USDA grants food service waivers for the 2020-2021 school year

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A student at Peaks Mill Elementary School (Franklin County) eats lunch in early March.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted waivers for the 2020-2021 school year to states regarding food services on June 25. The waivers aim to allow for flexibility for food services for students learning in person and remotely. In this picture, a student at Peaks Mill Elementary School (Franklin County) eats breakfast in early March.
Photo by Jacob Perkins, March 4, 2020

By Sky Carroll
sky.carroll@education.ky.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted waivers for participants of the Federal Child Nutrition Programs for the 2020-2021 school year.

While most of the waivers were extensions of current flexibilities; the offer versus serve waiver is the only new waiver from the USDA. These waivers will provide needed flexibility in the way school meals will be distributed to students in the fall.

The waivers include allowance for non-congregate feeding, as well as flexibility for mealtimes and meal patterns, parent pick up and mandatory offer versus serve for high schools.

Of note is the non-congregate waiver extension. The non-congregate waiver will allow for Kentucky’s school districts to offer meals through School Meal Programs to enrolled students whether they are learning in-person or through non-traditional instruction. This will be a change from the way school districts provided meals when Kentucky schools first closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, when they operated under summer feeding programs.

Summer meal programs provide meals at no-cost to children 18 years of age and younger. Under the recently released waivers, districts will offer meals through the more traditional school meal programs and only to students enrolled in Kentucky schools.

Further details will be provided by KDE’s Division of School and Community Nutrition, including the process to request to participate in the waivers where necessary.

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