Fiscal Report
Public Education's Point of Reference for Making Educated Decisions

Flexibility to Serve Free Meals Extended through End of School Year

On October 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that flexibilities to allow free meals to be served to all kids are extended through the end of the 2020–21 school year.  Specifically, waivers for the continued operation of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) are extended through June 30, 2021. 

Prior to this announcement, the USDA had granted flexibility to leverage the SFSP and the SSO until the end of 2020 (see “USDA Extends Summer Meal Programs through End of 2020” in the September 2020 issue of the Fiscal Report). In addition to the waivers for the SFSP and the SSO, the USDA has also granted additional flexibilities for food service programs through June 30, 2021 (see “By the Way . . . USDA Approves Waiver and Waiver Extensions for Fall” in the June 2020 issue of the Fiscal Report), which:

  • permit meals to be served outside of the typically required group settings and meal times;
  • waive meal pattern requirements, as necessary; and
  • allow parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children.

The USDA was able to extend these waivers due to language in the federal continuing resolution that was signed into law on October 1, 2020, to keep the federal government funded through December 11, 2020, (see “President Trump Signs Stopgap Spending Measure to Avert Government Shutdown” in the October 2020 issue of the Fiscal Report).