ATTENTION CO-OP DIRECTORS AND CHILD NUTRITION DIRECTORS
The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) Child Nutrition Unit (CNU) continues to offer two options for public schools to feed students after the regular school year ends.
ADE CNU OPTION 1. REGULAR SUMMER MEALS PROGRAM serves breakfast and lunch as a continuation of the regular school meal programs. Any of the child nutrition programs (breakfast, lunch, or afterschool snack) may be served as part of the summer educational programs operated by the school district. With the regular summer meals program, the collection procedure approved in the current 2017-2018 Renewal Agreement and Policy Statement must be used to collect money and count/claim the students by eligibility category, or updated to meet summer collection and meal count procedures. The regular summer meals program may be operated by any public school regardless of the percentage of children receiving free and reduced-price meals.
Districts operating only an academic summer school fall under the regular summer meals program. All existing breakfast, lunch and/or afterschool snack program(s) may continue throughout the summer months using current student status to determine reimbursement. https://www.fns.usda.gov/es/node/6233. Districts must notify ADE CNU if this information was not listed on the Renewal Agreement for the 2017-2018 school year (approved by ADE CNU prior to July 2017). Reimbursement for regular summer meals CANNOT be paid unless ADE CNU has been notified in writing and the district’s Renewal Agreement amended if needed.
In preparing the Claim for Reimbursement for Summer Meals, select “Summer” from the dropdown box on the monthly claim screen. District will claim regular summer meals by category: free, reduced price and paid.
ADE CNU OPTION 2. SEAMLESS SUMMER OPTION (SSO) may be operated in a site or in the attendance area of a site with 50% or more of the students are eligible for free and reduced price meals. Site eligibility may be determined by using school data or census data. School Food Authorities (SFAs) participating in either the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) through the Department of Human Services (DHS) or the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through ADE CNU establishes area eligibility. Area eligibility continues for a period of five years, unless the State agency is aware of significant economic changes in the area. However, SFAs will be required to notify ADE CNU of the continuation or termination of the SSO each school year in the Renewal Agreement and Policy Statement or as necessary. Sites that participate on the basis of individual children’s eligibility, such as closed enrolled sites and camps, must re-determine their eligibility each year.
Determining Eligibility Using School Site Free/Reduced Data: School data may be used to establish area eligibility for the SSO and SFSP, excluding camps. In order for a site to be determined area eligible, school data must indicate that the proposed meal location is within a school attendance area where at least 50 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced price school meals. This data is the Arkansas Department of Education certified October 2017 Cycle 2 data. Because school data more closely reflects the current socioeconomic status of an attendance area, priority must be given to using school data before census data.
Using Census Data: SFAs may document the area eligibility of their proposed open or restricted open sites on the basis of census data. SSO sites that choose to establish eligibility using census data are required to use the most recent data available. There are two different tools to determine eligibility: The United State Census Bureau tool and USDA Area Eligibility Map using the Census Bureau data.
- For Census Bureau data visit http://www.census.gov/acs. Under the Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS), new five-year estimates are made available each year. The duration of determination for site eligibility based on census data is 5 years.
- For map using census data visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/areaeligibility. The area eligibility map can be used to see if a potential site is in an area where it can be an open site.
Census Block Groups continue to be the geographical unit used to access eligibility for SSO when using census data. Fifty percent or more of the children in a census block group must be eligible for free or reduced price school meals to establish area eligibility. Refer to USDA Memo SP 10-2015.
ALL children age 18 or under participating in a SEAMLESS SUMMER program will EAT AT NO CHARGE regardless of income status. All meals will be claimed at the “free” reimbursement rate. The district may serve one or two meals per child per day at no charge to the child. These meals may include: breakfast, lunch, snack (either morning or afternoon, or supper. Districts may not claim lunch and supper meals (or 2 of the same meal) for a student at the same site on the same day. These sites are not required to conduct an education program; however, summer school, remedial or regular education can be part of the SEAMLESS Summer program if the site is operating an open site. Schools offering academic summer school programs may be reimbursed for serving meals during the summer under the SEAMLESS Summer option ONLY if the site is an open site and is available to all children in the community.
TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ADE CNU SEAMLESS SUMMER OPTION, THE SCHOOL FOOD AUTHORITY/SCHOOL DISTRICT WILL BE REQUIRED TO:
Submit a C-18 form for summer school with their agreement in the spring of 2017. Any district who did not submit the form (Schedule C-18) must do so at least 2 weeks before the start of meal service. C-18 information includes the dates, times and sites where summer meals will be served.
