Q&A – Child Nutrition Program Operations in School Year 2021-2022
FNS has issued several nationwide waivers and flexibilities to support a successful reopening of schools and child care in SY 2021-2022. (List of Waivers)
The following is a summary of the Q&A portion related to CACFP. Read the full text HERE (Questions and Answers for Child Nutrition Program Operations in School Year 2021-2022).
4. Three nationwide waivers indicate that they are available through June 30, 2022 but should only be used until “greater levels of congregation in in-school settings is safe and healthy to pursue." Who determines when congregate meal service is safe and healthy to pursue?
Local Program operators should coordinate with the State agency to determine when congregate meal service is safe and healthy to pursue. FNS expects child care providers to use the meal service flexibility waivers listed below only for the duration and extent that they are needed. Local Program operators, in collaboration with the State agency, are best positioned to determine how long, and to what extent, these waivers are needed:
- Child Nutrition Response #87: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Non-Congregate Meal Service for School Year 2021-2022
- Child Nutrition Response #88: Nationwide Waiver of Meal Times Requirements for School Year 2021-2022
- Child Nutrition Response #89: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children for School Year 2021-2022
NSLP SSO Relating to CACFP
7. May SFAs operating SSO in SY 2021-2022 serve weekend and holiday meals through the SSO?
No. Consistent with supporting a transition back to more traditional school year operations, SFAs may not provide weekend or holiday meals through the SSO when school is in session during the regular school year in SY 2021-2022. However, SSO weekend meals will remain available during unanticipated school closures. Furthermore, weekend or holiday meals may be provided through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, which is more widely available in SY 2021-2022 due to the area eligibility waiver (Nationwide Waiver #93).
15. Under Child Nutrition Response #86: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Summer Food Service Program Reimbursement Rates in School Year 2021-2022, SFAs may claim SSO meals and snacks at the SFSP free rate. Does this mean SFAs may claim breakfast, lunch, and snack at the SFSP rate each day meals are served?
No. Nationwide Waiver #86 does not change the maximum number of meals that can be served through SSO each day. SFAs participating in SSO may serve and claim up to two meals, or one meal and one snack, per child, per day. For example, an SFA could choose to serve breakfast and lunch, breakfast and snack, or lunch and snack. For SY 2021-2022, the meals and snacks an SFA opts to serve through SSO may be claimed at the SFSP reimbursement rate. Meals or snacks served through other Child Nutrition Programs would be claimed at the appropriate Program reimbursement rate. For example, if an SFA also serves suppers through the CACFP At-risk Afterschool Program, the suppers would be claimed at the CACFP reimbursement rate for suppers.
CACFP Specific Questions
18. Can the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Program continue to operate in summer 2021 after schools close for summer vacation? For example, if a school officially ends SY 2020-2021 on May 30, 2021, can the school continue to operate CACFP At-Risk until June 30, 2021?
No. The NSLA definition specifies that the CACFP At-Risk Program provides care to school children during after-school hours, weekends, or holidays during the regular school year. Therefore, the Program is only able to operate while school is in session. Unless an afterschool care center is in the attendance area of a school operating on a year-round calendar, afterschool meals may not be claimed during summer vacation.
19. Under the area eligibility waiver (Nationwide Waiver #93), how long are day care homes eligible to receive the tier I reimbursement rates?
In States that elect to use it, the waiver suspends requirements for day care home classification to allow all providers to receive tier I reimbursement for meals and snacks served from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.
20. Can new family day care home providers use the area eligibility waiver (Nationwide Waiver #93)?
Yes, all family day care home providers operating under COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #93: Nationwide Waiver of Area Eligibility in the Afterschool Programs and for Family Day Care Home Providers in School Year 2021-2022, regardless of their location, will receive the tier I reimbursement rate for all meals and snacks. This waiver is effective beginning July 1, 2021 and remains in effect through June 30, 2022.
21. Are meals served to providers’ own children eligible for tier I reimbursement?
For providers that are receiving the tier I reimbursement rate under the waiver, meals served to their own children may be reimbursed at the tier I rate if the criteria listed are met. Payment may be made for meals served to the provider's own children when (1) such children are enrolled and participating in the child care program during the time of the meal service, (2) enrolled nonresident children are present and participating in the child care program, and (3) providers' children are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals. Meals may not be claimed for provider’s own children if those three criteria are not met.
22. What justification is needed for the State agency to approve a meal pattern waiver?
State agencies have discretion to determine the justification needed to approve a meal pattern waiver. FNS expects that the justification child care providers submit will vary based on their meal service plans and local circumstances.
In general, States that elect to use Child Nutrition Response #91: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Specific Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child and Adult Care Food Program for School Year 2021-2022 should consider requests that are targeted and justified, based on plans to support safe access to nutritious meals.
26. Under Nationwide Waiver #91, child and adult care providers are permitted to request a waiver to offer low-fat (1%) flavored milk. What age/grade group does this apply to?
This waiver applies to children 6 years and older and adults. Child and adult care providers that request and receive State approval to use this waiver may serve low-fat (1%) flavored milk to children 6 years and older and adults.
32. Can the State implement a blended (off-site and on-site) monitoring approach? For example, on-site monitoring for high-risk sponsors and off-site monitoring for low-risk sponsors?
Yes. The nationwide waiver, Child Nutrition Response #95: Nationwide Waiver of Onsite Monitoring Requirements for State Agencies in the CACFP - EXTENSION 3, provide the flexibility for States to do off-site monitoring; however, they do not prohibit reviews from occurring on-site.
34. The Nationwide On-site Monitoring Waivers (#94, #95, & #96) remain “in effect until 30 days after the end of the public health emergency.” Is this based on a Federal declaration of a public health emergency, or a State declaration of a public health emergency?
The waivers providing off-site monitoring flexibilities nationwide are dependent on the Federal public health emergency, which was declared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on January 31, 2020. For the purposes of these waivers, the end of the public health emergency will be the date declared by HHS and the waivers will expire nationwide 30 calendar days after that date.