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Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

Non-Public School Food Authorities and Summer Food Service Program Sponsors
Child Nutrition Program Administration
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Summer Meals Programs can be used to serve meals at no charge at the beginning of the 2020-2021 School Year
This memorandum is subject to revision based on expected forthcoming United States Department of Agriculture guidance.

The New York State Education Department (SED) has elected the use of the Nationwide waiver flexibilities provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which permit all School Food Authorities (SFAs) and Summer Food Service Program sponsors the option to operate the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option of the National School Lunch Program (SSO) during the 2020-2021 school year until December 31, 2020 to the extent that federal and state funding allows.

Area Eligibility Waiver and Waiver to Allow Area Eligibility for Closed Enrolled Sites SFSP/SSO

The SFSP and the SSO provide meals at no charge to all children under 19 years of age at locations in areas where poor economic conditions exist. With the election of the Area Eligibility Waiver and the Waiver to Allow Area Eligibility for Closed Enrolled Sites, as applicable, SFAs and SFSP sponsors may provide meals at no charge in areas where poor economic conditions have not been established if the SFA/SFSP sponsor can assure and demonstrate a plan to target benefits to children in need. These flexibilities can be utilized at locations open to all children in the community (open sites) and at locations that limit participation to only enrolled children (closed enrolled sites). 

USDA estimates that existing resources are likely sufficient to support the extension of the waiver expanding SFSP/SSO sites to areas not area-eligible through December 31, 2020, but impacts from waivers, flexibilities, and changes in program operations due to the COVID – 19 public health emergency on Federal Child Nutrition Program costs are not yet known. In the event USDA projects a shortage of funds prior to the expiration date of this waiver, SED will notify SFSP/SSO operators that sites in non-eligible areas will no longer be able to serve meals for reimbursement. All claims for qualified meals served prior to the projected date of inadequate funds will be reimbursed.

Additional Waivers SFSP/SSO

In addition, the following SFSP and SSO waiver flexibilities are now extended into the 2020-2021 school year to allow SFAs and SFSP sponsors to provide access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to COVID-19:
  • Non-Congregate Waiver: Allows for grab and go meals and meal delivery.
  • Meal Service Time Waiver: Allows multiple meals to be served at the same time.
  • Parent/Guardian Pickup Waiver: Allows parents/guardians to pick up meals for their children without the child being present.
  • Meal Pattern Waiver: Allows targeted, justified flexibilities in order to support access to nutritious meals.
  • First Week Site Visits Waiver in the SFSP: Allows SFAs relief from visiting each site within the first week of site operations. 
  • Onsite Requirement of SFSP Monitoring Review Waiver: Allows SFAs relief from conducting monitoring reviews onsite.
  • Waiver to Allow Offer Versus Serve (OVS) in the SFSP: Allows all SFSP sponsors to follow the SFSP OVS meal service parameters.

National School Lunch/Snack/School Breakfast Program Operation and Available Waivers

SFAs also have the option to participate in the National School Lunch/Snack (NSLP), and School Breakfast Program (SBP) at school buildings. The following waiver flexibilities previously provided for NSLP and SBP 2020-2021 school year operations continue to remain available:
  • Non-Congregate Waiver: Allows for grab and go meals and meal delivery.
  • Meal Service Time Waiver: Allows multiple meals to be served at the same time.
  • Parent/Guardian Pickup Waiver: Allows parents/guardians to pick up meals for their children without the child being present.
  • OVS Flexibility for Senior High Schools: Allows SFAs relief from the requirement to serve meals using offer versus serve principles to all enrolled senior high school students.
  • Meal Pattern Waiver: Allows targeted, justified flexibilities in order to support access to nutritious meals.
  • FSMC Contract Duration Waiver: Allows foodservice management company contracts that expired by or around June 30, 2020 to be extended through school year 2020-2021. 
  • Local Wellness Policy Triennial Assessment Waiver: Allows SFAs that were required to complete a triennial assessment by June 30, 2020, to choose to accept the new deadline and complete their first assessment by June 30, 2021. 
  • SFA Onsite Monitoring Waiver: Allows SFAs with more than one building relief from on-site monitoring.

Opportunity to Operate Different Programs in Different Program Eligible Locations

SFAs can operate in any program they are currently approved by SED to participate in. SFAs approved to operate in more than one program can choose to operate different programs in different program-eligible locations. For example, an SFA (currently approved to participate in SSO and NSLP/SBP) can choose to serve the SSO at their High School and may choose to participate in the NSLP/SBP in their middle and elementary schools. SFAs should consider both the flexibilities as well as the constraints of each program to determine which program best meets the need of the population of children they want to serve at each site/recipient agency. The chart below identifies the notable differences that should be considered when deciding the program that best suits the needs of the population being served. 

Comparison of Programs 

SFSP/NSLP/Seamless Summer Option

Topic SFSP NSLP/SBP Seamless Summer Option (SSO)
Meal Service Locations Schools, Camps, Churches, Community Centers, Housing Projects, Libraries, Migrant Centers, Parks, Playgrounds, Pools, and Other public sites where children gather Schools, Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs) Same as SFSP
Meal Cost for Children All meals are free *Meal cost (free/reduced price/paid) for children is based on their income eligibility  Same as SFSP
Establishing Site Eligibility

Open Sites: In the attendance area of a school or in a geographic area defined by census data where 50 percent or more of the children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, and open to community

Closed Enrolled Sites:  50 percent or more of enrolled children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, determined by approved application, or operate in an eligible area

*waiver from area eligibility requirements available

Schools: Public and private non-profit schools of high school grade and under that are part of State’s education system

RCCIs: Public and licensed, non-profit, private

Same as SFSP
Type of Meals Up to any combination of 2 except Lunch and Supper:
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Snack (AM or PM)
  • Supper
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Afterschool Snacks
Same as SFSP
Reimbursement SBP/NSLP Free Reimbursement Rate:
Monitoring Required of SFA/Sponsors

Pre-operational visits before a new or problem site operates the summer program

Site visits the first week of operation (waived for sites that operated successfully the previous summer)
*waiver available

Site review during first 4 weeks of operation, followed by additional monitoring as needed. 
*waiver from conducting review on-site available

Onsite review of lunch counting and claiming system for each school by Feb 1st each year
*waiver available
Review of meal counting, claiming and meal pattern compliance at least once during each site’s operation
Meal Pattern Meal pattern must meet 7 CFR 225.16(d) standards, though School Food Authorities may substitute NSLP/SBP meal patterns
*waiver available
Must meet Nutrition Standards in the NSLP and SBP 77 Fed. Reg. 4088 (Jan. 26, 2012) Final Rule
*waiver available

Same as NSLP/SBP

Eligible Participants Children under 19 Children enrolled in school Same as SFSP

Operations May Begin, Subject to SED Notification and Approval 

SFAs and SFSP sponsors may provide meals according to the operational guidelines with flexibilities as communicated in this memorandum for 2020-2021 school year operations, subject to SED approval. SED is currently enhancing its processes and systems to process and document each SFA’s election of waivers and program operations as required by USDA. Once these updates are complete, SED will provide SFAs and SFSP sponsors with instruction and guidance on how to notify SED of 2020-2021 school year operations including the election of flexibility waivers.

Please continue to check the Child Nutrition website as additional guidance and directions on notifying SED of waiver elections and 2020-2021 school year operations are forthcoming.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at:, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
  3. email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Click here for Nondiscrimination Statement translations.