(1)General scope. The State agency shall maintain a system of its choosing for handling program complaints filed by participants, potential participants, or other concerned individuals or groups. This shall not include complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, religious creed, national origin, political beliefs or disability; such complaints shall be handled in accordance with § 272.6. This procedure also need not include complaints that can be pursued through a fair hearing. Complaints regarding such areas as processing standards and service to participants and potential participants would generally be handled under this complaint procedure.
(2)Minimum requirements. The State agency shall follow up on complaints, resolve complaints and take corrective action where warranted, and respond to the complainant on the State agency's disposition of the complaint. The State agency shall make information on the complaint system and how to file a complaint available to participants, potential participants and other interested persons. The State agency may make the information available through written materials or posters at certification offices or other appropriate means.
(3)Complaint analysis. The State agency shall maintain records of complaints received and their disposition, and shall review records at least annually to assess whether patterns of problems may be present in local offices, project areas, or throughout the State. The results of this review shall be provided to the Performance Reporting System coordinator for appropriate action, and for inclusion, if appropriate, in the State Corrective Action Plan in accordance with § 275.16 of this chapter. The information provided to the Performance Reporting System Coordinator shall include the identification, if any, of potential or actual patterns of deficiencies in local offices, project areas, or throughout the State, and any identification of causes of these problems.
(4)Monitoring. FNS shall monitor State compliance with these requirements through the Performance Reporting System.
(b)Regional office responsibility.
(1) Persons or agencies desiring program information or wishing to file a complaint may contact the appropriate FNS Regional Office.
(i) For Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Virginia, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and West Virginia: Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, CN 02150, Trenton, NJ 08650.
(ii) For Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee: Southeast Regional Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, 77 Forsyth Street SW., suite 112, Atlanta, GA 30303-3427.
(iii) For Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin: Midwest Regional Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, 77 West Jackson Blvd., 20th Floor, Chicago, IL 60604-3507.
(iv) For Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas: Southwest Regional Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, 1100 Commerce Street, suite 5-C-30, Dallas, TX 75242.
(v) For Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington: Western Regional Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, 550 Kearny Street, room 400, San Francisco, CA 94108.
(vi) For Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont: Northeast Regional Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, 10 Causeway St., Boston, MA 02222-1069.
(vii) For Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming: Mountain Plains Regional Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, 1244 Speer Blvd., suite 903, Denver, CO 80204-3581.
(2) Complainants shall be advised of the appropriate State complaint handling and fair hearing procedures. Upon household request, other complaints shall be pursued by the Department rather than the State agency, unless the complaint is one upon which the complainant wishes to request a fair hearing.