Child Nutrition

SCHOOL MEALS DURING COVID-19

Advocates, school districts and child program providers continue to assist families who rely on free and reduced-price school meals to keep hunger at bay. Many schools are operating the Seamless Summer Option, which allows all children to eat for free. Others continue to package meals that can be picked up or distributed to families who need the support. Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) was extended by Congress and will continue to be an important support to families until September 2022.

Pandemic EBT

Families of children who receive free or reduced-price school meals or attend a Community Eligibility Provision school may be eligible for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program (P-EBT) to help alleviate missed school meals during the pandemic. No application is necessary. 

For more information on school nutrition, click here.   

RESOURCES

Ensuring Access to the Child Nutrition Programs in the Event of School Closures: Click here 

Tennessee Department of Education: Click here 

SNAP Resource Toolkit

WHAT ARE SUMMER MEALS?

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides free nutritious meals and snacks to low-income children (ages 18 and under) during June, July and August when school is not in session. This federally funded nutrition program helps fill the nutrition gap for low income children who depend on free or reduced-price school lunch and breakfast during the school year.

FIND SUMMER MEALS NEAR YOU

Meals and snacks are served at community sites across the state, including schools, community centers, parks, and libraries. You can find summer meal sites in your area by:

  • Visiting kidsfoodfinder.org
  • Calling 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE
  • Texting “Summer Meals” to 97779

SUMMER MEALS AND COVID-19

SFSP also operates during the school year during unanticipated school closures and is currently filling a crucial role during the COVID-19 pandemic as schools shut down and operate remotely to promote social distancing.

If you are a summer meal sponsor, you can provide meals to children during the pandemic. Learn more and contact DHS by email at TNSFSP.DHS@tn.gov or by phone at (615) 313-4749.

The USDA has issued a number of waivers to ensure that sponsors in good standing can continue to provide meals to children while adapting to the restrictions and needs of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These waivers include:

  • Non-Congregate Feeding: Effective through June 30, 2021, sponsors can serve to-go meals or provide meal delivery to participants. Sponsors are encouraged to utilize these options and avoid large gatherings for food distribution. Sponsors can begin operating under this waiver immediately and do not need to submit paperwork to TN DHS for approval.
  • Meal Service Time Waiver: Effective through June 30, 2021, sponsors are no longer required to serve their meals at a certain time apart from one another. Sponsors may now serve up to a week’s worth of meals at one time. Sponsors may begin operating under this waiver immediately and do not need to submit paperwork to TN DHS for approval.
  • Parent Pick-Up: Effective through June 30, 2021, parents and guardians can pick up meals on behalf of their eligible children.
  • Area Eligibility Waiver: Effective through June 30, 2021, states can continue operating open summer meals sites in areas where less than 50% of the children in the area qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

If you have questions about what these waivers mean for your community or you want to get involved, please email Signe Anderson at sanderson@tnjustice.org.

TAKE ACTION

  • Find a site in your area and share this site locator with others: Site Locator 
  • You can provide meals if you are a Summer Meals Sponsor. Contact DHS to get signed up. Email: TNSFSP.DHS@tn.gov
    Phone: (615) 313-4749 
  • Contact nutrition@tnjustice.org to share stories about your meal site that is operating during the pandemic.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

SFSP

TN DHS 

  • DHS applied to waive the area eligibility requirement: Click here
  • DHS applies to let SFSP sites to waive the non-congregate meal option, allowing children to pick up meal or allowing sponsors to deliver meals to children: Click here 

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