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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Marshall

CACFP Emergency Funds California Update

The California Department of Education (CDE) sent out a follow up communication to program operators yesterday, February 17th, about the CACFP Emergency Operating Costs. See below:

On February 1, 2021, the California Department of Education (CDE) sent a listserv announcing the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) policy memo SP 06-2021, CACFP 05-2021 Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Emergency Operating Costs During COVID-19: Implementation Guidance for State Agencies. This follow-up communication provides additional information and background on these programs. Please note that state agencies submit the applications for these programs on behalf of program operators.

The CDE will apply for both the School Programs Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Program on behalf of all qualifying program operators in the state. You do not need to do anything at this time in order to participate in these programs.

The CDE Nutrition Services Division will continue to keep you apprised of our implementation plan for these programs and the timeline for funds disbursement during the monthly Town Hall updates, electronic communications, and additional stakeholder input opportunities.

Background The Consolidated Appropriations Act made funding available through state agencies to program operators of the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and the CACFP for the purposes of providing partial reimbursement for emergency operating costs incurred from mid-March through June 2020 due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

These funds will be provided through two temporary reimbursement programs: the School Programs Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Program and the CACFP Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Program. In most cases, reimbursement amounts are based on a proportion of the differences in monthly meal claims from mid-March through June 2020 as compared to the same time period in 2019; new operators will use an average of January and February meal claims in 2020 as the comparison period.

The reimbursement funds may be used to reimburse any local source of funding that was used to supplement the nonprofit school food service account (also known as the cafeteria fund) during the reimbursement period in order to offset the impact of pandemic operations. If reimbursement funds are accepted, the program operator must maintain documentation regarding the use of the reimbursement funds for future audit or oversight purposes. Any remaining funds must be deposited in the nonprofit school food service account and be used in accordance with normal program requirements.

To participate in these programs, only the CDE is required to submit a state agency application and an implementation plan, which will be reviewed and approved by the USDA FNS sometime in May 2021.

The USDA requires that funds for both programs be distributed to program operators by January 31, 2022, but can begin as early as June 2021. Additionally, to assist with the reporting requirements for these programs, all institutions receiving funds will be required to participate in a survey next year.

Contact Information If you have questions regarding this subject, please email the emergency cost reimbursement (ECR) email at

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