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 Administrative Update: A Publication of Child Nutrition and Food Distribution

In this Issue

May 2011

Upcoming Training Opportunities

Direct Certification

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act Update

Mandatory 30 Day Carry-over of Free/Reduced Price Eligibility 

New Free & Reduced Price Income Applications Beginning Fall 2011



Upcoming Training Opportunities

Administrator/Recordkeeper training will be offered for new administrators or recordkeepers who will be working with child nutrition programs. The information covered will be how to calculate income applications, civil rights requirements, foodservice training requirements, pricing meals, procurement, financial management, verification and claims for reimbursement.

School Foodservice Basics will be offered for new cooks or cooks who need a refresher course on meal pattern requirements. This is not about the proposed meal pattern; we will be going over the current requirements. We do offer the Pathways class, Fundamentals of School Foodservice, however, that is a two day/ten hour class that many people have a difficult time working into their schedule. The Basics class will be a fast moving four hours packed with lots of information pertinent to new cooks. If you have a cook that could use basic training in the rules of menu planning and offer vs. serve, please consider this class.

If you have any questions on who should attend the trainings or what information will be covered, please email or call Deb Egeland at or 1-888-338-3663 or 701-328-3718.

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Direct Certification

This fall, we will be fully implementing our new Direct Certification System through STARS. LEAs will need to access the STARS system to find their Direct Certification list. We will not provide any other Direct Certification/SNAP lists. The STARS system provides a very easy-to-read list of all directly certified students. Schools that were initially skeptical about the new system last year were very happy with the end results. The system was especially helpful to districts in determining eligibility of kindergarten and other new students.

This system provides up to date direct certification information based on each district/school’s enrollment that is entered into STARS.  The system is more interactive, to ensure eligible students receive meal benefits as soon as possible. Students must be enrolled in STARS before a direct certification match can be made.  The names of school age children receiving SNAP benefits, but aren’t matched with an enrolled student in STARS are sent out to the schools nearest the child’s address listed with their SNAP records. 

Please inform your IT department that the list will be available on STARS in late August. They may be able to find a way to import the list directly into the food service meal counting system.

To access the direct certification application on STARS, LEA administrators will have to grant permissions to those persons responsible for maintaining free/reduced price eligibility information.  Permissions are granted through Educational Unit Permissions section and the Special Programs section.

Several improvements will be made to the system this summer, and we hope to have them completed before next school year.  We are also developing training on how to utilize the system later this summer and early fall.  Training will be provided on-site and electronically.  More information will be sent out once the training has been scheduled.  For more information regarding the Direct Certification system, contact Linda Schloer at

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Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act Update

The Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act mandated many changes to Child Nutrition Programs. These items are already in effect:

Water Requirement: Water must be served wherever lunch is served. This can be as simple as setting a pitcher of water and paper cups on a cart or counter in the lunchroom.

Foster Children: Foster children are categorically eligible without an application. This can be done by obtaining documentation from local agencies indicating the status of the child as a foster child who has been placed with a caretaker household by a court. Households may also complete the free and reduced price application form, indicating that the child is a foster child by checking the foster child box by the child’s name.  Households may now include foster children as family members when applying for free or reduced-price meals for their own children.

Cooperation with Program Research: Local agencies participating in Child Nutrition Programs are required to cooperate with USDA officials and contractors conducting evaluations and research.

Social Security Numbers: Only the last four digits of the social security number are required on the income application. The Act also removes the requirement that the social security number of all adults be collected to verify applications.

Equity Pricing: This item is in effect but could be changed due to public comment. Schools must start increasing the price students pay for lunch until it equals the free reimbursement minus the paid reimbursement, $2.46 at this time. Schools with average prices at $1.59 or below can stay at the same price for this year. Schools with average prices at $1.60 or above must increase by 5 cents or be able to prove the general fund supplements the school lunch fund by at least that amount.

Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act Changes Still Coming:

Free and Reduced Price Income Application: We are working on a new application. We need to add a “no income” checkbox and a statement that only the last four digits of the social security number are required. We also need to remove the foster child section from the application. The new application should be on our web site by the beginning of June.

Meal Pattern Revisions: The proposed meal pattern changes are still just proposed. The changes are tentatively required for school year 2012/2013. We will offer training when the final regulation is released. In the meantime, schools could start offering whole grain food items; we do expect that part to become a requirement. Also, it is very likely that 2% and whole milk will no longer be allowed; think about changing your milk now. Schools that meet all the new requirements will be eligible for an extra 6 cents in lunch reimbursement.

Local Wellness Policies (LWP): A proposed rule will be out in fall 2011 and a final rule is scheduled for fall 2012. We expect a requirement for public comment/input on LWP development and that the policy be made easily available to the public, such as published on the school’s web site.

Farm to School Grants: Funding for grants of $5million per year (for all 50 states) becomes available October 1, 2012.

Information for the public on the school nutrition environment: Requires schools to report to USDA and to the public. Items covered are food safety inspections, local wellness policies, school meal participation numbers, and the nutritional quality of school meals. The food safety inspections need to be posted where customers can see them. Some larger schools are putting the nutrient analysis of their menus on the school web site. Providing a copy of the nutrient analysis and review letter from your last school nutrition program review when requested will currently be sufficient.

National Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods: A proposed rule should be out in December 2011, and a final rule is scheduled for fall of 2013. Nutrition standards will be set for what foods can be served anywhere in the school during the entire school day. Schools with ala carte programs, school stores or vending machines would be most affected.

Professional Standards for School Food Service: A proposed rule should be out in the fall of 2012 and a final rule in the fall of 2013. USDA will set standards and requirements for ongoing professional certification of school food service directors and food service personnel.

Review of local policies on charging and providing alternate meals: The law requires USDA to prepare a report with recommendations. No time frame or other specifics have been released.

Program Reviews Increased: School nutrition programs would be reviewed every three years instead of the current five year review cycle. We would need to conduct a nutrient analysis on two weeks of lunch menus instead of one week, and also conduct a nutrient analysis on two weeks of breakfast menus. This is tentatively set for school year 2012/2013.

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Mandatory 30 Day Carry-over of Free/Reduced Price Eligibility 

The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act of 2004 includes a section on duration of eligibility. Given the emphasis placed on ensuring access to program benefits, USDA requires a carry-over of eligibility up to 30 operating days into the subsequent school year. This applies to direct certifications, categorical determinations and income applications. As in the past, a new eligibility determination in the current year supersedes the carry-over eligibility. However, schools cannot require new applications until the carry-over date. For most schools, this day will occur sometime after October 1.  

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New Free & Reduced Price Income Applications Beginning Fall 2011

Please do not copy the old Free & Reduced Price Income Application. We have developed a new application with the following changes:

  • A “no income” box is listed by each name blank on the form.  Each household member who does not receive any income must check the box. 
  • The foster child section has been removed.  A “foster child” box is listed by each name blank on the form.  The box should be checked if the child is a foster child.
  • The social security number section has been changed to only require the last four digits. A check box has been added to indicate if the person completing and signing the form does not have a social security number.

The new Free and Reduced Price Application and the new Letter to Households are available on the Child Nutrition website at the following link:

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In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
Kirsten Baesler, State Superintendent
600 E. Boulevard Avenue, Dept. 201
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0440

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