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Nationwide Waiver to Allow Sponsors that Successfully Participated in the SFSP in FY 2019 to Operate as Experienced Sponsors in FY 2021

Publication Date
EO Guidance Document #
FNS-GD-2021-0034
FNS Document #
COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #83
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Policy Memo (201.70 KB)

This waiver allows state agencies the discretion to use a streamlined application process for sponsors that did not operate the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in fiscal year (FY) 2020 due to COVID-19, but operated in FY 2019 and were in good standing. FNS is also waiving the requirement for state agencies to conduct pre-approval visits of SFSP sponsors that did not participate in FY 2020 due to COVID-19, but participated in FY 2019.

Alabama
Alaska
American Samoa
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Guam
Hawaii

 

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
Utah
Vermont
Virgin Islands
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
RESOURCE:
Nationwide Waiver to Allow Sponsors that Successfully Participated in the Summer Food Service Program in Fiscal Year 2019 to Operate as Experienced Sponsors in Fiscal Year 2021
DATE: April 1, 2021
POLICY MEMO: COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #83
SUBJECT: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Sponsors that Successfully Participated in the Summer Food Service Program  in Fiscal Year 2019 to Operate as Experienced Sponsors in Fiscal Year 2021 1
TO: Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

As authorized by the Families Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (PL 116-127), as extended by the Continuing Appropriations Act 2021 and Other Extensions Act (PL 116-159), and based on the exceptional circumstances of this public health emergency, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is granting a nationwide waiver to support access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to the novel coronavirus.

This waiver allows state agencies the discretion to use a streamlined application process for sponsors that did not operate the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in fiscal year (FY) 2020 due to COVID-19, but operated in FY 2019 and were in good standing. FNS is also waiving the requirement for state agencies to conduct pre-approval visits of SFSP sponsors that did not participate in FY 2020 due to COVID-19, but participated in FY 2019.

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.

Program regulations at 7 CFR 225.6(c)(2) outline the requirements for new applicant sponsors, while regulations at 7 CFR 225.6(c)(3) give state agencies the option to allow sponsors that have successfully operated in the prior year to utilize the streamlined experienced sponsor application process. Program regulations also require state agencies to conduct pre-approval visits to all applicant sponsors that did not participate in the prior year, under 7 CFR 225.7(d)(1)(i). Although the experienced sponsor application process is still substantial, it recognizes that much of the information submitted in the prior year's application is still current and that an experienced sponsor is like to operate successfully without a pre-approval site visit.

FNS is aware that, in this public health emergency, state agencies are concerned about the challenges of processing timely applications from both new and returning sponsors. Waiving these requirements for sponsors that successfully operated SFSP in FY 2019 facilitates the safe provision of meals by allow state and local program operators to further reallocate their limited staffing resources to meal service and relevant COVID-19 response activities, rather than expending those resources on the completion of administrative reporting. Eliminated the requirement for pre-approval site visits is an appropriate safety measure with respect to COVID-19 and will allow program operators to enhance their focus on the efficient service of meals, thereby reducing contact and potential exposure to COVID-19.

In recognition of the need to balance this waiver with integrity concerns, this waiver applies only to those sponsors that operated SFSP in good standing in FY 2019. Pursuant to the FFCRA authority cited above, FNS waivers the following requirements, for all states that elect to be subject to this waiver.

  • 7 CFR 225.2, where it defines an experienced sponsor as one that participated in the prior year; and
  • 7 CFR 225.7(d)(1)(i), where the state agency’s discretion to not conduct a pre-approval visit for successful participants is limited to the previous 12 months.

Consistent with section 2202(a)(2) of the FFCRA, this waiver applies automatically to all states that elect to use it, without further application. This waiver gives state agencies the discretion to allow sponsors that successfully operated SFSP in FY 2019, but did not operated in FY 2020 due to COVID-19, to use the experienced sponsor application process at 7 CFR 225.6(c)(3). This waiver also gives state agencies the discretion to approve applications from sponsors that successfully participated in FY 2019, but did not participate in FY 2020 due to COVID-19, without conducting pre-approval site visits.

State agencies electing to participate in the waiver must have an implementation plan that includes criteria for sponsor participation in the waiver. State agencies may not apply the waiver to sponsors that experienced significant operational problems in FY 2019 and should use discretion when considering applying the waiver to sponsors that anticipate making significant alterations to their program operations in FY 2021. State agencies continue to have the option to request that experienced sponsors and experienced sites provide any of the information required under 7 CFR 225.6(c)(2). State agencies must inform their regional office if they elect to be subject to the waiver. This waiver is effective immediately and will remain in effect through Sept. 30, 2021.

As required by section 2202(d) of the FFCRA, each state that elects to implement 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 sponsors, 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 sponsors 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: 04/02/2021

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.