Weekly School Nutrition Newsletter


Dear Food Service Contact,

This email provides news for schools concerning the Child Nutrition Programs from the USDA and the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). If you are the food service contact for your school or corporation, it is your responsibility to relay important information provided to you about the Child Nutrition Programs to other staff members.

Direct Certification (DC) Data Updated for November

  • The DC system is now updated with current files from the Family and Social Services Administration and Department of Child Services. 
  • All sponsors are encouraged to conduct a DC download of Standard, No County, and Extended Eligibility matches as soon as possible. 
  • It is important that sponsors continue to conduct DC downloads throughout the school year.
  • Click here to access the DC system.  
  • Questions? Contact Allie Caito-Sipe at acaito@doe.in.gov.

Reminders from Your Field Specialist

  • The following are common concerns/findings during a review:
  • For all grades, menu plan one cup of fruit and/or vegetable daily for breakfast. If portioning ½ cups, students must be able to take both ½ cup options.
    • Menu planners and directors can receive free meal pattern training through inTEAM and should be in their school kitchens frequently to monitor meal pattern and offer versus serve compliance.
  • There is a difference between Smart Snacks and the After School Snack Program, and the After School Snack Program has a specific meal pattern that must be followed. Make sure to serve ¾ cup of fruit, vegetable, or juice as part of the After School Snack Program.
    • Receive further training on the After School Snack Program including meal pattern requirements through inTEAM.
  • Make sure full portions are given. For example, four ounce soufflé cups with cut fruits and vegetables should be filled to the top or overflowing.
  • Make sure all vegetable subgroups are included on all serving lines.
  • If the school must make unintended changes to the menu, ensure that weekly vegetable subgroup requirements are still being met.
    • Train staff on the USDA Food Buying Guide to understand correct portion sizes of fruits and vegetables and vegetable subgroups.
  • Crediting documentation should be on file for all products served to students.
    • All products served to students for reimbursable meals must have nutrition fact labels and ingredient information, in addition to, Child Nutrition (CN) labels or product manufacturers statements (where applicable). Also, schools must ensure that the portion sizes of fruits and ensure vegetables are accurate by referring to USDA's Food Buying Guide.
  • The CACFP meal pattern must be followed for preschoolers who are not co-mingled with grades K-5.
  • For more information on IDOE in-person trainings and webinars, click here.
  • Questions? Contact your Field Specialist. 

Breakfast and Lunch On-Site Reviews

  • Sponsors with more than one site (building) are required to conduct on-site reviews every year.
  • Single site sponsors (those with only one building) are highly encouraged to conduct an annual on-site review to ensure integrity and accountability of the Child Nutrition Programs.
  • While a review must be conducted for every site at lunch, only 50 percent of the breakfast sites must be reviewed in a year. In the following year, the other 50 percent of breakfast sites must be reviewed.
  • The review should be conducted by a person who does not regularly work in the reviewed building.
  • The reviewer should stay for the entire meal service, make notes of their observations during the meal service, and may not conduct two or more lunch evaluations or two or more breakfast evaluations on the same day.
  • If breakfast in the classroom is implemented, schools will need to complete the breakfast section of the review by observing a few classrooms.
  • Your Field Specialist will check the completed review forms during an Administrative Review.
  • Keep completed on-site reviews on file at the school for three years plus the current operating year.
  • To access the form and instructions, click here.
  • The on-site reviews are due by February 1. 
  • Questions? Contact your Field Specialist.

Common Textbook Questions and Answers

  • Does School Food Service need to have a disclosure agreement with those that process textbook benefits?
    • If the textbook processors are employed outside of school food service, then you will need to ensure that they know they can only use free and reduced information for textbook reimbursement purposes and cannot release that information for any other purposes. A disclosure agreement can be found here.
  • The person who processes textbook benefits logged into our student database and reviewed all free/reduced information. Is this allowable?
    • While the textbook processor is considered “need to know” in order to process textbook benefits, SFAs should only release free/reduced information from those households that signed the box stating they want textbook benefits. Any household that did not sign this box on the application or any direct certified household that opted out of textbook benefits cannot be disclosed to the textbook processor.
  • A household was pulled for verification and could not provide documentation to support their free status. They changed to paid. Does this mean they also are responsible for their textbook fees?
    • If a student no longer qualifies for assistance, the school would prorate the amount of textbook costs due. Under IC 20-33-5-6, after a determination of ineligibility, the school may bill the parent for the student’s fees. 
  • A household declined Direct Certification benefits at the beginning of the year, now that they received their textbook bill they want to re-instate their free status. Can we do that?
    • It is up to the school as to whether or not free/reduced lunch status is reinstated. Schools should have a consistent policy to address this issue.
  • Questions about textbook benefits? Email DOETextBooks@doe.in.gov

Grow and Tell

  • October was National Farm to School Month, and IDOE wants to thank you for celebrating Indiana Food Day!
  • Herbie, the Food Day mascot, enjoyed celebrating dairy and herbs with you.
  • Whether you grew herbs and served them in the cafeteria as a topping for the creamy, cool yogurt dip or celebrated any other way, IDOE and the American Dairy Association Indiana want to hear your story!
  • Please tell your story here.
  • For more information on Farm to School, click here.

Miss a Weekly School Nutrition Newsletter? Click here to access previous newsletters!

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Please do not reply directly to this email. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this email, please contact Allie Caito-Sipe at acaito@doe.in.gov, call (317) 232-0849, or toll-free at 1-800-537-1142 ext. 20849, or contact Ashley Heller at aheller@doe.in.gov, call (317) 232-0544, or toll-free at 1-800-537-1142 ext. 20544.