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Public Notice - Child Nutrition Program State Waiver Request

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 | 10:53am

NASHVILLE - In accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Nutrition Services policy memorandum, SP 08-2020, SFSP 04-2020 Child Nutrition Program Meal Service during Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks, March 6, 2020, the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) is seeking a waiver of statutory and/or regulatory Program requirements that were identified in this memo.

In an effort to support social distancing, a waiver request will be submitted to the USDA FNS Southeast Regional Office (SERO) for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to allow non-congregate meal service at school and non-school sites during unanticipated school closures due to COVID-19. 

1. State agency submitting waiver request and responsible State agency staff contact information:

Tennessee Department of Human Services
Allette Vayda, Director of Operations- Food Programs
James K. Polk Building, 15th Floor
505 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37243
615-313-3769
Allette.Vayda@tn.gov

2. Region:

South East Region

3. Eligible service providers participating in waiver and affirmation that they are in good standing:

This waiver request applies to all Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) organizations approved to operate SFSP sites and are in good standing.

4. Description of the challenge the State agency is seeking to solve, the goal of the waiver to improve services under the Program, and the expected outcomes if the waiver is granted. [Section 12(l)(2)(A)(iii) and 12(l)(2)(A)(iv) of the NSLA]:

Given the potential of community spread of COVID-19, social distancing may be necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus. TN DHS is requesting a waver to allow Sponsors to serve meals in non-congregate settings at school sites and at non-school sites during school closures related to COVID-19. The overall goal for the request is to maximize all options and increase the availability of meals served in the event of unanticipated school closures due to COVID-19.

5. Specific Program requirements to be waived (include statutory and regulatory citations). [Section 12(l)(2)(A)(i) of the NSLA]:

TN is requesting to waive program regulations at 7 CFR 225.6(e)(15), which requires that meals be served and consumed in a congregate setting, in order to support any social distancing requested by Federal, State or local authorities.

6. Detailed description of alternative procedures and anticipated impact on Program operations, including technology, State systems, and monitoring:

TN DHS does not anticipate any required Program operational changes, including those affecting technology, State systems and monitoring.

TN DHS will require approved program Sponsors to submit a detailed plan outlining how they intend to serve, count, document and monitor any meals served in a non-congregate setting prior to implementation.

If the waiver is not approved, TN DHS will continue its normal process of ensuring meals are served in approved congregate settings at approved sites during unanticipated school closures.  However, If the waiver is not granted, there would be a reduction in the number of potential sites and meals served during unanticipated school closures due to COVID-19.  TN DHS will follow the provisions outlined in USDA Policy Memorandum, SP 08-2020, SFSP 04-2020 Child Nutrition Program Meal Service during Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks.

TN DHS will continue to conduct program monitoring in accordance with 7 CFR 225.7(d) throughout the implementation period of the waiver.

7. Description of any steps the State has taken to address regulatory barriers at the State level. [Section 12(l)(2)(A)(ii) of the NSLA]:

TN DHS is not anticipating any regulatory barriers at the State level.

8. Anticipated challenges State or eligible service providers may face with the waiver implementation:

TN DHS will work with Sponsors to identify sites that are in areas that are easily accessible to low-income children while avoiding identification of individual children as low income.

TN DHS will also assist Sponsors with communicating with families when, where, and how students may receive meals during a school closure through social media, and press releases.

9. Description of how the waiver will not increase the overall cost of the Program to the Federal Government. If there are anticipated increases, confirm that the costs will be paid from non-Federal funds. [Section 12(l)(1)(A)(iii) of the NSLA]:

The SA does not anticipate any this waiver increasing the overall cost of the Program to the Federal Government.

10.  Anticipated waiver implementation date and time period:

Requested Start Date: upon approval

Requested End Date: December 31, 2022

11.  Proposed monitoring and review procedures:

TN DHS will follow the review procedures in accordance with 7 CFP 225.7(d). TN DHS will provide training and technical assistance to sponsors in need of additional guidance on serving non-congregate meals.

TN DHS will ensure SFSP application procedures are in accordance with USDA regulations and ensure sponsors submit adequate documents to support site eligibility. Approved SFSP sites and meal times will be listed in the SFSP application system.

12.  Proposed reporting requirements (include type of data and due date(s) to FNS):

The SA will provide to FNS a list of all approved SFSP Sponsors and sites participating in the waiver by December 31st of each year. The SA will provide to FNS the number of non-congregate meals served by sites participating in the waiver by December 31st of each year.

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