With schools dismissed throughout the country, and the summer season upon us, there are several questions when it comes to providing meals to students. While schools were not required to provide students with meals once dismissed due to COVID-19, many school food authorities and community officials have taken strides to ensure that the nutritional needs of low-income children are being met. These efforts are being continued into the summer months, with the USDA offering some additional guidance when it comes to Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or Seamless Summer Option (SSO) programs.
While SFSP/SSO is currently targeted to the students at the schools that have been dismissed due to COVID-19, in some eligible areas, meals may be served to all children 18 and under in the household if at least one child attends the dismissed school.
According to the USDA, during COVID-19 meals must still meet the regular menu planning requirements of the SFSP or SSO. Offer versus serve (OVS) will not apply and all meals must be unitized. That means that a complete reimbursable meal that meets the requirements of the menu planning method used must be distributed (shelf-stable milk and USDA commodity foods may also be used). In the cases of unavailable milk or meal components, FNS will work with the State agency to provide waivers or flexibility.
While SFSP and SSO will largely operate as it typically does during summer months, schools have been offered additional flexibility. To support social distancing and safe foodservice the following requirements may be waived:
- The requirement that meals be served and consumed in a congregate setting may be waived (7 CFR 225.6(e)(15))
- The limitation to non-school sites for SFSO and SSO while schools are dismissed (7 CFR 225.6(d)(1)(iv))
Additional operational requirement changes will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Learn more about waiver approval and additional requirements from the USDA here.
As the schools we work with have stepped up to keep students fed during the challenges of COVID-19, we’re proud to support their efforts. We have adapted and continue to offer our snack products during this time, making our nutritious, shelf-stable bars, cookies, crackers and more available to our schools and communities.