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See OSPI’s COVID-19 guidance and resources for educators, students, and families.

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Nutrition & Meals Guidance

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person-to-person and the number of cases in Washington is growing. Below are guidance and resources for school districts to use as they continue to provide meals during school closures. 

Find a Summer Meal Site Near You

The number of locations that students can receive free meals from has grown, thanks to new locations offering meals through the annual Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). SFSP provides children with nutritious meals during the summer. The USDA recently released a Nationwide waiver extension which allows sponsors to offer summer meals no matter the economic conditions in the area.

To find a Summer Meal site near you, text “food” or “comida” to 877–877, or you can also use the summer meal site locator online.

Program Resources

Operating CACFP During Unanticipated School/Center Closures

If you regularly operate the Child and Adult Care Program (CACFP) during the year, there are options for you to continue serving reimbursable meals during unanticipated school/center closures. We encourage School and Community Sponsors to work together to provide meals to children in their community during unanticipated closures through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and CACFP. Please contact your CACFP program specialist for more details.

Community-Based (Non-Profit) At-Risk Sponsors

Can continue to provide meals to children that would regularly attend your program.

Childcare/ECEAP/Head Start Sponsors

Can continue to serve meals to children enrolled in your center in a non-congregate manner. 

Do you plan to serve more than one meal at a time? Or offer a meal delivery service to children in your community? 

Complete the CACFP Sponsor Meal Distribution Plan and submit to your CACFP program specialist.

Interested in Becoming a CACFP Sponsor?

School sponsors providing extended day childcare for first responders can apply to CACFP to claim meals through the At-Risk program if located in area eligible locations. 

We are not accepting new CACFP At-Risk sponsors (community-based non-profits) application at this time of school closure.

Unanticipated Closure Resources 

Unanticipated Closure Resources 

Important Updates

According to section 2202(a) of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act) (PL 116-127), and in light of the exceptional circumstances of this public health emergency, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) granted the following nationwide waivers to help minimize potential exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #37 - Nationwide Waiver to Allow Offer Versus Serve Flexibility for Senior High Schools in the National School Lunch Program for School Year 2020–2021
    • This waives the requirements to use Offer vs Serve in High Schools operating the NSLP.
    • This waiver is effective July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021. 
    • Washington State will participate in this waiver.
  • COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #36 - Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs – EXTENSION #4
    • This waives the requirements to serve meals that meet the meal pattern requirements.
    • This waiver is effective July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021 for NSLP, SBP, and CACFP sponsors. 
    • SFSP Sponsors have a waiver that remains in effect until July 31, 2020 under Child Nutrition Response # 26.
    • Sponsors are approved on a case-by-case basis - Contact your program specialist.
    • As a reminder, Federal procurement regulations at 2 CFR 200.320(f) allow procurement by noncompetitive proposals when there is a public emergency.
    • Washington State will participate in this waiver.
  • COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #35 - Nationwide Waiver to Allow Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children – EXTENSION #2
    • This waiver allows parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children.
    • Program operators must maintain program integrity and ensure duplicate meals are not distributed.
    • This waiver also applies to guardians picking up meals for adult participants in the CACFP.
    • This waiver is effective July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021 for NSLP, SBP, and CACFP sponsors.SFSP Sponsors have a waiver that remains in effect until August 31, 2020 under Child Nutrition Response # 25.
    • Washington State will participate in this waiver.
  • COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #34 - Meal Service Time Flexibility in the NSLP, SBP and CACFP – Extension #2
    • The SFSP and Seamless Summer Option meal time flexibility is permitted under COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #17 (this waiver is extended through September 30, 2020).
    • This waiver allows program sponsors to adjust meal times as needed and serve multiple meals at one time.
    • This waiver is effective July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021 for NSLP, SBP, and CACFP sponsors. 
    • SFSP Sponsors have a waiver that remains in effect until August 31, 2020 under Child Nutrition Response # 23.
    • Washington State will participate in this waiver.
  • COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #33 - Nationwide Waiver to Allow Non-Congregate Feeding in the Child Nutrition Programs - EXTENSION #2
    • This waiver allows meals to be served in a non-congregate meal setting.
    • This waiver is effective July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021 for ational School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsors. 
    • Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Sponsors have a waiver that remains in effect until August 31, 2020 under Child Nutrition Response # 22.
    • Washington State will participate in this waiver.
  • COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #32: Nationwide Waiver to Extend Area Eligibility Waivers through August 31, 2020
    • This waiver allows SFSP and SSO sponsors in good standing to operate open sites in areas consistent with the State plan, but not located in “Areas in which poor economic conditions exist”. 
    • FNS reserves the right to withdraw this approval subject to availability of funding
    • This waiver may apply to any site that operated under the previous State area eligibility plan. 
    • Washington state will participate in this waiver.
  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #31: Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirements for State Agencies in the Summer Food Service Program – EXTENSION through August 31, 2020
    • This waiver applies to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP).
    • This waiver allows OSPI CNS to conduct Administrative Reviews as a desk audit and waives the requirement for on-site visits for reviews during the emergency.
    • Washington state will participate in this waiver.
  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #30: Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirements for Sponsoring Organizations in the Summer Food Service Program – EXTENSION through August 31, 2020
    • This waiver applies to all organizations operating the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) during the unanticipated school closure.
    • This waives onsite monitoring requirements, but requires sponsors to monitor program operations offsite to the maximum extent practicable.  
    • Washington state will participate in this waiver.
    • Sponsors must notify OSPI CNS if they intend to participate in this waiver.
  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #29: Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirements in the School Meals Programs – Revised – EXTENSION through August 31, 2020

