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USDA Increases Flexibilities for School Year 2021-2022

USDA Increases Flexibilities for School Year 2021-2022

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s school nutrition professionals have overcome extraordinary challenges to ensure children’s access to nutritious meals. USDA continues to work in close partnership with schools and states to provide them with the tools, resources, and flexibilities they need to tackle those challenges and get nutritious meals to every child despite changing and unpredictable circumstances.

To support schools during school year (SY) 2021-2022, the department has recently announced the following flexibilities:

  • Fiscal Action for Meal Pattern Waiver – Prevents schools from being penalized for not being able to meet certain meal pattern requirements due to supply chain disruptions that are out of their control, while still maintaining strong nutrition standards.
  • Waiver of the Annual Half Aggregate Monitoring Requirement in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) – Relaxes administrative requirements on state agencies to review a certain number of SFSP sponsors.
  • Administrative Data Reporting Requirements Waiver – Aligns reporting requirements for the child nutrition programs in SY 2021-2022 with the flexibilities made available under other nationwide waivers already in effect.
  • A collection of waivers for schools and partners operating the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) during unanticipated school closures, including:
    • Non-Congregate Meal Service – Allows for meals served to be consumed off-site.
    • Parent and Guardian Meal Pick Up – Allows parents or guardians to pick up meals on behalf of their children.
    • Area Eligibility Requirements – Allows SFSP sponsors to provide meals to children in all areas – not just in high-poverty areas – during unanticipated school closures.
    • Service of Meals at School Sites during Unanticipated School Closures – Allows meals to be served at schools during unanticipated closures.
    • Meal Times Requirements – Waives requirements related to the times meals must be served to allow local flexibility.

These waivers build on a suite of waivers that USDA issued in April 2021, which provide states and schools the options they need to support a successful school meal program. Taken together, these waivers advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to providing safe, healthy meals to children throughout the pandemic and to building back better. 

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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