Minnesota’s PreK-12 public schools may serve meals to students during the current COVID-19 closure for planning through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) applied for a waiver through USDA and was approved to allow schools to temporarily implement non-congregate dining. View the federal guidelines and FAQ.

Who’s Eligible

The COVID-19 waiver is targeted to children who attend schools that have been dismissed due to COVID-19. However, in eligible areas, meals may be served to all children 18 and under in the household if at least one child attends the dismissed school.

  • Schools districts and sites with over 50 percent Free & Reduce Eligibility (FRE) can serve 100 percent of the students in that area.
  • Schools districts and sites with fewer than 50 percent FRE need to be sure to target FRE students in their service area, but all students are eligible to be served at no charge.

Meal Guidelines

The meals must meet the regular menu planning requirements of the SFSP. Offer versus serve (OVS) will not apply and all meals must be unitized, meaning a complete reimbursable meal that meets the requirements of the menu planning method used, including milk, must be distributed. Shelf-stable milk may be used. USDA commodity foods may also be used. If availability of milk or other meal components becomes an issue, FNS will work with the State agency to provide the needed waivers or flexibility.

Number of Meals

The maximum number of meals that schools may offer remains the same as under SFSP: up to two meals (breakfast and lunch), or one meal and one snack, per child, per day.

No Advanced Funding

This is a meal reimbursement program, but meal count can be by tally sheet or clicker. Meals do not need to be tied to student PINS.  There is no advance funding at this time. MDE may seek that from the Minnesota legislature as part of a COVID-19 funding package, but that is unknown and still developing.

Next Steps for Schools

The National School lunch program does not allow for non-congregate dining.  In order to provide nutrition during this planning period and beyond March 30 should schools be closed, schools must apply to participate in SFSP.  Districts that participated in SFSP in 2019 will have a shorter application process.

Your district School Service Administrators (SFA) will be key to this effort. Here is a look at the process:

  • SFA applies for a waiver.
  • MDE approves the waiver.
  • SFA applies in CLiCS in year 2020 for SFSP for March and April.
  • MDE approves the CLiCS sign up.
  • MDE will back date applications to March 16 if you have been serving meals since Monday.
  • Should the school closure extend into May, SFA needs to apply in April through CLiCS for May and into the summer months.


View the federal guidelines and FAQ. (March 16, 2020)

MDE conducted a webinar with more details:

We encourage you to send questions to our general email at mde.fns@state.mn.us.

For specific questions, please email mde.fns@state.mn.us  In the subject line, please use of these three subjects to help MDE nutrition staff.  Staff are assigned to reply to these three topics:

  • COVID19
  • CLiCS COVID19 application questions
  • Operational Questions

Stay tuned for more information on how to provide meals for children for whom schools are providing child care during the school closures for COVID-19.

Stay Connected

Stay apprised of resources and news on COVID-19 for schools at: MREAvoice.org/covid19