The Lunch Line - Back to School! Fall 2018

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September 2018

In this edition:

News You Need to Know!

2018-19 Federal and State Reimbursement Rates

View the 2018-19 SNP Reimbursement Rates including entitlement value for USDA foods. State reimbursement rates for breakfast and lunch meals remained the same as last year. Federal rates for free lunch meals and reduced-price lunch meals increased by 8¢ per meal while paid lunch rates remained constant. Federal breakfast paid meal rates increased by a penny while non-severe need free and reduced-price breakfast meal rates increased by 4¢. More information on severe need breakfast, special milk, afterschool snacks and USDA foods entitlement rates can be found at the above link.

2018-19 Minimum Prices for Adults

Non-program meals, including meals served to adults and second meals served to students, may not be subsidized by the nonprofit school food service account. Meal charges must be set high enough to cover meal costs. The minimum prices that must be charged for adults are: Breakfast  $1.80; Lunch $3.75 (includes value of USDA Foods). The minimum meal prices are based on the current amount of federal reimbursements received for free school meals, rounded up to the nearest five cents.

2018-19 State Attendance Factor Set at 93.6 Percent

The state attendance factor used by school food authorities (SFAs) to determine average daily attendance for school year 2018-19 is 93.6 percent. The attendance factor is used to complete the required School Daily-Monthly Claims Edit Check and to calculate the average daily attendance reported for monthly CLiCS claims for reimbursement.  

Verification Sampling Method – Standard 3 Percent Error-Prone

The list of School Food Authorities (SFAs) that are required to use the Standard 3 Percent Error-Prone Sampling Method is posted on the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) website. This sampling method is required for SFAs with a 20 percent or greater non-response rate from households chosen for verification in the previous school year. Check the list to determine if you are required to use this sampling method when determining your verification sample for 2018-19. If your SFA is on the list, a separate communication was sent to the Foodservice Director with further instruction. Contact the School Nutrition Program at MDE if you did not receive these instructions.

State and Federal Procurement Thresholds Raised

Effective immediately, state and federal thresholds (maximum amounts) for micro-purchases and small purchases have been raised for all recipients of federal funds.

Micro-Purchases: The federal threshold for micro-purchases increased from $3,500 to $10,000. Purchases that do not exceed $10,000 may now be made by using the micro-purchase method as described in 2 CFR 200.67. Micro-purchases do not require competitive quotes, but should be distributed equitably among qualified sources.

Small Purchases: The federal threshold for small purchases (also referred to as “obtaining quotes” or “simplified acquisition” in 2 CFR 200.88 ) increased from $150,000 to $250,000. However there are state thresholds for small purchases that public schools must follow:

  • For contracts up to $175,000, competitive quotes may be obtained instead of sealed bids.
  • For contracts that exceed $175,000, sealed bid procedures including advertisement are required. For purchases up to $10,000, public schools may continue to use non-competitive “micro-purchase” procedures as allowed by federal regulations outlined above.

2018-19 Milk, Whole Grain and Sodium Flexibilities

The following three flexibilities apply to SY 2018-19 only. USDA is currently developing a final rule that will address the availability of flexibilities beyond SY 2018-19.

Milk: SFAs will have the option to offer flavored, low-fat (1 percent fat) milk as part of a reimbursable meal for students in grades K through 12 for breakfast and lunch. Flavored, 1% milk may be provided to Special Milk Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program participants 6 years of age and older. No demonstration of hardship will be required. Schools may offer flavored, low-fat milk for a la carte sales as well.

Whole grains: If SFAs can demonstrate hardship(s) in procuring, preparing, or serving whole grain-rich products that are acceptable to students, they can request an exemption to offer at least half of the grains as whole grain-rich for the 2018-19 school year. Download the Whole Grain-Rich Menu Items Exemption.

Sodium: Sodium Target 1 will continue as the regulatory limit in the NSLP and SBP.

