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 Administrative Update: A Publication of Child Nutrition and Food Distribution
 

In this Issue
January 2014

98% Six-Cent Certified!!

Back-to-School Workshops for 2014: Save the Date!

Community Eligibility Provision for School Nutrition Programs

2012 Direct Certification Report to Congress:
State Progress on Implementation of the National School Lunch Program

Expand Your Summer Food Service Program

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Balances

New Paid Lunch Equity (PLE) calculations recently released

Reminder: Site Monitoring Due February 1st!

Revenue Requirements for  Non-program Foods

SFSP Fall Policy Memos Released

 

 

 

98% Six-Cent Certified!

North Dakota has 205 of our 210 school districts 6-cent certified with our New Meal Pattern.  It has been an extremely challenging year and a half. Thank you for all the hard work and adapting to the changes. We are very proud of all of our schools.

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Back-to-School Workshops for 2014: Save the Date!

We will be offering Back-to-School Workshops, (BTSW) in four locations – Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot - in August 2014. The workshops will cover many different and interesting topics. Mark your calendars and plan to attend one of these workshops:

  • August 5 in Minot
  • August 6 in Fargo
  • August 7 in Grand Forks
  • August 12 in Bismarck

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Community Eligibility Provision for School Nutrition Programs

Beginning in School Year 2014-2015, schools serving large numbers of low-income children will be able to participate in the Community Eligibility provision for reimbursement of meals served through the USDA National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. Community Eligibility allows schools with high numbers of low-income children to serve free breakfast and lunch to all students without collecting school meal applications. This option increases participation by children in the school meal programs, while schools reduce labor costs and increase their federal revenues, allowing for a healthier student body and a healthier school meal budget.

How it Works

  • Schools in high-poverty areas provide free breakfasts and lunches to all students without collecting applications or tracking eligibility in the cafeteria.
  • A formula based on the number of students certified without the need for paper applications (called “Identified Students”) is the basis for reimbursements instead of paper applications.
  • Any school building can use this option when 40 percent or more students are certified for free meals without a paper application based on their status as in foster care, Head Start, homeless, migrant, or living in households that receive SNAP/Food Stamps, TANF cash assistance or FDPIR benefits.
  • The reimbursement rate for both lunch and breakfast is determined by multiplying the percent of Identified Students by 1.6. The resulting number is the percent of meals reimbursed at the “free” reimbursement rate, with the rest being reimbursed at the “paid” rate. For example, a school with 50 percent Identified Students would be reimbursed at the free rate for 80 percent of the breakfasts and lunches it served (50 x 1.6 = 80) and the remaining 20 percent would be reimbursed at the paid rate.
  • Participating schools are guaranteed to receive the same reimbursement rate (or a higher one if the level of direct certification increases) for 4 years.
  • “Community eligibility” is currently being offered in 11 states – and the early results show that it improves participation in the school meal programs. A new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Food Research and Action Center found that, in schools that have participated in community eligibility for two years, lunch participation increased by 13 percent and breakfast participation increased by 25 percent. 

Benefits

  • All students receive all meals at no charge.
  • Paperwork for schools and families is dramatically reduced. Families no longer have to complete applications, and schools no longer have to certify individual student eligibility which also eliminates the verification process.
  • School meal service is streamlined. School meal staff no longer collect payments or do individual student counting and claiming. They simply count total meals served and assure that each student only receives one meal at the point of service.
  • Universal (free) meals make it easier for schools to implement alternative meal service such as “grab and go” and breakfast in the classroom.

DPI will notify all schools that are eligible to participate in the Community Eligibility option by April 15, 2014.  Schools will be able to sign up for Community Eligibility during the School Nutrition Program renewal process in July 2014.

Contact Linda Schloer at lkschloer@nd.gov for more information regarding Community Eligibility.

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2012 Direct Certification Report to Congress:
State Progress on Implementation of the National School Lunch Program

The USDA released the 2012 Direct Certification Report to Congress on December 6, 2013.  Direct Certification is the process of identifying students eligible for free meals at school by matching school enrollment data to state SNAP eligibility data.  This significantly reduces the time and effort needed to collect and determine free/reduced price applications and ensures that eligible students receive free meal benefits without delay.  In 2010 North Dakota implemented a state developed system, which is part of STARS.  Since implementation, the North Dakota system has proven to be highly successful and USDA has collected “best practice” information about the system to share with states that are developing Direct Certification systems.   In SY 2013 North Dakota ranked second in the nation in Direct Certification (Alaska ranked first). 

