Child Nutrition Programs

Overview

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) supports nutrition programs in a wide variety of settings through the administration of federal grants provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA Child Nutrition Programs include the:

  • Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) for child care centers, family day care homes, emergency shelters, at-risk afterschool care programs, and adult day care centers;
  • Summer Food Service Program (SFSP); and
  • school nutrition programs, which include the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Afterschool Snack Program (ASP), Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), Special Milk Program (SMP), and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) of the NSLP.

Funds and regulations related to these programs are administered in collaboration with the USDA Northeast Regional Office (NERO) in Boston. Eligible institutions enter into written agreements with the CSDE to operate local programs that provide for the nutritional needs of those in their care.

Operation of Child Nutrition Programs during Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreaks

  Guidance for Reopening  |   USDA Nationwide Waivers
Sponsor Waiver Applications  |   Meal Service and Distribution Sites
P-EBT  |   COVID-19 Resources

The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act authorizes the provision of meals to children who are not in school during unanticipated school closures through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option (SSO), and the At-Risk Afterschool component of Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Under normal circumstances, SFSP and SSO meals must be offered in a congregate setting (7 CFR 225.6(e)(15) and at non-school sites (7 CFR 225.6(d)(1)(iv). However, during a public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus, social distancing may be necessary to avoid spread of the virus. To address this important issue, states may request waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) enabling sponsors to serve meals in more flexible ways during closures related to the coronavirus. To this end, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has submitted the following waivers to enable sponsors to provide nutritious meals during this time.

If your eligible sponsoring school or organization is considering providing meal service during extended closures due to COVID-19, please contact your school nutrition county consultant for more information.


Guidance for Reopening School Nutrition Programs
CSDE COVID-19 Waivers Submitted to the USDA
  1. SFSP and SSO Congregate and Non-school Sites Requirements: Waive the SFSP and SSO requirements for congregate sites and serving meals at non-school sites.   
  2. SFSP and SSO Time Restrictions: Waive the time restrictions on SFSP and SSO meal services, including how much time must elapse between meal services and the times when certain meals must be served and completed.   
  3. CACFP Congregate and Attendance Requirements Waive the congregate requirement for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and waive the requirement to maintain daily attendance records.
  4. CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program: Waive the requirements for the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program (suppers) to maintain attendance and offer the structured afterschool education and/or enrichment activity concurrent to supper meals service.
  5. SFSP and SSO Area Eligibility: Waive the definition of area eligibility in the SFSP, and allow SFSP and SSO sponsors to serve meals to any child ages 18 and younger at any authorized SFSP or SSO meals distribution location.
  6. SFSP, SSO, and CACFP Meal Patterns: Waive the meal pattern requirements for the SFSP, SSO, and CACFP to allow authorized SFSP, SSO, and CACFP sponsors to provide nutritious meals and snacks, pending the availability of meal pattern components during closures related to COVID-19.
  7. Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Deadlines: Waive the deadline for: 1) local educational agencies (LEAs) to establish the number of students who are directly certified as of April 1; 2) LEAs to select to participate or renew participation in CEP by June 30; and 3) the state agency to notify the LEA of their eligibility, and conduct public notification, using data as of April 1.
  8. SFSP and SSO Physical Presence of Child: Waive the requirement for a child to be physically present to receive a meal, and allow for heads of households to receive meals on their children’s behalf in order to provide those meals to their children for consumption.
  9. SFSP, SSO, and CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program Scheduled Breaks and Holidays: Waive the definition of unanticipated school closures and waive the requirement that schools must affirmatively postpone or cancel spring breaks to serve meals through the SFSP, SSO, or CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals Programs.
  10. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) Operations during SFSP and SSO Meal Distributions: Requests that fresh fruits and vegetables provided under the FFVP do not have to be provided at times outside of meal service times, or at the pre-approved schools, thereby allowing produce to be distributed alongside meal distribution, at current meal service sites and times, and to any school-age student. 
  11. SFSP, SSO, and CACFP Unitized Meal Requirements: Waive the requirement that meals must be unitized, in order to allow bulk distribution of meals that contain all of the components for multiple meals, but are not packaged as individual unitized meals.
  12. FFVP Physical Presence of Child and Distribution Locations: Waive the requirement for the physical presence of the child for FFVP service, and allow FFVP distribution to occur at different locations from the originally approved elementary school.
  13. Extension for SFSP, SSO, and CACFP Meal Patterns: Extend the waiver for the meal pattern requirements for the SFSP, SSO, and CACFP (see waiver 6), from May 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020, to allow authorized SFSP, SSO, and CACFP sponsors to provide nutritious meals and snacks, pending the availability of meal pattern components during closures related to COVID-19.
  14. Extend Waiver of Area Eligibility in the SFSP and SSO: Extend the waiver for the definition of area eligibility in the SFSP and SSO (see waiver 5), and allow SFSP and SSO sponsors operating during unanticipated school closures to continue to serve meals to any child 18 years old and younger, at any authorized SFSP or SSO meals distribution location.
  15. Allow Flexibility with 60-day Claim Submission Deadlines in the CACFP: Allow CACFP sponsors in good standing to submit claims for reimbursement for allowable CACFP meals beyond the 60-day deadline, without having to use the one-time exception due to circumstances created by COVID-19.
  16. Waive Limit of Two Meals per Child per Day under SFSP and SSO for Summer 2020: Allow SFSP and SSO sponsors in good standing to serve up to three meals (breakfast, lunch, and supper) per child per day during SFSP and SSO meal distributions in July and August 2020.
  17. Waive Onsite Monitoring Requirements for CACFP: Allow CACFP sponsoring organizations to perform off-site monitoring reviews through desk audits to support program oversight, compliance, and integrity; while providing sponsors the ability to meet regulatory requirements and minimize potential exposure and spread of COVID-19.
USDA Nationwide COVID-19 Waivers

Pursuant to the COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response Act (H.R. 6201, Title II), and the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has established nationwide waivers to support access to nutritious meals, while enforcing recommendations from public health experts with regard to social distancing measures. The waivers below apply to all states that elect to use them. The CSDE is opting to use these waivers. Note: To implement these waivers, sponsors must follow specific CSDE guidance and submit an application to the CSDE (see "Sponsor Waiver Applications" below). For additional guidance, contact your school nutrition county consultant.

Sponsor Waiver Applications 

The waiver applications below apply only to existing Connecticut Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) sponsors operating meal service sites during Summer 2020. Eligible sponsoring schools or organizations that are not approved, but would like to provide meal service during Summer 2020 through the SFSP or SSO, should contact their school nutrition county consultant for more information.

Meal Service and Distribution Sites

The lists below provide information on the SFSP and SSO meal service and distribution sites in Connecticut. Check these links often as locations may change.

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program

The P-EBT program is a partnership of the CSDE and Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS). The P-EBT program provides households with an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that contains the value of the free school breakfast and lunch reimbursement rates for the days that schools are closed. Eligible households include those with children who are certified to receive free or reduced-price school meals, and children who attend schools offering free school meals to all students (such as community eligibility schools). The P-EBT program will reach approximately 270,000 children in Connecticut, and complements other efforts to provide food to children during this difficult time. Local educational agencies (LEAs) and school food authorities (SFAs) are instrumental in ensuring that P-EBT benefits reach the students in their district. 

COVID-19 Resources