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News You Can Use

Training: Procurement Basics for Food Service Directors – October 18-19

This year the annual Food Service Director Training will be held on October 18 and 19, 2018, in six locations: Thief River Falls, Fergus Falls, Mountain Iron, Sartell, Marshall and Roseville. The training will focus on procurement basics and will be broadcast from MDE with a Child Nutrition Specialist facilitating the training at each out-state location. Day One will focus on the regulatory requirements for purchasing goods and services, and participants will begin developing purchasing procedures for their operation. Day Two will focus on five methods of procurement that may be used by school nutrition programs. Learn more about the Procurement Basics for Food Service Directors training and register.

Civil Rights Training for Students and Adult Volunteers

MDE has developed a streamlined civil rights training for individuals who volunteer for short periods of time in the food service area. Food authorities may distribute the Civil Rights Training for Students and Adult Volunteers handout to volunteers and non-foodservice staff to fulfill the civil rights requirement.

School Nutrition Advisory Council

Are you interested in providing input to MDE on school nutrition program procedural guidance, regulation implementation, food distribution program, training, and more?  Fill out the School Nutrition Advisory Council questionnaire to be considered for MDE’s School Nutrition Advisory Team.

National School Lunch Week – October 15-19

This year’s theme is “School Lunch: Lots 2 Love.” For more resources and ideas to help you plan a successful campaign, download the 14-page NSLW 2018 Toolkit.

School Lunch lots 2 love

Verification Toolkit

FNS recently published an all new Verification Toolkit for SFAs, highlighting strategies for reducing non-response in the verification process. The Toolkit features resources that SFAs can use to leverage their efforts towards improving verification response rates and enhancing the overall efficiency of the process.

#MN Apple Crunch

October – Farm to School Month

October is Farm to School month – a time to celebrate connections that are happening all over the state between schools and local food! Check out the Farm to School Month opportunities and see what works for your school.

Kick off Farm to School Month by participating in Minnesota Thursdays and adding some local flare to your menu on October 4, or crunch your way through the day on October 11 for the Great Lakes Apple Crunch. Use these hashtags in your social media messages: #MNAppleCrunch and #MNFarmToSchool.

Fruit and Vegetable Portion Guides

Download these fruit and vegetable visual portion guides to have at your finger-tips. This visual training tool consisting of 13 vegetables and 9 fruits in ¼, ½ and ¾ cup sizes will be helpful for estimating portion quantities on cafeteria trays and determining compliance at point-of-service under OVS.

Fruit and Vegetable Portion Guides

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Professional Development Opportunities

Tuesdays @ 2 Webinars

MDE School Nutrition hosts a weekly discussion-style webinar on various topics relating to school nutrition. Join us every Tuesday at 2 p.m. to learn about relevant topics, get your questions answered, and stay up to date! View the Tuesdays @ 2 schedule and get registration instructions – we look forward to you joining us! Details and registration information for Tuesdays @ 2 and all MDE training opportunities are available on the School Nutrition Training webpage.

MSNA National Conference – October 6: "Super Food – Super Power"

Join your school nutrition colleagues at the annual Minnesota School Nutrition Association Nutrition Conference. This year’s conference will be held at Shakopee High School on Saturday, October 6. Attendees will receive 4 CEUs in Key 1. Register for the MSNA Nutrition Conference.

Healthy Choices American Grown - USDA Foods

USDA Foods Webinars and Training Resources

Food distribution webinars present basics and best practices for child nutrition program sponsors to make the best use of their resources. Check out the following trainings:

Creating Smarter lunchrooms – Free Online Course

Interested in learning more about the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement and want to earn continuing education credits? The new Creating Smarter lunchrooms course, available through Cornell University, is a great introduction to behavioral economic theory and application in under two hours! Two CEUs are offered.

Essentials for School Nutrition

MDE’s “Essentials for School Nutrition” training modules provide entry-level training on requirements for operating a successful school nutrition program. Each module contains multiple lessons, and each lesson includes a video, practice activities and a knowledge check. The modules are available 24/7 on the MDE-FNS website. A certificate is provided upon successful completion. Check out the following modules:

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Start the Day Right!

