7 CFR 245.9 - Special assistance certification and reimbursement alternatives.

(a)Provision 1. A Local educational agency of a school having at least 80 percent of its enrolled children determined eligible for free or reduced price meals may, at its option, authorize the school to reduce annual certification and public notification for those children eligible for free meals to once every two consecutive school years. This alternative shall be known as provision 1 and the following requirements shall apply:

(1) A Local educational agency of a school operating under provision 1 requirements shall publicly notify in accordance with § 245.5, parents of enrolled children who are receiving free meals once every two consecutive school years, and shall publicly notify in accordance with § 245.5, parents of all other enrolled children on an annual basis.

(2) The 80 percent enrollment eligibility for this alternative shall be based on the school's March enrollment data of the previous school year, or on other comparable data.

(3) A Local educational agency of a school operating under provision 1, shall count the number of free, reduced price and paid meals served to children in that school as the basis for monthly reimbursement claims.

(b)Provision 2. A local educational agency may certify children for free and reduced price meals for up to 4 consecutive school years in the schools which serve meals at no charge to all enrolled children; provided that public notification and eligibility determinations are in accordance with §§ 245.5 and 245.3, respectively, during the base year as defined in paragraph (b)(6) of this section. The Provision 2 base year is the first year, and is included in the 4-year cycle. The following requirements apply:

(1)Meals at no charge. Participating schools must serve reimbursable meals, as determined by a point of service observation, or as otherwise approved under part 210 of this chapter, to all participating children at no charge.

(2)Cost differential. The local educational agency of a school participating in Provision 2 must pay, with funds from non-Federal sources, the difference between the cost of serving lunches and/or breakfasts at no charge to all participating children and Federal reimbursement.

(3)Meal counts. During the base year, even though meals are served to participating students at no charge, schools must take daily meal counts of reimbursable student meals by type (free, reduced price, and paid) at the point of service, or as otherwise approved under part 210 of this chapter. During the non-base years, participating Provision 2 schools must take total daily meal counts (not by type) of reimbursable student meals at the point of service, or as otherwise approved under part 210 of this chapter. For the purpose of calculating reimbursement claims in the non-base years, local educational agencies must establish school specific monthly or annual claiming percentages, as follows:

(i)Monthly percentages. In any given Provision 2 school, the monthly meal counts of the actual number of meals served by type (free, reduced price, and paid) during the base year must be converted to monthly percentages for each meal type. For example, the free lunch percentage is derived by dividing the monthly total number of reimbursable free lunches served by the total number of reimbursable lunches served in the same month (free, reduced price and paid). The percentages for the reduced price and paid lunches are calculated using the same method as the above example for free lunches. These three percentages, calculated at the end of each month of the first school year, are multiplied by the corresponding monthly lunch count total of all reimbursable lunches served in the second, third and fourth consecutive school years, and applicable extensions, in order to calculate reimbursement claims for free, reduced price and paid lunches each month. The free, reduced price and paid percentages for breakfasts and, as applicable, snacks, are calculated using the same method; or

(ii)Annual percentages. In any given Provision 2 school, the actual number of all reimbursable meals served by type (free, reduced price, and paid) during the base year must be converted to an annual percentage for each meal type. For example, the free lunch percentage is derived by dividing the annual total number of reimbursable free lunches served by the annual total number of reimbursable lunches served for all meal types (free, reduced price and paid). The percentages for the reduced price and paid lunches are calculated using the same method as the above example for free lunches. These three percentages, calculated at the end of the base year, are multiplied by the total monthly lunch count of all reimbursable lunches served in each month of the second, third and fourth consecutive school years, and applicable extensions, in order to calculate reimbursement claims for free, reduced price and paid lunches each month. The free, reduced price and paid percentages for breakfasts and, as applicable, snacks, are calculated using the same method for each type of meal service.

(4)Local educational agency claims review process. During the Provision 2 base year (not including a streamlined base year under paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section), local educational agencies are required to review the lunch count data for each school under its jurisdiction to ensure the accuracy of the monthly Claim for Reimbursement in accordance with § 210.8(a)(2) of this chapter. During non-base years and streamlined base years, local educational agencies must compare each Provision 2 school's total daily meal counts to the school's total enrollment, adjusted by an attendance factor. The local educational agency must promptly follow-up as specified in § 210.8(a)(4) of this chapter when the claims review suggests the likelihood of lunch count problems. When a school elects to operate Provision 2 only in the School Breakfast Program, local educational agencies must continue to comply with the claims review requirements of § 210.8(a)(2) of this chapter for the National School Lunch Program.

(5)Verification. Except as otherwise specified in § 245.6a(a)(5), local educational agencies are required to conduct verification in accordance with § 245.6a. When a school elects to participate under Provision 2 or for all of the meal programs in which it participates (breakfast 7 CFR part 220 and/or lunch 7 CFR part 210), the applications from that school are excluded from the local educational agency's required verification sample size and are exempt from verification during non-base years.

(6)Base year. For purposes of this paragraph (b), the term base year means the last school year for which eligibility determinations were made and meal counts by type were taken or the school year in which a school conducted a streamlined base year as authorized under paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section. Schools shall offer reimbursable meals to all students at no charge during the Provision 2 base year except as otherwise specified in paragraph (b)(6)(ii) of this section.

