Health and Safety

Operations of cafeterias and other food services will operate in accordance with Interim Guidance for Food Services during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency with additional precautions for students that are contained herein, such as social distancing between students or cohorts of students.

Breakfast and lunch will likely be served in classrooms, to support social distancing and minimize interaction between groups of students. If the cafeteria must be used, schools must maintain appropriate physical distancing. During meals and snacks, students will be directed to not share food or beverages. Grab-and-go meals will be available for breakfast and lunch each day, though students will also be permitted to bring their own lunch if preferred.

Where relevant, grab-and-go meals will be delivered to students in 3K to K classrooms, and pickup points within the school will be designated for grades 1-12. Sufficient stations will be set up throughout the school building to accommodate the student population and avoid overcrowding. Signage will be provided to direct students to pick up points within the school for grades 1-12. 

Students who are not receiving in person instruction can pick up a lunch from their home school or an identified school building near their home.

After eating, staff will wipe down the area where they ate their meal with disinfectant wipes. Every evening, our Division of School Facilities will be cleaning the entire building with COVID 19 approved disinfectant. Students will be expected to clean their hands repeatedly throughout the day, including before and after meals/snacks. 

To reinforce students’ learning from the aforementioned health lessons, NYCDOE will provide PDFs of posters to each school to remind students of these important hygiene protocols and to not share food or beverages. NYCDOE will also provide additional PDFs of posters for schools to use as is appropriate for individual spaces, including directional signs.


NYCDOE takes allergies, food safety, and student health very seriously. We cannot guarantee a nut, milk or “allergen-free” environment, but we do have an “allergen aware” policy. Children with allergies become aware of what they can and cannot eat, and school staff members are alert and careful about each student’s allergies. 

The school nurse works with the parent and the child’s health care provider to create an allergy response plan for each child that needs one. If a child has severe allergies, we request that parents have health care providers complete the Medical Review for Severe Allergies form and complete an Allergy Response Plan.

In the case of a severe allergic reaction, the affected child is immediately given his/her prescribed medicine by trained school staff or a nurse, and school staff call 911 and contact the child’s parent and health care provider. In addition, the school nurse trains school staff members to enact the child’s allergy response plan in an emergency. 


All meals served to students will comply with the relevant Child Nutrition programs, including the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program. All grab and go meals, as well as any meals served in classrooms, will follow all relevant USDA nutritional and meal pattern requirements.

NYCDOE’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services is working closely with the SED Child Nutrition Office to ensure full adherence to USDA program accountability requirements. Particular attention is being given to the grab and go meals that will be served to students not attending school in person, ensuring appropriate measures are in place to guarantee that only meals served to enrolled students are claimed for reimbursement. 

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