Skip to content
Printer-friendly version

CNIPS Frequently Asked Questions for the SFSP

This is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) concerning the Summer Food Service Program segments in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS).
Please select the category of questions that applies to you:

Sponsor FAQs


Q. Which of my current processes will the CNIPS replace?

A. The CNIPS will allow for online entry of:

Q. How do I change my sponsoring agency’s physical address in the CNIPS?

A. Sponsors can change their physical address within the CNIPS by going to the Sponsor Application to make the update. Even though you are changing the physical address in CNIPS, the CDE will continue to mail reimbursement payments to the address attached to the vendor number, which is the address on file with the State Controller’s Office (SCO).

Q. Where can I find additional information about the CNIPS?

A. Additional information can be found on the CNIPS Project Information page.

Q. Why do I have to enter calendar information in lines 40 and 41 of the Site Application when there is a calendar for each meal type in subsequent questions?

A. When the CNIPS was first developed, the CDE only required agencies to identify the total number of meals served each day. Subsequently, the CDE updated the CNIPS to require agencies to identify the number of specific meal types each day. The CDE plans to delete the meal calendar in questions 40 and 41 given that it is redundant. Until CDE deletes those questions, you only need to enter one day of meal service in a meal service month in questions 40 and 41 in order to prevent getting an error message.

Back to Top

Use of and Access to the CNIPS

Q. What do I need to access the CNIPS?

A. In order to access the CNIPS and submit applications to the Nutrition Services Division (NSD) for approval, you will need a User ID and password. Contact the CDE to request an application at 800-952-5609-(option 6). Subsequently, the NSD will provide you with information about a User ID and password to access the online system. Once the CDE provides you the User ID and password, it is as simple as logging on to the the CNIPS and following the steps provided in the SFSP CNIPS Quick Start Guide. You can also reference the SFSP User Manual found on the CNIPS Log On page.

Q. How do I obtain a User Name and Password for CNIPS?

A. School sponsors that already have access to the CNIPS may use their current User ID and password to log on to the CNIPS. For other current SFSP sponsors, your assigned SFSP specialist will provide you with a User ID by e-mail, and subsequently call you with a password. If you are a new sponsor, contact the SFSP at 800-952-5609 (option 3, 4). You may also contact the CNIPS Help Desk at 1-800-952-5609 and select option 6.

After you log on to the system for the first time with the User ID and password provided, the CNIPS will prompt you that your password has expired. You will need to change the password to be between 6-12 characters. The new password will need to have one special character and one number to be acceptable by the system. Please keep your password in a secure location for future reference.

Q. What will I need to do to change the name of the designated CNIPS Administrator (SFSP Authorized Representative)? Will I need to receive a different CNIPS User ID and password?

A. Your agency will need to submit a new Official Agency Certification form with the original signature from the highest agency official within your organization to designate the new SFSP Authorized Representative. Subsequently, the NSD will provide a new User ID and password.

Please find the form on the Application screen under Download Forms. You can download the form, print it out, have it signed, and send it by U.S. mail to:

Donna Chamberlain
Summer Food Service Program
1430 N Street, Suite 4505
Sacramento, CA 95814

You may also contact the CNIPS Help Desk at 1-800-952-5609 and select option 6 or send an e-mail request to Be sure to include your agency’s name and CNIPS ID number with your request.

Q. How often will my CNIPS password need to be changed?

A. The CNIPS will prompt you to change your password every 90 days.

Q. Will sponsors have the ability to allow different levels of access for employees within their agency?

A. Yes. The CNIPS Administrator (Authorized Representative) has the ability to assign different authority levels of screen access to different users to meet business needs (e.g., claims submission, applications/renewals).

Q. What happens if I do not have access to the Internet?

A. We strongly recommended that all sponsors obtain access to the Internet by early spring 2010. Having Internet access is an essential component for using the CNIPS. The purchase of a computer and an Internet Service Provider are allowable administrative expenses if used for the SFSP. Otherwise, libraries and community centers usually offer public access to a computer and internet services.

Q. How will the CDE notify sponsors about their application and/or reimbursement claim status?

A. Sponsors can check the status of their application or claims at any time by logging on to the CNIPS system and selecting the Application Packet or Claim Options.

Back to Top

Claims for Reimbursement

Q. What kind of quality control will there be for sponsors to ensure accuracy of their reimbursement claims prior to submission?

A. The CNIPS has validation edits and will display error messages to ensure that you correct any errors prior to submitting the claim. If you attempt to submit a claim that has an error, an error message will display in the status field. This will provide an opportunity for you to correct and resubmit the claim.

Q. Will the CDE process claims more quickly once the CNIPS is implemented?

A. The claim process within CNIPS is faster than the former paper-based process. When reporting the meals, the system receives the claim instantly (verses 1 to 3 days) and detects errors. The CNIPS has no affect on the State Controller’s Office (SCO) timeframe for issuing checks. Many National School Lunch sponsors and SFSP year-round sponsors report meal reimbursement claims and are being paid weeks sooner.

