Summer Nutrition Program Operations during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Sponsors operating traditional Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option services must abide by all Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option regulations and guidance. Sponsors operating these programs should continue to refer to the Administrative Guide for Sponsors, Nutrition Guidance for Sponsors, Sponsor Monitor’s Guide and Site Supervisor’s Guide.
 

Ohio’s Public Health Advisory

The Ohioans Protecting Ohioans Urgent Health Advisory was issued by Governor Mike DeWine on May 19. The health order no longer requires Ohioans to stay at home, but strongly recommends citizens, especially those who are considered high risk, stay at home as much as possible. The order does not change mass gathering restrictions, which remain at a 10-person limit. Child nutrition program sponsors should continue to refer to orders and guidance issued by the governor, Ohio Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when planning and preparing to serve meals during the coronavirus pandemic.


U.S. Department of Agriculture Waivers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued the following waivers for the 2020 Summer Food Service Program:

  1. Non-congregate Feeding Waiver – This nationwide waiver allows Summer Food Service Program sponsors to serve non-congregate meals through Aug. 31.
  2. Meal Times Waiver – This nationwide waiver suspends meal-time requirements and restrictions, allowing sponsors to provide multiple meals, such as breakfast and lunch, at the same time, for up to one week at a time through August 31, 2020.
  3. Meal Pattern Waiver – This nationwide waiver permits the state agency to waive specific meal pattern requirements as needed to support access to nutritious meals when certain foods are not available due to the coronavirus pandemic through July 31. Sponsors experiencing difficulties providing all meal components due to a food shortage must submit a Food Shortages During Coronavirus Related Unanticipated School Closures Application.
  4. Parent and Guardian Meal Pick-up Waiver – This nationwide waiver allows parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children. Ohio’s Parent, Guardian or Agency Meal Pick-up Without Children Present policy provides additional information and guidance for sponsors to make a good faith effort to ensure food is being picked up for children through Aug. 31.
  5. Food Service Management Company Contract Duration Waiver – This nationwide waiver permits sponsors to extend existing Food Service Management Company contracts that would not otherwise be eligible for extension through the 2020-2021 school year or June 30, 2021.
  6. Child Nutrition Monitoring Waivers – These nationwide waivers apply to on-site monitoring requirements in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program.
  7. Area Eligibility Waiver – This waiver permits school food authorities in good standing to operate open sites under either the Seamless Summer Option or Summer Food Service Program. Ohio’s Area Eligibility During the Coronavirus Outbreak policy provides additional information and guidance. This wavier is extended through Aug. 31, 2020.
  8. Unanticipated School Closure Operations Extension Waiver – This nationwide waiver delays the transition from the National School Lunch Seamless Summer Option and Summer Food Service Program operations during unanticipated school closures associated with the coronavirus pandemic to traditional Seamless Summer Option and Summer Food Service Program operations through June 30, 2020.
  9. First Week Site Visit Waiver – This nationwide waiver waives the requirement for Summer Food Service Program sponsors to conduct first week site visits.
  10. Meal Service Times Waiver – This nationwide waiver waives the meal service time restrictions between serving meals and meal service durations for traditional Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option operations until Sept. 30, 2020.
  11. Offer Versus Serve Flexibility Waiver – This nationwide waiver permits flexibility to Summer Food Service Program sponsors to implement “offer versus serve” until Sept. 30, 2020. “Offer versus serve” allows sites to offer all food components to a child and the child may decline a certain number of food components.


Area Eligibility During the Coronavirus Outbreak

The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a waiver for Ohio that permits school food authorities and sponsors in good standing to operate open sites under either the Seamless Summer Option or Summer Food Service Program through Aug. 31, 2020. Schools and sponsors with 30 percent or more free or reduced-price enrolled students that are utilizing the  Community Eligibility Provision or are area eligible based on census data may offer meals to students and count and claim meals served under the Seamless Summer Option or the Summer Food Service Program. Ohio’s Area Eligibility During the Coronavirus Outbreak policy provides additional information and guidance. Additional area eligibility may be determined based on coronavirus-related economic hardship.


Meal Pick-up Without Children Present

Parents, guardians or agencies are permitted to pick up non-congregate meals without children present. Child nutrition program sponsors should make a good faith effort to ensure food is being picked up for children when allowing meal pick-up without children present. The Ohio Parent, Guardian or Agency Meal Pick-up Without Children Present policy provides additional information and guidance.
 
Summer Food Service Program sponsors beginning meal service operations in May or June and opting to allow parents to pick up meals without children present must complete the Summer 2020 Non-Congregate, Meal Service Time and Parent Pick-up Waivers During Coronavirus survey. Sponsors serving meals under the Seamless Summer Option or Summer Food Service Program during the ordered school-building closure are not required to complete this survey. As a reminder, sponsors must submit a complete Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System application to serve and claim meals.
 

Non-Congregate Feeding Options                                                

Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option sponsors can opt to feed children using non-congregate feeding options during the coronavirus pandemic until Aug. 31. Summer Food Sponsor Program sponsors beginning operations in May or June and exercising the option to serve non-congregate meals must complete the Summer 2020 Non-Congregate, Meal Service Time and Parent Pick-up Waivers During Coronavirus survey. Sponsors that served meals under the Seamless Summer Option or Summer Food Service Program during the ordered school-building closure are not required to complete this survey. As a reminder, sponsors must submit a complete Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System application to serve and claim meals.
 
Non-congregate feeding sites are those where the meal is consumed off-site. The following options are available to schools and sponsors:
  • Meal distribution at a school site;
  • Meals delivered to set locations in neighborhoods;
  • Volunteers delivering meals to households;
  • Meal distribution at a community location;
  • Other methods as identified (including by mail).
 
If Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option sponsors deliver meals to households, they must follow these steps:
  1. Seek approval from the local or county health department for the chosen mode of delivery.
  2. Ensure volunteers or non-food service employees sign an appropriate nondisclosure form to protect private information about eligible students and households.
  3. In cases where volunteers or non-food service employees are used to provide home meal delivery, obtain household consent for information about the family’s free and reduced-price meal status to be shared with delivery personnel to facilitate service of meals to the children. (This is an important privacy protection.)
 
Multi-Day Distribution: Child Nutrition Program sponsors are permitted to provide up to one week of meals at a time. In the Seamless Summer Option or Summer Food Service Program application, the sponsor must detail its multi-day distribution approach. The sponsor also must complete the Summer 2020 Non-Congregate, Meal Service Time and Parent Pick-up Waivers During Coronavirus survey if they opt to distribute multiple days of meals at one meal service.
 
Requirements for Mailing: If Child Nutrition Program sponsors decide to mail shelf-stable, reimbursable meals to households, postage would be an allowable cost using food service funds.
 
Collaboration with Local Health Department: Child Nutrition Program sponsors are encouraged to work with their local or county health departments to determine the safest non-congregate feeding options for their districts.
 
Shelf-Stable Foods: To further ensure food safety, Child Nutrition Program sponsors may choose to select shelf-stable foods that meet the meal components, including shelf-stable milk.
 

Meal Pattern Requirements

Meals must meet the regular menu planning requirements of the Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option, which follow the National School Lunch Program menu planning requirements. “Offer versus serve,” which allows sites to offer all food components to a child and the child may decline a certain number of food components, will not apply. All meals must be unitized, meaning a complete reimbursable meal that meets the requirements of the menu planning method used, including milk, must be distributed. Shelf-stable milk may be used. USDA foods also may be used. (Note: If a sponsor encounters a situation where it runs out of an item that prevents the achievement of a unitized meal, the sponsor should immediately contact the Ohio Department of Education to notify the state agency of the situation, but then continue to serve meals.)
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a nationwide waiver that permits the state agency to waive specific meal pattern requirements as needed to support access to nutritious meals when certain foods are not available due to the coronavirus. Sponsors experiencing difficulties providing all meal components due to a food shortage must submit a Food Shortages During Coronavirus Related Unanticipated School Closures Application. Please be aware this waiver is in effect through July 31, 2020. This document will be updated as more information becomes available regarding meal pattern flexibilities.
 

Advance Payments

Sponsors are permitted to request advance payments for any month during Summer Food Service Program operations. Sponsors requesting an advance payment must submit the request by the first day of the month prior to when they are requesting the advance. The next deadline for sponsors requesting an August advance is Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
 
Sponsors must select “yes” on question 51 in the sponsor application and submit a completed Summer Food Service Program application in the Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System to be eligible to receive an advance payment. Applications must be approved before a sponsor can operate and claim meals for reimbursement.
 

Sponsors Operating Day Camps

Sponsors that plan to operate day camps must follow state, county and local health guidelines. Sponsors should check with their local or county health departments to ensure they have met all the safety precautions before serving congregate meals.
 

Sponsors Contracting with Food Service Management Companies  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a nationwide waiver permitting sponsors to extend existing Food Service Management Company contracts that would not otherwise be eligible for extension through June 30, 2021.
 
Please remember that sponsors contracting with vendors are responsible for ensuring vendors follow program meal delivery requirements, such as verifying milk is delivered in coolers on ice, temperatures are taken of all items, and the delivery slip is signed and the sponsor receives a signed copy. The sponsor must ensure all components of the meal are sent daily and menu substitutions are documented on the posted menu if the vendor sends unanticipated food components. Sponsors unhappy with vendor performance must follow the procedures found in Section 12 of the vended meals contract and maintain documentation prior to termination. Updated contracts are available in the Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System under Download Forms.
 

Summer On-site Monitoring

Traditionally, sponsors are expected to conduct various on-site monitoring activities during summer operations. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a nationwide waiver that removes the requirement for an in-person site visit during the first week of a site’s operation and the requirement for a review of the site’s food service within the first four weeks of operation. Sponsors must continue to ensure integrity to the maximum extent practicable through remote activities, such as desk audits.
 

Resources

The following resources are available to assist developing a summer feeding program:
  • Best Practices for Parent Pick-Up of Meals and Snacks: This resource from the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides information, tips and best practices to consider when distributing meals and snacks to parents and guardians for the children or adults in their care.
  • Seamless Summer Option, Providing Multiple Meals at a Time: This resource from the U.S Department of Agriculture provides considerations, tips, best practices and sample menus for Seamless Summer Option sponsors who wish to distribute multiple meals at one time.
  • USDA Meals for Kids Site Finder: The USDA Meals for Kids Site Finder is available to help families identify meal sites during the coronavirus pandemic. Families can use this tool to find directions to nearby sites as well as hours of operation and contact information.
  • Considerations for Youth and Summer Camps: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released considerations with guiding principles to keep in mind when operating a youth or summer camp. These are not mandatory guidelines, but considerations when developing operations policies.
  • Responsible Restart Ohio Youth Day Camps: The Ohio Department of Health released requirements and best practices for youth day camp operators.
  • Health Department Directory: The Ohio Department of Health publishes a directory of all local and county health departments in the state.

For more information and questions, send an email to Child.Nutrition@education.ohio.gov or contact the local education program specialist.
 

Last Modified: 6/22/2020 12:19:38 PM