FAQs on Child Nutrition Program Options During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Implementation Support
Best for
Nonprofit Sponsors
Program Sites
School Nutrition Staff

Looking for information on how to feed kids during coronavirus-related school closures and summer 2020?


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 FAQ on summer 2020 operations answers the questions:

Program Options and General Requirements

  1. Which child nutrition programs are available to feed kids during summer 2020?

  2. Can we serve meals through the child nutrition programs outside of the usual group (“congregate”) settings to allow for social distancing?

  3. Who can receive meals?

  4. Do children have to be present to receive a meal, or can parents or guardians pick up meals on behalf of their children?

  5. Do meal service time restrictions still apply? Can I provide more than one meal at a time or provide meals for multiple days at one time?

  6. Can meals be served on weekends?

Sponsors, Sites, Distribution, and Home Delivery

  1. Who exactly can operate child nutrition programs this summer?

  2. Could private and charter schools operate SFSP or SSO and take advantage of waiver flexibilities?

  3. Can new organizations be approved to operate SFSP or SSO and utilize these flexibilities?

  4. Can new sites or meal distribution points be approved?

  5. Do area eligibility restrictions still apply to SFSP and SSO open sites?

  6. What if a site does not qualify as area eligible, even under our state’s waiver?

  7. Can we serve an identified group of children as a closed enrolled site? How can we qualify?

  8. Can a site participate in both CACFP and SFSP or SSO at the same time?

  9. What options are available for non-congregate meal service?

  10. My state or area is under a “shelter in place” or “stay at home” order that limits all but essential services. Can we still prepare and distribute meals? Can families still come to pick them up at distribution points, or do they have to be delivered to homes?

Monitoring and Visits

  1. Are first week site visits still required?

  2. As a sponsoring organization or school food authority, do we need to continue to do on-site monitoring and reviews?

Menus and Meal Options

  1. Which meals can be served through SFSP and SSO? Are there limits on meals per child?

  2. What are my options for packaging or serving meals? Can I do Offer Versus Serve?

  3. Is there any flexibility on the meal pattern requirements, especially with issues related to supply and availability?

  4. Is there any flexibility on procurement requirements to help us source food from other vendors that may have what we need?

Waiver Requests

  1. What other program requirements will continue to apply?

  2. Can states submit waivers for other requirements?

  3. Should states wait for the USDA to make blanket national waivers?

  4. Can schools or sponsoring organizations take action to request or implement waivers on their own?

  5. Will schools or sponsoring organizations eventually have to submit waiver requests to their states?

Pandemic EBT

  1. What is Pandemic-EBT authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R 6201)?

  2. If my state implements P-EBT, will my school or sponsoring organization still be able to serve non-congregate meals?

  3. Does P-EBT cover the summer?

  4. Is P-EBT available to children who are affected by child care closures?


Other Helpful Links: