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Guidance for Utilizing Emergency Meals-to-You while Schools are Closed due to COVID-19


1. What is the Emergency Meals-to-You program? 
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in collaboration with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, is administering the Emergency Meals-to-You (eMTY) program to provide meal boxes containing shelf-stable, easily prepared, kid-friendly meals to children in rural settings who may otherwise be unable to access federal nutrition programs during COVID-19 related school closures. School Food Authorities (SFAs) apply for the program through the New York State Education Department (SED) to Baylor, and then validate eligible children to receive meals.
2. Who provides and incurs the cost of the eMTY meals?
eMTY reimburses the vendors for the costs of meals. SFAs do not directly participate nor do they have a financial role in the operation of the program.
3. Is there a minimum timeframe for closure before meals can be provided to families?
The SFA must be closed for at least a four-week period.
4. Can SFAs participate in the eMTY program AND offer meals under the COVID-19 waiver that was approved by Child Nutrition? 
SFAs are encouraged to create a comprehensive plan that will reach all their students, which may involve a combination of both programs, as long as duplication of meals to children is avoided.
For example, the SFA could decide to apply for eMTY on behalf of some of their eligible schools, not the entire SFA, and continue operating the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) or Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) as there is a strong desire to keep local food service staff employed. Another option would be to target individual eligibility and outreach to rural parts of the SFA’s attendance zone for eMTY.
5. Can an SFA continue eMTY during the summer months?
At this point, there is only authorization to provide meals until a school reopens or the end of the school year, June 30, 2020.


6. What qualifies a school to be eligible to participate in eMTY? 
To be eligible, schools must: 
  • participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
  • be closed for at least four weeks,
  • have at least 50% of students enrolled qualify for free or reduced-price meals, or be participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2; and
  • fall under the designation of rural school* (see also the National Center of Education Statistics)
*If a school does not meet the rural designation, it must confirm that it meets one of the following conditions:
  • The school serves an area that has transportation barriers, prohibiting families from being able to access typical open feeding sites because of both distance and the limited availability of alternate transportation options.
  • Contracting with a mass caterer to provide meal services is not a viable option because of both the scale of the school system and the distance from major urban hubs and commercial activity.
7. Is a (public, private, tribal, charter, home, or other) school eligible to participate?
Regardless of the type of school, the requirements above apply. If the school participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and meets the other requirements, it is eligible for eMTY. If the school does not participate in the NSLP, then it is not eligible for this program which provides meals to students missing NSLP meals due to school closures.
8. How does a non-CEP school determine if they have at least 50% of enrolled students eligible for free or reduced-price meals?
For an SFA to qualify, compare the total number of students certified for free and reduced-price meals at any time during the 2019-20 school year to the total enrollment of the SFA to assess whether the number of free and reduced-price students is at least 50% of enrolled students. Individual schools may qualify if the school’s number of free and reduced-price meals is at least 50% of students enrolled in the school.