(i)Duration of the base year. The base year must begin at the start of the school year or as otherwise specified in paragraph (b)(6)(ii) of this section.

(ii)Delayed implementation. At State agency discretion, schools may delay implementation of Provision 2 for a period of time not to exceed the first claiming period of the school year in which the base year is established. Schools implementing this option may conduct standard meal counting and claiming procedures, including charging students eligible for reduced price and paid meals, during the first claiming period of the school year. Such schools must submit claims reflecting the actual number of meals served by type. In subsequent years, such schools shall convert the actual number of reimbursable meals served by type (free, reduced price and paid) during the remaining claiming periods of the base year, in which meals were served at no charge to all participating students, to an annual percentage for each type of meal. The annual claiming percentages must be applied to the total number of reimbursable meals served during the first claiming period in all non-base years of operation for that cycle and any extensions.

(c)Extension of Provision 2. At the end of the initial cycle, and each subsequent 4-year cycle, the State agency may allow a school to continue under Provision 2 for another 4 years using the claiming percentages calculated during the most recent base year if the local educational agency can establish, through available and approved socioeconomic data, that the income level of the school's population, as adjusted for inflation, has remained stable, declined or has had only negligible improvement since the base year.

(1)Extension criteria. Local educational agencies must submit to the State agency available and approved socioeconomic data to establish whether the income level of a school's population, as adjusted for inflation, remained constant with the income level of the most recent base year.

(i)Available and approved sources of socioeconomic data. Pre-approved sources of socioeconomic data which may be used by local educational agencies to establish the income level of the school's population are: local data collected by the city or county zoning and economic planning office; unemployment data; local SNAP certification data including direct certification; Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations data; statistical sampling of the school's population using the application or equivalent income measurement process; and, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families data (provided that the eligibility standards were the same or more restrictive in the base year as the current year with allowance for inflation). To grant an extension using pre-approved socioeconomic data sources, State agencies must review and evaluate the socioeconomic data submitted by the local educational agency to ensure that it is reflective of the school's population, provides equivalent data for both the base year and the last year of the current cycle, and demonstrates that the income level of the school's population, as adjusted for inflation, has remained stable, declined or had only negligible improvement. If the local educational agency wants to establish the income level of the school's population using alternate sources of socioeconomic data, the use of such data must be approved by the Food and Nutrition Service. Data from alternate sources must be reflective of the school's population, be equivalent data for both the base year and the last year of the current cycle, and effectively measure whether the income level of the school's population, as adjusted for inflation, has remained stable, declined or had only negligible improvement.

(ii)Negligible improvement. The change in the income level of the school's population shall be considered negligible if there is a 5 percent or less improvement, after adjusting for inflation, over the base year in the level of the socioeconomic indicator which is used to establish the income level of the school's population.

(2)Extension not approved. The State agency shall not approve an extension of Provision 2 procedures in those schools for which the available and approved socioeconomic data does not reflect the school's population, is not equivalent data for the base year and the last year of the current cycle, or shows over 5 percent improvement, after adjusting for inflation, in the income level of the school's population. Such schools shall:

(i)Return to standard meal counting and claiming. Return to standard meal counting and claiming procedures;

(ii)Establish a new base year. Establish a new Provision 2 base year by taking new free and reduced price applications, making new free and reduced price eligibility determinations, and taking point of service counts of free, reduced price and paid meals for the first year of the new cycle. For these schools, the new Provision 2 cycle will be 4 years. Schools electing to establish a Provision 2 base year shall follow procedures contained in paragraph (b) of this section;

(iii)Establish a streamlined base year. With prior approval by the State agency, establish a streamlined base year by providing reimbursable meals to all participating students at no charge and developing either enrollment based or participation based claiming percentages.

(A)Enrollment based percentages. In accordance with guidance established by the Food and Nutrition Service, establish a new Provision 2 base year by determining program eligibility on the basis of household size and income, and direct certification if applicable, for a statistically valid proportion of the school's enrollment as of October 31, or other date approved by the State agency. The statistically valid measurement of the school's enrollment must be obtained during the first year of the new cycle and meet the requirements of paragraph (m) of this section. Using the data obtained, enrollment based claiming percentages representing a proportion of the school's population eligible for free, reduced price and paid benefits shall be developed and applied to total daily meal counts of reimbursable meals at the point of service, or as otherwise approved under part 210 of this chapter. For schools electing to participate in Provision 2, these percentages shall be used for claiming reimbursement for each year of the new cycle and any extensions; or

(B)Participation based percentages. In accordance with guidance established by the Food and Nutrition Service, establish a new Provision 2 base year by determining program eligibility on the basis of household size and income, and direct certification if applicable, for a statistically valid proportion of participating students established over multiple operating days. The statistically valid measurement of the school's student participation must be obtained during the first year of the new cycle and meet the requirements of paragraph (m) of this section. Using the data obtained, participation based claiming percentages representing a proportion of the school's participating students which are eligible for free, reduced price and paid benefits shall be developed and applied to total daily meal counts of reimbursable meals at the point of service or as otherwise approved under part 210 of this chapter. These percentages shall be used for claiming reimbursement for each year of the new cycle and any extensions; or

(iv)Establish a Provision 3 base year. Schools may convert to Provision 3 using the procedures contained in paragraphs (e)(2)(ii) or (e)(2)(iii) of this section.

