like meal delivery.
    • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has made Public Assistance Funds available to reimburse state, local, and tribal governments for eligible costs for the purchase and distribution of food in response to COVID-19. Eligible costs include those associated with purchasing, packaging, and/or delivering food commodities, fresh foods, shelf-stable food products, and prepared meals. Please see our supplemental resource—FEMA Public Assistance Grants: Leveraging Funds To Provide Meals To Vulnerable Families And Children During Covid-19—for more information about using these grants to meet nutritional needs in your community.

Opportunities for State Leadership

  • Ensure Racial Equity in Responding to the Impact of COVID-19 through, for example, gathering data about the health outcomes for racial and ethnic minority communities and allocated state resources according to address disparities. 
  • Support School Food Service Workers by ensuring access to Personal Protective Equipment, supporting childcare needs, and recognizing them for their incredible service to their communities. 
  • Support School and School District Budgets to cover costs of providing emergency meal distribution and delivery and Enhance School Nutrition Department Capacity to continue meal service throughout the summer months. 
  • Establish Emergency Response Funds to ensure that food banks or other organizations have the resources they need to meet the unprecedented surge in demand for food services by vulnerable families. 
  • Supports Restaurants and Culinary Workers through, for example, establishing a statewide "Community Meals Fund," to empower the restaurant community to provide emergency and nutritious foods to families and children and providing financial support to industry workers impacted by restaurant closures.