|DATE:||July 6, 2022|
|POLICY MEMO:||COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #113|
|SUBJECT:||Nationwide Waiver of Meal Service Time Restrictions for Summer 2022 Operations – EXTENSION 4|
Special Nutrition Programs
Child Nutrition Programs
Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the FFCRA) (PL 116-127), as amended, and based on the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is extending the nationwide waiver to allow meal service operations outside of the standard meal service times in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through Sept. 30, 2022. This waiver extends for summer 2022 the Nationwide Waiver of Meal Service Time Restrictions in the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option – EXTENSION 3 – granted on March 9, 2021, that expired on Sept. 30, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2022. This extension applies to the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and FNS is extending this flexibility to the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO).
Section 2202(a) of the FFCRA permits the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a waiver for all states for the purpose of providing meals under the child nutrition programs or to ensure continuity of program operations. Program regulations at 7 CFR 225.16(c)(1) and (2) require minimum elapsed times between meal services and maximum durations of individual meal services in the SFSP. In addition, program regulations at 7 CFR 210.10(l) and 220.8(l), establish requirements on the timing of lunches and breakfasts. However, FNS recognizes that, due to the broad impacts of COVID-19 and the ongoing public health emergency, state agencies and local program operators need additional support and flexibility to maintain continuity of program operations and ensure they can maximize the provision of meals for children.
Therefore, pursuant to the FFCRA authority cited above, FNS extends, for all states, the waiver of those requirements at 7 CFR 225.16(c)(1) and (2) that place federal limits on the amount of time that must elapse between the beginning of one meal and the beginning of the next, and the duration of a meal service. SFSP sponsors are still required to comply with application requirements at 7 CFR 225.6(c)(2)(i)(B) and (c)(3)(i)(A) to establish meal service times for each site. In addition, FNS also extends the waiver of those requirements at 7 CFR 210.10(l) and 7 CFR 220.8(l) that set meal time parameters for schools. This extension is effective immediately and remains in effect through Sept. 30, 2022. FNS also extends these meal service time flexibilities to SSO operations for the duration of this waiver.
Consistent with section 2202(a)(2) of the FFCRA, this extension applies automatically to all states that elect to use it, without further application. Although this is an extension of a prior waiver, any state agency electing to implement these flexibilities for summer 2022 must notify its respective FNS regional office, which will acknowledge receipt. State agencies that have already received an SFSP waiver allowing meal service operations outside of the standard meal service times through section 12(l) of the NSLA may elect to be covered by this nationwide waiver in place of their 12(l) waivers. FNS will consider any state election to participate under this nationwide waiver as a request to withdraw the Section 12(l) waiver of the requirements at 7 CFR 225.16(c)(1) and (2) and 7 CFR 210.10(l) and 220.8(l). To use these flexibilities, SFSP and SSO operators must contact the state agency for approval and provide the state agency any necessary information to complete the report requirements discussed below. State agencies should inform local program operators of the flexibilities provided by this waiver as quickly as possible, and work in partnership with local operators to provide meals to all participants in an accessible manner this summer.
As required by section 2202(d) of the FFCRA, each state that elects to be subject to this waiver must submit a report to the Secretary no later than one year after the date such state received the waiver. The report must include a summary of the use of this extension by the state agency and local program operators. FNS appreciates the exceptional effort of state agencies and local program operators working to meet the nutritional needs of participants. State agencies should direct questions to the appropriate FNS regional office.
J. Kevin Maskornick
Community Meals Policy Division