With schools closed, districts across New Jersey are serving providing meals in a variety of ways through federal child nutrition programs.
Some are operating meal sites throughout the community or in the schools. Others are delivering meals directly to families. Some are using mobile feeding methods to deliver food. Others are using a combination of these methods.
Delivery varies from district to district. For the most accurate information, parents and other caregivers should contact their local school.
To make it easier for schools and community-based organizations to serve meals to children while keeping children and families safe, several federal rules have been relaxed.
- Parents can pick up meals without having children physically present. States must have a process to verify that meals are distributed only to eligible children and that families aren’t picking up duplicate meals for any student.
- Meals can be provided outside of a group (congregate) feeding setting, such as a cafeteria. Meals can be distributed at sites where families pick up meals, as well as be delivered to children’s homes.
- Schools can serve multiple meals for multiple days and have flexibility in when meals are served.
- Afterschool meal providers do not have to offer educational or enrichment activities when providing snacks or suppers through the National School Lunch Program or CACFP At-Risk Program.
- School have flexibility in meeting the USDA’s “meal pattern” requirements, as needed to support access to nutritious meals when certain foods are not available due to the novel coronavirus.
- The deadline for school districts to commit to participating in the Community Eligibiliy Option for school year 2020-21 has been extended to Aug. 31. This option allows districts to feed all children and reduce paperwork.
- Certain onsite monitoring requirements for the school meals programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program, have been waived.
If you are a community organization that would like to serve as a meal site or have other questions, please contact the New Jersey Department of Agriculture at (609) 984-0692.