Tuesday Morning - March 31, 2020

An Update on Federal and State Policy Issues
from SNA

Table of Contents

Federal Policy

USDA Grants Area Eligibility Waivers to 31 States
$2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package Passes
SNA Joins Allied Groups on Letter to USDA in Wake of COVID-19
USDA Announces Nationwide Waivers for School Meal Programs During COVID-19
Proposed School Meal Rule: Share Your Comments with USDA
Federal Register: SFSP Proposed Rule Comment Extension
Federal Bills Introduced to Combat COVID-19

State Snapshots

Kansas Introduces Legislation to Cover Costs due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Kentucky Proposes Bill to Seek Waivers for School Meal Services
Massachusetts Creates Relief Fund for Food Service Workers
New Jersey Introduces Legislation on Remote Instruction and Information Collection

Mark Your Calendars

SNA's Upcoming Webinars
FRAC Meals Matter Webinars

Mystery Chat Corner

Federal Policy

USDA Grants Area Eligibility Waivers to 31 States

Over the weekend, USDA’s Food and Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNCS) granted eligibility waivers to 31 states. These waivers were enacted under a provision in Section 2102 of the recently enacted H.R. 6201, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, to expand the area or number of service sites for meals. This provision removes the requirements that the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) sites must be located in those areas in which 50% or more participant are eligible for the free or reduced price meals.

States have been notified, and the USDA's COVID-19 webpage will be updated throughout the week to reflect any changes and any additional waivers that have been approved. All waivers will remain in effect until June 30, 2020, or until the expiration of the federally declared public health emergency. States that have been granted waivers include:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

$2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package Passes

A $2 trillion relief package intended to speed relief across the American economy was passed by the U.S. Congress on March 27th. This is the third aid package from Congress and is meant to keep businesses and individuals afloat during an unprecedented freeze on the majority of American life. Below is a list of items in the emergency legislation that will impact feeding programs.

  • $15.8 billion to fund food assistance changes made in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • $9 billion to fund child nutrition improvements made in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • $450 million to provide food banks with additional resources for food and distribution.
  • $100 million for food distribution in Tribal communities to provide facility improvements, equipment upgrades and food purchases.
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    SNA Joins Allied Groups on Letter to USDA in Wake of COVID-19

    The School Nutrition Association joined numerous allied groups in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service’s (USDA/FNS) leadership to request additional nationwide waivers, including waiving Area Eligibility requirements, to ensure access to healthy meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Association will continue to advocate on behalf of members working to safely serve students during school closures.

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    USDA Announces Nationwide Waivers for School Meal Programs During COVID-19

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced three additional nationwide waivers to grant states flexibility for meal service during COVID-19 school closures. These waivers include:

  • Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver: FNS has provided nationwide approval for states to locally waive specific meal pattern requirements as needed to support access to nutritious meals when certain foods are not available due to the novel coronavirus. (Guidance for States on the Meal Pattern Waiver)
  • Nationwide Parent/Guardian Meal Pickup Waiver: FNS is allowing states approved for non-congregate feeding to waive the rule preventing parents and guardians from picking up meals for their children, as long as they protect accountability and integrity. (Guidance for States on the Meal Pickup Waiver)
  • Nationwide Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Data Waiver: FNS is extending CEP election, notification and reporting and deadlines for School Year 2020-21. (Guidance for States on the CEP Waiver)
  • For a complete list of nationwide waivers and FNS actions to respond to COVID-19, visit USDA’s resources webpage.

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    Proposed School Meal Rule: Share Your Comments with USDA

    There’s still time to submit your comments to USDA on the recent proposed rule to simplify meal service and monitoring requirements in the NSLP and SBP. Use SNA’s convenient comment submission template to have your voice heard. USDA wants to hear from the professionals on the front lines – your experience and insight is valuable.

