Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Announcements from the WI DPI School Nutrition Team (SNT)
- Updates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Updates from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) School Nutrition Team (SNT)
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has released new guidance to assist states in the development of Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) plans for school year 2021-22. States distributed P-EBT benefits to millions of families last school year to replace meals lost by their children as schools and child care facilities closed or restricted their in-person schedules due to the COVID-19 emergency.
The new guidance consists of an updated state plan template and a set of Q&As. Relatively little has changed compared to last year’s guidance.
While National School Lunch Program (NSLP)-participating schools have the option to serve free meals to all students this school year through the Seamless Summer Option, P-EBT fills a critical gap for children with virtual or hybrid schedules who qualify for free or reduced price meals under standard NSLP rules. P-EBT provides a similar benefit for younger children who participate in SNAP. USDA is committed to working with all states to ensure that P-EBT remains a resource for these children.
Many questions about virtual schools have come up. Check out Q&As 16-19 for more information. Specifically, question 16 states:
Q16. As schools return to in-person instruction, virtual options in many states and school districts will be structured differently than they were in SY 2020-2021. Under what conditions will virtual learning at a school attended by the child confer eligibility for P-EBT?
A16. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), P-EBT’s authorizing legislation, some virtual learning options confer eligibility for P-EBT and some do not. A virtual day may count for P-EBT eligibility when the school attended by the child is closed (completely virtual) or operates at reduced attendance or hours (partially virtual) due to COVID-19, and the student could have received free or reduced price meals at the school except for the school closure or reduced operations. Virtual days are not eligible for P-EBT if the school attended by the child is a distinct, fully virtual institution that is not eligible to participate in the NSLP or the SBP. Q&As #17-19 provide additional detail on P-EBT eligibility under a handful of basic virtual learning models. Each is guided by these legislative requirements.
DPI will again be working with the Department of Health Services to put a state plan together and will share more information as it becomes available.
Tips from USDA: Working Together on Supply Chain Issues
School Food Authorities (SFAs):
- Communicate with food distributors on a regular basis to identify any emerging supply chain issues for commercial and USDA Foods and to understand what products are available.
- Partner with the state and/or neighboring SFAs to communicate with food distributors about products, identify alternate non-traditional sources of supplies, or explore ways to purchase and store foods.
- Explore local or regional cooperative purchasing groups to increase buying power and access to products and services.
- Create menus that use products and recipes that are substitution-friendly. For example, if chicken is not available, ham or turkey can be used instead in salads, sandwiches, and meal bowls.
- Use two- or three-week cycle menus, standardized recipes, and the USDA Food Buying for Child Nutrition Programs as tools to improve the accuracy of food procurement forecasts for food distributors.
- Place product orders earlier and forecast food needs for a longer period.
- Communicate potential changes to school meals with families.
- Work with the state agency to apply for meal pattern waivers and/or conduct emergency procurement processes, as appropriate.
On August 13, 2021, FNS presented “Procurement Strategies for School Year 2021-22.” This webinar for School Food Authorities (SFAs) discussed USDA school meal program flexibilities, waivers, and training resources to help navigate supply chain issues during School Year 2021-22. Please view the recording on the website.
Planning for a Dynamic School Environment: Guidance for Meal Service Flexibilities for SY 2021-22 Webinar
On August 26, FNS delivered a live webinar to State agencies and local program operators providing an overview of nationwide waivers for School Year 2021-22. During the webinar, staff discussed scenarios where flexibilities may be utilized and suggestions for planning for the unexpected. Lastly, resources were shared to further help State agencies and local program operators meet the unique needs of their community. Please click the link above to access the webinar recording.
New Back-to-School Resources from Team Nutrition
USDA’s Team Nutrition initiative invites you to join us in sharing Stronger with School Meals materials with schools, families, and children. School meals, and the school nutrition professionals that provide them, help children be strong physically (through good nutrition) and mentally (through the sharing of mealtimes in person or virtually). Celebrate the school community and promote healthy foods with these fun new school meals materials.
- An Infographic for teachers and parents (in English and Spanish)
- An Activity Booklet for elementary-aged students
- Five stickers for students
- Two buttons for school nutrition professionals
- Two Thank You cards that parents, teachers, staff, and students can use to thank school nutrition professionals
Printed versions will be made available this fall only for Team Nutrition Schools. Schools can join Team Nutrition Schools or update their school’s information on the Team Nutrition Website.
Team Nutrition has also updated two tip sheets for program operators who are interested in providing bulk meals in the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option or the Child and Adult Care Food Program. See more at Team Nutrition COVID-19 Resources.
For additional Back-to-School resources, visit Team Nutrition’s Back-to-School Support Kit.
New! Offering Meats and Meat Alternates at School Breakfast: Grades Kindergarten Through 12 (K-12)
USDA’s Team Nutrition’s initiative is pleased to announce the release of “Offering Meats and Meat Alternates at School Breakfast Grades Kindergarten Through 12 (K-12)”.
Meats and meat alternates can be healthy and delicious options at breakfast. This 20-page training guide shows school nutrition professionals how they can offer these items as part of a reimbursable breakfast, and includes information on meal pattern requirements, tips for menu planning, sample menus, success stories and more. This publication is available in English and Spanish, online and in print from.
Seamless Summer Option Claiming
SSO claims for July and August 2021 may now be entered. Please note that only one claim may be processed at a time, thus, the August claim may not be submitted until after the July claim has been processed.
Seamless Summer Option (SSO) claims for the 2021-22 school year are submitted through the Online Services claiming portal, per the instructions in the SSO Claiming Manual for Meals Served July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2022. Please review the manual in its entirety before submitting school year 2021-22 SSO claims. Meals are claimed under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP), thus, standard NSLP and SBP WUFAR Codes are used to report SSO revenues and expenditures. Do not enter SSO revenues and expenditures under the 586 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) WUFAR code.
Inadequate Fluid Milk Supply
If your SFA experiences an emergency milk supply issue (milk unexpectedly does not get delivered, the full amount does not get delivered, etc.), those meals can be served without fluid milk and still be reimbursable. For these meals to be reimbursable, SFAs must seek approval from the SNT within 2 business days of the incident. You must submit documentation demonstrating the emergency fluid milk supply issue (e.g., email from supplier, etc.) with the request. Instructions for how to request approval and more information can be found under the “milk” heading on the Meal Pattern Components Webpage. Please note, this request is different from the meal pattern flexibility waiver. Only use this during emergency situations.
Family Letter Menu Changes Template
Based on SFA request, there is now a SSO Family Letter for Menu Changes Template that addresses supply chain issues and potential menu changes due to COVID-19. This letter can be sent home to parents by an individual SFA. It ensures parents that meals are still healthy and balanced, while also asking for patience and understanding during this unprecedented time. This resource can be found on the SSO COVID Webpage and is translated into Spanish and Hmong.
Great Beginnings Academy
Great Beginnings Academy registration is now posted on the School Nutrition Team Training Webpage. If you are having conversations with newly hired Food Service Directors or Managers who would benefit from these live, virtual weekly meetings, please direct them to the Registration Page.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
This is a communication from the WI Department of Public Instruction, School Nutrition Team.