(d)Provision 3. A local educational agency of a school which serves all enrolled children in that school reimbursable meals at no charge during any period for up to 4 consecutive school years may elect to receive Federal cash reimbursement and commodity assistance at the same level as the total Federal cash and commodity assistance received by the school during the last year that eligibility determinations for free and reduced price meals were made and meals were counted by type (free, reduced price and paid) at the point of service, or as otherwise authorized under part 210 of this chapter. Such cash reimbursement and commodity assistance will be adjusted for each of the 4 consecutive school years pursuant to paragraph (d)(4) of this section. For purposes of this paragraph (d), the term base year means the last complete school year for which eligibility determinations were made and meal counts by type were taken or the school year in which a school conducted a streamlined base year as authorized under paragraph (e)(2)(iii) of this section. The base year must begin at the start of a school year. Reimbursable meals may be offered to all students at no charge or students eligible for reduced price and paid meal benefits may be charged for meals during a Provision 3 base, except that schools conducting a Provision 3 streamlined base year must provide reimbursable meals to all participating students at no charge in accordance with paragraph (e)(2)(iii) of this section. The Provision 3 base year immediately precedes, and is not included in, the 4-year cycle. This alternative shall be known as Provision 3, and the following requirements shall apply:

(1)Meals at no charge. Participating schools must serve reimbursable meals, as determined by a point of service observation, or as otherwise authorized under part 210 of this chapter, to all participating children at no charge during non-base years of operation or as specified in paragraph (e)(2)(iii) of this section, if applicable.

(2)Cost differential. The local educational agency of a school participating in Provision 3 must pay, with funds from non-Federal sources, the difference between the cost of serving lunches and/or breakfasts at no charge to all participating children and Federal reimbursement.

(3)Meal counts. Participating schools must take total daily meal counts of reimbursable meals served to participating children at the point of service, or as otherwise authorized under part 210 of this chapter, during the non-base years. Such meal counts must be retained at the local level in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section. State agencies may require the submission of the meal counts on the local educational agency's monthly Claim for Reimbursement or through other means. In addition, local educational agencies must establish a system of oversight using the daily meal counts to ensure that participation has not declined significantly from the base year. If participation declines significantly, the local educational agency must provide the school with technical assistance, adjust the level of financial assistance received through the State agency or return the school to standard eligibility determination and meal counting procedures, as appropriate. In residential child care institutions, the State agency may approve implementation of Provision 3 without the requirement to obtain daily meal counts of reimbursable meals at the point of service if:

(i) The State agency determines that enrollment, participation and meal counts do not vary; and

(ii) There is an approved mechanism in place to ensure that students will receive reimbursable meals.

(4)Annual adjustments. The State agency or local educational agency shall make annual adjustments for enrollment and inflation to the total Federal cash and commodity assistance received by a Provision 3 school in the base year. The adjustments shall be made for increases and decreases in enrollment of children with access to the program(s). The annual adjustment for enrollment shall be based on the school's base year enrollment as of October 31 compared to the school's current year enrollment as of October 31. Another date within the base year may be used if it is approved by the State agency, and provides a more accurate reflection of the school's enrollment or accommodates the reporting system in effect in that State. If another date is used for the base year, the current year date must correspond to the base year date of comparison. State agencies may, at their discretion, make additional adjustments to a participating school's enrollment more frequently than once per school year. If more frequent enrollment is calculated, it must be applied for both upward and downward adjustments. The annual adjustment for inflation shall be effected through the application of the current year rates of reimbursement. To the extent that the number of operating days in the current school year differs from the number of operating days in the base year, and the difference affects the number of meals, a prorata adjustment shall also be made to the base year level of assistance, as adjusted by enrollment and inflation. Upward and downward adjustments to the number of operating days shall be made. Such adjustment shall be effected by either:

(i) Multiplying the average daily meal count by type (free, reduced price and paid) by the difference in the number of operating days between the base year and the current year and adding/subtracting that number of meals from the Claim for Reimbursement, as appropriate. In developing the average daily meal count by type for the current school year, schools shall use the base year data adjusted by enrollment; or

(ii) Multiplying the dollar amount otherwise payable (i.e., the base year level of assistance, as adjusted by enrollment and inflation) by the ratio of the number of operating days in the current year to the number of operating days in the base year.

(5)Reporting requirements. The State agency shall submit to the Department on the monthly FNS-10, Report of School Programs Operations, the number of meals, by type (i.e., monthly meal counts by type for the base year, as adjusted); or the number of meals, by type, constructed to reflect the adjusted levels of cash assistance. State agencies may employ either method to effect payment of reimbursement for Provision 3 schools.