Q. Must sponsors keep documentation proving they submitted a claim?

A. Although it is not required, sponsors are encouraged to print a copy of the claim form after submission is accepted and confirmed in the CNIPS.

Q. Will I still need to save all the documentation for the site-specific data submitted through the CNIPS for my agency’s administrative review?

A. Yes. Save your backup site claim data in a retrievable format (electronically or in hard copy) regardless of whether you report site-specific claim data or sponsor-level data. We recommend that you report site-specific claim data.

Q. How will the CNIPS work with Point of Sale (POS) systems?

A. If you currently have a POS system, you will need to work with your POS vendor or your district Information Technology (IT) staff to extract and format the data according to the POS File Layout Specifications located on the CNIPS Project Information page.

Q. Can the CNIPS import site-specific data for my reimbursement claim?

Yes. The CNIPS can accept your agency’s site-specific claim information.

Q. How do I submit a site-specific claim?

A. CDE staff set all sponsors in CNIPS to site level claim reporting when the CNIPS application is activated. To change your agency’s claim reporting preferences, contact the Help Desk at 800-952-5609, option 6, or If you decide to report meals at the sponsor level, contact your SFSP specialist before submitting a written request for approval.

NOTE: If you start a claim for a given claim month, the claim will remain defaulted to the selected claim reporting indicator (site or sponsor). If you want to change your “claim reporting” indicator for a claim month that you have already started and it has not been accepted or processed for reimbursement, please contact the Help Desk for technical assistance. If your claim has been accepted and/or processed, you cannot default to the original “claim reporting” indicator (site or sponsor). You must make the change in your “claim reporting” indicator (site or sponsor) prior to submitting a claim for reimbursement.

Q. Why is the Upload Data button on the Claim Month Details screen disabled?

A. The Upload Data button is enabled only when a sponsor’s claim reporting indicator is set to site-level. For Point of Sale systems, use the Upload Data to export site-specific claim data directly from a file into the CNIPS.

Q. Where can I find more information on completing the claim for reimbursement?

A. For detailed claim instructions, refer to the SFSP claim information Web page. If you have specific questions regarding the year-end revenue and cost form, contact Maria Lenor Wisco-Jang at 916-319-0771, or

Back to Top

Training and Technical Assistance

Q. What training and/or technical assistance is available for sponsors?

A. Several options for CNIPS training/technical assistance are available for sponsors, including:

Q. Whom should I call with questions?

A. The CNIPS Help Desk staff is available to provide assistance in the navigation and use of the new Web-based system. The Help Desk telephone number is 1-800-952-5609. Select option 6 to access the CNIPS Help Desk.

Back to Top

Point of Sale (POS) Vendor FAQs

Q. Where can I find the POS File Layout Specifications so I can program the data file for my customers to upload meal data into the CNIPS?

A. The POS data needs to be formatted and extracted according to the POS File Layout Specifications located on the CNIPS Project Information page. Refer to the POS File Specifications when you are reviewing the following questions and answers.

Q. How does a sponsor receive a Vendor Number?

A. Sponsors that have an existing agreement with the NSD already have a vendor number. The CDE’s Fiscal and Administrative Services Division Unit assign the vendor number to the sponsor during the initial application process.

Prior to receiving a vendor number, the sponsor must complete the Payee Data Record (STD.204) (DOC). A vendor number is necessary to receive any form of payment from CDE.

Q. Is a license number required for the POS file?

A. No. The license number is not a required field in the POS file.

Q. Does the sponsor name in the POS file have to match exactly what is in the CNIPS?

A. No. The sponsor name is the name of the organization with which NSD has an agreement to participate in the SFSP. The name does not have to match exactly the sponsor name in the CNIPS.

Q. Where does the CNIPS ID number come from (not User ID)?

A. The CNIPS generates a CNIPS ID number for each sponsor and each site when the applications are added. The ID number is located in the upper left hand corner of the Sponsor Application Packet screen. The CNIPS site ID number is located on the left side of the Application Packet - SFSP Site List screen.

Q. How will the system use the CNIPS ID number in the POS file?

A. The CNIPS ID number is the unique identifier for the POS file of each sponsor. Some POS Vendors have their clients enter their CNIPS (sponsor-level) and Site (site-level) IDs directly into the formatting of their POS system.

Q. Does the site name in the POS file need to match exactly what is in the CNIPS? For example, The Boys & Girls Club of Redwood City vs. The Boys and Girls Club of Redwood City are not exactly the same.

A. No. The site name is the name of the site covered by a sponsor with which NSD has an agreement to participate in the SFSP. The site name does not have to match exactly the name in the CNIPS, per your example above.

Q. Is the Site ID number entered by the sponsor or extracted from the CNIPS POS file?

A. The sponsor must enter the CNIPS Site ID into the formatting of their POS file. The site ID is included in the export function from the POS system that creates the POS file to upload into the CNIPS system.

Back to Top

Questions:   Help Desk | | 800-952-5609 Option 6
Download Free Readers

The USDA and the CDE are equal opportunity providers and employers.
Esto explica qué hacer si usted cree que se le ha tratado injustamente.