Every Child a Graduate. Every Graduate Prepared.



Question:   1. What is the state’s mission/vision in relation to providing quality child nutrition programs?

Answer:   To provide a framework for state assistance in the thorough integration of nutrition education, maximizing resources and delivering accurate, positive, consistent, nutrition information.
 
To provide an integrated nutrition education program contributing to a nutritionally knowledgeable public, motivated to making behavioral changes to promote optimal health and nutritional status.


Question:   2. What is the National School Lunch Program?

Answer:   The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in more than 98,000 public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions in the United States. Federal assistance allows a reimbursable meal, depending on family income, to be offered at no charge, reduced charge and full paid meal price. The meal pattern for lunch provides one-third of the recommended daily allowance for children. The meal price for reduced price student can be no more that 40 cents. The full paid student and district staff is established yearly by the school system and approved by the local school board. In 2001 over 89,079,859 reimbursable lunches were sold in Alabama.


Question:   3. How are school lunch menu’s planned?

Answer:   Each school system utilizes a different procedure/method of menu planning.


Question:   4. What is the School Breakfast Program?

Answer:   The School Breakfast Program is a federal entitlement program providing states with cash assistance for nonprofit breakfast. It was started in 1966 as a pilot project and made permanent in 1975. The meal pattern provides students one-fourth of their recommended daily allowance. Children from families at or below 130 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for free meals. Schools may not charge more than 30 cents for a reduced price breakfast. Schools set the rate for the paid students who pay full meal price. Any child, at a participating school, may purchase a meal through the School Breakfast Program. In 2001 over 150,627 breakfasts were served in Alabama.


Question:   5. Are public schools required to provide breakfast?

Answer:   No.


Question:   6. How do children qualify for free and reduced-price meals?

Answer:   Each school system participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program is required to provide an application to each student in the school district. Eligibility is determined based on family income. Families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals; families with income between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals; and families with income over 185 percent of the poverty level pay full student price for meals.


Question:   7. What is the Child and Adult Care Food Program?

Answer:   The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which operates under the direction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), plays a vital role in improving the quality of day care programs across Alabama. The funding provided to the day care programs make opportunities affordable for many low-income families. Each day, 2.6 million children and 74,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks in nonresidential child and adult day care centers. CACFP also provides meals to children residing in homeless shelters and snacks to youth participating in eligible after school care programs.
 
Eligible public or private nonprofit child care centers, outside school hours care centers, Head Start and Even Start programs and other institutions, which are licensed or approved to provide day care services may participate in CACFP. For profit centers must receive Title XX funds for at least 25 percent of their participants to be eligible to participate in CACFP. The funds are distributed in Alabama by local Child Management Agencies and are part of the day care subsidy. Reimbursement is based on a child’s eligibility for free, reduced, or paid meals. Each facility may be approved to claim up to two reimbursable meals (breakfast, lunch or supper) and one snack or two snacks and one meal per eligible participant per day. Homeless shelters may serve up to three reimbursable meals each day to children. Accurate records must be maintained for meal counting and claiming along with participant eligibility each day. Specific eligibility guidance is provided in the federal regulation governing the CACFP.


Question:   8. How can the Child Nutrition Funds be used?

Answer:   The USDA School Breakfast and Lunch Programs earn federal revenue based on the number of free, reduced-price, and paid meals served and claimed by the organization that has an approved application and agreement on file with the State Department of Education, Child Nutrition Programs. In addition to the federal reimbursement, other sources of funds are earned through daily cash sales to students, ala carte sales to students and teachers, catering, and other special functions. There is a State of Alabama mandated transfer of funds from the school system’s general fund to the child nutrition fund to cover the state mandated raises and fringe benefits for child nutrition employees. USDA regulations, 7CFR 210.14(a) states “Revenues received by the nonprofit school food service are to be used only for the operation or improvement of such food service, except that, such revenues shall not be used to purchase land or buildings, or to construct buildings…” The primary allowable costs include salaries and fringe benefits, food, supplies, purchased services, equipment, and indirect costs. Child Nutrition funds MAY NOT be used to pay for items such as bad debts (bad checks, uncollected charged meals, uncollected catering functions, etc.), fines, and penalties, interest, unapproved capital projects, passenger vehicles, costs associated with providing adult meals, alcoholic beverages, entertainment, and costs of personal memberships. Child Nutrition Funds may also not be used to purchase foods of minimum nutritional value.


Question:   9. What is the purpose of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)?