(6)Local educational agency claims review process. During the Provision 3 base year (not including a streamlined base year under paragraph (e)(2)(iii) of this section), local educational agencies are required to review the lunch count data for each school under its jurisdiction to ensure the accuracy of the monthly Claim for Reimbursement in accordance with § 210.8(a)(2) of this chapter. During non-base years and streamlined base years, local educational agencies must conduct their own system of oversight or compare each Provision 3 school's total daily meal counts to the school's total enrollment, adjusted by an attendance factor. The local educational agency must promptly follow-up as specified in § 210.8(a)(4) of this chapter when the claims review suggests the likelihood of lunch count problems. When a school elects to operate Provision 3 only in the School Breakfast Program, local educational agencies must continue to comply with the claims review requirements of § 210.8(a)(2) of this chapter for the National School Lunch Program.

(7)Verification. Except as otherwise specified in § 245.6a(a)(5), local educational agencies are required to conduct verification in accordance with § 245.6a. When a school elects to participate under Provision 3 for all of the meal programs in which it participates (breakfast 7 CFR part 220 and/or lunch 7 CFR part 210), the applications from that school are excluded from the local educational agency's required verification sample size and are exempt from verification during non-base years.

(e)Extension of Provision 3. At the end of the initial cycle, and each subsequent 4-year cycle, the State agency may allow a school to continue under Provision 3 for another 4 years without taking new free and reduced price applications and meal counts by type. State agencies may grant an extension of Provision 3 if the local educational agency can establish, through available and approved socioeconomic data, that the income level of the school's population, as adjusted for inflation, has remained stable, declined, or has had only negligible improvement since the most recent base year.

(1)Extension criteria. Local educational agencies must submit to the State agency available and approved socioeconomic data to establish whether the income level of the school's population, as adjusted for inflation, remained constant with the income level of the most recent base year.

(i)Available and approved sources of socioeconomic data. Pre-approved sources of socioeconomic data which may be used by local educational agencies to establish the income level of the school's population are: local data collected by the city or county zoning and economic planning office; unemployment data; local SNAP certification data including direct certification; Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations data; statistical sampling of the school's population using the application process; and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families data (provided that the eligibility standards were the same or more restrictive in the base year as the current year with allowance for inflation). To grant an extension using pre-approved socioeconomic data sources, State agencies must review and evaluate the socioeconomic data submitted by the local educational agency to ensure that it is reflective of the school's population, provides equivalent data for both the base year and the last year of the current cycle, and demonstrates that the income level of the school's population, as adjusted for inflation, has remained stable, declined or had only negligible improvement. If the local educational agency wants to establish the income level of the school's population using alternate sources of data, the use of such data must be approved by the Food and Nutrition Service. Data from alternate sources must be reflective of the school's population, be equivalent data for both the base year and the last year of the current cycle, and effectively measure whether the income level of the school's population, as adjusted for inflation, has remained stable, declined or had only negligible improvement.

(ii)Negligible improvement. The change in the income level of the school population shall be considered negligible if there is a 5 percent or less improvement, after adjusting for inflation, over the base year in the level of the socioeconomic indicator which is used to establish the income level of the school's population.

(2)Extension not approved. Schools for which the available and approved socioeconomic data does not reflect the school's population, is not equivalent data for the base year and the last year of the current cycle, or shows over 5 percent improvement after adjusting for inflation, shall not be approved for an extension. Such schools must elect one of the following options:

(i)Return to standard meal counting and claiming. Return to standard meal counting and claiming procedures;

(ii)Establish a new base year. Establish a new Provision 3 base year by taking new free and reduced price applications, making new free and reduced price eligibility determinations, and taking point of service counts of free, reduced price and paid meals for the first year of the new cycle. Schools electing to establish a Provision 3 base year shall follow procedures contained in paragraph (d) of this section;

(iii)Establish a streamlined base year. With prior approval by the State agency, establish a streamlined base year by providing reimbursable meals to all participating students at no charge and developing either enrollment based or participation based claiming percentages.

(A)Enrollment based percentages. In accordance with guidance established by the Food and Nutrition Service, establish a new Provision 3 base year by determining program eligibility on the basis of household size and income, and direct certification if applicable, for a statistically valid proportion of the school's enrollment as of October 31, or other date approved by the State agency. The statistically valid measurement of the school's enrollment must be obtained during the first year of the new cycle and meet the requirements of paragraph (m) of this section. Using the data obtained, enrollment based claiming percentages representing a proportion of the school's population eligible for free, reduced price and paid benefits shall be developed and applied to total daily meal counts of reimbursable meals at the point of service, or as otherwise approved under part 210 of this chapter. For schools electing to participate in Provision 3, the streamlined base year level of assistance will be adjusted for enrollment, inflation and, if applicable, operating days, for each subsequent year of the new cycle and any extensions; or

(B)Participation based percentages. In accordance with guidance established by the Food and Nutrition Service, establish a new Provision 3 base year by determining program eligibility on the basis of household size and income, and direct certification if applicable, for a statistically valid proportion of participating students established over multiple operating days. The statistically valid measurement of the school's student participation must be obtained during the first year of the new cycle and meet the requirements of paragraph (m) of this section. Using the data obtained, participation based claiming percentages representing a proportion of the school's participating students which are eligible for free, reduced price and paid benefits shall be developed and applied to total daily meal counts of reimbursable meals at the point of service or as otherwise approved under part 210 of this chapter. For schools electing to participate in Provision 3, the streamlined base year level of assistance as described in this paragraph (e)(2)(iii)(B) will be adjusted for enrollment, inflation and, if applicable, operating days, for each subsequent year of the new cycle and any extensions; or

(iv)Establish a Provision 2 base year. Schools may convert to Provision 2 using the procedures contained in paragraphs (c)(2)(ii) or (c)(2)(iii) of this section.

