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 Administrative Update: A Publication of Child Nutrition and Food Distribution
 

In this Issue
March 2014

Years of Service Awards

Whole Grain Resource for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs

Unpaid Meal Accounts

Students not Required to Take Fruit AND Vegetable, just one

Nutrition Standards for All Foods and Beverages Begins Next School Year

School Nutrition Employee Recognition Week

Professional Standards for State and Local School Nutrition Programs Personnel as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

Local Wellness Policy Resources

Final Rule: NSLP Independent Review of Applications Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

Hunger Doesn’t take A Summer Vacation

Flexibility for the Effective Date of Free or Reduced Price Meal Eligibility Determination (FNS memo SP 11-2014)

SY 2014-2015 FFVP Application

Community Eligibility Provision for School Nutrition Programs

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

The Benefits of Farm to School

Years of Service Awards

School Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week, May 5-9 2014, is a time to say thank you to your foodservice employees and recognize them for their years of service.

We are happy to provide, upon request, certificates for 10 years of service and for every 5-year interval after that. We also provide awards upon retirement at the request of the school district.

If you would like years of service certificates for eligible school foodservice employees, please complete the Years of Service Request form and return it to our office either by e-mail ksknudson@nd.gov or fax (328-9566) no later than April 4, 2014.

Certificates will be mailed out April 28th. Please check the certificates and immediately notify our office if there are any discrepancies. It is suggested the certificates be presented to your foodservice personnel during School Nutrition Employee Week.

Should you have questions about the Years of Service Awards, please call Kaye Knudson at 328-2275 or toll-free at 1-888-338-3663. 

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Whole Grain Resource for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs

USDA has developed a new resource on whole grains for school lunch and breakfast programs.  The resource provides an in-depth look at the whole grain-rich criteria for school meals. It updates and expands the previous whole grain resource from the HealthierUS School Challenge Application Kit, and now applies to all school meal programs. It includes exercises on identifying products that meet the whole grain-rich criteria and calculation examples. The resource is available online through the Team Nutrition Website

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Unpaid Meal Accounts

Recently, the media has reported on incidences where meals are taken away from students due to unpaid meal charges. Unfortunately, school foodservice agencies (SFAs) find it difficult to collect payment for meals at times. In any case, the situation should be handled in a way that protects students from undue embarrassment and stigma. 

SFAs are strongly encouraged to adopt a local policy and communicate the policy to students and parents/guardians. In the policy, notice should be given stating that if outstanding meal charges have not been paid within a specified number of days, meals will no longer be provided. The SFA should also remind parents/guardians that they can apply for free or reduced price meals at any time during the school year.

If students eligible for reduced-price or regular price meals have not paid for meals, the foodservice program has the option of denying future meal service. However, the SFA must provide a meal to any student paying for the meal that day, regardless of the balance of unpaid meal charges. The SFA may choose to provide an alternate meal to students who do not have funds to pay for the planned meal. This meal may not be claimed for reimbursement unless it meets meal pattern requirements.

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Students not Required to Take Fruit AND Vegetable, just one

Schools must offer a fruit and a vegetable at lunch. Students are required to take ½ cup of either one. We are still hearing reports of schools forcing students to take both. You are required to OFFER both; however, the student only needs to take one if that is what they want.

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Nutrition Standards for All Foods and Beverages Begins Next School Year

The Smart Snacks in School rule takes effect July 1, 2014. Schools should begin thinking and preparing now for these nutrition regulations.  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 required USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold in schools outside of the school lunch and breakfast program, during the school day. A school day is defined as midnight to 30 minutes after the school day ends. Therefore, this rule will not affect food sold after school, on the weekend, and off campus. This does impact food sold a la carte, in vending machines, school stores, and food-based fundraisers that take place during the school day.

