Special Bulletin COVID-19 - March 31, 2020

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Special Bulletin COVID-19 – March 31, 2020

Each section contains updates relevant to those nutrition programs. You can jump to the section you're interested in by clicking the link.

All Programs

Essential Workers

Per communication from the Governor’s office and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Commissioner’s office on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, all staff prepping and delivering meals through child nutrition programs in schools, as well as child care staff and child care nutrition staff, are deemed essential personnel and exempt from Executive Order 20-20, directing Minnesotans to “Stay at Home.” School nutrition and child care programs are expected to continue providing meals during distance learning and the “Stay-at-Home” period. Additional COVID-19 information is available on the MDE website:

MDE COVID-19 Updates

Food and Nutrition COVID-19 Resources


Meal Pattern Flexibilities Waiver

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act allows USDA Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) to grant nationwide waivers to support access to nutritious meals during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Consistent with this, FNS has established several nationwide waivers for all States to provide meals under all Child Nutrition Programs (National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option).

The COVID-19 Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs waives the requirement to serve meals that meet the meal pattern requirements if there is a disruption to the availability of food products resulting from unprecedented impacts of COVID-19. Please note that approval for use of this waiver will only apply to times when meal components are unavailable due to disruptions to the availability of food products.

FNS expects program operators to maintain and meet the nutrition standards for each program to the greatest extent possible. Prior to submitting the waiver request, ensure that you have taken all steps possible to find other food items in the same meal pattern component group. Federal procurement regulations at 2 CFR 200.320 allow procurement by noncompetitive proposals when there is a public emergency.

All nutrition program sponsor contacts will receive an email by the end of the day on Tuesday, March 31, with a link to request approval for this waiver. This waiver is in effect until April 30, 2020, or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier.

For immediate concerns, please email mde.fns@state.mn.us. Include “Meal Pattern Waiver” in the subject line.


Distribution of Meals to Parents/Guardians

Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, USDA has approved a waiver to allow program operators in Minnesota to distribute meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children. This waiver applies to the Child Nutrition Programs: National School Lunch Program, including the Seamless Summer Option; School Breakfast Program; Child and Adult Care Food Program, including Child Care, Adult Daycare, and At-Risk Afterschool Meals; and Summer Food Service Program. Read the COVID-19 Nationwide Waiver to Allow Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children.

State agencies are required by USDA to develop a plan for ensuring that program operators are able to maintain accountability and program integrity. This includes putting in place processes to ensure that meals are distributed only to parents or guardians of eligible children, and that duplicate meals are not distributed to any child. This waiver is effective immediately and remains in effect until June 30, 2020, or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier. MDE is developing guidance for sponsors on how to ensure program integrity, and will distribute that guidance as soon as possible.

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Child and Adult Care Food Programs

Community Nutrition COVID-19 Webinar Updates

Community nutrition sponsoring organizations, including Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program, are invited to join us for a webinar, 2-3:30 p.m., on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, to discuss a number of flexibilities to the program regulations due to the current public health emergency, COVID-19. These include a meal pattern waiver opportunity that requires sponsors to apply. In addition, we will discuss the latest announcement that USDA is allowing parents/guardians to pick-up meals for their children without the children present. We will also have a period for addressing your questions about child nutrition program staff being categorized as essential workers. Register for the COVID-19 CACFP and SFSP Waivers and Guidance.


Community-Based Nutrition COVID-19 Question and Answer Document

The Community-Based Nutrition COVID-19 Question and Answer document has been updated to include more of your questions and answers.

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School Nutrition Programs

School Nutrition COVID-19 Webinar Updates

Weekly webinars will be held on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. to update school nutrition program staff on issues related to COVID-19. The March 31 webinar will include information on the meal pattern flexibility waiver, allowing parents/guardians to pick up meals for their children, and the requirement for school nutrition employees to be categorized as essential workers. Select the links below to register for these webinars.

Register for School Nutrition COVID-19 Update 3-31-2020

Register for School Nutrition COVID-19 Update 4-7-2020

Register for School Nutrition COVID-19 Update 4-14-2020


Webinars Canceled for Remaining School Year

The School Nutrition Program Tuesdays @ 2 and Procurement Basics webinar series have been canceled for the remaining 2019-20 school year. Look for the 2020-21 Tuesdays @ 2 schedule to be posted at Training and Professional Standards in early August. Tuesdays @ 2 webinars are scheduled to begin August 11, 2020.

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Opportunities from Our Partners

Free Meals for Kids Mobile App

The Free Meals for Kids mobile app is ready! You can access the app through the Hunger Impact Partners website or at Apple or Google Play app stores. Please share this information with your personal and professional networks and through social media sites. Let's work together to ensure hungry kids don't miss a meal during school closures.  

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department of education

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