Superintendent's Memo #118-10

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

May 18, 2010

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Annual Agreement to Participate in the School Nutrition Programs for 2010-2011

The School Nutrition Programs Web-based system (SNPWeb) will be available for data entry of the 2010-2011 annual agreement beginning Tuesday, June 1, 2010. The Annual Agreement to Participate in the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Special Milk, and Afterschool Snack Programs must be submitted to the Virginia Department of Education no later than July 1, 2010.

Federal regulations require each school division to enter into an agreement with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) annually in order to participate in these school nutrition programs. The Agreement is created and submitted using the School Nutrition Programs Web-based (SNPWeb) system. The division superintendent is the legal signature authority required to sign the agreement and is the individual responsible for compliance with all regulations governing the school nutrition programs.

School divisions that contract with a food service management company (FSMC) for the operation of their school nutrition programs may not delegate this authority to any employee of the food service management company. Federal regulations require that the school division “... Retain signature authority on the State Agency-School Division Annual Agreement, free and reduced price meal applications, and all claims.” (7CFR 210.16 (a) (5))

In conjunction with the SNPWeb online agreement, the “Annual Agreement to Participate” (Agreement) document must be downloaded and printed from the “Online Forms” section of SNPWeb. Two copies of the Agreement, with original signatures of the division superintendent, must be returned to VDOE by July 1, 2010, along with any other supporting documents that require VDOE approval. A copy of the Annual Agreement packet (Agreement and supporting documents), approved and signed by VDOE, will be returned to the school division. This signed document must be maintained on file in the school division and must be readily accessible during federal or state reviews. Federal reimbursement for school nutrition programs cannot be paid for school year 2010-2011 until the Annual Agreement is fully executed and approved by VDOE.

Mandatory School Breakfast Program
Section 22.1-207.3, Code of Virginia, requires school divisions to establish a school breakfast program in each school in which 25 percent or more of the currently enrolled students were eligible for free or reduced price meals in the previous school year. Board of Education regulations establish eligibility for free or reduced price meals on October 31 of the preceding school year as the basis for this determination. Eligibility data for existing schools should be reviewed before completing the Agreement. All new, realigned, or nonparticipating NSLP schools with 25 percent or more of the enrolled children determined eligible for free or reduced price meals on October 31, 2010, shall begin a school breakfast program by the first operating day of January 2011. Eligibility data for these schools should be assessed after October 31, 2010. If any of the schools meet the criteria, a breakfast program must be established. Schools that meet the eligibility requirements must offer a breakfast program unless an exemption is granted by the Board of Education pursuant to Board of Education regulation 8VAC20-580-40.

Initial Carry-over of Previous Year’s Eligibility
Federal regulations allow a student’s documented eligibility for free or reduced price meals in the preceding school year to be carried over into the new school year to ensure access to program benefits while current eligibility determinations are made promptly. The carry-over of a student’s previous school year eligibility will be valid for up to 30 operating days into the current school year. This applies to direct certification, categorical determinations, and income applications. A new eligibility determination in the current year supersedes the carry-over eligibility. Eligibility carried over from the previous year must be terminated on the 31st operating day if no new eligibility determination is on file. The school division must have a plan in place to ensure all students without a new year eligibility determination revert to paid status on the thirty-first operating day.

Free and Reduced Price Eligibility Income Determination
The USDA Eligibility Manual for School Meals, January 2008 edition, must be used as the regulatory guidance manual for eligibility determinations by all school divisions.
The school division should make every effort to expedite eligibility determinations for all households. Applications must be reviewed and determination made and implemented within 10 working days of receipt.

Many households have different sources of income at different frequencies, such as weekly or bi-weekly wages and monthly social security benefits. To avoid inconsistencies in calculation of household income, the following procedures must be followed:

Extending Categorical Eligibility for Free meals
Categorical eligibility for free meals must be extended to all children in the family, as defined in 7 CFR 245.2, who are members of a household receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program. Direct certification with SNAP or TANF and applications with case numbers for these programs are categorically eligible for free meals. A separate memo with detailed questions and answers and further guidance will be sent.

Transferring Eligibility between School Divisions/Local Education Agency (LEA)
When a student transfers to another school division, the new school division may accept the eligibility determination from the former school division. A system must be in place to ensure confidentiality is maintained. Appropriate documentation must be on file to support the student’s eligibility and claims for reimbursement. The receiving school should review the meal application to assure the correct level of benefit (free or reduced) was assigned. The accepting school division must take the necessary steps if eligibility was incorrectly determined. Additional guidance on this subject will be provided under a separate memo.

Adult meals
Meals served to adults are not eligible for federal reimbursement, nor do they count toward determining the value of donated food assistance. Federal reimbursements, students’ meal payments, and other nonprofit food service revenues cannot be used to subsidize meals served to adults. Meals served to adults must be priced so the payment is sufficient to cover the entire cost of each meal including the value of donated foods.

Questions regarding the Annual Agreement may be directed to the school nutrition program specialist assigned to the division, the Director of School Nutrition Programs, Catherine Digilio Grimes, or Lynne Fellin, associate director, by contacting the school nutrition program office at (804) 225-2074.