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Paid Lunch Equity Requirement and Calculation Tool


Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Action Required, Beneficial Information

To: All School Nutrition Program Sponsors

Attention: Food Service Directors and School Business Officials

Number: SNP-12-2018

Date: May 2018

Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture Interim Rule: School Food Service Account Revenue Amendments Related to the Healthy, Hunger‑Free Kids Act of 2010; SP 36 CACFP 15; SFSP 11-2017; USDA 2017 Eligibility Manual for School Meals; and http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/policy/.

Subject: Paid Lunch Equity: Guidance for School Year 2018-19


This management bulletin provides school food authorities (SFA) with updated information from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Memorandum SP 12-2018 regarding guidance for the Paid Lunch Equity (PLE) requirements in Section 205 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 for School Year (SY) 2018–19.

In Section 776 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (Public Law 115-141 [the Act]), Congress provides that only SFAs that had a negative balance in the nonprofit school food service account as of January 31, 2018, shall be required to establish prices for paid lunches according to the PLE provisions in Section 12(p) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, [United States Codes, Title 42, Chapter 13, Section 1760(p)] and implemented in the National School Lunch Program regulations defined in Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), Section 210.14(e).

This management bulletin provides notice that any SFA with a positive or zero balance in its nonprofit school food service account as of January 31, 2018, is exempt from PLE requirements found at 7 CFR, Section 210.14(e), for SY 2018–19. SFAs with a positive or zero balance in its nonprofit school food service account as of January 31, 2018, and will not increase paid lunch prices at the level required by the USDA, must submit their exemption request to the CDE. SFAs that had a negative balance in the nonprofit school food service account as of January 31, 2018, must follow PLE requirements when establishing their prices for paid lunches in SY 2018–19.

SFAs that are exempt from PLE requirements in SY 2018–19 are able to set paid lunch prices at the price the SFA determines to be appropriate and may reduce their paid lunch prices. Since this exemption currently only applies to SY 2018–19, SFAs should consider the effect reducing prices might have if they are not exempt from PLE requirements in SY 2019–20.

The USDA SY 2018–19 PLE Tool is available in the download forms section in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS).

Background

The USDA published the interim rule pertaining to PLE pricing requirements in June 2011, and the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD) has since communicated PLE pricing requirements and updates to SFAs through various communication channels including e-mails, management bulletins, training seminars, and statewide conferences. For further background information on PLE, please refer to Management Bulletin USDA-SNP-16-2012 located on the CDE PLE Requirement–Updated Guidance Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sn/mbusdasnp162012.asp.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service provides annual guidance and a PLE calculator tool to ensure compliance with PLE pricing requirements. Due to the complexity of PLE pricing requirements, the CDE strongly encourages SFAs to read the USDA PLE policy memos and use the USDA PLE calculation tools to comply with pricing requirements.

These documents are available on the USDA School Meals Policy Memos Web page at http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/policy.

Determining School Food Authority Action on Paid Lunch Equity Exemption

Each SFA must determine if they comply with PLE requirements for SY 2018–19. Listed below are scenarios to assist SFAs in determining compliance:

  1. If an SFA’s nonprofit school food service account had a positive or zero account balance as of January 31, 2018, and the SFA will be in compliance with PLE requirements, the SFA is not required to take action. The SFA is in compliance if:
    • The charge is at least the required paid lunch price as determined by completing the USDA PLE Tool for SY 2018–19.
    • All sites are authorized to participate in Provisions or in the Community Eligibility Provision for SY 2018–19.
      A residential child care institution’s day students (if any) will be charged at least the required paid lunch price as determined by completing the USDA PLE Tool for SY 2018–19.
    • A PLE exemption for SY 2018–19 was already submitted to the CDE and an acknowledgement e-mail was sent to the SFA. Note: PLE exemptions must be submitted to the CDE for each school year the SFA would like an exemption from raising paid lunch prices at the level required by the USDA.
  2. If an SFA had a positive or zero account balance as of January 31, 2018, and will not increase paid lunch prices at the level required by the USDA, the SFA should consider the effect the prices might have on SY 2019–20 and then notify the CDE by submitting a PLE exemption.
  3. If an SFA had a negative account balance as of January 31, 2018, the SFA must follow PLE requirements as defined in 7 CFR, Section 210.14(e), when establishing paid lunch prices in SY 2018–19.
Filing a Paid Lunch Equity Exemption for School Year 2018–19

To file a PLE exemption, an SFA must submit an e-mail to SNPCAFEFUNDQUESTIONS@cde.ca.gov at the beginning or prior to the start of SY 2018–19 with the subject line, PLE Exemption for SY 2018–19, and must include the following:

  1. SFA name and the CNIPS identification number.
  2. A record of a positive or zero balance in the nonprofit school food service account as of January 31, 2018.
    This documentation may include any financial statement or accounting report for the period ending January 31, 2018 (e.g., trial balance, income statement, and cash flow statement). Attach the documents and identify the balance on January 31, 2018. Provide a brief explanation describing the positive balance in the nonprofit food service account for the period ending January 31, 2018.
  3. Name, title, phone number, and e-mail address of the person submitting the PLE exemption.
  4. Statement from the SFA that they agree to cover costs with allowable nonfederal funds if the balance is in the negative for SY 2018–19.

Upon verification of a positive or zero account balance in the SFA’s nonprofit school food service account, the CDE will send a confirmation e-mail to the SFA for the PLE exemption for SY 2018–19.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the CDE NSD Resource Management Unit by e-mail at SNPCAFEFUNDQUESTIONS@cde.ca.gov.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, May 30, 2018
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