The USDA announced that it will be providing school districts with more flexibility and support to operate more efficient school meal programs.
In 2015, the USDA established education and training requirements for nutrition professionals. However, small districts faced challenges finding qualified applicants to direct their local food service operation. The new proposal would provide much needed relief for school districts with less than 2,500 students.
To support states' efforts to improve program integrity, USDA has customizable resources to help local school districts improve the accuracy of their school meal application process. Support for online applications, evidence based meals and best practices will all be available to simplify the process and ensure that eligible children receive free and reduced meal prices.
As part of this package, USDA is offering guidance to help schools utilize its open-source online school meal application model. USDA developed the application with input from local food service professionals. The customer-friendly design of the model is intended to increase the integrity of the application process by reducing common mistakes families make when applying for free or reduced-priced school meals.
The announcement is the latest in a series of recent USDA actions to expand flexibility and ease challenges for partners and stakeholders who help feed our nation’s children.