School Nutrition Programs COVID Toolkit Indiana Department of Education - School and Community Nutrition

This school year has brought about many challenges for Hoosier schools. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for all that you do to make your School Nutrition Programs successful. We applaud you for feeding students through these challenging times, and we thank you for your patience as we continue to work to assist schools in whatever ways we can.

Why Free School Meals?

USDA is offering free meals to children (18 years and under) for the 2020–2021 school year. According to USDA, “this unprecedented move is part of USDA’s unwavering commitment to ensuring all children across America have access to nutritious food as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Food insecurity has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. School meals can help reduce food insecurity, potential stress from meal prepping, and stress about the household budget. School meals are also healthy. By meeting specific USDA nutrition standards, students are provided meals that are nourishing and help them grow and flourish. Studies show that students who participate in school meal programs consume more milk, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables during mealtimes and have better overall diet quality than students who do not.

The US Department of Agriculture has made it possible for all students to receive free meals for the 2020-2021 school year, regardless of income. This means that students can receive free breakfast (if the school participates in this program) and lunch daily. It is important that schools plan and prepare for the best meal service option(s) for the school, students, and community.

Preparing for Meal Service

Information Regarding Meal Service for Schools

There are a variety of methods under which schools may be operating this year. This includes, but is not limited to, all students on-site, all students eLearning, or a hybrid method, which includes a combination of both students on-site and eLearning. Indiana has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for non-congregate feeding, meaning meals are allowed to be distributed to students not eating in the traditional, congregate setting, such as distributing meals for students to consume off site. Should a school close due to COVID-19, they are not required to provide meals if implementing congregate feeding only. If a school opts to not serve meals, it is highly recommended, but not required, that they inform families of community resources that they can utilize. If schools have additional questions regarding meal service during an unexpected school closure, they should contact their assigned field specialist.

Gather Information

When planning meal service during these unprecedented times, schools should make sure that clear expectations for the Nutrition Services Department are discussed and outlined with all administrators and key players. The Nutrition Services Department should confirm the specific district, school, and meal service information, roles, and responsibilities. Make sure to think about and/or plan for the following:

  • Staff available to work
  • Site managers and/or who will manage the operations at each site
  • Method of feeding (cafeteria, in classroom, a combination of both, etc.)
  • Types of meals offered (i.e. breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner)
  • Method for counting meals served
  • Food and supplies that are in stock and possibly at a shortage
  • Menu and menu production records
  • Menu posted
  • Meal offerings to eLearning students
  • Food safety
  • Employee Safety
Best Practice --- Hold a meeting with the school's superintendent/ director, principal, and any other pertinent administration staff to go over how the school plans to prepare and serve meals, so everyone can be on the same page. Make sure to keep communication going, as the situation may change as practices are put into action.
meal service options

Meal Service Options

Schools are able to operate through one of three options/programs this school year - the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)/School Breakfast Program (SBP), NSLP's Summer Seamless Option (SSO), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The choice of which option may be the best for the school is ultimately up to the school/corporation, however the school should keep in mind the need within the corporation and community, the capability of the food service department and staff, and the approval of the state agency and the local health department.

National School Lunch Program

Schools can opt to continue to serve meals under the NSLP/SBP as usual. Students would continue to be fed based on free, reduced, and paid eligibility status at the Point of Sale (POS). The meal pattern must still be followed, although there are flexibilities available. Please check with your field specialist for more information.

Seamless Summer Option

Schools can choose to operate under the NSLP's Seamless Summer Option (SSO) for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year. All schools qualify immediately to use the waiver to operate under SSO. Operating under this program allows schools to serve all students for free, regardless of income status and meal counts will be kept by the number of meals served at the POS versus counting children and meals by free, reduced, or paid eligibility. Schools can only operate two meal services under SSO, which typically are breakfast and lunch. Schools do still have the option to offer snacks to students as normal through the After School Snack Program (ASSP). SSO follows the same meal pattern as the NSLP. The meal pattern must be followed, but there are some meal pattern flexibilities available. Please reach out to your field specialist for more information.

