You are here

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.


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. 

Resources and Documentation: 


Programs available to feed youth during an emergency

When schools face unanticipated closures that prevent children from receiving educational instruction and the nutritious meals they would normally receive, sponsors may choose to operate the Summer Food Service Program or the NSLP Seamless Summer Option to help ensure children continue to receive meals.

This chart (PDF) shows how NSLP, SSO, and SFSP compare. 

CDE's School Nutrition Unit has administered the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Emergency Feeding efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic. CDE was allocated funding through the CARES Act for all meal reimbursement starting in March 2020. The new federal stimulus bill distributes emergency relief funds to school meal programs based on a formula that takes into account the level of reimbursement a program received in 2019 and the reimbursement received during the pandemic.


Tools and Guidance


USDA Information