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Child Nutrition Program Meal Service Waivers During COVID-19

On March 11, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Division of Food and Nutrition (DFN) received waiver approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows schools closed due to the coronavirus to serve meals to students through the National School Lunch Program's (NSLP) Seamless Summer Option (SSO) or through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in a non-­congregate setting.

On March 30, 2020, DFN announced it received another waiver from the USDA that creates flexibility around eligibility requirements for areas experiencing significant economic changes. Previously, schools qualified to offer meals to children age 18 and under through the SSO or SFSP based on the free/reduced percentages of school buildings or census data. This did not accurately reflect the current economic circumstances that quickly evolved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On August 31, 2020, the USDA announced it will extend several nationwide waivers, creating flexibilities that allow schools to select service options that ensure children have continued access to healthy school meals. PDE accepted these waivers and provided associated information, to the extent of which it was made available by the USDA, to schools across Pennsylvania. PDE will continue to support and assist schools as they review the information and select meal service options that work best for their communities. 

PDE is grateful to schools across Pennsylvania for prioritizing this work to ensure children - whether they’re learning in a classroom or from home - have access to healthy meals.

Additional waivers submitted to the USDA include:

July 31, 2020: Waiver Request for Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Operation at Alternate Sites for the 2020-21 School Year (PDF)

July 28, 2020: 21-Day Menu Waiver Request to USDA (PDF)

July 27, 2020: Waiver Requests Submitted to the USDA for the 2020-21 School Year (PDF)

July 27, 2020: Waiver Requests Submitted to the USDA for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) (PDF)

May 13, 2020: Waiver Request to Allow School Food Authorities (SFAs) to Serve FFVP at Sites Other Than Approved Elementary Schools During COVID-19 Related School Closures (PDF)

March 24, 2020: Waiver to Request to Suspend Area Eligibility Requirements (PDF)

March 13, 2020: Waiver Request to Allow Parents or Guardians to Pick Up FFVP for Children During COVID-19 Related School Closure (PDF)

Visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Division of Food and Nutrition webpage.