(f)Community eligibility. The community eligibility provision is an alternative reimbursement option for eligible high poverty local educational agencies. Each CEP cycle lasts up to four years before the LEA or school is required to recalculate their reimbursement rate. LEAs and schools have the option to recalculate sooner, if desired. A local educational agency may elect this provision for all of its schools, a group of schools, or an individual school. Participating local educational agencies must offer free breakfasts and lunches for the length of their CEP cycle, not to exceed four successive years, to all children attending participating schools and receive meal reimbursement based on claiming percentages, as described in paragraph (f)(4)(v) of this section.

(1)Definitions. For the purposes of this paragraph,

(i)Enrolled students means students who are enrolled in and attending schools participating in the community eligibility provision and who have access to at least one meal service (breakfast or lunch) daily.

(ii)Identified students means students with access to at least one meal service who are not subject to verification as prescribed in § 245.6a(c)(2). Identified students are students approved for free meals based on documentation of their receipt of benefits from SNAP, TANF, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, or Medicaid where applicable (where approved by USDA to conduct matching with Medicaid data to identify children eligible for free meals). The term identified students also includes homeless children, migrant children, runaway children, or Head Start children (approved for free school meals without application and not subject to verification), as these terms are defined in § 245.2. In addition, the term includes foster children certified for free meals through means other than an application for free and reduced price school meals. The term does not include students who are categorically eligible based on submission of an application for free and reduced price school meals.

(iii)Identified student percentage means a percentage determined by dividing the number of identified students as of a specified period of time by the number of enrolled students as defined in paragraph (f)(1)(i) of this section as of the same period of time and multiplying the quotient by 100. The identified student percentage may be determined by an individual participating school, a group of participating schools in the local educational agency, or in the aggregate for the entire local educational agency if all schools participate, following procedures established in FNS guidance.

(2)Implementation. A local educational agency may elect the community eligibility provision for all schools, a group of schools, or an individual school. Community eligibility may be implemented for one or more 4-year cycles.

(3)Eligibility criteria. To be eligible to participate in the community eligibility provision, a local educational agency (except a residential child care institution, as defined under the definition of “School” in § 210.2), group of schools, or school must meet the eligibility criteria set forth in this paragraph.

(i)Minimum identified student percentage. A local educational agency, group of schools, or school must have an identified student percentage of at least 40 percent, as of April 1 of the school year prior to participating in the community eligibility provision, unless otherwise specified by FNS. Individual schools participating in a group may have less than 40 percent identified students, provided that the average identified student percentage for the group is at least 40 percent.

(ii)Lunch and breakfast program participation. A local educational agency, group of schools, or school must participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, under parts 210 and 220 of this title, for the duration of the 4-year cycle. Schools that operate on a limited schedule, where it is not operationally feasible to offer both lunch and breakfast, may elect CEP with FNS approval.

(iii)Compliance. A local educational agency, group of schools, or school must comply with the procedures and requirements specified in paragraph (f)(4) of this section to participate in the community eligibility provision.

(4)Community eligibility provision procedures -

(i)Election documentation and deadline. A local educational agency, group of schools, or school that intends to elect the community eligibility provision for the following year for one or more schools must submit to the State agency documentation demonstrating the LEA, group of schools, or school meets the identified student percentage, as specified under paragraph (f)(3)(i) of this section. Such documentation must be submitted no later than June 30 and must include, at a minimum, the counts of identified students and enrolled students as of April 1 of the school year prior to CEP implementation.

(ii)State agency review of election documentation. The State agency must review the identified student percentage documentation submitted by the local educational agency to confirm that the local educational agency, group of schools, or school meets the minimum identified student percentage, participates in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, and has a record of administering the meal program in accordance with program regulations, as indicated by the most recent administrative review.

(iii)Meals at no cost. A local educational agency must ensure participating schools offer reimbursable breakfasts and lunches at no cost to all students attending participating schools during the 4-year cycle, and count the number of reimbursable breakfasts and lunches served to students daily.

(iv)Household applications. A local educational agency, group of schools, or school must not collect applications for free and reduced price school meals on behalf of children in schools participating in the community eligibility provision. Any local educational agency seeking to obtain socioeconomic data from children receiving free meals under this section must develop, conduct, and fund this effort entirely separate from, and not under the auspices of, the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program.

(v)Free and paid claiming percentages. Reimbursement is based on free and paid claiming percentages applied to the total number of reimbursable lunches and breakfasts served each month, respectively. Reduced price students are accounted for in the free claiming percentage, eliminating the need for a separate percentage.

