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Nationwide Waiver to Allow Offer Versus Serve Flexibility for Senior High Schools in the NSLP for SY 2020–21

EO Guidance Document #
FNS-GD-2020-0097
FNS Document #
COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #37
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
PDF Icon State Guidance Memo (208.52 KB)

Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and based on the exceptional circumstances of this public health emergency, FNS is establishing a nationwide waiver to support access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID–19) for school year 2020-21. This waiver applies to the National School Lunch Program.

Select from the following list to see all states approved for this wavier in child nutrition programs.

Alaska
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
Virgin Islands
Washington
West Virginia
Resource
Nationwide Waiver to Allow Offer Vs Serve Flexibility for Senior High Schools in the NSLP for SY 2020–21
DATE: June 25, 2020
CODE: COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #37
SUBJECT: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Offer Versus Serve Flexibility for Senior High Schools in the National School Lunch Program for School Year 2020–211
TO: Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the FFCRA) (PL 116-127) and based on the exceptional circumstances of this public health emergency, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is establishing a nationwide waiver to support access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID–19) for school year (SY) 2020-21. This waiver applies to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Section 2202(a) of the FFCRA permits the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a waiver for all states for the purposes of providing meals under the child nutrition programs, with appropriate safety measures, as determined by the Secretary.

Under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act at 42 USC 1758(a)(3) and program regulations at 7 CFR 210.10(e), program operators of senior high schools (as defined by the state education agency) must participate in offer versus serve. However, FNS recognizes that for school year 2020–21, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, waiving the offer versus serve requirement will support safe access to nutritious meals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that schools serve individually plated meals in classrooms instead of in a communal cafeteria (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html). Schools attempting to adhere to this guidance may be unable to also effectively adhere to offer versus serve requirements. Additionally, this waiver will enable schools to offer complete meals for delivery or pickup for students doing distance learning. Therefore, for SY 2020–21, FNS waives, for all states, the requirement at 42 USC 1758(a)(3) and 7 CFR 210.10(e), to serve meals using offer versus serve principles to all senior high school students. This waiver is effective July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.

Consistent with Section 2202(a)(2) of the FFCRA, this waiver applies automatically to all states that elect to use it, without further application. If the state agency elects to implement these flexibilities for SY 2020–2021, it must notify its respective FNS regional office, which will acknowledge receipt. 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 a safe and accessible manner.

As required by Section 2202(d), each state that elects to be subject to this waiver must submit a report to the Secretary not later than 1 year after the date such state received the waiver. The report must include:

  • A summary of the use of this waiver by the state agency and local program operators, and
  • A description of whether and how this waiver resulted in improved services to program participants.

FNS appreciates the exceptional effort of state agencies and local program operators working to meet the nutritional needs of participants during a challenging time. State agencies should direct questions to the appropriate FNS regional office.

Angela M. Kline
Director
Policy and Program Development Division
Child Nutrition Programs

 


1 Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 USC 801 et seq.), the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs designated this waiver as not major, as defined by 5 USC 804(2).
Updated: 06/25/2020

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.