Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Welcome to School Year 2020–21 - CA Dept of Education

Welcome to School Year 2020–21 - Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

Welcome to School Year 2020–21 

Dear Superintendent, Chief Business Official, and Food Service Director:

Welcome Back to School

On behalf of the entire California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD) team, I am sending my sincere appreciation and gratitude to each of you as you wrap up your summer meal service operations during COVID-19 and embrace the new 2020–2021 school year. During this past year, you stepped up to the plate in unprecedented times. As we look ahead, I fully realize there is still uncertainty in how COVID-19 will affect schools and meal service operations. However, I am confident that with your “can do” spirit and working together as a school nutrition community, we will overcome the obstacles and figure out solutions so California’s students have access to school meals.
On June 8, 2020, the CDE released Stronger Together: A Guide for Safe Reopening of California's Schools, available on the CDE Stronger Together web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/strongertogether.asp. We encourage you to review Stronger Together with your management and leadership teams for safety considerations and recommended practices in the areas of health and hygiene, cleaning and sanitation, meal preparation, meal service, and communications with students and families.
As state and local mandates resulting from COVID-19 continue to evolve and food service operations are likely to transition to various models during the year, I am continually impressed with your ability to quickly pivot to develop and implement multiple school meals plans. For all student feeding scenarios, there are several critical commonalities:
  • Comply with local, state, and national guidance related to COVID-19, food handling, and food service.
  • Consider designating a COVID-19 Coordinator for Food Service Operations—this position is paramount to ensuring safe practices for hygiene, cleaning and sanitation, food preparation, and food service are followed.
  • Follow the guidance of the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program—count and claim meals based on student eligibility and complete free and reduced-price meal applications (unless operating under one of the provisions); follow the guidance for the respective meal patterns.
  • Maintain confidentiality of participants.
  • Engage both internal and external partners including school, district, and County Office of Education. They can support the success of your school foodservice program in a variety of ways. External partners can help you enhance the services you may provide and assist with communication to families in need.
  • Put safety first in all decisions.
As we learn from each other through our School Town Hall meetings, the CDE continues to pursue waivers and extensions to support your work in adapting to different food service models. We will also continue to provide information and resources as we have heard from many of you that these have been helpful in promoting rapid and successful shifts in your food service operations. We encourage you to bookmark the CDE COVID-19 Guidance for K–12 Schools and Child and Adult Day Care Meals web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/schoolmeals.asp for timely news and links to helpful resources.
Please accept our heartfelt appreciation for your dedication to promoting food security among students, families, and communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of your great work, local educational agencies are now widely identified not only as institutions of learning, but also as critical agents in the fight against hunger.
In the spirit of collaboration, respect, accountability, integrity, and making a positive difference,
Kim Frinzell, Director
Nutrition Services Division
Welcome to School Year 2020–21 - Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)