USDA Summarizes Keep Kids Fed Act and Additional Flexibilities for 22-23
July 8, 2022
On July 7, 2022, the National CACFP Sponsors Association, in conjunction with numerous national allies, hosted the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service staff for a webinar entitled Child Nutrition Flexibilities and Support for Summer ’22 and SY 22-23. Nearly 4,000 members of the child nutrition community attended the webinar with thousands more watching it on demand. Thirty-five percent of those belonged to the CACFP, 28% were school officials, 14% were SFSP operators, 14% were nonprofit and advocacy workers, and 9% were from state agencies.
Introductions were given by Lisa Mack, Executive Director of the National CACFP Sponsors Association, Farah Buff, Director of External and Governmental Affairs, and Cindy Long, USDA Food and Nutrition Service Administrator. The presenters included Jess Saracino, Director, Program Monitoring and Operational Support Division; Kevin Maskornick, Director, Community Meals Policy Division and Tina Namian, Director, School Meals Policy Division.
Keep Kids Fed Act Background
The Keep Kids Fed Act was passed on June 25, 2022 in response to growing concern over the end of numerous pandemic-era waivers that were set to expire on June 30, 2022. Childhood hunger in the United States experienced a sharp increase during the pandemic. Child nutrition operators are on the forefront of mitigating the disaster, and the pandemic waivers aided those efforts greatly.
Key Facts from the Keep Kids Fed Act
The FNS Staff emphasized the following key facts from the newly enacted legislation:
- The Keep Kids Fed Act offers temporary higher per-meal reimbursement rates in NSLP, SBP and CACFP through June 2023. It temporarily offers the higher Tier I reimbursement rate to Tier II family day care homes through June 2023. It extends the USDA nationwide waiver authority for SFSP and SSO operations through September 2022. It gives limited nationwide waiver authority through June 2023.
- The Keep Kids Fed Act does NOT give the USDA authority to issue any nationwide waivers that have a cost to the government. It has no ability to operate Seamless Summer Option during the school year or provide all meals for free. It does not expand area eligibility during the school year. It does not offer SFSP rates for school year meals.
All CACFP operators will receive an additional 10 cent reimbursement for all meals and snacks from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023. Family Group Day Care Homes will all be reimbursed at the Tier I rate during that same time.
School Meals 2022 – 2023
The Keep Kids Fed Act temporarily increases reimbursement for school lunches for ALL students by 40 cents, regardless of whether they are paid, reduced or free, and for breakfast for all students by 15 cents. In addition to this Keep Kids Fed Act reimbursement increase, the USDA has other approved waivers under section 12(I) and flexibilities to allow non-congregate meal service when congregate meal service is limited by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Special Note About Summer 2022
Summer 2022 was highly prioritized in the Keep Kids Fed Act; however, the USDA recognized that summer is already in full swing in most,if not all, of the country. To that end, they have expedited six waivers and extensions to facilitate the rapid execution of child nutrition programs this summer. Please see slides 14 to 18 for details.
“We hope that despite this late start, you’re still going to be able to leverage these powerful flexibilities to the greatest extent possible, and the children and families you service will benefit from their use,” said Kevin Maskornick about the provisions and waivers directed at summer 2022 feedings.
Summer 2022 Waivers
UPDATE 7/13/2022 The USDA has published the following waivers for summer 2022:
- Area Eligibility
- Meal Times
- Non-Congregate Feeding
- Parent/Guardian Pick-Up
- SFSP Reimbursement for Meals Served Under SSO
- Eligibility for Closed-Enrolled Sites
Supply Chain Response
FNS issued an extension of the nationwide waiver that waives the requirement to apply fiscal action when there is a supply chain disruption for missing food components, missing production records, repeat violations involving milk type and vegetable subgroups. This waiver is effective through June 30, 2023. It was further emphasized that if operators are making a good faith effort to comply with meal pattern requirements but cannot due to supply chain disruptions, state agencies and sponsors should provide technical assistance and training in lieu of penalties. There will not be a nationwide waiver for meal pattern requirements.
Supply Chain Assistance Funds (SCA Funds)
FNS announced that $934 million in additional Supply Chain Assistance funding has been made available. This program provides an additional round of funding to address ongoing supply chain challenges experienced by school food authorities participating in the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program. State agencies will distribute SCA funds to SFAs for the exclusive purchase of unprocessed and minimally processed domestic foods. The memo allocating the funds to states will be released by FNS soon.
Keep Kids Fed Act Q&A
Q: Is the guidance for area eligibility for summer 22 and SY 22-23 for sb10 2022 still apply?
A: Yes, the guidance provided in that memo still applies for summer 22 if your state agency doesn’t elect the nationwide waiver for area eligibility. The guidance will still apply in any case for school year 22-23 to determine eligibility for NSLP after-school snacks and CACFP at-risk afterschool programs.
Q: What are some examples of when the school would use the 12L non-congregate waiver during 22-23?
A: If a school temporarily needs to transition to hybrid learning due to COVID, they could use non-congregate feeding. If there’s a positive case in a classroom and the whole room moves to remote or hybrid learning, those students would receive non-congregate feeding.
Q: Are the new nationwide waivers retroactive to the beginning of summer?
A: They’re effective immediately the date of publication, but not retroactive.
Q: Can you confirm the additional 10 cents is for all CACFP programs including at-risk afterschool and adult daycare? And will it stack with additional Tier 1 reimbursement?
A: Yes—both are confirmed. The additional 10 cents applies to ALL CACFP programs. It will stack with additional Tier 1 reimbursement.
Q: Can Seamless Summer Option continue to be operated through September, even after school is back in session?
A: No, they end once school is back in session. The intent is for SSO to only be operated during the period it would normally be available, such as summer break. Once the academic year starts, schools must operate regular school lunch and breakfast programs.
Q: Are these new nationwide waivers automatically available for sponsors, or do state agencies have to opt in?
A: Like all waivers, state agencies must opt in. However, the USDA has made the process as simple as possible and is encouraging all states to opt in as strongly as possible.
Q: If an SFA is serving meals in non-congregate feeding during the school year, must they be claimed using the paid/free/reduced status?
Q: Will area eligibility waivers for CACFP continue to the end of the 22-23 school year?
A: Generally speaking, no. Congress did not provide for USDA to issue waivers that cost the federal government money. However, it did include universal Tier 1 status for family home day care payments.
Q: Is grab-and-go once again an allowable option during summer 22?
A: In states that adopt the non-congregate waiver flexibilities for the summer, yes. Parent pick-up and mealtime waivers may also be available depending on your state agencies.
Common Acronyms from USDA Presentation
CACFP--Child and Adult Care Food Program
SFSP-- Summer Food Service Program
NSLP-- National School Lunch Program
CEP--Community Eligibility Provision
SFA--School Food Authority
FSMCs--Food Service Management Companies
SCA--Supply Chain Assistance (funds)
NSLA--National school lunch act
SSO--Seamless Summer Option
KKFA--Keep Kids Fed Act
NCA-- National CACFP Sponsors Association