Application and Outreach

9. How do SFAs apply to receive eMTY during school closures?
  • Click “Emergency”
  • Click “Apply for a School District”
  • Download and fill out the application
  • Complete the online application process found here, where you will upload the spreadsheet from step 2 in an Excel format.
  • Upon successful completion of the application, you will receive an email with a copy of the application.
  • Email the completed application to the SED Child Nutrition Office at with your SFA name and Baylor MTY 2020 in the subject line. SED will review the application for accuracy, verify that the SFA is in good standing and forward the application to Baylor.
  • Baylor will review the application. When approved, Baylor will notify the SFA directly and:
    • Negotiate an enrollment type and window that meets the SFAs needs
    • Add the school to the enrollment section of the website
    • Provide outreach language to the SFA
10. When should an SFA apply to provide eMTY to children during school closures?
The eMTY website is currently accepting applications and will continue to accept applications through all COVID-19 related school closures through June 30, 2020.
11. How do SFAs get families enrolled in the eMTY program? 
There are two methods of enrollment that may be utilized. 
  • Passive
    • Once the SFA is approved by Baylor, families apply directly online through the Baylor Emergency Meals-to-You website, the online application is smart phone friendly. SFAs can notify families of website enrollment by email, text message, robo calls, and/or school website.
    • SFAs set an enrollment period. Baylor recommends a window of at least 5-7 days.
    • SFAs should designate a contact person and phone number for families to contact throughout the enrollment process.
    • Once the enrollment time period is closed, Baylor will send the SFA a list of all families who have signed up. SFA will conduct a verification of the names and eligibility status of anyone who signed up using their local school data. SFAs that operate under Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and/or Provision 2 (P2) only need to verify that the child is enrolled in their SFA. 
    • Once verification is complete, the SFA will provide a list of names and addresses to Baylor who will check the addresses for deliverability through UPS and USPS. If any are deemed undeliverable, the SFA will reach out to the family to obtain a corrected and deliverable address.
      • The number one reason for failed delivery is a missing apartment number.
  • Active (preferred method)
    • Once the SFA is approved by Baylor, the SFA calls roster of free and reduced-price eligible students to inquire if they would like to receive the meal boxes. SFAs that operate under Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and/or Provision 2 (P2) may contact all enrolled students.
    • On each call SFAs will collect and input required information into a simple webform found on the Baylor eMTY website. This webform ensures that the SFA is capturing all required information in each phone call.
    • Phone calls can be completed by any school staff (food service employees, janitors, teachers, administrators, or third-party advocacy agencies if proper privacy protections are implemented).
    • Once the SFA has called all identified free and reduced-price eligible students, the SFA will provide a list of names and addresses to Baylor who checks the addresses for deliverability through UPS and USPS. If any are deemed undeliverable, the SFA will reach out to the family to obtain a corrected and deliverable address.
      • The number one reason for failed delivery is a missing apartment number.
  • Food deliveries will not be initiated until verification is complete.
  • Please note, only shipping information is provided to the vendor who is supplying meal boxes. Eligibility and qualifying information are shared with Baylor for program monitoring purposes. At no time will personally identifiable information of any minor submitted be shared with anyone outside of a child's SFA and the Baylor Meals-to-You team. 

Meal Distribution 

12. How are meals distributed in the eMTY program?
USDA/Baylor have contracted with vendors who will be shipping meal boxes directly to the deliverable address of those who have signed up and were verified. Once the SFAs list of addresses is approved by Baylor and provided to the vendor, meal boxes can begin to arrive to the family’s doorstep within a 2-5-day time frame.  
13. How many meals are provided per box?
One box per child is delivered via UPS (or USPS for P.O. boxes) every two weeks for the time period of the school closure. The delivery consists of shelf stable, kid friendly components for 20 meals: 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches/suppers.
14. Will additional children in the home receive their own meal box? 
If one child in the household is enrolled in a participating SFA all children ages 1-18 in the household may be eligible to receive a two-week supply of meal boxes for the time period of the school closure.


15. Can the SFA claim any of the meals that the families receive through eMTY? 
Meals delivered through eMTY, are provided at no cost to the SFA and may not be claimed for reimbursement. However, Baylor University will provide each SFA with a report on how many meals, individuals, and households participated throughout the duration of the eMTY program.
16. How do SFAs extend the end-of-service date provided at the time of their application if their school closure gets extended?
This is expected to often be the case, Baylor will contact the SFA when their end-of-service date is coming up to see if they need to change it.

Meal Contents 

17. What meal pattern is followed when utilizing eMTY?
All meals provided follow current SFSP meal pattern requirements. Meals are shelf stable and kid prep friendly. Items may not be the same across the country. Boxes cannot be customized and cannot accommodate special dietary needs or food allergies. Sample items include: 
Protein:  Milk, Chicken Salad, Hummus, Beef Stick, Bean Dip, Cheese, Sunflower Kernels;
Whole Grains: Tortilla Chips, Corn Chips, Crackers, Oatmeal Bars, Cereal;
Vegetables: Salsa Cup, Marinara Cup, 100% Vegetable/Fruit Juice;
Fruit: Applesauce, Raisins, Craisins, Fruit Cup, 100% Fruit Juice.


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