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 utilizing a variety of school schedule models, from distance learning to in-class learning to hybrid schedule models, and many are switching between these models as the school year unfolds. This has significant implications for school meals operations. School nutrition departments must also consider the federal regulations and the available nationwide waivers to determine what their options are.

This resource covers the major schedule models that districts may adopt at some point over this 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
  •     Area Eligibility for CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Sites
  •     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 October 9th, schools have the option to operate the NSLP Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through June 30, 2021, 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 June 30, 2021 in order to allow for safe and efficient service through the summer meals programs. This resource details these options along with relevant guidance from USDA guidance memos.

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