top of page
  • Writer's pictureSamantha Marshall

CDC Provides Updated COVID-19 Guidance for ECE...including Food Service and Meals

Today, July 9th, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines for early childhood and K-12 school settings. Find them here. See below for highlights.

Food Service and Meals

  • Maximize physical distance as much as possible between people who are not fully vaccinated while eating (especially indoors). When possible, consider using additional spaces for mealtime seating, including eating meals and snacks outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces whenever possible.

  • Given very low risk of transmission from food, food packaging, surfaces and shared objects, there is no need to limit food service operations to single use items and packaged meals.

  • People should wash hands with soap and water before and after family style meals.

  • Clean frequently touched surfaces. Surfaces that come in contact with food should be washed and sanitized before and after meals.

  • Promote hand washing before, during and after shifts, before and after eating, after using the toilet, and after handling garbage, dirty dishes, or removing gloves.

  • Improve ventilation in food preparation, service, and eating areas.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued several Child Nutrition COVID-19 Waivers.

Key Takeaways

  • Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination among eligible individuals can help Early Care and Education (ECE) programs protect staff and children in their care, as well as their families.

  • Most ECE programs serve children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered COVID-19 prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together) to protect children and adults who are not fully vaccinated.

  • COVID-19 prevention strategies remain critical to protect people, including children and staff, who are not fully vaccinated, especially in areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels.

  • Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (ages 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. ECE settings may implement universal mask use in some situations, such as if they serve a population not yet eligible for vaccination or if they have increasing, substantial, or high COVID-19 transmission in their ECE program or community.

  • Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, the occurrence of outbreaks, and local policies and regulations to guide decisions on the use of layered prevention strategies.

Summary of Recent Changes

Updates as of July 9, 2021

  • Updated the guidance for mask use and physical distancing for fully vaccinated people. Generally, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

  • Expanded the guidance for how organizations can promote vaccinations among staff and families.

  • Updated the guidance for outdoor mask use among people who are not fully vaccinated. Generally, people can be outdoors without masks.

  • Added information on health equity.

Have you reinstated family meal style service in your programs? Do you have more questions? Let us know below or email me


More from the CACFP Roundtable


The CACFP Roundtable is committed to fostering a community of leaders who work together to build equitable access to the Child and Adult Care Food Program and nutritious meals in care settings. Your support goes toward programs and advocacy that help us get closer to ensuring everyone has the right to nutritious meals and making the CACFP an even better Food Program for all.

298 views0 comments


bottom of page