Meal Service Options for School Year 2020-2021

Implementation Support
Policy & Legislation
Program Overview
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School Nutrition Staff

Confused about the waivers for SY20-21? Not sure what your options are for meal service during distance learning or four day school weeks? Check out this resource.


School districts across the country are making decisions about distance learning vs. in-class learning vs. hybrid schedule models, which has significant implications for school meals operations. School nutrition departments must also consider the federal regulations and the limited number of nationwide waivers currently available to determine what their options are.

This resource covers the major schedule models that districts may adopt for the coming school year, the possible meal service models that work for each schedule model, and the program options and waiver considerations for each model.

This resource also breaks down the nationwide waivers available to the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program through June 30, 2021:

  •     Non-Congregate Meal Service Waiver
  •     Meal Service Time Waiver
  •     Parent/Guardian Meal Pick-Up Waiver
  •     Meal Pattern Waiver
  •     Offer Versus Serve Waiver for High Schools
  •     On-Site Monitoring
    • For school food authorities and state agencies operating school meals programs through June 30, 2021
    • For SFSP and CACFP sponsors and state agencies through September 30, 2021

Additionally, as of August 31, schools have the option to operate the NSLP Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through December 2020, and both schools and non-profit sponsors have the option to operate the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Critical waivers for the SFSP and SSO like the non-congregate and parent/guardian meal pick-up waiver have also been extended through December 2020 in order to allow for safe and efficient service through the summer meals programs.

This also discusses the limitations and challenges schools will likely face under the current program and waiver options.

This now includes relevant information and guidance from the USDA's Q&A memo released on August 21, 2020 and the Q&A memo released on September 11, 2020.