Summer Waivers
Summer Mandate Waiver  Minimize 

Important Notice
Texas Schools that are mandated to offer a Summer Meals Program under Texas Agriculture Code must operate a School Meals Program or seek a waiver from TDA by January 31, 2020 . Schools that did not seek a waiver prior to the January 31st deadline must still offer a Summer Meals Program for at least 30 operating days this summer.

Meals served under SSO/SFSP from unanticipated school closures due to COVID-19 do not count towards the 30 operating day requirement. The 30 operating day requirement must occur during the time schools are recessed for the summer; meals served due to COVID-19 that closed unexpectedly do not meet this requirement.

Public school food authorities (SFA) in which 50% or more of the enrolled children are eligible to receive free or reduced meal benefits in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) must choose an option of either:
  • Operating a Summer Nutrition Program directly as a sponsor, either the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or Seamless Summer Option (SSO), for at least 30 calendar days; or
  • Partnering or collaborating with another organization or SFA for the operation of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to ensure meal service for children in their district for at least 30 calendar days during the summer recess; or
  • Requesting and receiving a waiver approval from TDA for participation in a summer nutrition program and assist TDA in identifying an alternate provider to the SFA. If requesting a waiver, state law requires the board of trustees to send written notice of the district's intention to the district's local school health advisory council no later than November 30, 2019.  The notice must include an explanation of the district's reason for requesting a waiver of the requirement.

Notification must be made in TX-UNPS through the SNP > Applications > Texas Summer Mandate application. The Summer Mandate form is available November 1 through January 31.

TDA notifies school districts required to operate a Summer Nutrition Program no later than October 31 of each year preceding the summer season by providing email notification to their district Superintendent and Child Nutrition Director. 

Summer Mandate Waiver Process

Documentation support must be explained in TX-UNPS and provided to TDA if requested.

1. Fewer than 100 children in the SFA are eligible for free or reduced-price meals

· TDA will verify this information based on March claims from the most recent school year.

· No documentation is required.

2. Transportation is an insurmountable obstacle to program operations

· Documentation is required detailing the insurmountable barriers related to transportation that prevent children from accessing meal sites, and the consultation made with public transit providers.

· Examples of the type of information that is considered when evaluating a transportation waiver include:

· The number of students that are located outside of walking distance from the meal sites, their ages and how far they have to walk

· Location of sidewalks and crosswalks in the routes that children take to access the meal sites

· Safety hazards children would be forced to encounter between the homes and meal sites (major highways, construction sites)

· Availability of public transportation

· In addition, please include in your documentation the following:

· Number of free/reduced children enrolled in your district

· Does your district offer summer school? If so, how many children attend?

3. SFA is unable to operate the summer nutrition program due to renovation or construction within the SFA and an appropriate alternative site is not available:

· Documentation is required showing that the district is unable to provide or arrange for the provision of a program due to renovation or construction of district facilities and the unavailability of an appropriate alternate provider or site.

· Your documentation should include:

· What construction will occur and why this prevents you from operating the program

· Paperwork demonstrating the planned construction, dates and locations of construction

· Explanation of why no other nearby campuses or facilities would serve as an alternative site

4. SFA is unable to operate the summer nutrition program due to other extenuating circumstances:

· If an SFA operates NSLP in a year-round program, this option is an appropriate reason for a waiver request. An explanation should be included in the comment box.

· Documentation is required showing that the district is unable to provide the program due to another extenuating circumstance, and that there is not an appropriate alternate site or provider available.

· Do not combine multiple waivers and submit them as an alternative circumstance.

5. SFA is unable to operate a summer nutrition program because the project is cost-prohibitive

· Projected operational expenses for the summer feeding program exceed the expected federal reimbursements plus one month of the school food services' three months operating expenses on hand

· Documentation is required showing that the cost to the district to provide or arrange for the program would be cost-prohibitive (see next section for more detail).


Determine if operating the program is cost-prohibitive

An SFA’s operation of a Summer Nutrition Program will be deemed cost-prohibitive if the projected operational expenses for the program are greater than the sum of the expected federal reimbursements plus one month of the school food services' allowable three months operating expenses on hand.

Expenses for Operation > Expected Reimbursement + 1 Month of Operating Expenses on Hand

To validate that operation of a Summer Nutrition Program is cost-prohibitive, an SFA must provide a summary document which outlines the below information:

1. Projected Summer Nutrition Program budget for program year

· Based on number of expected participants; and

· Estimate the cost to operate the program for one month by estimating the number of children to participate, cost of staff, food, utilities, etc.

2. Expected federal reimbursements from operating the program

· Estimated participation x reimbursement rate

3. Financial statements supporting the calculation of the food service department’s three month operating expense balance, including:

· Current fund balance

· Current year’s total operating expenses; and

· Net cash resources are below two months net cash reserves

4. Include a written explanation of efforts made to attempt partnership with another SFA to operate a Summer Nutrition Program in their district or arrange for another entity for SFSP operation, including:

· Contacting local field operations office; and

· Two or more other entities to discuss potential partnership.

Note: Do not calculate the cost of transporting children to the site. Transportation is not a requirement to operate the program.

All additional documents and questions should be submitted to TDA via email:


Additional Information

If a SFA declares to operate the SSO or SFSP, a program application must be completed for the program application chosen. The Texas Summer Mandate form is NOT the Summer Nutrition Program Application.

· To apply for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), please visit and click on “How can I participate in SFSP?” 

· To apply for the Seamless Summer Option (SSO), please complete and submit the “SSO Site Application” screen in TX-UNPS.

Both SFSP and SSO must be operated for a minimum of 30 calendar days.

If you request a waiver you must identify at least two other organizations, contact them to discuss helping feed children in need and identify them as a potential alternate provider on the mandate form.

Important Dates

October 31: TDA notifies districts required to operate a Summer Nutrition Program
November 1: The Summer Mandate form opens in TX-UNPS

January 31: the deadline to submit the Texas Summer Mandate form and supporting documentation. All waiver requests must be made by January 31 in order to be considered.

April 1: If partnering with another SFA, deadline to submit notification of partnership for summer program operation.

May 31: deadline for SFA’s to make any changes to the Summer Mandate form to offer SSO, SFSP and Partnering with another SFA.

Summer Cost Report

All mandated SFA’s, who did not receive a waiver, must submit their district’s summer operating costs into TX-UNPS by October 9 after the completion of summer feeding (even if the cost is $0 from partnering). This information is known as the “Summer Cost Report” and can be submitted in TX-UNPS by accessing the School Nutrition Programs module. From the Applications screen, click on Summer Nutrition Program Costs link, and select the appropriate school year.
Reporting $0 cost: If you partnered or collaborated with another SFA or entity, and did not incur any costs, you must still report your district’s summer operating costs by entering the operating cost as $.01 in TX-UNPS.

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Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410
Fax: (202) 690-7442; or
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Texas Department of Agriculture

Commissioner Sid Miller