The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing local education agencies (LEAs) the opportunity to provide meals to needy children during H1N1- Related School Dismissals. The Child Nutrition Unit (CNU), Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) convened a Task Force to explore the information and resources needed to assist LEAs in determining whether to apply for and to activate an H1N1 Related Dismissal Waiver for feeding students. In USDA guidance and for this memo, the term dismissal is used to refer to schools that are either closed or at which all students are dismissed.
Please see the Child Nutrition H1N1 Task Force, Attachment A, for specific members of this task force that represented school administrators, Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, district child nutrition directors, school nurses, the Arkansas Department of Health, the Arkansas Hunger Coalition, the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Commodity Division, ADE Transportation and Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN) Student Data representatives.
H1N1 WAIVER ONLY FOR SEAMLESS SUMMER OPTION PROGRAM:
Per USDA policy memos, the only way to serve students during a period of an H1N1 Related School Dismissal is to operate a Seamless Summer Option (SSO) with a Waiver for Congregate Feeding. This Waiver for Congregate Feeding will allow LEAs to distribute meals to students for consumption in the individual's household and not in a cafeteria setting in order to maintain the social distancing necessary to help reduce the spread of the flu virus.
LEAs can only apply for activation of the SSO with H1N1 Waiver in schools under the following conditions:
1. School site(s) is/are dismissed or closed for H1N1 related reasons.
2. Fifty percent of the school site student enrollment is eligible for Free or Reduced Meal Benefits.
3. The LEA agrees to serve ALL persons meeting the USDA regulatory definition of “Child,” primarily to serve children 18 years old and under who are members of a household that has at least one child enrolled in a dismissed school.
4. All reimbursable meals will be served WITHOUT CHARGE to children regardless of the free or reduced status of a child during the regular school session.
5. All reimbursable meals served to children will be claimed at the FREE REIMBURSEMENT RATE. A separate Claim for Reimbursement of student meals for the DISMISSED DAYS will be submitted on the claim form, but MARKED “H1N1 SSO” in the upper right hand corner under the word “summer.”
6. Meals for several days may be packaged and provided for each child in a household. These packages may either be delivered to a predetermined location or be picked up from a predetermined location by a household member.
7. Meals served will meet USDA minimum meal components and nutrition standards
8. Meals will be counted at the point of service.
9. Second meals are not reimbursable and may not be claimed (One meal per child per meal period, i.e., one breakfast and one lunch per child).
10. Production records and menu records will be maintained that show compliance with meal requirements.
The H1N1 waiver will allow the LEA’s Child Nutrition Department to serve, deliver, and/or provide meals to students with the following flexibility to ensure the social distancing, thus assisting in the prevention of the spread of H1N1 Flu to other students:
1. There will be no USDA requirement for designated meal period and/or delivery time other than those specified in the LEA’s H1N1 Waiver Request Meal Service Plan.
2. Meals can be served, delivered and/or provided and consumed off premises.
3. Offer versus Serve is not required for any age group. (Children must take ALL food components that constitute a reimbursable meal.)
For details on the regular Seamless Summer Option (SSO) see http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/seamless_summer.htm
Administrative decisions to dismiss or close school(s) may need to be made quickly. To provide LEAs flexibility and quick access, the LEA can apply for the H1N1 SSO program in preparation for a potential decision to feed students if school is dismissed. The prior approval of such an application will not be a commitment by the district to provide meals until the LEA submits the “Activation Notice” to ADE CNU.
H1N1 SSO APPLICATION, WAVIER AND ACTIVATION PROCESS:
1. H1N1 SSO PROGRAM APPLICATION:
Apply for Pre-Approval of H1N1 SSO Program for specific schools that meet the SSO criteria. The LEA will not be required to ACTIVATE the Pre-Approved SSO Program unless it becomes necessary within that school community. See Attachment B for H1N1 SSO Application.
Please note that the LEA will not indicate the “start date” or “finish date” on the H1N1 SSO Application for prior approval. That information will be on the Activation Notice discussed in Item 3.
Approximately sixty-two (62) Arkansas schools in thirty (30) LEAs (school district and charters entities) are pre-approved for the SSO program for the summer of 2010.
Please see Attachment C for the LEAs and Schools within the LEAs that are already pre-approved for the SSO.
