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Additional Menu Certification Guidance

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin
Purpose: Action Required
To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors Number USDA-SNP-03-2013
Attention: Food Service Directors Date: January 2013
Subject: Additional Information Regarding Menu Certification Guidance for Performance-Based Reimbursement
Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Memo SP 34–2012: Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010: Certification of Compliance with the New Meal Pattern—Certification Tools, Specifications, and Prototype Attestation Statement

This Management Bulletin (MB) provides additional guidance for applying for certification of compliance with the New Meal Pattern (NMP) as required under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) and outlined in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Policy Memo SP 34-2012: Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010: Certification of Compliance with the New Meal Pattern—Certification Tools, Specifications, and Prototypes Attestation Statement. Specifically, this memo includes new information regarding state agency (SA) menu certification reviews and USDA approved menu planning tools.


As described in MB USDA-SNP-29-2012, the HHFKA requires SAs to certify and reimburse School Food Authorities (SFA) in compliance with the NMP an additional six cents per lunch starting October 1, 2012. The details of the menu certification process, including required forms and procedures, were provided in MB USDA-SNP-35-2012. Additional information regarding the certification process, can be found on the USDA FNS Nutrition Standards for School Meals Web page at

Processing Menu Certification Packets

The USDA provides authority to SAs to evaluate menu certification packets to determine if SFAs are meeting the NMP requirements. The California Department of Education (CDE) observed an increased number of incomplete packets submitted in November 2012, and therefore expanded its screening criteria for determining certification packet completion. The CDE implemented this screening process November 19, 2012, for all packets received since October 22, 2012.

The expanded criteria includes:

  • Missing menu(s)
  • Missing USDA worksheet(s)
  • Missing nutrient analysis (Option 1) or simplified nutrient assessment (Option 2)
  • Missing document(s) marked on the Menu Submittal Form
  • Red or yellow cells in the USDA menu worksheet, except the weekly maximum grain or weekly maximum meat/meat alternate fields in the Weekly Report tab
  • Attestation form:

    • Missing
    • Not signed
    • Signed by the wrong person (must be the food service director in the Child Nutrition Information Payment System [CNIPS], sponsor official in the CNIPS, or someone at a higher level)
    • Scanned or faxed signature

  • Incomplete vegetable subgroups or milk variety in more than two daily tabs
  • Incorrect menu submitted (future or two or more prior months)
  • Missing breakfast menus and the sponsor has an agreement on file with the CDE to serve breakfast
  • Incorrect one-week menu submitted (includes a holiday or day off)
  • Incomplete answers to questions regarding added fat, sugar, and/or milk variety on the simplified nutrient assessment tab (Option 2)
  • Incorrect electronic document attached
  • Incorrect grade group is used on the USDA Menu Worksheets
Processing of Incomplete Packet

If the CDE determines that a certification packet is incomplete, the SFA will receive an e-mail detailing the follow-up required. The CDE will provide the SFA five business days to provide the required documentation. However, if the CDE does not receive a response or receives an inadequate response, then the 60 day timeline may not start and the CDE will send another e-mail. This e-mail will provide the SFA an additional five business days to submit the required documentation. The e-mail will also explain that if the SFA fails to submit the required documentation, the CDE may return the certification packet, requiring resubmission.

Additional Option for Menu Certification

For menu certification, agencies may use Option 1: Menu Worksheet and Nutrient Analysis, or Option 2: Menu Worksheet and a Simplified Nutrient Assessment. In addition, the CDE will make Option 3 available to approximately 16 SFAs who are scheduled for an administrative review in school year 2012–13. Option 3 allows the SFA to demonstrate compliance with the NMP requirements during the course of a regular administrative review as opposed to submitting certification materials to the CDE. It is at the discretion of these SFAs to decide whether or not to utilize Option 3 or submit a certification package using Option 1 or 2. The CDE will notify those SFAs eligible for Option 3 in January 2013.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Approved Menu Planning Software Tools for Certification

The USDA FNS has recently confirmed that SFAs have the flexibility to determine which USDA-approved menu planning tool or software program they prefer to use for certification documentation submission. This allows SFAs to utilize the tool or software with which they are most comfortable. There are currently five options available to SFAs to demonstrate compliance with the NMP requirements: the USDA Certification Worksheets and four commercially available software alternatives, inTEAM Menu Compliance Tool+, NUTRIKIDS: Menu Planning & Nutritional Analysis, PrimeroEdge, and TrakNOW. As the FNS approves alternatives to the USDA Certification Worksheets, they will post them on the USDA Menu Planning Tools Approved for Certification Web page at

The Nutrition Services Division (NSD) congratulates the 278 agencies certified in 2012, and the 732 agencies who submitted by the close of the calendar year. Please note that providing technical assistance continues to be the CDE’s priority in meeting the NMP requirements and the NSD will make every attempt to approve certification packets timely. To meet this goal, it is of utmost importance that SFAs ensure they include all necessary documents.

For questions concerning the menu certification process, SFAs may contact the Menu Certification Unit by e-mail at or by phone at 916-322-2003.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 1, 2015

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