Additional information is available on the USDA website:   

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Expand Your Summer Food Service Program

Kids need nutritious and satisfying meals the entire summer. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was created to ensure that children in low-income areas continue to receive nutritious meals during school vacations when they do not have access to school lunch or breakfast. Please consider providing meals by extending your existing Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) program to run until school begins in the fall. Consider partnering with an organization in your area to assist in providing the program June-August. Contact Kaye Knudson in our office for more information, and to see if your school qualifies for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

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Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Balances

The NDFoods system is not keeping a “remaining” balance for you. This calculation is not built into the system. You can go into claim history and you can see what has been paid out in claims. Keep a running total of what you are spending and subtract it from your grant balance. If you have questions call Kaye Knudson at 701-328-2275.

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New Paid Lunch Equity (PLE) calculations recently released

Section 205 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requires schools participating in the National School Lunch Program ensure that schools are providing the same level of financial support for lunches served to paid students as they are to students who are eligible for free lunches.

Each year schools must review their paid lunch revenue to assure compliance with the paid lunch equity requirement, also known as PLE. When the school’s average paid lunch price is less than the difference between the current free and paid federal reimbursement rates, the school would be noncompliant and therefore must determine how they will meet the requirement. Schools have the option of increasing their average paid lunch price or providing funds from non-federal sources.

For SY 2014-2015, schools which, on average, charged less than $2.65 for paid lunches in SY 2013-2014 are required to increase their average price or provide additional non-federal funds to the non-profit school food service account. We cannot require schools to increase prices more than 10 cents per year; however, you are free to increase prices as high as necessary. Some schools have elected to raise prices 25 cents every other year. The additional increase may be carried forward to the next school years(s) to meet the PLA requirements. Schools must keep sufficient records to document and carry forward the average price calculations.

To determine the new price, schools must calculate an adjusted average paid lunch price. The adjusted average price is the average price charged in 2013/2014 increased by two percentage points above the inflation rate and may be rounded down to the nearest 5 cents. For school year 2014/2015, the inflation factor is 2.27 percent. Combined with the required 2 percent increase, the total required increase is 4.27 percent. Schools must add on any calculated pricing increase from last year that was rounded down.

USDA has a PLE tool that will calculate the required increases and keep track of any amounts carried forward. An updated PLE tool will be issued soon by the Food and Nutrition Services to help calculate the required amount of non-federal funds or the amount of paid lunch increase.

If you have any questions about calculating prices, please contact Deb Egeland at degeland@nd.gov or 1-888-338-3663 or 701-328-3718.

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Reminder: Site Monitoring Due February 1st!

Sponsors with more than one site must complete an on-site review for each site prior to February 1, 2014. Each on-site review must ensure the school’s claim is based on the counting system, as implemented, and yields the actual number of reimbursable free, reduced price, and paid lunches, respectively, served for each day of operation.

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Revenue Requirements for  Non-program Foods

One of the provisions in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization – Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010- established requirements for school food authorities (SFAs) to earn revenue from foods sold outside of reimbursable meals when those foods are purchased with school food service account funds.

The USDA Policy Memo 30-2011 provides background, Questions and Answers, and an Excel-based tool with user instructions that SFAs may use to determine the amount of revenue they must receive from non-program foods to comply.

The National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI) also has a resource on non-program food pricing and school food service account management. pdf

However, please note that SFAs should ensure they comply with the requirements of section 206 when using any outside resource.

Q&A
Some of the questions and answers addressed in  the memo are:

Q: What is the purpose of the revenue from non-program foods provisions?
A:
To ensure that revenues from the sales of non-program foods generate at least the same proportion of SFA revenues as they contribute to SFA food costs.

Q: What is considered a non-program food?
A:
For the purposes of this provision, a non-program food is a food (including beverages) that is sold in a participating school other than a reimbursable meal and is purchased using funds from the school food service account of the school.

Q: What is considered revenue?
A: Revenue is all money that is provided to the nonprofit school food service account.

Q: How does a SFA determine the “cost to obtain” a non-program food?
A:
The cost to obtain a non-program food includes only the cost of the food. If a non-program food were made from scratch, the SFA would determine the price of ingredients to calculate the food cost. The SFA should not include labor or other costs in this calculation. This same principle applies to calculating program food costs for the purpose of this provision.