Those LEAs that have prior approval for summer 2010 will need to submit a copy of the approved Schedule C – 10 Seamless Summer and attach the LEA “Meal Service Plan for H1N1Non-Congregate SSO Feeding” discussed in Item 2 (below). Upon submission of the Schedule C-10 and the Meal Service Plan the LEA will receive the Pre-Approval for H1N1 SSO. To add school sites for H1N1 SSO that are not on Schedule C-10, then the LEA must complete a separate Attachment B additional schools to be approved for H1N1 SSO.
2. H1N1 MEAL SERVICE PLAN:
All applications must include the LEA “Plan for H1N1 Non-Congregate SSO Feeding.” No prior approval by ADE CNU can be given unless the LEA submits all components of the plan as required by USDA. Completion of Attachment D: Form for “LEA Meal Service Plan for Each H1N1 SSO Waiver Non-Congregate Feeding Site” is required to be submitted with Attachment B.
See Attachment E: Meal Service Plan Information and Resources:
1. List of Arkansas Hunger Alliance Volunteer Contacts
2. Sample H1N1 Menus Pre-packed Meals
3. General Information Re: H1N1 Related Meal Service
The plan itself will not be approved by ADE CNU, but each H1N1 SSO Application must have a plan for preparation, distribution, and method of accountability for meals provided to students. It is understood that modifications to any plan for emergency feeding may need to be adapted from day to day due to immediate or undetermined circumstances. Unless there are regulatory issues or need for technical assistance, it will not be necessary to get ADE CNU approval prior to making plan adjustments. Simply document any major changes to the Meal Service Plan.
3. PROGRAM ACTIVATION NOTICE:
The LEA must submit to ADE CNU Attachment F: Form for “LEA Activation Notice for H1N1 SSO Program,” PRIOR TO distributing school meals to students from pre-approved H1N1 SSO WAIVER Sites. The name of pre-approved school site(s) and dates of school dismissal must be listed on the Activation Notice in order for the LEA to receive the any federal reimbursement. The Activation Notice form must be signed by the Superintendent. Activation Notices must be faxed to ADE CNU at 501-324-9505 in order to receive student meal reimbursement. Please be careful to keep copies of “successful fax transmission notice” for the LEA records. USDA is requiring ADE CNU to provide daily updates on the numbers of H1N1 SSO Waivers granted to LEAs and the number of school sites activated for distributing student meals.
School dismissals could be at different periods or could be extended once activated during the year depending upon the number of schools in an LEA and the spread of the flu and absenteeism reports, thus one LEA may have multiple ACTIVATION NOTICES listing different schools and dismissal dates on each. In order to be reimbursed for meals it is vital that ADE CNU receive the Activation Notice for each school dismissed in relation to H1N1 SSO Waiver.
DESIGNATED OFFICIAL FOR DETERMINATION OF H1N1 RELATED SCHOOL DISMISSAL:
According to the USDA Policy Memo SP 42-2009: “United States Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has already declared that a nationwide public health emergency exists involving H1N1 (see www.hhs.gov/secretary/phe_swh1n1.html ) under the authority of Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act. Therefore, the H1N1 waiver may now be implemented if a school is dismissed by local authorities based on conditions at the local level.” USDA instructions indicate: “Decisions regarding school dismissals are made at the State or local level. Therefore, the State or local public health department or other designated officials would be responsible for determining whether the dismissal is related to H1N1 or seasonal flu.”
For Arkansas LEAs (Public and Charter Schools), the “Designated Official” to make the decision that the “school dismissal is RELATED to H1N1” is the superintendent. To assist a superintendent, applicable documentation to support the relationship of a school dismissal to H1N1 may be gathered in consultations with the school nurse, ADE State School Nurse Consultant, Paula Smith, the Local Health Unit Administrator or from comparison of individual LEA absenteeism statistics to the state statistics.
Currently, H1N1 related statistics are provided through the partnership between ADE and Arkansas Department of Health website at https://health.arkansas.gov/ADHInternetApps ADE Commissioner’s Memo COM-10-046 discusses this data collection process and provides instructions to LEAs on reporting at http://arkedu.state.ar.us/commemos/custview.cgi?filename=4427&sortby=memotype
Please be sure to update the LEA’s Emergency and Pandemic Plans with information that could be valuable in case of a natural disaster or a regional catastrophic event.
ADE CNU wishes to thank to all the members of the Arkansas Child Nutrition H1N1 Meal Service Task Force for the time and efforts in addressing the many issues involved in feeding students under these conditions. If the LEA has questions regarding this memo, please contact the CNU Area Specialist assigned to the LEA, Rita Hamilton, Suzanne Davidson, or Wanda Shockey at (501) 324-9502.