Answer:   The Summer Food Service Program was created to ensure children in low-income areas could continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations, when they do not have access to school lunch or breakfast. Children in low-income communities are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year through the National School Lunch (NSLP) and School Breakfast Programs (SBP) but those programs end when school ends for the summer. Although nearly 14 million children depend on nutritious free and reduced-price meals and snacks at school for 9 months out of the year, only about 2 million receive free meals provided by the SFSP during the summer months.


Question:   10. How can I locate a Summer Food Service Program near me?

Answer:   Contact the Alabama Department of Education, Child Nutrition Office in Montgomery at (334) 242-8249.


Question:   11. What is the Seamless Summer Feeding Wavier (SSFW)?

Answer:   The SSFW was initially piloted in several school districts in Florida and California to operate a summer food program that combined aspects of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The pilot was approved through fiscal year 2004.
 
The purpose of the pilot is to reach more hungry children in low-income areas in the summer and to help schools provide more efficient meal service to those children. For school districts that have been operating both the NSLP and the SFSP, the pilot offered a reduction in the paperwork and administrative burdens. With streamlined administrative procedures, more school districts have chosen to provide summer meals to children. Under the SFSP, most of the summer feeding service program regulations are waived. The waiver participants operate primarily under the NSLP regulations. The school systems receive the same rates for the National School Lunch, School Breakfast and School Snack programs.


Question:   12. Why does the federal government give commodities to participants in the National School Lunch Program?

Answer:   The USDA decided to assist the National School Lunch Program because American agriculture was in need of a major outlet for many of the domestically produced crops other than the traditional commercial market. The decision to purchase products produced in America for use in our schools helps remove some of the surplus commodities and helps stabilize farm prices. Since the National School Lunch Act was passed in 1946, there has been a strong and healthy relationship between the school lunch program and the USDA commodity program.


Question:   13. What determines how much federal assistance a recipient agency receives in commodities each year?

Answer:   Each recipient agency receives commodities based on the number of reimbursable lunches that that agency served the previous year, multiplied times the per meal assistance level for the current year. The per meal assistance level (PAL) for the 2002-03 school year is 15.25 cents per reimbursable lunch. If a recipient agency served 100,000 lunches the previous year, the agency would be entitled to $15,250.00 worth of entitlement commodities during the current year.
 
The USDA also makes some additional commodities available to recipient agencies that are called bonus commodities. Bonus items are provided due to an over supply of a particular item. This effort assists the agricultural community by pulling some of the excess off the commercial market and helps to stabilize the price of that item. These bonus items are extra and do not count toward meeting the recipient agency’s total entitlement figure discussed in the paragraph above.


Question:   14. How are commodities allocated to each recipient agency?

Answer:   Each recipient agency is allocated their fair share of each commodity that is allocated to a state based on the number of reimbursable lunches served the previous school year divided by the total number of reimbursable lunches served. This number is then divided by the total number of reimbursable lunches served in the state of Alabama. If the state receives a total of 5,000 cases of a particular commodity and one recipient agency is entitled to .0150 of the state total that agency would receive 75 cases of that particular product.


Question:   15. Are Child Nutrition Programs audited each year?

Answer:   Yes, the State Examiners of Public Accounts audit local county school systems. Local city school systems are audited by a private certified public accountant.


Question:   16. Can I fax a Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) Claim for Reimbursement?

Answer:   Yes, the fax number is listed on the claim. Readable faxed copies will be accepted and faxed signatures will be considered as original signatures.


Question:   18. What if my approved CNP programs are not the same as the CNP claim form I received?

Answer:   Do not make alterations to the claim form in order to submit the claim. The claim form is generated based on the approved programs entered into the Child Nutrition System. Differences need to be resolved by speaking with the CNP section. After correcting any erroneous entries, they will provide you with a new claim form.


Question:   20. If I only have a few days in a month, can I add the meals and other data to a previous or a subsequent month’s CNP claim?

Answer:   Meals for a particular calendar month must be reported on that month’s claim. In no case can a claim contain meals or data for other than a single month.


Question:   19. What dates should be entered in “From” and “To” of “Period Covered by This Claim” on the CNP claim for Reimbursement?

Answer:   Enter the first day of the month for which meals are reported/served in the “From” field and enter the last day of the month for which meals are reported/served in the “To” field. The first and last days of the calendar month should only be entered if meals are served and reported for those days.


Question:   21. Who may sign the CNP claim for Reimbursement?

Answer:   For city and county school systems, except in circumstances where an alternate has been bonded, approved and is on file with the Department, it should be the local Superintendent. When Superintendents change, bonds must be approved and submitted to the Department and recorded. For other organizations and institutions, the person signing the claim must be a person listed on the Application/Agreement approved by CNP staff.


