Area Eligibility During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Area Eligibility During the COVID-19 Outbreak

To: National School Lunch Program School Food Authorities (SFAs),Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Sponsors and Child and Adult Care Food Program At-Risk Afterschool Component Sponsors Serving Meals During Coronavirus (COVID-19)

From:  Brigette Hires, Child Nutrition Program Manager, Office of Integrated Student Supports

Date: April 2, 2020, revised December 8, 2020

Re:  Area Eligibility During the COVID-19 Outbreak
 

Purpose

This policy provides guidance to a) National School Lunch Program (NSLP) School Food Authorities operating under the Seamless Summer Option (SSO); b) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors; or c) Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Sponsors operating the At-Risk Afterschool Care Component about expanding area eligibility during the coronavirus (COVID-19) meal distribution process.
 

Overview

Under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act section 13(a)(1)(A) and program regulations at 7 CFR 225.2, 225.6(c)(2)(i)(G), 225.6(c)(3)(i)(B), 225.6(d)(1)(i), 225.14(c)(3) and 225.16(b)(4), sponsors are required to conduct regularly scheduled food service for children from areas in which poor economic conditions exist. The act and cited regulations envision program operators maintaining children’s access to nutritious meals during the summer months and supporting families experiencing financial hardship. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service recognizes that during the current public health emergency, households in areas that do not meet the criteria of poor economic conditions may be facing financial hardship. 

In keeping with the goal of maintaining children’s access to nutritious meals during the coronavirus pandemic, on March 28, 2020, the USDA issued to the Ohio Department of Education a waiver related to the restrictions of site eligibility requirements. 

On Oct. 9, the USDA extended this waiver through June 30, 2021, recognizing that program operators continue to need additional support and flexibility to serve meals to children in need while managing the impacts of COVID-19. Continued use of the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option would allow a smooth transition into school, ease administrative burden associated with traditional school meal operations and ensure student safety.    

On Sept. 18, the USDA issued a waiver related to the restrictions of site eligibility requirements under the Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Care Component. On Oct. 9, the USDA extended this waiver through June 30, 2021. This waiver ensures that school and afterschool care centers are able to meet the nutrition needs of students by providing each child with the maximum meal benefits available through the Child Nutrition Programs.
 

Policy

In the April 2020 policy, School Food Authorities and Summer Food Service Program sites with 30 percent or more enrolled students eligible for free and reduced-price meals or located in a Census Block Group or Census Tract in which 30 percent or more of the children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals may operate as open sites. Additional area eligibility approval was determined based on coronavirus-related economic hardship defined as schools and summer sites in areas experiencing at least three times the unemployment rate as the same time period in 2019. 

As authorized by the Aug. 31 USDA area eligibility extension and the Oct. 9 area eligibility extension and due to the State of Ohio having experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic increased unemployment by a factor of three or more as compared to statewide 2019 averages, all school food authorities and affiliated sites that participated in the National School Lunch Program in school year 2019-2020 and sponsors that participated in the Child and Adult Care Food Program At-Risk Afterschool Care component are considered area eligible. 

National School Lunch Program Afterschool Care Snack Program is not covered by the area eligibility waivers. Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program Afterschool Care Snack Program must abide by the traditional 50 percent area eligibility guideline.  

School Food Authorities, Summer Food Service Program Sponsors participating in the Seamless Summer Option or Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program Sponsors must complete a Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System (CRRS) application.
 

Duration

This policy is effective immediately and remains in effect until June 30, 2021. 

Last Modified: 12/14/2020 3:55:42 PM