Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option Technical Assistance

Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option Technical Assistance

Technical Assistance for Summer 2021

 

Introduction

Ohio’s strategic plan for education, Each Child, Our Future, and Ohio’s Whole Child Framework recognize that each child is unique and has basic needs – including nutrition – that must be met to enable learning. As schools and community organizations operate child nutrition programs for summer 2021, they must continue to adapt traditional meal service operations and practices to help diminish the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) while continuing to provide nutritious meals. To achieve this goal, the Ohio Department of Education has developed this technical assistance resource to provide important updates and information to operate successful child nutrition programs for summer 2021.

 

Area Eligibility During the Coronavirus Outbreak

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved a waiver for Ohio that permits school food authorities and community organizations (sponsors) in good standing to operate open or closed enrolled sites under either the Seamless Summer Option or Summer Food Service Program through Sept. 30, 2021. On March 9, the USDA approved an Area Eligibility Extension through Sept. 30. Per Ohio’s Area Eligibility During the Coronavirus Outbreak policy, all sponsors and affiliated sites are considered area eligible and may elect to participate in the Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option.
 

Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System (CRRS) Application

Sponsors serving meals under the Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option must fully complete and submit a Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System application. Applications must be approved before a sponsor can operate and claim meals for reimbursement.
 
Sponsors should indicate any changes in the meal service, including non-congregate feeding, meal service times and “offer versus serve” waivers in each site application. Sponsors are encouraged to be as detailed as possible in the site application about any modifications to the traditional meal service.
 

Meal Service

Meals must meet the regular menu planning requirements of the Seamless Summer Option or Summer Food Service Program. Weekend and holiday meals are permitted under the Seamless Summer Option and Summer Food Service Program.
 
Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option sponsors can opt to feed children using non-congregate feeding options during the coronavirus pandemic through Sept. 30. Summer Food Sponsor Program sponsors beginning operations in May or June and exercising the option to serve non-congregate meals and the Parent Pick-up Waivers must complete the USDA Waivers Tool located in the Applications list of the Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System. 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 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 Parent Pick-up Waivers in the USDA Waivers Tool, located in the Applications list of the Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System if they opt to distribute multiple days of meals at one meal service.
 
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.
 
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 menu planning requirements of the National School Lunch Program (if operating the Seamless Summer Option) or the Summer Food Service Program.
 
Seamless Summer Option: As a result of a recent court ruling, meals must meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education, Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs final rule (2012). For 2020-2021 in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, flavored milk may be only non-fat; all grains served must be whole-grain rich; and school lunches and breakfasts offered must meet Target 2 weekly sodium levels as defined in federal regulations. Schools should continue to follow the age and grade group meal patterns. If the school food authority cannot reasonably meet the meal pattern requirements, the school food authority must complete the USDA Waivers Tool, located in the Applications list of the Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System.

Summer Food Service Program: Sponsors must meet the meal pattern requirements for the Summer Food Service Program. The USDA did not extend the Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibilities to the Summer Food Service Program. As such, any meal pattern flexibilities extended to sponsors will expire on June 30. If sponsors are unable to meet the Summer Food Service Program meal pattern they should contact their Education Program Specialist.
 
Note: If a sponsor encounters a situation where it runs out of an item that prevents the achievement of a reimbursable meal, it should immediately notify the Ohio Department of Education but then continue to serve meals.

 

Meal Pattern Flexibilities During the 2020-2021 School Year Application

Seamless Summer Option sponsors needing meal pattern flexibilities for Summer 2021 must complete and submit the Meal Pattern Flexibilities During the 2020-2021 School Year application. Seamless Summer Option sponsors may submit an application for the following meal pattern flexibilities, as clarified in SP 24-2020, Questions and Answers for the Child Nutrition Programs during School Year 2020-2021 #5
 
Summer Food Service Program sponsors are ineligible for meal pattern flexibilities under Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibilities for Summer 2021 Operations. Waivers for Summer Food Service Program flexibilities are through June 30, 2021. Beginning July 1, Summer Food Service Program sponsors are expected to follow the Summer Food Service meal pattern requirements. If a sponsor has difficulties meeting the meal pattern requirements, the sponsor should contact their education program specialist.

 

Meal Counting and Claiming

Under the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option, school food authorities are not required to track meals by student name or eligibility category. Depending on the open, restricted open or closed enrolled operation, the school may count meals in the following ways:
 
  • Open: Meal counts may be taken using a check sheet or clicker.
 
  • Restricted Open: Meal counts may be taken using a check sheet or clicker up to the maximum allowed.
 
  • Closed Enrolled: Meal counts may be taken using a check sheet or clicker if the school can confirm the enrolled student attends the school for both congregate and non-congregate meals. For meals served non-congregate, the school should verify the enrolled student by the student’s identification card or any other approved method.
 

Multi-Day Distribution

Sponsors are permitted to offer up to one week of meals at a time. Weekend and holiday meals are permitted in the Seamless Summer Option and the Summer Food Service Program. Meals must be served non-congregate, meaning the meal is consumed off-site. Sponsors participating in multiday distribution must claim the meals served based on the day the child is intended to consume the meals. Sponsors must detail their multiday distribution approach for each site in the Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System Site Application.

 

Meal Pickup without Children Present

Parents or guardians are permitted to pick up non-congregate meals without children present. Sponsors should make a good faith effort to ensure food is being picked up for children when allowing meal pickup without children present. The Ohio Parent, Guardian or Agency Meal Pickup Without Children Present policy provides additional information and guidance. The USDA published a Best Practices for Parent Pick-Up of Meals and Snacks to assist schools.

 

School Bus Safety and Meal Delivery

Sponsors considering non-congregate meal distribution via school district buses must continue to abide by rules and regulations as established in the Ohio Pupil Transportation Operation and Safety Rules. Bus drivers play an important role in safely transporting students to and from their homes. It may be difficult for a driver to distribute meals and accurately count and claim meals while ensuring safety of students. 

 

Sponsors Contracting with Food Service Management Companies and Vendors

The USDA issued a waiver permitting sponsors to extend existing Food Service Management Company contracts that would not otherwise be eligible for extension through June 30, 2022.
 
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.

 

On-site Monitoring

Traditionally, sponsors are expected to conduct various on-site monitoring activities during summer operations. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the USDA 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 with developing a safe summer nutrition 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 USDA 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.
 
Sponsors should continue to check the Claims Reimbursement and Reporting System Download Forms for updated resources and guides. Resource guides are updated regularly.  
 
For more information and questions, email child.nutrition@education.ohio.gov or contact an education program specialist at the Department. 
 
 

Last Modified: 5/3/2021 2:26:44 PM