(A) To determine the free claiming percentage, multiply the applicable identified student percentage by a factor of 1.6. The product of this calculation may not exceed 100 percent. The difference between the free claiming percentage and 100 percent represents the paid claiming percentage. The applicable identified student percentage means:

(1) In the first year of participation in the community eligibility provision, the identified student percentage as of April 1 of the prior school year.

(2) In the second, third, and fourth year of the 4-year cycle, LEAs may choose the higher of the identified student percentage as of April 1 of the prior school year or the identified student percentage as of April 1 of the year prior to the current 4-year cycle. LEAs and schools may begin a new 4-year cycle with a higher identified student percentage based on data as of the most recent April 1, as specified in paragraph (viii).

(B) To determine the number of lunches to claim for reimbursement, multiply the free claiming percentage as described in this paragraph by the total number of reimbursable lunches served to determine the number of free lunches to claim for reimbursement. The paid claiming percentage is multiplied by the total number of reimbursable lunches served to determine the number of paid lunches to claim for reimbursement. In the breakfast meal service, the free and paid claiming percentages are multiplied by the total number of reimbursable breakfasts served to determine the number of free and paid breakfasts to claim for reimbursement. For any claim, if the total number of meals claimed for free and paid reimbursement does not equal the total number of meals served, the paid category must be adjusted so that all served meals are claimed for reimbursement.

(vi) Multiplier factor. A 1.6 multiplier must be used for an entire 4-year cycle to calculate the percentage of lunches and breakfasts to be claimed at the Federal free rate.

(vii) Cost differential. If there is a difference between the cost of serving lunches and breakfasts at no cost to all participating children and the Federal assistance provided, the local educational agency must pay such difference with non-Federal sources of funds. Expenditure of additional non-federal funds is not required if all operating costs are covered by the Federal assistance provided.

(viii) New 4-year cycle. To begin a new 4-year cycle, local educational agencies or schools must establish a new identified student percentage as of April 1 prior to the 4-year cycle. If the local educational agency, group of schools, or school meet the eligibility criteria set forth in paragraph (f)(3) of this section, a new 4-year cycle may begin.

(ix)Grace year. A local educational agency, group of schools, or school with an identified student percentage of less than 40 percent but equal to or greater than 30 percent as of April 1 of the fourth year of a community eligibility cycle may continue using community eligibility for a grace year that continues the 4-year cycle for one additional, or fifth, year. If the local educational agency, group of schools, or school regains the 40 percent threshold as of April 1 of the grace year, the State agency may authorize a new 4-year cycle for the following school year. If the local educational agency, group of schools, or school does not regain the required threshold as of April 1 of the grace year, they must return to collecting household applications in the following school year in accordance with paragraph (j) of this section. Reimbursement in a grace year is determined by multiplying the identified student percentage at the local educational agency, group of schools, or school as of April 1 of the fourth year of the 4-year CEP cycle by the 1.6 multiplier.

(5) Identification of potential community eligibility schools. No later than April 15 of each school year, each local educational agency must submit to the State agency a list(s) of schools as described in this paragraph. The State agency may exempt local educational agencies from this requirement if the State agency already collects the required information. The list(s) must include:

(i) Schools with an identified student percentage of at least 40 percent;

(ii) Schools with an identified student percentage that is less than 40 percent but greater than or equal to 30 percent; and

(iii) Schools currently in year 4 of the community eligibility provision with an identified student percentage that is less than 40 percent but greater than or equal to 30 percent.

(6)State agency notification requirements. No later than April 15 of each school year, the State agency must notify the local educational agencies described in this paragraph about their community eligibility status. Each State agency must notify:

(i) Local educational agencies with an identified student percentage of at least 40 percent district wide, of the potential to participate in community eligibility in the subsequent year; the estimated cash assistance the local educational agency would receive; and the procedures to participate in community eligibility.

(ii) Local educational agencies with an identified student percentage that is less than 40 percent district wide but greater than or equal to 30 percent, that they may be eligible to participate in community eligibility in the subsequent year if they meet the eligibility requirements set forth in paragraph (f)(3) of this section as of April 1.

(iii) Local educational agencies currently using community eligibility district wide, of the options available in establishing claiming percentages for next school year.

(iv) Local educational agencies currently in year 4 with an identified student percentage district wide that is less than 40 percent but greater than or equal to 30 percent, of the grace year eligibility.

(7)Public notification requirements. By May 1 of each school year, the State agency must make the following information readily accessible on its Web site in a format prescribed by FNS:

(i) The names of schools identified in paragraph (f)(5) of this section, grouped as follows: Schools with an identified student percentage of least 40 percent, schools with an identified student percentage of less than 40 percent but greater than or equal to 30 percent, and schools currently in year 4 of the community eligibility provision with an identified student percentage that is less than 40 percent but greater than or equal to 30 percent.

(ii) The names of local educational agencies receiving State agency notification as required under paragraph (f)(6) of this section, grouped as follows: Local educational agencies with an identified student percentage of at least 40 percent district wide, local educational agencies with an identified student percentage that is less than 40 percent district wide but greater than or equal to 30 percent, local educational agencies currently using community eligibility district wide, and local educational agencies currently in year 4 with an identified student percentage district wide that is less than 40 percent but greater than or equal to 30 percent.