Q: How does a SFA determine whether it complies with the Revenue from Non-program Foods Sold in Schools provision?
A:
The SFA would determine its total food cost and the proportion of that total that is non-program food. The SFA would then calculate the share of total revenue generated from non-program food sales over the same period. If the second figure is at least as great as the first figure, then the SFA is generating sufficient revenue from non-program food sales.

Q: Can an SFA price some non-program foods lower than their actual cost?
A:
Yes, as long as the total revenue generated from all non-program food sales meets the proportional requirement described above

Q: What period of time should be included in the calculations?
A:
Generally, the SFA uses the revenue and costs for a school year to calculate revenue targets.

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SFSP Fall Policy Memos Released

The fall release of the summer policy memoranda are summarized below and the full versions are available for your review.

SFSP:01-2014 Sponsors Operating in Multiple States: REISSUED
- Affects SFSP
Clarifies that sponsors may participate in any State, regardless of where the sponsor is located. Clarifies that State agency staff must not be required to travel out of State in order to monitor a sponsor not located within their State. Therefore, sponsors located out of State must make requested materials available in the State where the sponsor’s sites are located in order to facilitate State agency monitoring activities.

SFSP:02-2014 Mobile Feeding Options
- Affects SSO of NSLP and SFSP
Provides guidance on the use of mobile feeding model and covers a range of topics sponsors should consider, as well as non-FNS government funding opportunities available.

SFSP:03-2014 Use of School and Census Data
- Affects SSO of NSLP, CACFP+ SFSP
Consolidates guidance from several memos touching on availability of census and school data, prioritization of data, and duration of area eligibility. At the discretion of both the CACFP and SFSP State agencies, in situations where data from a more recent month in the school year is available and would establish area eligibility for an otherwise ineligible location, school data from that month could be used to establish area eligibility. Additionally, this memorandum amends this policy to now allow the use of either school or census data as the primary source of data for applicable area eligibility determinations in the CACFP.

SFSP 04-2014: Promoting Nutrition in Summer Meals
- Affects SSO and SFSP
Highlights existing policies and procedures that can assist with serving more nutritious meals that appeal to children.

SFSP 05-2014: Use of School and Census Data
- Affects SSO of NSLP + SFSP
Consolidates guidance from several memos touching on availability of census and school data, prioritization of data, and duration of area eligibility. At the discretion of both the CACFP and SFSP State agencies, in situations where data from a more recent month in the school year is available and would establish area eligibility for an otherwise ineligible location, school data from that month could be used to establish area eligibility. Additionally, this memorandum amends this policy to now allow the use of either school or census data as the primary source of data for applicable area eligibility determinations in the CACFP.

SFSP 06-2014: Transitioning from At Risk Afterschool to Summer Meals
- Affects CACFP + SFSP
Highlights all streamlined provisions applicable to organizations serving children during the school year that wish to continue meal service in the summer months.

SFSP 07-2014: Expanding Awareness and Access to the Summer Food Service Program
- Affects SSO and SFSP
Clarifies and provides general guidance on regulatory and policy requirements in SFSP and SSO related to expanding awareness and access to the programs. This memorandum also highlights resources available to States and sponsors for conducting their required expansion efforts.

SFSP 08-2014: Meal Service Requirements in the Summer Food Service Program
- Affects SSO, SFSP
Consolidates guidance from several earlier memos addressing meal times, meal types, adult meals, OVS, leftovers, and the traveling apple. Due to the success of the traveling apple policy, FNS is expanding eligible components to also include grains. Additionally, FNS will no longer require State agencies to opt into the option, but rather permit this option for all sponsors. Therefore, all sponsors now have the option to allow a single item from the fruit /vegetable or grain components of the meal to be taken offsite for later consumption, provided that this is in compliance with local and State health and safety codes. FNS also streamlined OVS requirements to better match that of NSLP. Also, the Q&As attached to the OVS memo that is now superseded will now be included in the 2014 SFSP general Q&A memo.

SFSP 09-2014: Summer Food Service Program Q&A
- Affects SFSP
Updated based on policy changes made in the past year. Changes are highlighted in yellow and indicated on the first page.

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North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
Kirsten Baesler, State Superintendent
600 E. Boulevard Avenue, Dept. 201
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0440
701/328-2260

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