Latest News for School Nutrition Programs

Universal Free Feeding

Published: 232 days ago
" CEs may operate a universal feeding program under standard counting and claiming, in which all children are claimed at the standard free/reduced price/paid rates, but no children are charged for their meals. To provide universal free lunches, the CE must use funds from outside the nonprofit food service account (for example, funds from the General Fund) to offset the revenue lost by not charging lunch meals to students categorized as “paid.” However, funds from the nonprofit school food service account may be used to cover any expenditures associated with eliminating the charge or lowering the price for reduced-price reimbursable meals. In addition, these funds may be used to provide universal free breakfast meals. For more information, see the Administrator’s Reference Manual (ARM), Section 19, Meal Pricing and Section 20, Counting and Claiming located at https://squaremeals.org/Programs/National-School-Lunch-Program/Policy-ARM. Please note that TDA intends to clarify the ARM guidance soon in an upcoming release.
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Universal Free sites offer reimbursable meals at no cost to all participants. Even though special provision sites— such as Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2 (P2) sites—provide free meals to all students, universal free feeding refers to situations where the CE has chosen to provide free reimbursable meals to all students, but submits claims based on each student’s eligibility as determined each year by application or direct certification.

To provide universal free lunches, the CE must use funds from outside the nonprofit food service account (for example, funds from the General Fund) to offset the revenue lost by not charging lunch meals to students categorized as “paid.” Use of excess program funds to offset these costs is unallowable. As such, the following cannot be used to offset the revenue lost by providing universal free lunches:
  • Any federally sourced payment, including additional per-meal reimbursements, providing specifically to support free and reduced-price meals.
  • Any revenue from concession stands or other onsite income generating activities if the revenue or income flows through the nonprofit school food service account even if the School Nutrition Program (SNP) only gets a portion of the revenue or income.
  • Revenue from foods sold in competition with reimbursable meals—i.e., competitive foods.
  • Any in-kind contributions which includes the following:
- Janitorial services that were previously provided at no cost to the SNP.
- Prorated share for the salaries of teacher or office staff that serve as cafeteria monitors.
- Supplies, such as office equipment, that were previously provided at no cost to the SNP.
- Prorated share for utilities that were previously paid by the SNP.

However, funds from the nonprofit school food service account may be used to cover any expenditures associated with eliminating the charge or lowering the price for reduced-price reimbursable meals. In addition, these funds may be used to provide universal free breakfast meals. 

For more information, see the Administrator’s Reference Manual (ARM), Section 19, Meal Pricing and Section 20, Counting and Claiming located at https://squaremeals.org/Programs/National-School-Lunch-Program/Policy-ARM. Please note that TDA intends to clarify the ARM guidance soon in an upcoming release. 
 


 

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Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.
 

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/USDA-OASCR%20P-Complaint-Form-0508-0002-508-11-28-17Fax2Mail.pdf, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

1. Mail:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
2. Fax: (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
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