(iii) The State agency must maintain eligibility lists as described in paragraphs (i) and (ii) of this section until such time as new lists are made available annually by May 1.

(8)Notification data. For purposes of fulfilling the requirements in paragraphs (f)(5) and (6) of this section, the State agency must:

(i) Obtain data representative of the current school year, and

(ii) Use the identified student percentage as defined in paragraph (f)(1) of this section. If school-specific identified student percentage data are not readily available by school, use direct certifications as a percentage of enrolled students, i.e., the percentage derived by dividing the number of students directly certified under § 245.6(b) by the number of enrolled students as defined in paragraph (f)(1) as an indicator of potential eligibility. If direct certification data are used, the State agency must clearly indicate that the data provided does not fully reflect the number of identified students.

(iii) If data are not as of April 1 of the current school year, ensure the data includes a notation that the data are intended for informational purposes and do not confer eligibility for community eligibility. Local educational agencies must meet the eligibility requirements specified in paragraph (f)(3) of this section to participate in community eligibility.

(9) Other uses of the free claiming percentage. For purposes of determining a school's or site's eligibility to participate in a Child Nutrition Program, a community eligibility provision school's free claiming percentage, i.e., the product of the school's identified student percentage multiplied by 1.6, serves as a proxy for free and reduced price certification data.

(g)Policy statement requirement. A local educational agency that elects to participate in the special assistance provisions or the community eligibility provision set forth in this section must:

(1) Amend its Free and Reduced Price Policy Statement, specified in § 245.10 of this part, to include a list of all schools participating in each of the special assistance provisions specified in this section. The following information must also be included for each school:

(i) The initial school year of implementing the special assistance provision;

(ii) The school years the cycle is expected to remain in effect;

(iii) The school year the special assistance provision must be reconsidered; and

(iv) The available and approved data that will be used in reconsideration, as applicable.

(2) Certify that the school(s) meet the criteria for participating in each of the special assistance provisions, as specified in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) or (f) of this section, as appropriate.

(h)Recordkeeping. Local educational agencies that elect to participate in the special assistance provisions set forth in this section must retain implementation records for each of the participating schools. Failure to maintain sufficient records will result in the State agency requiring the school to return to standard meal counting and claiming procedures and/or fiscal action. Recordkeeping requirements include, as applicable:

(1)Base year records. A local educational agency shall ensure that records as specified in §§ 210.15(b) and 220.7(e) of this chapter which support subsequent year earnings are retained for the base year for schools under Provision 2 and Provision 3. In addition, records of enrollment data for the base year must be retained for schools under Provision 3. Such base year records must be retained during the period the provision is in effect, including all extensions, plus 3 fiscal years after the submission of the last Claim for Reimbursement which employed the base year data. Local educational agencies that conduct a streamlined base year must retain all records related to the statistical methodology and the determination of claiming percentages. Such records shall be retained during the period the provision is in effect, including all extensions, plus 3 fiscal years after the submission of the last Claim for Reimbursement which employed the streamlined base year data. In either case, if audit findings have not been resolved, base year records must be retained beyond the 3-year period as long as required for the resolution of the issues raised by the audit.

(2)Non-base year records. Local educational agencies that are granted an extension of a provision must retain records of the available and approved socioeconomic data which is used to determine the income level of the school's population for the base year and year(s) in which extension(s) are made. In addition, State agencies must also retain records of the available and approved socioeconomic data which is used to determine the income level of the school's population for the base year and year(s) in which extensions are made. Such records must be retained at both the local educational agency level and at the State agency during the period the provision is in effect, including all extensions, plus 3 fiscal years after the submission of the last monthly Claim for Reimbursement which employed base year data. If audit findings have not been resolved, records must be retained beyond the 3-year period as long as required for the resolution of the issues raised by the audit. In addition, for schools operating under Provision 2, a local educational agency must retain non-base year records pertaining to total daily meal count information, edit checks and on-site review documentation. For schools operating under Provision 3, a local educational agency must retain non-base year records pertaining to total daily meal count information, the system of oversight or edit checks, on-site review documentation, annual enrollment data and the number of operating days, which are used to adjust the level of assistance. Such records shall be retained for three years after submission of the final monthly Claim for Reimbursement for the fiscal year.

(3)Records for the community eligibility provision. Local educational agencies must ensure records are maintained, including: data used to calculate the identified student percentage, annual selection of the identified student percentage, total number of breakfasts and lunches served daily, percentages used to claim meal reimbursement, non-Federal funding sources used to cover any excess meal costs, and school-level information provided to the State agency for publication, if applicable. Documentation must be made available at any reasonable time for review and audit purposes. Such records shall be retained during the period the community eligibility provision is in effect, including all extensions, plus three fiscal years after the submission of the last Claim for Reimbursement which was based on the data. In any case, if audit findings have not been resolved, these records must be retained beyond the three-year period as long as required for the resolution of the issues raised by the audit.

