USDA approves TDA’s statewide Summer Food Service Program Waiver requests


Background: On October 11, 2018, USDA provided guidance to the States regarding the status of nationwide waivers of statutory and regulatory requirements in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP 01-2019), Summer Food Service Program Memoranda Rescission.  This guidance rescinded several longstanding, nationwide waivers that streamlined the operation of the SFSP.  On December 17, 2018, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) requested statewide waivers from USDA of the federal regulations related to first week site visits, time restrictions for meal service, and area eligibility for closed enrolled sites. 

Update: USDA approved TDA’s requests for the following three statewide waivers:

1.            First Week Site Visits (7 CFR 225.15(d)(2))

USDA approved TDA’s request to waive first week site visit requirements for 1) returning sites that operated successfully during the previous year and had no serious deficiency findings, and 2) SFSP CEs that successfully participated in the CACFP and NSLP and are in good standing.  CEs are still required to conduct a full review of food service operations at each site within the first four weeks of operations and maintain a reasonable level of site monitoring.  In cases where a site, whether new or retuning, only operates for a short period of time, the review of food service operations must be conducted during the period of operation.  This statewide waiver is effective immediately for 2019 SFSP in Texas.

A CE wishing to request a waiver for the first week site visit may select this option in TX-UNPS.  The option may be selected by responding “Yes” to question #42 in the Site Application.  If a CE has already submitted its SFSP application packet with a “No” response to question #42, it may request amendments to its Site Application for review by TDA. 


2.            Time Restrictions for Meal Service (7 CFR 225.16(c)(1) &(2))

USDA approved TDA’s request to waive time restrictions for meal service which placed Federal limits on the amount of time that must elapse between the end of one meal and the beginning of the next meal; and the duration of a meal service.  This statewide waiver is effective immediately for 2019 SFSP in Texas. 

TDA will continue to require Contracting Entities (CE) to establish meal times for each site and provide this information to TDA to allow for effective oversight.  Meals must be served within the approved meal service times in order to be claimed for reimbursement.  

A CE wishing to use flexible meal times may select this option in TX-UNPS.  If a CE has already submitted its SFSP application packet, it may request amendments to its Site Application for review by TDA by updating its Site Application in TX-UNPS.  The Site Application with amended mealtimes will need to be resubmitted for review and approval by TDA. 

3.            Eligibility for Closed Enrolled Sites (7 CFR 225.15(f)(1))

USDA approved TDA’s request to waive the requirement that closed enrolled sites must determine eligibility based on documentation that at least half of the enrolled children at each site are eligible for free or reduced priced meals.  Therefore, effective immediately, this statewide waiver permits closed enrolled sites to be eligible based on area eligibility for the location of the site for 2019 SFSP in Texas. 

A CE wishing to operate a closed enrolled site based on area eligibility may select this option in TX-UNPS.  The option in TX-UNPS is located at Question #28 in the Site Application.  The appropriate selection from the drop down menu is “Closed - Enrolled in Needy Area.”  If a CE has already submitted its SFSP application packet, it may request amendments to its Site Application for review by TDA.  TDA will review applications to confirm that the site is in an eligible area. 

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Reminder:  In October 2018, USDA also rescinded the waiver that allowed private nonprofit organizations to use “offer versus serve” (OVS) in the SFSP.  TDA did not request a statewide waiver of OVS.  Therefore, OVS will only be available to School Food Authorities (SFAs) operating the SFSP.  Non-SFAs should understand that OVS is no longer allowed.  SFA’s wishing to use OVS must meet the meal pattern requirements for National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.  

For additional information, click here to read “Statewide Waivers in the 2019 SFSP – Questions and Answers."

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