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Restructuring Food Service Operations


Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin
Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors

Number: NSD-SNP-08-2009

Attention: Food Service Directors, District Superintendents, and County Fiscal Services Official

Date: December 2009

Subject: Restructuring Food Service Operations: Alternatives for School Food Authorities

Reference: Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 210; California Education Code Section 41980

As a result of the recent economic downturn, reduced district budgets, and many districts’ use of general fund dollars to subsidize food service operations, School Food Authorities (SFAs) have requested information on how they can reduce school food service costs. Given that SFAs can collaborate with other SFAs to reduce the administrative and operational responsibilities and costs associated with operating the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), this Management Bulletin (MB) outlines alternative ways to structure food service operations in order to streamline operations and improve purchasing power, while ensuring compliance with State and federal regulations.

Streamline Operations and Improve Purchasing Power

There are significant administrative costs and operational responsibilities associated with operating the NSLP. SFAs that provide school meals have an opportunity to explore the amount of responsibility they want to assume in the administration of the school nutrition programs. The following potential options illustrate how SFAs can decrease administrative costs and improve purchasing power by modifying how the SFAs purchase goods/services, prepare meals, and/or increase revenue for providing school meals.

  1. Become Site(s) Under Another SFA
  1. Joint Powers Authority

School Nutrition Programs Unit
Nutrition Services Division
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Suite 4503
Sacramento, CA 95814

Note: Under current law, only public schools and COEs (i.e., not charter schools or Residential Child Care Institutions) can form JPAs. JPAs must be registered with the California Secretary of State’s office.

  1. Two or More SFAs Share Staff
  1. Receiving Prepared Meals from a Nearby SFA
  1. Preparing/Catering Meals for Nearby Schools
  1. United States Department of Agriculture Commodities

SFAs that participate in the NSLP are eligible to receive the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food commodities. SFAs earn entitlement dollars to order commodities based on the number of reimbursable lunches served in the previous school year (e.g., all reimbursable lunches served between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009 will earn $0.195 per reimbursable lunch to order commodities for the 2009-10 school year.) About 10-20 percent of food served in the child nutrition programs can come from USDA commodities, thus improving purchasing power and decreasing overall food costs. SFAs can receive their commodities in one of three ways.

  1. As a State Distribution Center
  2. As a State cooperative (Co-op) member
  3. As a private Co-op member

Members of the State and private Co-ops may improve purchasing power within their commodity programs.

State Co-op

SFAs receiving commodities may choose to enroll as a State Co-op member. SFAs belonging to the State Co-op may operate independently or as part of a collective group. There is no minimum average daily participation (ADP) required and the CDE’s staff oversees the program for the SFA. As a cost saving benefit, State Co-op members utilize the State Distribution Centers; however, they must pre-order commodities for the entire school year.

For more information regarding State Co-ops in Northern California, please contact Geovanna Toliver-Bean, State Co-op Coordinator, at 916-322-4014 or by e-mail at gtoliverbean@cde.ca.gov. For information regarding Co-ops in Southern California, please contact Felisha Zuniga, State Co-op Coordinator, at 916-445-0404 or by e-mail at fzuniga@cde.ca.gov.

Private Co-op

SFAs receiving commodities may choose to enroll as a private Co-op member. In a private Co-op, one SFA must act as a lead agency for the group. All commodities received must be delivered to a designated warehouse, distributor, or processor. Private Co-ops do not utilize the State Distribution Centers. To qualify as a private Co-op or direct shipment agency, the combined minimum required average daily participation is 50,000.

For more information regarding private Co-ops, please contact Marina Villalpando, Private Co-op Coordinator, at 916-324-0577, or by e-mail at mvillalp@cde.ca.gov.

The chart on the last page of this MB provides an at-a-glance view of the options outlined above.

This MB does not provide every available option for structuring school food service operations; rather, it offers some alternatives to consider when researching options to reduce administrative burdens.

If you have any questions regarding this MB, please your School Nutrition Programs specialist. You may find a list of contact information for your School Nutrition Programs (SNP) specialist in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS).


At-A-Glance
Restructuring Food Service Options
SFA Alternatives

No.

Restructuring Option

Decreases Administrative Costs

Time Required to Implement

Administrative Control of NSLP

Streamline Operations

Improves Purchasing

1.

Become a Site Under Other SFA

Yes

Minimal; recommend initiating at the beginning of school year

No

Yes

For the sponsoring agency

2.

Joint Powers Authority

Yes

1-3 years; JPA adopted by governing board on or before June 30 preceding the fiscal year of operation

Designated Lead SFA maintains administrative control

Yes

Yes

3.

Share Key Food Service Staff

Yes

Minimal

Each SFA maintains administrative control

Yes

Yes

4.

Receiving Prepared Meals

Yes

Minimal; recommend initiating at the beginning of school year

Yes

Yes

Decreases need to purchase meals; improves purchasing for sponsoring agency

5.

Catering Meals for Nearby Schools

No, but allows costs to be spread across more meals

Minimal;

recommend initiating at the beginning of school year

Yes

No

Yes

6.a

State Co-op

Administrative costs vary by structure of

Co-op

Changing receipt of commodities occurs each Oct.-Dec. for following school year

Yes

Yes

Yes

6.b

Private Co-op

Administrative costs vary by structure of

Co-op

Changing receipt of commodities occurs each Oct.-Dec. for following school year

Yes

Depends on structure of Co-op

Yes

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
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