(i)Availability of documentation. Upon request, the local educational agency must make documentation available for review or audit to document compliance with the requirements of this section. Depending on the certification or reimbursement alternative used, such documentation includes, but is not limited to, enrollment data, participation data, identified student percentages, available and approved socioeconomic data that was used to grant an extension, if applicable, or other data. In addition, upon request from FNS, local educational agencies under Provision 2 or Provision 3, or State agencies must submit to FNS all data and documentation used in granting extensions including documentation as specified in paragraphs (c) and (e) of this section. Data used to establish a new cycle for the community eligibility provision must also be available for review.

(j)Restoring standard meal counting and claiming. Under Provisions 1, 2, or 3 or community eligibility provision, a local educational agency may restore a school to standard notification, certification, and counting and claiming procedures at any time during the school year or for the following school year if standard procedures better suit the school's program needs. If standard procedures are restored during a school year, the local educational agency must offer all students reimbursable, free meals for a period of at least 30 operating days following the date of restoration of standard procedures or until a new eligibility determination is made, whichever comes first. Prior to the change taking place, but no later than June 30, the local educational agency must:

(1) Notify the State agency of the intention to stop participating in a special assistance certification and reimbursement alternative under this section and seek State agency guidance and review regarding the restoration of standard operating procedures.

(2) Notify the public and meet the certification and verification requirements of §§ 245.6 and 245.6a in affected schools.

(k)Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands. A local educational agency in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where a statistical survey procedure is permitted in lieu of eligibility determinations for each child, may: Maintain their standard procedures in accordance with § 245.4, select Provision 2 or Provision 3, or elect the community eligibility provision provided the applicable eligibility requirements as set forth in paragraphs (a) through (f) of this section are met. For the community eligibility provision, current direct certification data must be available to determine the identified student percentage.

(l)Transferring eligibility for free meals during the school year. For student transfers during the school year within a local educational agency, a student's access to free, reimbursable meals under the special assistance certification and reimbursement alternatives specified in this section must be extended by a receiving school using standard counting and claiming procedures for up to 10 operating school days or until a new eligibility determination for the current school year is made, whichever comes first. For student transfers between local educational agencies, this requirement applies not later than July 1, 2019. At the State agency's discretion, students who transfer within or between local educational agencies may be offered free reimbursable meals for up to 30 operating days or until a new eligibility determination for the current school year is made, whichever comes first.

(m)Statistical income measurements. Statistical income measurements that are used under this section to establish enrollment or participation base claiming percentages must comply with the standards outlined as follows:

(1) For enrollment based claiming percentages, statistical income measurements must meet the following standards:

(i) The sample frame shall be limited to enrolled students who have access to the school meals program;

(ii) A sample of enrolled students shall be randomly selected from the sample frame;

(iii) The response rate to the survey shall be at least 80 percent;

(iv) The number of households that complete the survey shall be sufficiently large so that it can be asserted with 95 percent confidence that the true percentage of students who are enrolled in the school, have access to the school meals program, and are eligible for free meals is within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points of the point estimate determined from the sample; and

(v) To minimize statistical bias, data from all households that complete the survey must be used when calculating the enrollment based claiming percentages for paragraphs (c)(2)(iii)(A) and (e)(2)(iii)(A) of this section.

(2) For participation based claiming percentages, statistical income measurements must meet the following standards:

(i) The sample frame must be limited to students participating in the meal program for which the participation based claiming percentages are being developed;

(ii) The sample frame must represent multiple operating days, as established through guidance, in the meal program for which the participation based claiming percentages are being developed;

(iii) A sample of participating students shall be randomly selected from the sample frame;

(iv) The response rate to the survey shall be at least 80 percent;

(v) The number of households that complete the survey shall be sufficiently large so that it can be asserted with 95 percent confidence that the true percentage of participating students who are eligible for free meals is within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points of the point estimate determined from the sample; and,

(vi) To minimize statistical bias, data from all households that complete the survey must be used when calculating the participation based claiming percentages for paragraphs (c)(2)(iii)(B) and (e)(2)(iii)(B) of this section.

(Sec. 9, Pub. L. 95-166, 91 Stat. 1336 ( 42 U.S.C. 1759a); secs. 805, and 819, Pub. L. 97-35, 95 Stat. 521-535 ( 42 U.S.C. 1773))
[Amdt. 19, 45 FR 67287, Oct. 10, 1980, as amended by Amdt. 23, 47 FR 14135, Apr. 2, 1982; 66 FR 48328, Sept. 20, 2001; 76 FR 22802, Apr. 25, 2011; 81 FR 50206, July 29, 2016]

This is a list of United States Code sections, Statutes at Large, Public Laws, and Presidential Documents, which provide rulemaking authority for this CFR Part.

This list is taken from the Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules provided by GPO [Government Printing Office].

It is not guaranteed to be accurate or up-to-date, though we do refresh the database weekly. More limitations on accuracy are described at the GPO site.


United States Code

Title 7 published on 2015-08-22

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 7 CFR Part 245 after this date.

  • 2016-07-29; vol. 81 # 146 - Friday, July 29, 2016
    1. 81 FR 50194 - National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Eliminating Applications Through Community Eligibility as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, Food and Nutrition Service
      Final rule.
      This rule is effective August 29, 2016. Compliance with the provisions of this rule must begin August 29, 2016.
      7 CFR Part 245