Summer Food Service Program

All established schools can qualify for operating the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) during school year 2020-2021. Schools that choose to operate under SFSP must understand and follow the SFSP meal pattern and implement the required rules and regulation for SFSP, including the specific SFSP training, recordkeeping and monitoring requirements. Operating under this program allows schools to serve all students for free, regardless of income status and meal counts will be kept by the number of meals served at the POS versus counting children and meals by free, reduced, or paid eligibility. Please note that only two meal services can be offered on SFSP, which are typically breakfast and lunch. Schools do have the option to serve breakfast and lunch under SFSP and then serve snacks through ASSP in the School Nutrition Programs (SNP).

After School Snack Program

Schools are still able to operate the After School Snack Program (ASSP) this school year. However, sponsors do still need to have an educational or enrichment activity to coincide with their ASSP. There is no waiver for this requirement. Sponsors also must follow all other normal ASSP practices and requirements as well, including following the ASSP meal pattern, keeping meal counts, etc. Sponsors are still required to review their ASSP sites a minimum of two times a year. Please view the Onsite Monitoring section for more information and resources.

USDA Waivers

USDA is allowing State agencies to waive the following program requirements during the public health emergency to make it easier for states and local partners to serve children:

  • Meal Service Time Requirements: allows program operators the flexibility to adjust the times meals and snacks are provided in order to streamline operations.
  • Congregate (Group) Meal Requirements: supports social distancing by allowing meals to be provided as grab and go to a parent or guardian or for meals to be delivered. .
  • Meal Pattern Requirements: provides flexibility in meeting dietary specifications and in providing required meal components.
  • Area Eligibility Requirements: allows summer meal programs to operate in areas that may not meet area eligibility requirements (i.e., where less than half of the children in the area are in low-income households).
Meal Service Options

Types of Meal Service

Schools may need to offer meals in a variety of ways, such as Grab and Go meal service, meals served in the classroom, different cafeteria configurations, meals served in multiple locations in the school, etc. Non-congregate feeding has been approved until June 30, 2021. If implementing congregate feeding only, schools are not required to provide meal service on eLearning days or during school closures but should look to the school community to decide whether this would be a need for many families.

Onsite Service

When students are attending school in the school building, schools may need to operate in multiple different methods to accommodate everyone in the building in the safest and most efficient way possible. Schools should look to their school schedule, building layout for eating area possibilities, and feasibility of different meal options for staff and students.

Eating in the Classroom

Schools may choose to feed all or some of their students in classrooms or in other areas of the school in order to best accommodate meal service. Schools should make sure that they have a plan in place for distribution of these meals whether that is delivery to the classrooms on carts, students picking up meals in the cafeteria and then returning to classrooms or other plans. Schools should monitor the meals served in the classrooms to make sure that meals are served and counted properly.

Eating in the Cafeteria

Schools may choose to continue serving meals to students within their cafeteria as usual. Schools should make sure they are prepared to follow proper guidance, such as social distancing guidelines, from their health department to ensure the health and safety of staff and students. This may include rearranging normal serving lines, tables and eating areas, or even schedules for student eating times.

Grab and Go Meals (Parent Pick-Up)

When schools have students learning off site with eLearning due to COVID-19, they may opt to still serve meals to students. Indiana has been approved by USDA for non-congregate feeding until June 30, 2021. This means that every school building, no matter their free and reduced percentage, is approved to serve meals for students to consume off-site and claim under the appropriate program they are operating. This can be done in a grab and go fashion, where parents and/or guardians pick up meals at the school or meals are distributed to students before they go home, should they be at the school a limited amount of days a week. Meals should be prepared in advance for service. Meal service should support the ability for children to take the meals distributed with them to consume off-site. As long as the sponsor has a plan in place that is communicated to parents/guardians, students, and staff, they can distribute meals at one or a few sites on the school campus.

