Child Nutrition Program Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic, March through September 2020: School Meals Operations Study, Year 1 Report
- A significantly greater number of children received meals in summer of 2020 than in previous summers, and by September of 2020, child nutrition programs were serving more meals to more children.
- State agencies consistently reported that use of the COVID-19 Child Nutrition nationwide waivers improved services to children.
- Operators used a variety of new and alternative meal delivery methods and options to serve children.
- State agencies and local program operators more frequently used the COVID-19 Child Nutrition nationwide waivers for summer meals programs from March through September 2020.
The School Meals Operations Study (SMO) is part of an ongoing study series to assess school meal operations on a school-year basis. When the COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency began in March 2020, the scope of this study was modified to gather information about child nutrition program operations and the COVID-19 Child Nutrition nationwide waivers approved by the Food and Nutrition Service to provide States and local program operators with flexibilities to help them serve meals to children during the pandemic. This report describes key findings from the first year of the SMO, including findings related to child nutrition program participation and meals served, operational and financial challenges State agencies and local program operators experienced during the pandemic, and the use and effects of COVID-19 Child Nutrition nationwide waivers. Mathematica’s digital version of the report is available here.