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USDA providing additional $1.2 billion in Supply Chain Assistance funds for districts

Kansas to receive about $12.3 million; increased meal reimbursement rates for school meals through Keep Kids Fed Act will expire Friday, June 30

School nutrition programs around the country have faced significant challenges in recent years, including supply chains for food and labor. 

Throughout the 2022-2023 school year, the Keep Kids Fed Act (KKFA) provided schools additional financial support by temporarily increasing meal reimbursement rates for school meals. However, these increases will expire Friday, June 30. 

In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture provided nearly $2.5 billion in relief funds through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), authorized under the CCC Charter Act. These resources, referred to as Supply Chain Assistance (SCA) funds, were distributed to School Food Authorities (SFAs) and local level program operations by state agencies, and USDA has received feedback that these funds helped SFAs meet financial challenges with elevated food and labor costs. 

USDA wants to continue to support school nutrition professionals as they continue to navigate through challenges, so it is providing an additional $1.2 billion in SCA funds under the same authority (CCC Charter Act) to assist school programs in their efforts to provide consistent and nutritious school meals to children. The total allocation for Kansas is $12,343,464. 

These SCA funds are a critical funding stream that will provide an additional financial resource for school districts to purchase domestic food products as part of school districts’ efforts to respond to these remaining supply chain challenges, enhance efforts to strengthen local food supply chains and help schools overcome financial and operational barriers. 

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) will distribute this fourth round of SCA funding to eligible SFAs via the same formula used to distribute the first three rounds of funding. SCA funds remain limited to the purchase of unprocessed or minimally processed domestic food products. 

As a reminder, the requirement to maintain no more than a three-month operating balance in the nonprofit food service account doesn’t impact a school’s eligibility for and/or receipt of SCA funds. In cases where a school food authority has an operating balance of more than three months, the state agency may approve net cash resources in excess of three months through a spend-down plan. 

It is expected that the SCA funds will support SFA (School Food Authorities) operations during the 2023-2024 school year. 

With the ending of the Keep Kids Fed Act, the following child nutrition program flexibilities allowed during the presidentially declared public health emergency are set to expire Friday, June 30: 

  • Temporary higher per-meal reimbursement rates for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). 
  • School year 2022-2023 meal service operational and administrative flexibilities offered through 12(l) waivers (see full list here: SY 2022-23 Child Nutrition Programs Waiver Checklist). 
  • Offsite monitoring waivers. 

The public health emergency ended May 11, 2023. 

Additional updates from the KSDE Child Nutrition and Wellness (CNW) team include: 

  • Reimbursement rates for fiscal year 2024 will be posted here as soon as they are available from the USDA. 
  • To complete the Annual Financial Report (AFR) in KN-CLAIM by Aug. 15, districts must complete each of the Monthly Financial Reports (MFR) in KN-CLAIM on the MFR/AFR Tab in Program Year 2023. Information from the MFRs will automatically roll up to create the AFR. 
  • Sponsors serving summer meals through the Seamless Summer Option in July and/or August must complete and be approved for school year 2023-2024 operations prior to July 1. While completing program renewal, sponsors operating SSO in July and/or August must indicate “Seamless Summer Option Only” within the Summer Meals section of each site application that SSO summer meals will be served. Select and enter the Site Qualification information that reflects how the site qualifies to serve summer meals. Indicate the days meals will be served for July and/or August in the Operating Schedule table. Designate the days of operation and complete the meal service table specific for summer meal distribution. For rural sites, indicate if meals will be served non-congregate, congregate or both. 
  • At-Risk After-School Meals Toolkits are available. Kansas Team Nutrition has developed these toolkits for At-Risk After-School Meals sponsors. Resources in the toolkit include sample social media posts to promote the program; two-week hot and two-week cold menus; program administrative tools; and supplemental menu resources. The toolkit can be found here. To receive a hard copy of the At-Risk After-School Meals Cycle Menus, email KSDE’s Katy Hatch at khatch@ksde.org
  • To maintain the nonprofit status of the Food Service Fund, the fund balance or net cash resources of the fund shouldn’t exceed three months’ average expenditures. If the balance exceeds this threshold, the sponsor must take steps to reduce the balance or have an acceptable plan for using surplus revenues. KSDE will notify sponsors who have exceeded the threshold in September to develop a plan. The plan must be reviewed and approved by KSDE. Only allowable expenses to the Food Service Fund are approvable. Due to the uncertainty of costs and participation in school meal programs for school year 2023-2024, sponsors that have excess cash balances will be allowed to indicate that higher food and labor costs paired with lower reimbursement rates and uncertain participation may impact the food service fund and can be used as acceptable reasoning on a spend down plan. 
  • KSDE staff members will be offering in-person technical assistance sessions throughout the state in July. Contact your area child nutrition consultant for more information. 
  • Sponsors should make plans to attend a School Nutrition Program Administrative Update training. At least one representative from each sponsor must participate in the SNP Administrative Update. One live virtual training option via Zoom remains: 
  • To assist program operators with implementing the transitional standards for milk, whole grains and sodium final rule, and to meet all meal pattern requirements, sponsors are invited to participate in the following meal pattern training opportunities via live webinar.  To access the times and webinar links, visit https://cnw.ksde.org, Training, CNW Calendar. 
    • Is This Meal Reimbursable: Breakfast – Aug. 2. 
    • Is This Meal Reimbursable: Lunch – Aug. 3. 
  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) has shared the availability of the Turnip the Beet 2023 Nomination Packet. The Turnip the Beet Award recognizes outstanding summer meal program sponsors across the nation that work hard to offer high-quality meals to children that are appetizing, appealing and nutritious during the summer months. Please consider applying for a Turnip the Beet award. More information can be found on the Turnip the Beet webpage or by contacting KSDE’s Barb Depew at bdepew@ksde.org or Eryn Davis at edavis@ksde.org
Posted: Jun 29, 2023,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush
Tags: CNW

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