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Policy and ARM for NSLP

Administrator’s Reference Manual (ARM) Update

PLEASE NOTE: The ARM contains state and regulatory guidance for standard operations. For deviations and flexibilities to standard NSLP operations as a result of COVID-19, please refer to the FAQs on the SquareMeals Coronavirus page for more information.

NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual

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 38 items in 2 pages
Section 17. Procurement          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 17a. Procurement Procedures          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 17b. Buy American          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 17c. Cooperative Purchasing          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 18. Food Service Contracts          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 19. Meal Pricing          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 20. Counting & Claiming          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 21. Meal Service          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 22. Competitive Foods          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 23. Food Product Documentation          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 24. Disaster Situations          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 25. Meal Accommodations          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 26. Food Safety          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 27. Professional Standards          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 28. Residential Child Care Centers          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 29. Local Wellness Policy, Stakeholder Engagement          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 30. Records Retention          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual
Section 31. Administrative & Other Compliance Reviews          NSLP Handbook: Administrator's Reference Manual

USDA Policy
USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issues policy memoranda to provide guidance on implementing NSLP. Click here to see these memos on the USDA site.

Food Buying Guide—Creditable Contributions  Minimize 

The USDA interactive Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs (FBG) allows CEs to search creditable food items for food yield information to help determine the specific contribution each food item makes towards a reimbursable meal in all Child Nutrition Programs. It also provides useful tools, such as the Recipe Analysis Workbook and the Product Formulation Statement Workbook. In addition, with yield data for more than 2,100 food items, this guide provides ideas for adding new foods or new versions of familiar foods to your menus. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize that a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains, especially dark green and red/orange vegetables and whole grains, are key elements of a healthful diet.

Contracting entities may also use the following resources to assist in ensuring that meals meet program requirements for reimbursement:

NOTE: Contents of all Food Buying Guide Supplements previously found on this page have been incorporated into the FBG. Requests for copies of archived Food Buying Guide Supplements can be emailed to In the subject of the email, list the full name of the Food Buying Guide Supplement requested.

Carryover Eligibility Guidance  Minimize 

Carryover Eligibility for Students Transferring from Special Provision Schools to Non-Special Provision Schools
Starting School Year 2016-2017, contracting entities (CE) must provide carryover eligibility to students transferring from a special provision school to a non-special provision school both during and between school years. Special provision schools operate the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2 (P2).

By extending carryover to these students, CEs are given additional time to process applications, prevent unpaid meal charges, and ensure that students receive meals while their eligibility is being processed. The carryover period is 30 operating days or until there is a new eligibility determination, whichever comes first. During the carryover period or until a new eligibility determination is made, reimbursable meals for these students may be claimed at the free rate.

CEs should contact their ESC if they have students who have transferred. The ESC will assist them in determining if the updated carryover provision applies. TDA will be updating Administrator's Reference Manual, Section 5, Special Provisions and other guidance.

Eligibility Manual for School Meals: Determining and Verifying Eligibility  Minimize 

The USDA Eligibility Manual is available at This manual contains information on federal requirements regarding the determination and verification of eligibility for free and reduced price meals in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP). These provisions also apply to the determination of eligibility for free milk under the Special Milk Program (SMP). This manual is to be used in conjunction with Section 4, Determining Eligibility in the Administrator's Reference Manual (ARM).

Changes to Texas School Nutrition Policy  Minimize 
Effective June 28, 2015, TDA repealed regulations prohibiting deep fat frying and sales of certain carbonated beverages for schools participating in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program in Texas. TDA also repealed the current ‘time and place’ policy.

Further, TDA now allows these schools to sell any foods and beverages during the school day as part of a fundraiser for up to six days per school year on each school campus. The foods and beverages sold for fundraisers on allowable days are not required to meet applicable nutritional standards outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations, provided that no specially exempted fundraiser foods or beverages may be sold in competition with school meals in the food service area during the meal service. 

These policies are outlined in the Texas Administrative Code. For more details, please see:$ext.viewtac

Schools may set policies that are more stringent than requirements set by USDA or TDA related to the food environment at schools.

New Texas School Nutrition Laws  Minimize 

Two bills affecting school nutrition in Texas were passed during the 84th Legislative Session and signed into law by the Governor. One of the new laws offers an alternative way to fund school breakfast for students eligible for free or reduced price meals and the other addresses policies for students purchasing meals after their prepaid funds are exhausted. The bills are effective immediately.

HB 1305—Breakfast Mandate
Starting with School Year 2015-2016, public and charter schools that are mandated to offer breakfast may operate a locally funded breakfast program in lieu of the federally funded School Breakfast Program. 

School districts or charter schools may have schools that operate the School Breakfast Program and other schools that operate a locally funded breakfast program. In these cases, the school district or charter school must fully fund its locally funded breakfast program from resources other than the Child Nutrition Program. 

Locally funded breakfast programs are eligible for state compensatory funding. Please note state compensatory funding is administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

HB 3562—Charge Policy
If a school district allows students to use prepaid meal cards or accounts to purchase school meals, the district must establish a grace period during which a student is able to charge meals after the prepaid funds are exhausted.  

The school district must also notify the student’s parent or guardian that the student’s meal card or account balance is exhausted. The district is not allowed to charge a fee or interest in connection with meals purchased by the students during the grace period. When the school district notifies the student’s parent or guardian that the student has a negative balance, the district may set a repayment schedule for the meal charges.

Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

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

Texas Department of Agriculture Logo

Texas Department of Agriculture

Commissioner Sid Miller

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