Child Nutrition Waivers Extended through June 2022

What this Means for California Kids

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extended several child nutrition waivers for schools and child care. The waivers are available nationwide through June 30, 2022. 

We anticipate that California administrators will soon provide details about the implementation of the waivers in our state. We will share updates as we learn more. A summary of the waivers is below. 

Seamless Summer Option (operation & reimbursement): allows all schools to serve meals free of charge to all children by operating the Seamless Summer Option. The meals align with nutrition standards for school breakfast and school lunch. Schools will receive per-meal reimbursements specific to the Summer Food Service Program, which are higher than reimbursements from the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. 

Please note that while the waiver allows all schools to operate the Seamless Summer Option for the 2021-22 year, schools may choose to implement other approaches, such as the Community Eligibility Provision. 

Non-Congregate: allows meals to be served and eaten outside of group (congregate) settings. This waiver applies to meals served through the Seamless Summer Option, National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Meal Service Times: allows meals to be served outside of the usual times, enabling options such as picking up multiple meals at once. This waiver applies to meals served through the Seamless Summer Option, National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Parent/Guardian Pick Up: allows a parent or guardian to pick up meals for children without children being present. This waiver applies to meals served through the Seamless Summer Option, National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Area Eligibility: allows all schools and at-risk afterschool care centers to serve afterschool meals and snacks free of charge. Also allows all family day care homes to receive the highest CACFP reimbursement rate for all meals and snacks served to enrolled children effective July 1, 2021. This waiver applies to the National School Lunch Program Afterschool Snack Service, the Child and Adult Care Food Program At-Risk Afterschool Care Component, and family day care homes participating in Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Note: Along with the waivers described above, USDA issued waivers regarding flexibility in the types of food (meal patterns) served by schools and child care providers; the way in which meals are served in high schools; and monitoring requirements for schools meal programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and CACFP sponsors. Read more details about those waivers

We thank USDA for extending these waivers to better serve children throughout our state as the pandemic continues to exact its toll on families, schools, and child care providers. We also recognize that these time-limited solutions will not address the underlying, ongoing harm of hunger and poverty. 

California kids deserve consistent, long-term access to the nutritious meals that help them learn, grow, and achieve at their fullest potential. State and federal leaders should take action to make this a reality.

Please visit our Action Center to learn more and get involved.