Sponsors can request, not require, households to pre-order meals to help with meal preparation and distribution. Sponsors should have extra reimbursable meals available for households who were not able to pre-order. Schools should also make sure that there are a variety of meals that match the appropriate meal pattern grade grouping for the student requesting the meal. Meal counts are required to be taken at the point of sale (POS). Pre-ordering helps with meal preparation but does not replace meal counting at the POS. Sponsors still must follow all rules for the respective programs, including completing daily food production records, menu documentation, civil rights, meeting the appropriate meal pattern, etc. If students are receiving meals (i.e. breakfast and/or lunch) from their child care/daycare facility which is on the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), meals should not be sent home or picked up for those students receiving meals under CACFP. Sponsors can send meals home with parents for students. The sponsor should have a process in place to ensure that meals are being properly distributed to families from their district/site.

If serving bulk meals or meals for more than one day, please keep in mind local health department requirements, the size and availability of refrigerator and freezer space, especially for households with more than one student.

Bulk Meals

Under current COVID-19 waivers allowing non-congregate feeding and no meal time restrictions, schools may provide multiple meals at a time and provide bulk items, as long as individual meals are easily identifiable as reimbursable meals.

When implementing such a delivery mechanism schools:

  • Must include the required food components in the proper minimum amounts for each reimbursable meal being claims
  • Need to ensure that food items are clearly identifiable as making up reimbursable meals
  • Are strongly encouraged to provide menus with directions indicating which items are to be used for each meal and the correct portion sizes
  • Should consider whether households have access to refrigeration, stoves, microwaves, etc. when providing food that requires refrigeration or further preparation, such as reheating
  • Should ensure that only minimal preparation is required and that preparation is required and that food is provided as ingredients for recipes that require chopping, mixing, baking, etc.

Door to Door Delivery

Schools in areas where families may not be able to get meals at the school during eLearning or a shutdown may consider door to door delivery. Schools should ensure that families are informed of the meal delivery service option ahead of time and obtain their permission to deliver meals. Meals should follow meal pattern guidelines for different grade groupings. Meal pattern flexibilities may be available. Contact your field specialist. Schools should also contact their field specialist for approval before moving to door to door deliveries for meals.

Meal Pattern requirements and Menu Planning

Meal Pattern

Schools should continue to offer students healthy and nutritious meals that meet the meal pattern for both lunch and breakfast (i.e. vegetable subgroups for lunch, whole-grain rich products, etc.) and consist of fruits, vegetables, grains, meat/meat alternates, and milk. Appropriate program meal patterns need to be followed. There are some possibilities for flexibilities with the meal pattern.

National School Lunch Program/School Breakfast Program and Summer Seamless Option

It is important to note that the meal pattern is the same for whether schools are operating either NSLP as "normal" and SSO. Schools should continue to have the appropriate meal pattern options served for each grade groups. Schools are encouraged to keep serving students a wide variety of colors, textures, and food items for their menus. There are some flexibility options under the latest USDA waivers. Please contact your field specialist with questions. The daily requirements for these programs include:

Breakfast Meal Pattern

  • Fruit or Vegetable: 1 cup
  • Grains: 1 oz. eq.
  • Milk: 1 cup

Lunch Meal Pattern

  • Fruit: 1/2 - 1 cup
  • Vegetable: 3/4 - 1 cup
  • Grains: 1-2 oz. eq.
  • Meat/Meat Alternates: 1-2 oz. eq.
  • Milk: 1 cup

*It is important to note that vegetable subgroups are still required. Over the course of the week, dark green, beans and peas (legumes), red/orange, starchy, and other vegetables must be offered in the minimum required amounts. There are potential flexibilities with this under the USDA waivers, however, please check with your field specialist about these.

Menu options from Indiana schools. Click the Indiana Recipe Inspiration resource above for more details.

After School Snack Program Meal Pattern

Choose two out of the four:

  • Fruit or Vegetable: 3/4 cup
  • Grains: 1 oz. eq.
  • Meat/Meat Alternates: 1 oz. eq.
  • Milk: 1 cup
Best Practice --- Implement a monthly cycle menu to make food preparation and meal service as easy as possible on staff members.

