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ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: 1
POLICY CODE: EF
TO: Superintendents of Schools/Private School Administrators
FROM: Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner
DATE: July 5, 2005
SUBJECT: Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004
Public Law 108-265, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, made a number of changes to the Child Nutrition programs: National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, and Summer Food Service Program.
The changes that affect your school district’s child nutrition program are summarized in this letter. The changes affect administrators as well as food service personnel. Please contact the Child Nutrition Services office with any questions.
- Lunches served by schools participating in the school lunch program:
- must offer fluid milk in a variety of fat contents;
- may offer flavored and unflavored fluid milk and lactose-free fluid milk; and
- must provide a fluid milk substitute for students whose “disability” restricts their diet on the receipt of a written statement from a licensed physician that identifies the “disability” and specifies the substitute.
NOTE: There is no longer a whole milk requirement.
- School food authorities are required to “directly certify” as eligible for free school meals, without further application, any child who is a member of a food stamp household.
In addition, the law adds permissive authority for school food authorities to “directly certify” homeless children, children served by programs under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, and migrant children through the school district or the Maine Department of Education’s Runaway, Homeless Youth Act Coordinator, Shelley Reed and Migrant Coordinator, Nora Murray.
- Eligibility determinations for free or reduced-price school meals are to be made on the basis of a complete household application. State agencies and local educational authorities are barred from requesting separate applications for each child in cases where the children attend schools under the same local educational authority.
NOTE: A foster child is considered a family of one and will require an application for each foster child.
- Effective July 2005, the law requires that local educational authorities verify the eligibility of children in a sample of approved free and reduced-price school meal applications.
- The basic sample size would be 3% of all approved applications (as of October 1 of the school year) selected from “error-prone” applications. “Error-prone” applications would be those defined as such under current regulations or, alternately, under criteria set by the Secretary.
- However, local educational agencies could choose 1 of 2 alternate sample sizes if their “nonresponse rate” for the preceding school year is less than 20%. Please contact the Child Nutrition Services office for more details.
- Prior to conducting verification activity for approved applications, local educational agencies must ensure that the initial eligibility determination for each approved household application is reviewed for accuracy by an individual other than the individual making the initial determination. This requirement must be waived if the local educational agency is using a “technology-based solution” that demonstrates a high level of accuracy in processing initial eligibility determinations.
- A written notice is required that a household’s application has been selected for verification and that it is required to submit information to confirm eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals. The notice is to include a toll-free phone number that parents or legal guardians may use for assistance in the verification process.
- If the household does not respond to a verification request, the local educational agency is required to make at least 1 additional attempt to obtain the necessary verification from the household. Document that additional attempts have been made.
- Any communication with households for verification or eligibility determination purposes must be in an understandable and uniform format and, to the maximum extent practicable, in a language that parents and guardians can understand.
- Local educational agencies must complete all verification activities (including “follow-up” activities) by November 15 of each school year.
- On individual case review, it also allows local educational agencies to “decline” to verify up to 5% of their verification sample and replace the declined applications with other approved applications.
- Eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals remains valid for 1 school year for most students.
- The law requires automatic eligibility of homeless children for free school meals.
- It also makes youth served by grant programs under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and migrant children automatically eligible for free school meals. Documentation by the Coordinator is required that they are homeless, served by a runaway youth program, or migrant.
- Not later than the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year, the local educational agencies participating in school meal programs must establish a local “school wellness policy” that, at a minimum:
- includes goals for nutrition education, physical activity, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness in a manner that the local educational agency determines appropriate;
– includes nutrition guidelines for all foods available on the school campus during the school day;
– provides an assurance that guidelines for school meals are not less restrictive than those set by the Secretary;
– establishes a plan for measuring implementation of the local wellness policy; and
– involves parents, students, and representatives of the school food authority, the school board, school administrators, and the public in development of the local wellness policy.
Training on this reauthorization was conducted several times during School Year 2005. The Child Nutrition Services/Department of Education office will continue to provide training and assistance to make compliance as easy as possible. Please feel free to contact the Child Nutrition Services office with any question by phone at (207) 624-6842 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.