    • This waiver applies to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP).
    • This waiver allows OSPI CNS to conduct Administrative Reviews as a desk audit and waives the requirement for on-site visits for reviews during the emergency.
    • Washington state will participate in this waiver.
  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #28: Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirements for State Agencies in the Child and Adult Care Food Program – EXTENSION through August 31, 2020

    • This waiver allows OSPI CNS to conduct Administrative Reviews as a desk audit and waives the requirement for on-site visits for reviews during the emergency.
    • Washington state will participate in this waiver.
  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #27: Nationwide Waiver of Monitoring Requirements for Sponsors in the Child and Adult Care Food Program – EXTENSION through August 31, 2020

    • This waiver applies to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
    • This waiver allows Sponsors to:
      • Conduct 2 facility reviews, instead of 3.
      • Conduct 1 unannounced visit, instead of 2.
      • Not observe a meal service.
      • To have more than 6 months between reviews.
      • Review new facilities as a desk review.
      • Washington state will participate in this waiver.
      • Sponsors must notify OSPI CNS if they intend to participate in this waiver.
  • COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #26: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs – EXTENSION 3

  • SP 21-2020, CACFP12-2020, SFSP 12-2020: Q&A Related to Food Service Management Company Contracts and Allowable Costs during the COVID-19 Pandemic
    • This memo reviews common questions and answers for sponsors working with a FSMC. 
    • Topics include: Contracts and Other Contracted Suppliers, Monitoring, and Allowable Costs. 
    • If you have questions, please email Jeff Booth
  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #23 - Nationwide Waiver to Meal Time Flexibility in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program - EXTENSION
  • This waiver allows Food Service Management Company (FSMC) contracts that expire around June 30, 2020 to be extended through school year 2020-2021; the contract extension is limited to one year only.
  • If your district would like to participate in this waiver, please email Jeff Booth.
  • This waiver expires September 30, 2020. 
  • You must inform OSPI CNS if your district chooses to implement this waiver by June 30, 2020
    • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #8 - Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirements for State Agencies in the Child and Adult Care Food Program  - In effect until June 30, 2020

    • COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #6 - Nationwide Waiver of Community Eligibility Provision Deadlines in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs  - In effect until August 31, 2020

      Washington State is requesting a waiver extension of USDA's COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #7 Nationwide Waiver of Monitoring Requirements for Sponsors in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. This waiver currently allows sponsoring organizations to review sites remotely until August 31, 2020. OSPI is requesting an extension through September 20, 2021. 

      Washington State is requesting a waiver extension of USDA's COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response #11 Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirement’s for State Agencies in the Summer Food Service Program. This waiver currently allows State Agencies to complete SFSP reviews off-site through June 30, OSPI is requesting this waiver to extend through August 31, 2020.

      The Office of the Superintendent is requesting a waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to waive the review requirements for school food authorities operating the Summer Food Service Program for the first time. This waiver would allow OSPI to implement  an alternate process to review and provide technical assistance to sponsors.

      OSPI is seeking this waiver to reduce administrative burden and allow for continuing support to sponsors providing meals during the COVID 19 pandemic.

      On March 27, 2020 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Services approved Washington state’s request for a waiver of the restrictions on site eligibility requirements in the Summer Food Service Program and the Seamless Summer Option of the National School Lunch Program.

      This waiver allows sites to operate in areas that are not designated as area eligible (high needs). This waiver was approved to be effective through June 30, 2020.  

      OSPI is seeking an extension of this waiver through August 31, 2020 in order to maintain children’s access to meals during the novel coronavirus  (COVID-19) pandemic.

      On 4/21, OSPI requested a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reduce the minimum enrollment thresholds for CACFP For-Profit Centers. Centers are facing changing enrollment factors as many non-essential workers are ordered to stay home. For-profit childcare centers may not claim reimbursement for meals served to children in any month in which less than 25% of the children in care qualify for free or reduced-price meals, this waiver would allow centers to claim the children they are serving, even if they are not meeting the threshold. 

      Food Handler Card Requirements for COVID-19 Meal Service

      It is important that everyone involved with emergency meal service during the COVID-19 school closure has basic food safety training.

      The current Washington State Health Department requirements for who needs to have a Food Handler’s Card is as follows:

      • Required for all food workers that prepare/come in contact with food
        • Staff/volunteers that distribute packaged meals or assemble meals that contain only commercially packaged items do NOT need Food Handler cards.
      • Staff/volunteers with no card are approved to prepare food for up to 14 days as long as they receive training by a manager / person in charge.

      If your school district or organization is facing any challenges in meeting these requirements, please contact us at summermeals@k12.wa.us.

      Multiple days of Meal Service

      We have relayed information about the availability of providing up to five days’ worth of meals at one time, with a submission of the Meal Distribution Plan Addendum. We realize that many of you are coming up on spring break next week and may want to provide five days’ worth of meals along with Friday’s meal. This is allowable.

      Please direct any questions to your program specialist.

      USDA’s Food and Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNCS) granted an eligibility waiver to Washington state. Under a provision in Section 2102 of the recently enacted H.R. 6201, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, this waiver expands the area or number of service sites for meals. This provision removes the requirements that the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) sites must be located in those areas in which 50% or more participant are eligible for the free or reduced-price meals.

      Non-Area Eligible sites are approved on a case-by-case basis. OSPI CNS recommends to work with your local partners to feed children at area eligible sites to the maximum extent practicable.

      This waiver remains in effect until June 30, 2020, or until the expiration of the federally declared public health emergency.


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      This institution is an equal opportunity provider.