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    Federal Register: SFSP Proposed Rule Comment Extension

    On March 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a Federal Register notice extending the comment period for the Proposed Rule, Streamlining Program Requirements and Improving Integrity in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The deadline is extended to April 22, 2020.

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    Federal Bills Introduced to Combat COVID-19

    Over the last few weeks, federal lawmakers have proposed several bills to combat the impacts on school meal programs from school closures due to COVID-19.

  • H.R. 6203, the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act provides for specific waivers for program requirements under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to appropriately address safety measures with respect to COVID-19, and for other purposes. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR1).
  • H.R. 6384 provides community-based nonprofit feeding and anti-hunger groups with funding to partner with small and mid-sized restaurants to expand meal access and delivery for low-income and vulnerable populations during a pandemic or public health emergency. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY7).
  • H.R. 6187 grants specific waivers under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to address school closures due to COVID-19. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN5).
  • H.R. 6200 authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to provide food assistance for eligible children during periods when their schools are closed due to a public health emergency. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH11).
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    State Snapshots

    State and local lawmakers continue to combat the impact of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic; several states have introduced amendments and legislation to address any complications and shortfalls for providing meals and services through school meal programs.

    Kansas Introduces Legislation to Cover Costs due to COVID-19 Pandemic

    SB 66 requires the director of the state budget to review and submit each request by a state agency for expenditures to cover costs due the COVID-19 pandemic. Expenses for consideration include healthcare, educational resources, commodities and food service costs. After receiving recommendations from the legislative budget committee, expenditures may be considered as part of the coronavirus response costs for the fiscal year 2020-2021.

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    Kentucky Proposes Bill to Seek Waivers for School Meal Services

    SB 177 directs the Kentucky Department of Education to seek any waivers that will allow for school districts to continue to serve reimbursable meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kentucky is seeking waivers that include allowing service in non-congregate settings and reducing the mandatory wait times between serving meals, during any time that a district is closed to students in relation to the COVID-19 public health emergency. All school districts are encouraged to maximize opportunities that may be granted through any waivers regarding food service and the COVID-19 public health emergency to address food insecurity issues of students in the districts.

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    Massachusetts Creates Relief Fund for Food Service Workers

    HD 4975 establishes a worker relief funding during COVID-19 for all food service and hospitality workers, including those who work within school districts.

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    New Jersey Introduces Legislation on Remote Instruction and Information Collection

    A 3904 permits use of virtual or remote instruction to meet minimum 180-day school year requirement and requires the New Jersey Department of Health to monitor effects on school nutrition programs due to COVID-19.

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    Mark Your Calendars

    SNA's Upcoming Webinars

    SNA is hosting a series of webinars addressing COVID-19 to support school nutrition operators.


    SNA COVID-19 Wellness Series: Taking Care of Yourself So You Can Take Care of Them During COVID-19
    Wednesday, April 1, 2020, 2:00 pm ET
    SNA invites you to join us for an important wellness-focused webinar hosted by SNA President-elect, Reginald Ross. You’ll hear from a wellness expert and the dynamic Director of Dining Services at Londonderry School District (N.H.), Amanda Venezia, who will provide a preview of her planned session at ANC 2020 “Social Emotional Wellness: Me First!” This webinar will teach you important self-care strategies to ensure you can continue serving your community.

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    FRAC Meals Matter Webinars

    Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Meals Matter webinar series assist school nutrition professionals in the operation of school meal programs.

    Growing Stronger, Sustainable Year-Round Programs
    Thursday, April 16, 2020, 1:00 pm ET
    Sponsors and children both benefit when year-round meals are provided seamlessly in communities through the Summer Food Service Program and Afterschool Meal Program, and March is the perfect time to finalize plans for moving from afterschool to summer meals. This webinar will cover best practices, streamlining opportunities, and new resources for establishing strong, financially viable year-round meal programs.

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    Mystery Chat Corner

    In 1988 (March 31st), what author was awarded a Pulitzer prize for her novel “Beloved”?
    A: Toni Morrison

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