Summer Food Service Program

SFSP operates with a different meal pattern than NSLP/SSO. Schools that are now operating through SFSP should be aware of the changes in the meal pattern and make sure that menus and meals are matching the different requirements. Schools still should work towards providing students meals that include a variety of colors, tastes, and textures not only daily but weekly as well.

Breakfast Meal Pattern

  • Fruit or Vegetable: 1/2 cup
  • Grains: 1 serving
  • Meat/Meat Alternate: Optional
  • Milk: 8 fluid ounces

Lunch Meal Pattern

  • Fruit and Vegetable: 3/4 cup of at least two different items
  • Grains: 1 serving
  • Meat/Meat Alternate: 2 oz. by weight
  • Milk: 8 fluid ounces

Menu Planning

Color, Variety, and Texture

Although there are some meal pattern flexibilities this school year, schools should continue to plan menus that are appealing to students by providing a variety of colors, textures, and flavors. The more variety a school is able to offer, the more likely students will find options that appeal to them. This will encourage them to not only take particular components, but actually eat them as well. Variety is also a building block of the program, such as with the vegetable subgroups, as it provides different nutrients to help students grow and succeed.

How many boxes can you check off from the resource above?

Water Requirement

Potable water is required to be made available to students during meal services when served onsite. This would include lunch in the cafeteria, classroom, or elsewhere on school campus and breakfast in the cafeteria. Potable water is not required in the classroom or other locations of the school for breakfast. Potable water is not considered part of the reimbursable meal, and students are not required to take water. There is no separate funding available for this provision and reimbursement for water may not be claimed. Reasonable costs associated with providing potable water during meal services would be an allowable cost to the nonprofit food service account. If sponsors want to make water available outside of SNP requirements (i.e. outside of meal services), they must use other funds. Sponsors may be able to request students bring reusable water bottles to fill during the day to meet the potable water requirement. However, sponsors should make sure that they have backup plans for students who may not be able to afford or bring their own reusable water bottle or for students who forgot to bring a water bottle. Sponsors should also contact their local health department to determine the best method for providing free water for students.

Offer Versus Serve (OVS)

OVS allows students to decline components of their meal. USDA has issued a nationwide waiver to allow schools the ability to waive the OVS requirement at the high school level (9-12) for NSLP during the 2020-2021 school year. If electing to not implement OVS, sponsors must indicate so on their site application(s) in the CNPweb.

Sponsors are allowed to operate using OVS this school year if they choose to do so. Make sure that if your school is implementing OVS this school year, that there is a plan in place to ensure safe food practices and practices that promote employee and student health and safety. Sponsors cannot operate using OVS but only allow or require students to decline milk only.

For those sponsors that are opting to utilize the waiver and not operate using OVS this year, should make sure that all signage for students accurately displays how students can make a reimbursable meal. This may mean that the sponsor will need to change their signage to reflect their new serving method. Additionally, menus still need to meet the meal pattern and the weekly calorie, saturated fat, and sodium amounts for each grade group. If not implementing OVS, all food components in the full portion sizes for lunch must be offered and taken by the students. Schools may decide mid-year to switch back to OVS after temporarily pausing OVS implementation. Keep in mind, if a sponsor implements OVS halfway through the year that all staff need to be trained annually on OVS, households must be notified about OVS and how students can make a meal, and all signage must be updated to instruct students on how to make a meal using OVS.

Food Production Records

Schools must generate production records that match the menu being served for staff to utilize. Food service directors should evaluate the district’s production kitchens, storage areas, and serving sites to determine which kitchen(s) to designate as central kitchens during the emergency. If the school typically utilizes a central kitchen that is not in operation as a result of the closures, production can be moved to individual schools. Food service staff can be relocated per estimated meals at each serving site.

If storage space is limited, the delivery schedule may need to be changed to accommodate more frequent, smaller deliveries. Some districts may find it helpful to work with frozen food distributors to borrow a refrigerated truck and/or work with facilities to rent a mobile freezer container for food storage, if needed.

