The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Child Nutrition Unit (CNU) continues to offer two options for public schools to feed students after the regular school year ends. A list of summer meal programs may be found on the USDA website: https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks.
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 2019-2020 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 must use 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. Districts must notify CNU if this information was not listed on the Agreement for the 2019-2020 school year (approved by CNU prior to July 2019). Reimbursement for regular summer meals CANNOT be paid unless CNU has been notified in writing and the district’s Agreement amended.
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 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 CNU, must establish 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 CNU of the continuation or termination of the SSO each school year in the Agreement and Policy Statement or as necessary. Sites such as camps and other closed enrolled sites that participate on the basis of an individual children’s eligibility must re-determine their eligibility each year.
Determining Eligibility Using School Site Free/Reduced Data: School data submitted on the Cycle 2 report (October 15, 2019, certified) to the DESE will be used to establish area eligibility for the CNU SSO and DHS SFSP, excluding camps. Area eligibility 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. 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: 7 CFR 226.6(f); 7 CFR 225.6(c); SP 09 and 10-2017; the United States 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 are 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 attached USDA Memo SP 08, 09 and 10-2017 for additional information.
ALL children age 18 or under participating in a SEAMLESS SUMMER OPTION program EAT AT NO CHARGE regardless of income status. All meals will be claimed at the “free” reimbursement rate. The SFA may serve one or two meals per child per day.
TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CNU SSO, THE SFA WILL BE REQUIRED TO:
Submit a Schedule C-20 Seamless Summer Option form (C-20) for summer school with their agreement. Any district who did not submit the C-20 form must do so at least 2 weeks before the start of meal service. C-20 information includes the dates, times and sites where summer meals will be served.
- CNU will provide written approval. Approval letters must be received before meals can be served and claimed for reimbursement. Programs beginning before approval has been received will forfeit the ability to claim meals served before the date of approval and will not be reimbursed for those meals. SSO claims must be separate from regular meal claims.
- 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).
SFAs operating a SSO must follow the same meal pattern requirements as outlined in 7 CFR 210.10 for National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and 7 CFR 220.8 for School Breakfast Program (SBP). See USDA Memo SP 38-2019 which supersedes SP 10-10-2012 (v.9) Revised August 3, 2015, for additional information.
According to USDA guidance issued in policy memo SP 09-2017, CNU cannot approve Seamless Summer Option or Regular Summer Meals Program participation in school district programs that have program administration issues such as school breakfast, lunch or snack program violations documented by Administrative Review (AR) or Legislative Audit findings.
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 DHS cannot be approved for SSO participation.
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 SSO that are performed for NSLP. provided that the approved FSMC contract allows. SFAs should be reminded that the SFA maintains responsibility for submitting claims and is accountable for ensuring that all SSO requirements are met.
USDA Memo SP-07-2013 - Summer Feeding Options for School Food Authorities, 11/12/2012), may also be useful in the decision making process.
If two or more applicants apply to serve summer meals to children in the same area, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulation 7 CFR 225.6 (b)(5) specifies the State Agency must use a priority system in approving applicants.
CNU Deadline: If a C-20 was not submitted with the 2019-2020 Agreement and Policy Statement, and a school district wishes to participate in SSO, complete and submit (via fax, email, or postal mail) the attached C-20 at least two weeks before starting meal service. All changes to a previously approved C-20 must be submitted in writing to CNU. REMEMBER: CNU must approve the SSO before the program starts.
Any questions concerning CNU summer meal programs should be directed to the SFA’s Area Specialist at 501-324-9502.
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Deadline:
The application deadline for the DHS SFSP is April 30, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. For questions regarding the Summer Food Service Program, contact DHS at 501-682-8869. Online applications are available at https://dhs.arkansas.gov/dccece/snp.
Along with DHS Summer Food Service Program, the SFA can apply to participate in the Department of Defense (DoD) Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Program administered by the Commodity Distribution Unit.
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 https://www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/summer-meals-toolkit. The attached USDA Memo SP-07-2014 - Expanding Awareness and Access to Summer Meals is another resource.
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.
Schedule C-20 Seamless Summer Enrollment Form (Summer 2020):
USDA Memo SP 09-2017 – 2017 Edition of Questions and Answers for the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option
USDA Memo SP 08-2017 – Area Eligibility in Child Nutrition Programs;
USDA Memo SP 10-2017 – Meal Service Requirements in the Summer Meal Programs, with Questions and Answers - Revised
USDA Memo SP 38-2019– Questions and Answers on the Final Rule, “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs”
USDA Memo SP 07-2013 (dated 11/23/2012) – Summer Feeding Options for School Food Authorities
USDA Memo SP 07-2014 – Expanding Awareness and Access to Summer Meals