SNP Meal Counting
Local education agencies (LEAs) including public, private, charter, and residential child care institutions (RCCIs) that participate in the national school lunch and breakfast program are eligible for federal reimbursement. The federal reimbursement is provided for each meal that meets the program requirements and is served to an eligible student. To obtain this reimbursement, school personnel must accurately count, record, and claim the number of meals actually served to students by category, i.e., paid, reduced-price, and free. Additionally, the number of meals served free, reduced-price, and paid and claimed for reimbursement must have adequate documentation on file to support the claim.
Community eligibility provision (CEP) is the newest opportunity for schools with high percentages of low-income children to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. In CEP schools, students are CEP eligible, eliminating free, reduced-price, and paid meal counting status.
Elements of an acceptable meal counting and claiming system include:
- Eligibility documentation
- Collection procedures
- Point of service meal counts
- Claim for reimbursement
- Internal controls
School food authorities (SFAs) are required to establish internal controls which ensure the accuracy of meal counts prior to the submission of the monthly Claim for Reimbursement. Every school year (as defined by 7 CFR Part 210.2), each SFA with more than one school must perform at least one on-site review of the meal counting and claiming system and the readily observable general areas of review (identified under 7 CFR 210.18(h)) in each school operating the National School Lunch Program—and 50 percent of schools operating the School Breakfast Program (SBP)—administered by the SFA. SFAs with only one school are not required to conduct such on-site reviews for their approved school. While the annual requirement is to complete 50 percent of the schools approved to participate in the SBP in the SFA’s jurisdiction, each school approved to participate in the SBP must be reviewed at least once every two years.
The on-site review must take place prior to February 1 of each school year. If the review discloses problems with a school’s meal counting and claiming procedures or general review areas, the SFA must ensure that the school implements corrective action, and within 45 days of the review, conduct a follow-up on-site review to determine that the corrective action resolved the problems. Each on-site review must ensure the school’s claim is based on the counting and claiming system, as implemented, and yields the actual number of reimbursable free, reduced price, and paid meals, respectively, served for each day of operation.
The On-Site Review Checklist
- One form must be completed for each school.
- If any of the thirteen questions have “No” as an answer, documented follow-up (corrective action plan) must be conducted within 45 days.
- If a corrective action plan is required, a follow-up site visit must also be conducted within 45 days.
- The checklist should be signed and dated.
- Maintain the checklists on file for three years plus the current year.