Smart Snacks

Schools that are participating in NSLP/SBP or SSO are still able to have a la carte and extra food items and beverages available for purchase as long as they meet the normal Smart Snacks standards. Any food of beverage sold to students on a school's campus during the school day is required to meet the Smart Snacks standards. There is no waiver for this requirement. Schools should continue to monitor the items that they have available for sale to ensure that they meet the set standards.


Onsite Monitoring

Sponsors are required to review meal counting, claiming, and meal pattern compliance at least once during each site’s operation. Depending on the program the sponsor is operating, this review may need to take place within a specific timeframe. Make sure to check the program requirements for monitoring. A review must be conducted at all sites approved to participate in lunch and breakfast within the jurisdiction of the sponsor.

The review should be conducted by a person who does not regularly work in the reviewed building. Therefore, a food service director not directly working in the cafeteria or a food service manager from a different building may conduct the review. The reviewer should stay for the entire meal service, make notes of their observations during the meal service, and may not conduct two or more lunch evaluations or two or more breakfast evaluations on the same day. The reviewer is allowed to conduct one lunch and one breakfast review on the same day.

Your IDOE field specialist will check the completed review forms during an Administrative Review to make sure a review was completed. Sponsors should keep the completed reviews on file for three years plus the current year.

Offsite Monitoring

During the current public health emergency, sponsors may forgo onsite monitoring and instead, to the maximum extent practicable, review program operations off-site (e.g., through a desk audit).

Outreach materials

Parent/Guardian and Community Outreach

It is extremely important to maintain thorough, consistent, and open communication with both administration and families about meal service plans for the school year as well as during any potential changes that may occur throughout the school year. When providing information, make sure to include details about what a reimbursable meal entails, how meals will be served, the process for signing up for meals (if applicable), etc. Information can be and should be communicated through a variety of methods such as physical mailings, flyers and signs posted in public locations, e-mail communication, robo-calls, texts, school newsletter or website, and social media platforms. Sending out information in a variety of formats is ideal to ensure that all households receive the necessary information about meals and the procedures that are in place to keep households and staff safe. Various outreach methods should also be used to communicate other community resources beyond the Child Nutrition Programs.

Feeding students through the Child Nutrition Programs while operating eLearning or during a school closure due to COVID-19 is not a requirement but might be an essential need in the community. Make sure to let families know if you will not be serving meals. Even if the school district has determined to not feed students, schools should still provide households with information about where they can obtain food/meals through community organizations, like local food pantries.

Parent Outreach Resources

Let parents know about all that your program has to offer! Together we can spread the word on why picking up or eating free school meals not only benefits the family, but also the student, the school, AND the community! The more platforms you can utilize to capture their attention, the better. Utilize social media, calls, newsletters, flyers, infographics, etc. Below are a number of useful templates, resources, and examples for your school to share and distribute. Resources can be printed and included in meal bags or parent/caregiver packets. They can also be posted on school/district websites or included in emails to parents/caregivers.

The below links come directly from the No Kid Hungry School Meals Marketing Toolkit.

Sample Facebook Images in English

Click on any image to expand, then right click and select save.

Sample Facebook Images in Spanish

Click on any image to expand, then right click and select save.

Community Resources

As families deal with the financial effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, schools can help share resources that can connect them with community programs, assistance, and other helpful information.

FSSA provides a map that is designed to help families find available food resources near them.

Purdue created a fact sheet series about when your income drops and/or changes. This set o​f fact sheets suggests a number of steps that can be taken in order to maintain financial control, including community resource information, stress management, spending priority tips, and much more.

Feeding Indiana has an online resource that helps families find food banks that are in their area.

safety requirements

Protect Your Team and Others

Employee Safety

It is important that the school makes sure to provide information for staff regarding food safety, how to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19, and regulations surrounding privacy in employee’s health information. Ways to protect your teams and those that you are serving includes:

  • Clean hands often by washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (try singing the ABCs for timing).
  • Provide hand sanitizer when hand washing is not possible.
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces that are touched or used regularly, including meal distribution areas.
  • Wear the proper face covering.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice social distancing by avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance of approximately six feet from others when possible.
  • Support staff by listening to concerns, answering questions, and being a model of good behavior.