The rule allows DPI to establish a number of exempt school sponsored fundraisers per school year.  Understanding that local districts would want to have input on this decision, school administrators were surveyed regarding the exemptions.  When asked if DPI should allow exemptions for fundraising, more than 86% of the responders said yes, the DPI should allow exemptions for fundraising.  Administrators who chose the exemptions were asked what they would consider to be a reasonable number of exemptions (choices were 1,2,3,4 or 5).  More than 60% of the responders chose 5 exemptions per year.  Education agencies in surrounding states conducted similar surveys and received similar results.  It’s nice to have flexibility in applying the standards to school sponsored fundraisers, as it appears schools prefer some leeway in this area.

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School Nutrition Employee Recognition Week

Celebrate May 5-9, 2014

Between preparing healthy meals for their students, following new nutrition standards, accommodating students with special dietary needs and providing smiles along with a positive dining experience, school nutrition professionals are true champions!

We all like to be recognized for our work. School Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week, May 5-9, 2014, is a time to say thank you to your foodservice employees. Showing how much you appreciate a school nutrition employee can be as simple as saying thank you or as special as holding a reception to recognize their achievements. If you need creative ideas for the event, visit this site for a list of ideas that range from simple to extravagant, to celebrate your hardworking child nutrition employees.

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Professional Standards for State and Local School Nutrition Programs Personnel as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

The proposed rule on Professional Standards was announced at the end of January. You can find the proposed rule and comment on it on the USDA regulations webpage: Search for “Professional Standards”. Look for the Comment Now button.
Comments must be received by April 7, 2014.

This proposed rule would establish minimum professional standards for school nutrition personnel who manage and operate the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The proposed rule would also institute hiring standards for the selection of State and local school nutrition program directors; and require all personnel in these programs to complete annual continuing education/training.

NDDPI Child Nutrition is committed to continue to provide any required training, free of charge if at all possible. The proposed standards categorize all schools with an enrollment of 0-2,500 students into one group. 201 of the 206 North Dakota School Nutrition Sponsors fall into this group. Please call or e-mail Deb Egeland at 328-3718 or 888-338-3663 if you have questions about the rule or commenting on it.

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Local Wellness Policy Resources

USDA has developed a new wellness resource: School Nutrition Environment and Wellness Resources website.

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Final Rule: NSLP Independent Review of Applications Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

This final rule requires certain local educational agencies participating in the National School Lunch Program to conduct an independent review of initial eligibility determinations for free and reduced price school meals. Additionally, this final rule requires each affected local educational agency to submit to the relevant State agency the results of the reviews including the number and percentage of reviewed applications for which the eligibility determinations changed and the type of change made. State agencies are required to submit to USDA, a report describing the results of the second reviews in their State. These changes respond to amendments made to the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act by section 304 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 which requires that local educational agencies demonstrating high levels of, or a high risk for, administrative error associated with certification, verification, and other administrative processes, have an individual or entity independently review the initial eligibility determinations for free and reduced price school meals for accuracy prior to sending out household notifications of eligibility or ineligibility. This final rule is expected to reduce administrative errors in eligibility determinations for free and reduced price school meals.

What does this mean for us? Schools with a high error rate, greater than 10%, on income applications and roster errors will be required to conduct a second review of all applications submitted in the next school year. Any schools with a high error rate will be notified of this requirement in the review summary letter. Historically, we find 0-2 schools per year with a 10% error rate on normal reviews.


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Hunger Doesn’t take A Summer Vacation

Sponsors Needed for the Summer Food Service Program

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the NSLP (National School Lunch Program) Seamless Summer option provide meals to students when school is not in session over the summer. Children under the age of 18 can receive a meal free of charge at participating sites.

Schools in good standing in the NSLP can be approved to operate a NSLP Seamless Summer Program. Schools have a choice of operating SFSP, NSLP Seamless Summer or extending the NSLP for students attending Summer School through June.

Non-profit organizations can serve as SFSP program sponsors and sites in low income areas. If your school doesn’t want to be a sponsor, you could consider being a partner with an agency in your community to provide a space to serve meals.