- ADE CNU will provide written approval. Approval letters must be received before meals can be served for reimbursement. Programs beginning before approval has been received will forfeit the ability to claim meals served before the approval date and may not be counted as reimbursable. Seamless Summer (SSO) claims must be separate from regular meal claims.
- In preparing the Claim for Reimbursement for SEAMLESS Summer Meals, select “Seamless Summer” from the dropdown box on the monthly claim screen.
- Meal reimbursement rates for summer 2018 will be $2.09 (with severe need) or $1.75 (without severe need) for breakfast and $3.25 + $0.06 (Performance Based Reimbursement), or $3.31 for lunch. Rates for 2018-2019 will be released during the summer of 2018. Districts will be notified as soon as USDA announces these new rates.
- All meals must be counted and claimed at the “point of service” (that point when it can be determined that a reimbursable meal has been served to an eligible child).
USDA Memo SP 10-2012 (v.8) Revised August 4, 2014, indicates SFAs operating a SSO will need to follow the same meal pattern as National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meal pattern requirements in 7 CFR 210.10 for NSLP and 7 CFR 220.8 for School Breakfast Program (SBP) effective July 1, 2012. Additionally, USDA Memo SP 37-2015 provides information on Promoting Nutrition in Summer Meals.
According to USDA guidance issued in policy memo SP 39-2014, the Arkansas Department of Education, Child Nutrition Unit cannot approve SEAMLESS or regular summer program participation in school district programs that fail a Coordinated Review Effort (CRE)/Administrative Review (AR) or have program administration problems (legislative audit findings, school breakfast, lunch or snack program violations, etc.).
Schools that have been determined to be seriously deficient in the administration of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) through the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) cannot be approved for SSO participation. ADE CNU must report school district programmatic violations to the Special Nutrition Section of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). This would prohibit DHS from funding these schools or school districts for the Summer Food Service Program until such time that ADE CNU verifies corrective actions have taken place.
SFAs that contract with a food service management company (FSMC) for some or all aspects of the management of the food service program may allow the FSMC to conduct the same activities for SEAMLESS Summer that are performed for NSLP. SFAs should be reminded that the SFA maintains responsibility for submitting claims and is accountable for ensuring that all SEAMLESS Summer requirements are met.
To assist school district Child Nutrition Directors in determining whether to participate in one of the summer programs, USDA has provided a comparison chart. The chart highlights the Regular Summer Meals Program (ADE CNU), Seamless Summer Option program (ADE CNU) or the Summer Food Service Program (DHS). The following link https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/cn/SP07_SFSP04-2013os.pdf USDA Memo SP-07-2013, SFSP 04-2013 - Revised Summer Feeding Options for School Food Authorities – dated November 12, 2012 provides information on feeding choices that districts may fine useful.
Arkansas Department of Education, Child Nutrition Unit Deadline: If two or more applicants apply to serve summer meals to children in the same area, the United States Department of Agriculture regulation 7 CFR 225.6 (b)(5) specifies the State agency must use a priority system in approving applicants.
For school districts wishing to participate in SSO who did not complete C-18 Seamless Summer Option in the spring of 2017, complete the form “C-18 Seamless Summer Option” available on the ADE CNU website. The form should be completed, faxed, emailed, or mailed to ADE at least two weeks before starting meal service. If dates or schools have changed since the C-18 form was completed, update the form by sending the correct information to ADE CNU in writing. REMEMBER: ADE CNU must approve the SSO before the program starts.
Any questions concerning ADE CNU summer meal programs should be directed to Stephanie Starks, Susie Ward or the district’s Area Specialist at 501-324-9502.
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Deadline:
The application deadline for the DHS Summer Food Service Program is April 30, 2018. For questions regarding the Summer Food Service Program through DHS, contact DHS at 501-682-8869. Online applications are available at https://dhs.arkansas.gov/dccece/snp.
SFAs are required to inform their constituents of summer meal programs that are available even if there are no programs available in the immediate area. Schools and sponsors are encouraged to make use of USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) resources, including the “SFSP Outreach Toolkit for Sponsors and Sites,” which includes fliers, letters to parents, and other materials that help sponsors raise awareness of the Program among children and their families. The Outreach Toolkit can be found at http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/SFSP_toolkit.pdf.
Additional USDA FNS resources, including fliers, door hangers, public service radio announcements, and training videos are available at http://www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/raise-awareness.