The above K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigation Toolkit aims to help schools plan for in-person instruction and ongoing operations during COVID-19. The toolkit is designed for public health officials, K-12 administrators, school district officials, and occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals to assess hazards and implement mitigation strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

Social Distancing

Child Nutrition Program meal service during COVID-19 remains an essential service for the community. However, social distancing is still important in maintaining the health and well-being of both those distributing and receiving the meals. Practice social distancing by maintaining approximately six feet of distance from others when possible. Design meal service and distribution methods to support social distancing. Consider the following:

  • Rather than handing out meals, place meals on a table and allow families to grab and go.
  • Have parents/guardians stay in their car and have staff or volunteers put meals directly in the trunk of the car.
  • Take meal counts from a distance.
  • Set up several tables or points of service to avoid crowding around meal pick up locations.
  • Consider offering a longer window of time for meal pick up to stagger the amount of people arriving at one time.

Face Coverings

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends wearing face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (i.e. school food service operations). Wearing a face covering does not replace social distancing or other food and employee safety measures, such as good personal hygiene (i.e. washing hands) and sanitizing frequently touched services. For employees in food production, who do not typically wear face coverings as part of their jobs, consider the following:

  • Maintain face coverings in accordance with parameters in FDA’s Model Food Code sections 4-801.11 Clean Linens and 4.802.11 Specifications.
  • Launder reusable face coverings before each use.
  • Utilize CDC’s additional information on the use of face coverings, including washing instructions and information on how to make homemade face covers.

HIPAA and Privacy Protection

Employers need to take steps to keep employees’ health information confidential at all times. Managers do not need to know an employee’s specific diagnosis. Instead, the manager only needs to know that the employee will be on leave and unable to work.

School Nutrition Directors may consider creating department or district policies addressing what employees should do when they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, such as a cough and fever. At certain times, it may be advisable to dismiss staff from work. Please check with your human resources department and your local health department for specific guidance and regulations.

OSHA Safety Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to take reasonable precautions to ensure employee safety and prohibits employers from placing their employees in situations likely to cause serious physical harm or death. With regard to COVID-19, employers may consider taking the following precautions:

  • Allow high-risk individuals to preemptively begin working from home if possible or suspend working.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and encourage employees to wash and sanitize their hands and common workplace surfaces frequently.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects often. These surfaces may include doorknobs, keyboards, phones, and light switches.
  • If someone at the worksite reports becoming ill, contact the health department for guidance and necessary steps.

“Reasonable precautions” are subject to change depending on the circumstances. Employers are advised to follow CDC guidelines and to share this information with employees as appropriate. Please also consult with your human resources department, school administration, and others as needed.

Food Safety

In order to reduce the risk of foodborne illness, practice food safety guidelines according to your existing Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) food safety plans. Keep in mind that some of the plans may need to be adapted depending on any changes in distribution, kitchen layout, etc. Print a copy to have on hand at each feeding location and make sure to review all information with staff and volunteers. Ensure that those that may be new or volunteering understand the importance of food safety and taking the necessary precautions.

Review the following food safety topics with your team and update procedures as needed:

Civil rights

Civil Rights

Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs

During this public health emergency, schools are not relieved of their obligation to provide meal modifications for participants with disabilities, including documented requests to accommodate children with special dietary needs. This presents unique challenges as it may be quite difficult to anticipate which children will show up for meal service, how often they will visit the site, and if you are serving from multiple locations, where they will go for meals. Schools should continue to provide meals that meet the medical or dietary needs of students to the best of their ability. In order to help ensure a smooth service or delivery of these meals, communicate with families in need of special dietary accommodations to make a plan for when and where they will pick up special meals.

  • Schools are required to accommodate children with special dietary needs.
  • Schools must continue to provide meals that meet the medical or dietary needs of students to the best of their ability.
  • Communicate with households to make a plan for when and how students will be receiving meals.
  • Schools are able to utilize digital signatures for medical statement forms for special dietary needs, as long as they are accepting digital signatures for other forms as well.
  • Medical forms, fact sheets, and other information are available on the IDOE Special Dietary Needs Webpage.