To become a sponsor or sponsoring site, please call Kaye Knudson at the Child Nutrition and Food Distribution Unit at 701-328-2275 or e-mail ksknudson@nd.gov.

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Flexibility for the Effective Date of Free or Reduced Price Meal Eligibility Determination (FNS memo SP 11-2014)

The School Food Authority (SFA) can establish the date of application submission as the start date of eligibility, rather than the date eligibility determination is made. This flexibility only applies to complete household applications, not incomplete applications, “other source” categorical eligibility, or direct certification. The SFA must apply this flexibility to all students equally in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Afterschool Snack, Special Milk Program, Child and Adult Food Care Program, and Summer Food Service Program, where applicable. This flexibility is designed to assist low income children by allowing them access to free or reduced price school meals during the eligibility determination time period.

SFA’s choosing this option must notify NDDPI Child Nutrition. SFA must have a method to document the date the application was submitted. SFA must have a method to refund any money paid for the child’s meals/milk prior to the eligibility determination.

For more information please read memo SP 11-2014, dated December 3, 2013.

Please call the NDDPI office at 888-338-3663 to see if your program can benefit from this new flexibility or would like to obtain approval to use this flexibility.

Discretionary Elimination of Reduce Price Charges in the School Meal Programs (FNS memo SP 17-2014)

School Food Authorities (SFA’s) that are not currently operating a special provision may choose to offer meals at no cost to students approved for reduced price meal benefits. The cost associated with covering the reduced price student payments may be funded from the nonprofit food service account. Schools/agencies electing to use this flexibility will continue to receive reimbursement based on meals claimed by students in the reduced price category. Only paid students will be charged for meals. SFAs can choose to implement this option in their National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program and serving sites they operate.

Alternatively, SFAs can consider decreasing the reduced price charged to students, or decreasing it incrementally to better ensure the integrity of the nonprofit school food service account. Lowering or eliminating the reduced price charge will lessen or remove any financial barriers to access that these students might experience.

Please call the NDDPI office at 888-338-3663 if you have questions on this. For more information please read memo SP 17-2014, dated January 22, 2014

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SY 2014-2015 FFVP Application

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) Application for the 2014-2015 school year will be available online on March 24. Funding is available only for “elementary” students – those enrolled in grades K-8. The application will be mailed to the principal of each elementary school with an October 2013 free and reduced percentage of 50 percent or higher. The application will also be posted on our FFVP web page for all elementary schools to download

The application process is competitive and based on percentage of free and reduced priced eligible students (with priority given to those 50 percent and above), school demographic information, creativity of proposal, planned partnerships with additional agencies, and ability to maintain the program at the school and use funding by the end of the 2014-2015 school year. How well the current year’s money was spent will also be a factor.

Read the following instructions carefully:

  • Schools meeting the following criteria simply need to complete and mail in pages 3, 6-7. 
    • Are currently participating in the FFVP with a 50 percent or higher free/reduced ratio AND
    • Have retained a 50 percent or higher free/reduced rating in the elementary grades (K-8) for the current SY 13-14 as reported in October 2013.
      (Send the other pages only if there are significant changes to what was submitted for SY 2013-2014.)
  • Applications must be signed by the Authorized Representative and the School Food Service Director. Funds must flow through the school food service account.
  • Schools not meeting the above criteria must complete the entire application.
  • Applications may be faxed or mailed.
  • Applications are due in our office no later than Thursday April 18, 2014. Mailed applications must be postmarked as of April 18.

If you have questions or need assistance filling out the application, call Kaye in our office (888-338-3663).

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Community Eligibility Provision for School Nutrition Programs

Beginning in School Year 2014-15, schools serving high 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 provision 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 provision 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 for more information regarding Community Eligibility.

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

We will be offering Back-to-School Workshops in four locations in August 2014. The workshops will cover important topics to assist school foodservice professionals in serving nutritious and delicious meals to the students and staff in their schools. Mark your calendars and plan to attend at one of the sites:

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

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The Benefits of Farm to School

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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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