Superintendent's Memo #153-11

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

May 27, 2011

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Annual Agreement to Participate in the School Nutrition Programs for 2011-2012

The School Nutrition Programs Web-based system (SNPWeb) will be available for data entry of the 2011-2012 annual agreement beginning Tuesday, May 31, 2011. 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, 2011.

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 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 food authority 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, 2011, along with any other supporting documents that require VDOE review and 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 2011-2012 until the annual agreement is fully executed and approved by VDOE.

Updates to Prototype Meal Application, Letters, and Forms
Annual updates to the VDOE prototype meal application, letters, and forms will include provisions implemented as a result of the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization. The updated prototype forms will be available for download from the “Online Forms” section of SNPWeb. School divisions electing not to use the VDOE prototypes must revise their locally customized forms to reflect these changes. Information that must be updated includes the following: revisions to the non-discrimination and Privacy Act statements; elimination of the collection of SNAP and TANF case numbers for each student in the household; elimination of application collection for foster children; updating the collection of the social security number (SSN) for the adult who signs the application to include only the last four digits; and publishing the income eligibility guidelines on the Letter to Households and the media release.

Initial Carry-over of Previous Year’s Eligibility
Federal regulations require 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. The carry-over of a student’s previous school year eligibility shall be valid for the first 30 operating days of the new 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. All students without an approved new school year eligibility determination on file must revert to paid status on the 31st operating day.

Extending Categorical Eligibility for Free Meals
Categorical eligibility for free meals that is determined using a case number for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) applies to all children living in the household. Whether determined through direct certification or meal application, this categorical eligibility for free meals must be extended to all students in the household, as defined in 7 CFR 245.2, if one member of the household receives assistance through SNAP or TANF. Documentation for extending this categorical eligibility to other students must be maintained by the school division.

Categorical Eligibility for Foster Children
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 extended categorical eligibility for free meals, without further application, to foster children whose care and placement is the responsibility of the state or whose placement is made by a court. Certification for free meals is allowed without application if the school division obtains documentation from the appropriate state or local agency indicating a student’s status as a foster child who has been placed by the court or who is the responsibility of a state agency. In Virginia, the local social services department monitors foster care placements. A superintendent’s memorandum with detailed information will be issued.

Transferring Eligibility between School Divisions/Local Education Agency (LEA)
When a student transfers from one school division to another, the new school division may accept the eligibility determination from the previous division. A system must be in place to ensure confidentiality is maintained. Appropriate documentation must be obtained by the new school division and maintained on file to support the student’s eligibility status. The receiving school division must review the eligibility determination to assure the correct level of benefit was assigned and take the necessary steps to correct eligibility determinations that are incorrect.

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 may not be used to subsidize the price of meals served to adults. Refer to Superintendent’s Memorandum number 100-11, dated April 8, 2011, for additional information regarding adult meal prices.

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 and appropriate action taken. Schools that meet the eligibility requirements must offer a breakfast program unless an exemption is granted by the Board of Education pursuant to Board regulation 8VAC20-580-40.

Questions regarding the agreement may be directed to the school nutrition program specialist assigned to your division or to office of school nutrition programs staff at (804) 225-2074.