Annual Civil Rights Training

All institutions must train their staff on civil rights requirements. Best practice is to train before the staff assume their duties in Child Nutrition Programs and annually thereafter.

Racial and Ethnic Data Collection

Operators are not relieved of the obligation to collect racial and ethnic data during the pandemic. However, there are a variety of sources from which they may obtain the data, if it is not provided by the applicant. For instance, since the Department of Education requires families to provide racial and ethnic data when students are enrolled, Program Operators should be able to obtain this information from school enrollment records.

Nondiscrimination Statement

Schools are not relieved of their obligation to include the required Nondiscrimination Statement (NDS) on all printed and electronic program materials made available to applicants, participants, and potentially eligible persons for public information, public education, or public distribution.

All institutions must use the USDA NDS on all public correspondence that implies or mentions USDA or Child Nutrition Programs.

If the size of the material is too small to include the full statement, the material must, at a minimum, include the following statement in print in the same font size as the main text: “This institution is an equal opportunity provider.”

On websites, the NDS or a link to it, must be included on the homepage of the program information. Even resources sent by administration, such as social media posts and emails, must include a link to the NDS.

And Justice for All Posters

All institutions must display the current "And Justice for All" poster in a prominent place.

It is not feasible or cost-effective to require that each classroom in a school display an And Justice for All Poster. Instead, schools can display posters in prominent locations throughout the school, such as a bulletin board in the main building entrance, the school office, or another area frequently visited by parents and children. Schools may prefer to copy posters and put one in each classroom, but that is not required.

For grab and go pickup situations and home deliveries, the And Justice for All poster must be displayed in a prominent place.

To request And Justice for All posters, visit the IDOE Civil Rights Webpage.



Regulations require sponsors to account for all revenues and expenditures of the nonprofit school food service account and to meet the requirements for allowable nonprofit school food service expenditures, even during emergency situations (i.e. COVID-19). There are no flexibilities to the financial management of the nonprofit school food service account.

Financial Management

Sponsors will continue to receive reimbursement for their meals. However, depending on what program the sponsor is operating this school year, it may be either based on normal reimbursement rates for free, reduced, and paid meals under NSLP and SBP, the NSLP free rate under SSO, or under the SFSP rate. For all options, free meals apply only to student reimbursable meals; adults must continue to pay for meals. All reimbursement received as a result of selecting one of these options must be maintained in the school nutrition program account and used solely for the purpose of improving child nutrition program menus, such as improving nutritional quality and variety of foods, and/or the operation food service through the purchase of kitchen equipment, and/or increased food service salaries and benefits. SFAs selling second entrees, second meals, and/or a la carte items may continue to do so at the required pricing as long as they meet the Smart Snacks requirements.

Nonprofit Food Service Account Allowable Costs

Sponsors should take into consideration what would and would not be considered an allowable cost for their nonprofit food service account. With changing meal service operations, precautions, etc. there may be changing charges and costs for the sponsor. Please note that allowable costs differ in SFSP.

Additional equipment needed for serving in new or different types of meal service options is allowable, such as food service carts, trash cans outside the classroom for garbage disposal from meals, insulated containers for meals, etc. This must still be properly procured.

Face masks, gloves, disposable aprons, and other personal protective equipment for school food service to help serve meals safely are an allowable cost from the nonprofit food service account.

Not sure if something is an allowable cost? Contact SCNFinance@doe.in.gov.

Free and Reduced Eligibility

Schools should be conducting Direct Certification (DC) and processing free and reduced applications for households. Keep in mind that although all students can receive free meals under SSO and SFSP, directly certifying students and processing free and reduced applications are still important.

Why Free and Reduced Status Still Matters

As previously mentioned, schools should continue to run DC and process free and reduced meal applications for students. Free and reduced status is still extremely important for families to connect with many other resources. The following are resources available to students based on their free or reduced status, some of which may require appropriate disclosure:

Showcasing School Nutrition in the Media

Contact Us

IDOE School Nutrition Webpage

IDOE School Nutrition Contact List

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.