Cass Lake - Bena ISD Breakfast Yogurt Bar

Cass Lake-Bena ISD Breakfast Yogurt Bar

Breckenridge ISD – Breakfast Bar  

Breckenridge ISD - Breakfast Bar
Winona Middle School Breakfast Cart

Winona Middle School Breakfast Cart

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What's the Latest?

Equipment Grants Available for SY 2018-19

Minnesota has once again been provided almost $400,000 of federal funding to competitively award equipment grants to eligible SFAs. Look for grant application information coming out later this fall. These funds will allow SFAs to purchase equipment that are needed to serve healthier school meals, improve food safety, and expand access to school meals.

Farm to School Grants – Application Due November 1

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) farm to school grants available for K-12 schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program. MDA will award grants to increase the use of Minnesota grown and raised foods. Previous recipients have used their funds to connect with farmers in their areas, determine how seasonal produce fits into cycle menus, purchase food processors or cooling and storage equipment. Apply for a grant by November 1, 2018, at 4 p.m. Instructions can be found on MDA’s Farm to School Grant website.

Marketing to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

Can a little sticker hold the power to get a child to eat a serving of vegetables? A recent study suggests the answer may be yes! Elementary school students’ fruit and vegetable consumption was observed before and after small toys and stickers encouraging them to eat their fruits and veggies were used. The study found an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption! Read Nudges to Increase Fruits and Vegetables Consumption:
Results From A Field Experiment and consider employing some of these techniques in your school.

Study Finds School Meals are Associated with Healthier Diets

The impact of your school meals may extend beyond the school cafeteria. A study published in the August 2018 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that eating school breakfast and lunch every day was associated with healthier dietary intakes. Read more about the findings in Eating School Meals Daily is Associated with Healthier Dietary Intakes: The Healthy Communities Study. 

Join the Team: Become a Team Nutrition School!

Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program are invited to sign up as Team Nutrition Schools. Almost half of the schools participating in the NSLP have signed up to be Team Nutrition Schools. By signing up, you will be the first to hear about new nutrition education and training materials developed under the Team Nutrition initiative.

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New Resources

Procuring Local Foods Toolkit

USDA has released a new resource that provides tools to school food authorities wishing to utilize local food in their child nutrition programs. This toolkit guide covers general procurement basics and guidance on how to find local food resources. Having local foods as a part of your school nutrition programs can be a great way to introduce students to new foods right from their own backyards. Access a printer-friendly version of the Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs guide and read more about how local foods can be a rich component of your program!

USDA Menu Planner

USDA Menu Planner for Schools Now Available

The Menu Planner for School Meals: School Year 2018-2019 is a comprehensive guide for local school nutrition professionals to assist them with developing healthy, safe, affordable, and appealing school meals and snacks that meet the meal pattern requirements. The Menu Planner includes an introduction, seven chapters, an answer key, a glossary of terms, and appendixes. Access the updated Menu Planner.

USDA Team Nutrition: Back to School Resources

Engage students and their families using Team Nutrition’s Back to School Resources! Access electronic resources and request free printed copies of recipes, cafeteria posters, parent handouts, activities for families, and more!

Back to Farm to School

Back to school is the perfect time to tend to your farm to school program. Are you starting fresh with farm to school or cultivating new goals this school year? Either way, USDA's Planning Guide can help you identify team members, map strategies, and set targets for the year ahead. Check-out USDA’s School Garden fact sheet.  

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School Nutrition Programs: Helping to ensure academic success!

Message from Deb

Welcome back to another great school year! The busses are rolling and the kitchens are humming. There are new menu items being served and new students to meet. This issue of The Lunch Line brings you information you will need to know for the 2018-19 school year as well as information that you can use to improve your program. But remember – we learn the best from each other. Take time this year to network with neighboring districts. Talk about challenges and issues. Visit other school kitchens and see how they serve kids. Share your strengths. Together we can make each other stronger. Here’s to a great year!