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Emergency Feeding

Emergency feeding

School Food Authorities (SFAs) and other child nutrition program sponsors can serve free meals to children in the event of an unanticipated school closure, extreme weather event, natural disaster, or other similar situation. It is highly recommended that SFAs and sponsors develop an Emergency Readiness Plan to ensure a rapid and efficient response if an emergency situation arises.


Information will be updated as soon as new information arises. Please refer to the following websites for more information about COVID-19:

Medical icon in red representing COVID-19


For students and families

Para estuidantes y las familias en espanol 

Getting school meals while schools are closed

As school districts across Colorado announce school closures to help minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Colorado Department of Education is working to mitigate food insecurity among youth. Families are encouraged to check with their local school district for the school meal sites available in their communities. Additionally, households that qualify can receive USDA Food packages through USDA Foods household programs. View Hunger Free Colorado's COVID-19 site for additional resources.

Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) 

Recent federal law to support COVID-19 relief created the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program as an important nutritional resource to families who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals as schools across Colorado closed in response to COVID-19. P-EBT provides households with an EBT card funded with the value of the free school breakfast and lunch reimbursement rates for the days that schools have been closed in March, April and May, which equals $5.70 per day. View the Colorado Department of Human Service's webpage for frequently asked questions about P-EBT. 

For district templates and resources, please visit the School Meal Eligibility webpage

Connecting People to Food Access Programs 

To help meet the need of connecting people to food, the Blueprint to End Hunger developed a small suite of free marketing materials. Visit the Blueprint to End Hunger website to find full color and easy-to-print flyers explaining the variety of food programs available and how to connect people to these programs. Social media content is also available. This content can be shared with your school communities.

COVID-19 and Public Charge

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued clarification encouraging all individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 to seek; treatment and testing. Such treatment or preventative services will not negatively affect future public charge determinations.

Locations of School Feeding Sites

Use the tool below or view the map online.


For school districts and sponsors

View School Nutrition Waivers

These waivers allow flexibility to the child nutrition program requirements allowing sponsors to continue to feed children while promoting social distancing and keeping families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pursuant to the COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response Act (the Act) (H.R. 6201, Title II), and based on the exceptional circumstances of this public health emergency, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) established nationwide waivers that allow flexibility to the child nutrition program requirements. School Nutrition is approved for all waivers.

Back-to-School Resources 

Visit the back-to-school section on the NSLP page for resources related to planning back-to-school operations. 

Resources and Documentation: 


Programs available to feed youth during an emergency

During unanticipated school closures, child nutrition program sponsors may determine that operating the SFSP and/or NSLP Seamless Summer Option (SSO) is a feasible option. If sponsors are approved to serve meals during unanticipated closures through the SFSP or SSO, applicable program requirements apply and meals are reimbursed at the appropriate free rates. 

For questions about feeding youth during an emergency, email our team at emergencyfeeding@cde.state.co.us for assistance.

CACFP is available at emergency shelters providing temporary housing for displaced families. Contact Naomi Steenson at CDPHE to provide emergency feeding through CACFP.


Emergency Feeding Claiming

All meals served through Emergency Feeding in response to COVID-19 are NOT to be claimed in the Colorado Child Nutrition Hub. Only submit meals served during normal operations in March using the Colorado Child Nutrition Hub. All emergency feeding site claims must be consolidated and submitted under one sponsor level claim submission via a SmartSheet form sent to the main contact listed in the emergency feeding sponsor application. Please contact Free&ReducedPriceSchoolMeals@cde.state.co.us with all claiming questions.


Available Funding Opportunities

Colorado COVID-19 Emergency Hunger Relief Fund

The Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger has partnered with a number of local funders to respond to hunger needs and are pleased to share that the Request for Application for the Colorado COVID-19 Emergency Hunger Relief Fund is now live. Please note the turnaround for this RFA is quick; applications will open each week on Monday and close on Wednesday of the same week.

For more information and to apply, visit the CO Blueprint to End Hunger’s webpage.

Dairy MAX and Denver Broncos

Schools can receive up to $3000.00 in grant funding. View grant details and the application here.

Coronavirus Grant Request through No Kid Hungry

School Food Authorities (SFAs) and nonprofit organizations can apply for emergency grants through No Kid Hungry. The grants support these organizations in their efforts to ensure kids get the nutritious food they need. Please complete the information No Kid Hungry requests online, and they will be in touch with instructions if your organization is eligible for funding.

For questions, contact grantshelpdesk@strength.org or call 800-969-4767.

Apply for the emergency meal distribution equipment grant though Action for Healthy Kids

School districts currently feeding students at schools or other sites are eligible to apply for an equipment grant offering a $1000 to $2000 credit when districts purchase equipment through Hubert. Grant applications are currently live and priority will be given to school districts in the Fort Morgan area, though all Colorado school districts providing emergency feeding are encouraged to apply. View additional grant opportunities from Action for Healthy Kids and apply today!

For questions, contact Ellen Dillon at edillon@actionforhealthykids.org

Building Excellent Schools Today Emergency Grant 

The Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Emergency Grant provides funding for public school facility emergencies. If an unanticipated event renders a significant portion or the entirety of a public school facility unusable for educational purposes, or if such poses an imminent threat to the health or safety of the persons using the public school facility, that school may be eligible for a BEST Emergency Grant. For more information, contact Andy Stine.

If funding is received, please follow cash donation guidance.


Using Vended Meals for Emergency Feeding

SFAs and schools that are not able to prepare meals during a school closure may consider purchasing vended meals to serve. Vended meals are unitized, reimbursable meals that may be purchased with or without milk. Vended meals must be purchased from a CO Registered Meal Vendor (PDF), and SFAs/schools must submit the Vended Meals Emergency Agreement (DOC) to Megan Johnson for approval.

CO COVID-19 Retail Food Establishment Public Health Order

COVID-19 Public Health Order 20-22 (PDF) from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment applies to retail food establishments including SFAs and sponsors offering meals to children. The goal of the order is to minimize in-person interaction to decrease transmission of COVID-19. The steps focus on avoiding congestion of people and implementing heightened food safety practices. For questions, contact Troy Huffman at 303-692-3664.


Tools and Guidance


USDA Information