Question:   22. What is my CNP Agreement Number?

Answer:   It is the three-character identifier (numbers and/or numbers) that was provided to you when your CNP Application/Agreement was approved. For city and county school systems, it is the three-digit number after the “CLB.”


Question:   23. Why can’t we serve carbonated beverages in the National School Lunch Program?

Answer:   Carbonated beverages are considered in the category of foods of minimal nutritional value by the USDA and are not allowed as part of the National School Lunch Program as per the NSLP Federal Regulation 7 CFR 210.


Question:   34. For further information on Child Nutrition Programs click here:

Answer:   http://cnp.alsde.edu


Question:   17. When is the CNP Claim for Reimbursement due?

Answer:   The initial claim is due 30 days after the end of the claim month. Please refer to the deadline insert provided with each reimbursement check.


Question:   24. I want to bring a birthday cake and refreshments to my child’s room for his birthday. What are the restrictions?

Answer:   The policy prohibits “any food or beverage that has sugar or high fructose corn syrup listed as the first ingredient on the school premises until after the end of the last scheduled class”. This would not preclude a parent from bringing a birthday cake, cupcakes, or other baked item for a birthday party. It does preclude any use of soft drinks or sweetened beverages to such a celebration during the school day. It would be very important to read the label and make the determination if an item has the first ingredient listed as sugar or high fructose corn syrup.


Question:   25. Who is responsible for monitoring this policy on parties?

Answer:   The policy specifically notes that the school administrator or staff, student or student group, parent or parent group or any other interested party is responsible for compliance to this policy.


Question:   26. What about foods used as part of an instructional curriculum?

Answer:   Teachers may use foods for instructional purposes as long as the items are not considered FMNV, as defined by USDA, or candy. Students in those classes that used foods as part of the instructional curriculum may consume those foods prepared as part of the class as long as they do not provide them to other students and/or classes. Foods provided as part of the class or school cultural heritage event are exempt from the policy, as long as the foods served are not served in competition to the school meal, during lunch or breakfast and regular meal service must continue to be available to all students.


Question:   27. What about food served or available for field trips?

Answer:   School approved field trips are exempt from the nutrition policy. A school official must approve the date and purpose of the field trip.


Question:   28. If I pack my child’s lunch how does this apply?

Answer:   This policy does not restrict what parents may provide for their own child’s breakfast, lunch, or snack. Parents may provide any item, including foods of minimum nutritional value for their own child’s consumption, but may not provide the restricted items to other children at school during the school day. However, a local school board or even an individual school may adopt a more restrictive policy and limit the items that a child may bring. It is best to check with your school for individual policies.


Question:   29. The PTA wants to sell food items at breakfast as part of a fund raiser for the school. How will this affect fund raisers?

Answer:   No foods of any type may be sold at any place on the school campus during meal service times, to include breakfast and lunch times. Neither may fundraisers be planned to occur just before the meal service in an effort to sell food items that would decrease participation in the school breakfast or school lunch program. All fund raisers should examine the items being sold and choices must promote good health. This includes the selling of food as students gather on the school campus before school begins or as students wait on transportation or otherwise exit the school campus following school dismissal. No fundraisers may sell foods of minimal nutritional value during the school day or as described above. All events outside the school day are exempt from this policy.


Question:   30. When is the fundraiser policy to be implemented?

Answer:   This policy is to be implemented fully by the completion of the 2005-06 school year.


Question:   31. We utilize catalog sales for fundraisers. The catalog has chocolate as one of the items that can be sold. The sales are all conducted after school hours. Can we sell the chocolate?

Answer:   No fundraisers may sell foods of minimal nutritional value during the school day. All sales conducted after school hours are exempt from this policy. In any event, the label of the food item must be reviewed. The restrictions are that no food item with sugar or high fructose corn syrup may be available to children during school hours. Some chocolate does not have sugar listed as the first ingredient.


Question:   32. We have a contract for the purchase of bottled tea, juice mix, and snow cones. When do we have to change?

Answer:   Any existing contract may be honored through the 2005-06 school year. All contracts beginning with the 2006-07 school year must incorporate the requirements on portion sizes, ingredients, and nutritional content for snacks and beverages sold in school cafeterias, vending machines, and school stores. If you can come to an agreement on changing items to meet the new policy requirements, that would be acceptable.


Question:   33. Our school system has a blanket contract for all schools to furnish drinks. Does this exempt the CNP?

Answer:   No contract may include CNP as part of the vending. These funds are considered federal funds and must follow any legal requirements regarding purchasing. CNP is not a revenue sharing venue with general fund and must have a separate contract.