Resources for Contracting Entities

We are in unprecedented times and communities around Texas are stepping up to meet the challenge of an ever-changing situation. This is particularly true of organizations working to address childhood hunger, and nowhere is this more evident than in the work being done by local school district child nutrition departments. Since you all are in the “trenches” you are doing what makes the most sense for you and the families you serve.

As conditions on the ground are changing constantly, many of you are enacting protocols and practices “on the fly” that will end up serving as Best Practices in our field for many years to come. And because you are all working to do the next best thing for your district, it can be challenging to look across the landscape to see what other districts are doing that may fit well for your community.

We recognize this challenge and are compiling a list of suggestions and best practices from our partners and school districts to help you be aware of what other districts are doing that may work well for your families in this time. These resources are compiled with an eye both to the health and safety of your communities, as well as to the efficient operation of your program.

Best Practices and Examples for Meal Delivery during COVID-19

Since school meals are considered an “Essential Business” under Shelter-In-Place orders, school districts can commit to maintaining operation of meal service through the duration of school closures. These are our recommendations for ways school districts can ease their workload and make this time easier for families:

  • Provide multiple meals on fewer distribution days for health and convenience of staff and the community in accordance with the following guidance from TDA (page 11, Question 23).

  • If transportation is an issue, school districts in rural areas can apply for Emergency Meals To You.

  • Provide delivery of meals where possible.

  • Partner with weekend backpack programs to distribute food at meal pickup sites during the week.

If you are forced to suspend meal service, please provide emergency food information on your website and social media channels. You can reference the Community Resources section of this site.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What waivers are currently available in Texas for operating SSO/SFSP during COVID-19?

The TDA has waivers and approval dates online. You can view Texas waivers here.

No Kid Hungry offers a resource for waivers across the United States.

  1. Where can I find guidance from the Texas Department of Agriculture to implement meal serviced during Coronavirus?

Please visit the TDA website here.

  1. Where can find more support on how to operate meal service?

No Kid Hungry has created a document they are continually editing called “Emerging Strategies and Tactics for Meal Service During School Closures Related to the Coronavirus”. This is a good place to start to learn the basic requirements. Some guidelines described in the document include:

  • How to communicate with your state agency

  • Staffing and Meal Preparation Tips

  • Meal & Menu Options

  • Meal Distribution

  • Record Keeping

A new document called "Planning for Emergencies and Ensuring Staff Safety: Tips for Maintaining Meal Service Operations During the Coronavirus" was created by No Kid Hungry. You can access it HERE.

The TDA also has a one-pager for "Serving Summer Meals During School Closures" that can be viewed here.

  1. Where can my organization find financial assistance for our meal program?

  1. How should my organization include qualifications or restrictions for the service provided?

TDA addresses the purpose and restrictions for Texas NSLP operators:

“Purpose: Allows NSLP, SBP, SFSP or SSO operators to provide meals to parents or guardians for children who are unable to be present at meal sites

• Requires TDA Approval before implementation? No

• **Form must be submitted before serving any parents without children present

• Expiration: June 30, 2020, or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier.”

Here is a compilation of examples for writing about different qualifications/guidelines. Click on the ISD name to follow the link.

- Age Qualifications (Dallas ISD):

“Meals are available to all children through the age of 18, and 19 years old if the child turns 19 during the current school year (on or after the first day of school), and to students with disabilities without regard to age.”

- Child Presence Required (Fort Worth ISD):

“Parents may not pickup meals for children at any of the now ten FWISD feeding locations without their children being present. Children, however, will be issued meals if they arrive unaccompanied.”

- Age & Child Presence Required (Fort Bend ISD)

“These meals are at no cost to anyone 18 and under and to students with disabilities without regards to age. Children do not need to be enrolled in Fort Bend ISD to get free breakfast and lunch, but all children will need to be present in order to pick up the meals.”

- Qualifications in both English and Spanish (San Antonio ISD)

Their website outlines qualifications in both English and Spanish.

- Age Qualification & Child Presence (The King’s Academy)

Any child can arrive at the Bridge Builder’s meal site daily for food. Children have to be present to receive food from the community partnership with Cornerstone Baptist Church. Food bags available for pickup with child present for their family every two weeks from Bonton Farms.

- Documentation Required (Plano ISD)

If the child is not present, acceptable documentation includes a

school-issued student ID, report card, birth certificate or the verification message that all parents will receive from the district.”

  1. What should a menu for the meals look like?

Dallas ISD and Waco ISD both have easy to read menus. Click on the ISD name to see their menus.

Some school districts are using social media to announce their weekly menu, while others are using the online menu portal to inform families of menus. Here are a few examples: Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Garland ISD

  1. How should my organization communicate where our meals sites are?

A map is the easiest way to include locations. Click here for an example from Austin ISD. Additionally, this website contains instructions to help your organization create its own map.

Infographics on Facebook Pages will give frequent updates of meal locations and times. Here are a few examples: Plano ISD, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD

  1. Where can my organization find support and ask questions from organizations that are also creating/running meal programs right now?

The Facebook group called “TIPS for School Meals That Rock” is a place where you can share tips, ask questions, and download resources. It was created for School Nutrition Professionals.

  1. Where can I find resources for proper safety during COVID-19?

CDC offers information on how to apply safe practices at home as well as at businesses.

Austin ISD created videos for their workers and volunteers to ensure proper safety at meal sites (#1, #2)

Common best practices found across the nation for meal distribution includes use of masks, gloves, sanitizing routines, minimizing exposure with fewer meal distribution days, and social distancing.

Denton ISD and Mesquite ISD use infographics or videos to communicate with community members picking up meals to ensure safety for everyone.

  1. What are the best ways to communicate with our community about the meal services we are providing?

- Social Media (Austin ISD, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD)

- Emails (The King’s Academy)

- Robo Calls or Text Messages (The King’s Academy, Austin ISD)

- School Websites

- Infographics to announce meal service status (Irving ISD)

  1. I have more questions that were not answered here. Where can I find answers?

No Kid Hungry has put together a document called “FAQs on Child Nutrition Program Options Available During School Closures Related to the Coronavirus”. Some covered topics include:

  • Waiver requirements and submission information

  • Operating under a “Shelter in Place” Order

  • Flexibility on new sponsoring organizations, meal procurement methods, and nutritional requirements.

For the most up-to-date information on waiver guidance from TDA please visit