As of June 30, 2022, the Child Nutrition Program nationwide waivers, previously granted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will no longer be available. Instead, state agencies were provided the opportunity to submit individual state waiver requests for various meal service flexibilities. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Office for Food and Nutrition Programs (DESE) submitted for all available meal service flexibilities for this summer. USDA has approved various continued flexibilities for program operators to utilize this summer, as needed, per USDA guidance.
DESE has developed the following questions and answers intended to provide clarification to Program operators as they operate the Child Nutrition Programs (CNPs), including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and Seamless Summer Option (SSO), during summer 2022.
The following questions and answers are subject to change in the event updated guidance is released by USDA or further waivers or policy announcements are released. DESE will continue to update the document and reissue, as necessary.
*This includes the SFSP, SSO and NSLP
What are the current USDA CNP waivers in place for summer 2022 meal operations?
The waivers in this section apply to the SFSP and the SSO for summer 2022. These waivers are effective through September 30, 2022. However, FNS expects that flexibilities under the waivers in this section will only be implemented by Program operators when congregate meal service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 11, 2022, USDA FNS approved Massachusetts for the following waivers for the SFSP:
On May 17, 2022, USDA FNS approved Massachusetts for the following waivers for the SSO and SFSP:
On May 31, 2022, DESE requested the following waiver for the SSO and SFSP:
May sponsors offer grab and go/non congregate meals through SFSP, SSO or NSLP in summer 2022?
USDA did not extend the nationwide waiver flexibility to allow for non-congregate meal service. Non-congregate meal service includes grab-and-go meals, parent pick up of meals and home delivery/neighborhood delivery routes.
On May 17, 2022, USDA approved MA DESE's request to allow non-congregate meal service, only when congregate meal service is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA guidance indicates this summer, the programs are returning to the normal rules that were in place before COVID-19. The rules require children to sit and eat meals together at the site.
When can SFSP and SSO sponsors opt into the USDA Update on Non-Congregate Meal Service for Outdoor Summer Meal Sites Experiencing Excessive Heat?
Through this waiver, summer meal sponsors operating outdoor meal service at sites without a temperature-controlled alternative may be allowed to provide a non-congregate meal service on days when the area experiences excessive heat. Excessive heat is determined by the National Weather Service (NWS), and may include NWS Excessive Heat Advisory, Excessive Heat Warning, or Excessive Heat Watch. Sponsors must print or otherwise save an electronic copy of the NWS notice (available at National Weather Service). Please note the notice is only posted on the site on the day on which the area experienced extreme heat, so documentation must be obtained on that day as it cannot be verified at a later date.
Documentation is subject to State agency review.
How can SFSP, SSO and NSLP operate in summer 2022?
To operate sites in either the SFSP or the SSO, the site must be considered area eligible or serving an eligible population of students. Only SFAs administering the NSLP or SBP may participate in the SSO. However, with State agency approval, SFAs may sponsor non-school feeding sites under SSO.
The type of site—open, closed enrolled, or camps, will determine what types of data may be used to establish the site as eligible to operate. There are four sources of available data to establish a site as eligible:
1) SY 19-20 50% List of Schools: Sponsors/SFAs may use the 2020 MA List of Schools with at least 50% of enrolled students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. SFSP/SSO Open or Closed Enrolled sites located at, or in the attendance area of a school on this list can qualify an open site or closed enrolled site. Sites qualified using the 50% list remain area eligibility through FY2024 (ending 9/30/2024).
2) Identified Student Percentage (ISP) data: USDA is allowing all schools that operated in the SSO during SY21-22 to use school-level ISP multiplied by the factor (1.6) to determine area eligibility. Any school with a school-level ISP of 31.25 or greater will qualify as area-eligible. DESE Published a list of schools which meet these criteria and can establish area eligible for open and closed enrolled sites. Sites qualified using ISP data are only area eligible for one (1) year.
3) Census Data: Sponsors/SFAs may use census data to qualify open sites in the SFSP and SSO. Sites located in a census block group with at least 50% children eligible for free/reduced-price meals will qualify as area eligible. There are two available mapper tools, and either can be used to establish site eligibility:
Sites qualified using census data remain area eligible for five (5) years.
4) Current (SY 21-22) Free and Reduced Price Eligibility Data: Closed enrolled sites may also qualify as eligible for SFSP/SSO participation if at least 50% of enrolled participants qualify for free or reduced price meals through household applications and direct certification. Camps may only claim meals served to children who qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Income eligibility information can come from applications or direct certification data. Sites or students qualified using individual eligibility data are only eligible for one (1) year. Data to indicate eligibility must be maintained on site and provided to the State agency upon request.
NSLP operations: Academic Summer School
Schools that intend to serve meals to participants enrolled in academic summer school may do so. Academic summer school is generally defined by the requirement for a student to complete the program in order to move forward academically or graduate. Academic summer school cannot be claimed under a closed enrolled site type in SFSP or SSO. However, participants in an academic summer school may go an open SFSP/SSO site at or nearby the summer school program and consume a meal there. If an SFA wants to only serve participants in academic summer school, then those meals must be served and claimed under NSLP and at the free, reduced, and paid rates, or Special Provisions (CEP or Provision 2) if applicable.
Do I have to re-establish new student income eligibility for NSLP Academic Summer School operations?
Yes. Effective the end of the school year, SFAs that will be operating academic summer school will be transitioning from SSO to NSLP. Per USDA guidance, new student income eligibility must be established.
Current roster (SY 21-22) of students eligible for free and reduced price meals, carries for over 30 operational days from the start of academic summer. For the purposes of Summer P-EBT, preservation of this roster is required.
May a school or site participating in SFSP as an open site serve meals to academic summer school students first and then serve meals to children coming from the community (i.e., staggered meal service times)?
Yes. Staggered meals are allowable at school sites participating in SFSP as long as the meal service is the same (i.e., food served, length of serving time, eating area, etc.) for both the summer school students and community children.
How do I set up my School Lunch and Breakfast Application packet to operate and claim meals during summer 2022?
These separate SSO sites are necessary to claim meals for summer 2022 operations under SSO. Free NSLP rates for summer 2022 claiming, have been set up to reflect all meals being claimed as free through SSO.
NSLP Sites for Academic Summer SchoolFor LEAs operating academic summer school programs and ineligible for SSO, an amendment must be created in the SY 21-22 Application Packet. The respective School Application site where the summer school programming is offered must reflect the meals and times of service for summer 2022 operations. The operational changes will be reflected in the SY 22-23 Application Packet upon the FY 23 school lunch application rollover. This will allow SFAs to submit summer claims without having the school lunch application in an approved disposition. Claiming for these sites will reflect free, reduced and paid meal counts, or provisional claiming such as the Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2 if applicable.
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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
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