Meal Charge Policies (AR)

Alexander Rony filed this request with the Department of Education of Arkansas.

It is a clone of this request.

Status
Completed

Communications

From: Alexander Rony

To Whom It May Concern:

I. Background Information

On July 8, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service sent a memorandum to all state directors of child nutrition programs entitled, "Unpaid Meal Charges: Local Meal Charge Policies." That memorandum is available here: https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/cn/SP46-2016os.pdf.

The memorandum set a July 1, 2017 deadline for all school food authorities (SFAs) operating the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP) to have a written meal charge policy. This policy would apply to children who lack money for school meals at the full or reduced rate. Policies may be set by the state or by SFAs. According to the USDA's memorandum, "Policies developed at the SFA level must be provided to the State agency during the Administrative Review."

II. Requested Records

Pursuant to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

1. A copy of any state-level meal charge policies to be implemented by all school food authorities (SFAs) operating the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP) in the state.
2. Copies of meal charge policies developed by school food authorities and provided to the state, as directed by the USDA's July 2016 memorandum.

I do not need multiple documents or versions if they repeat the same information, and I am sensitive to the possibility that my second item (copies of SFA-developed policies) may take awhile in the search phase depending on how your state agency received and stored those records. I am willing to discuss these and any other issues further to make fulfillment more manageable for your office. I prefer being contacted through the email address listed in my submission, but I am willing to talk directly by email (alexander.rony@sierraclub.org) or phone (415-977-5739) if needed.

I would prefer the request be filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not. For databases, please export to a flat file.

III. Fees

If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please inform me in advance of fulfilling the request. I am willing to pay up to $10.

I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public's understanding of how schools receiving federal nutrition assistance treat children who don't have enough money for food. This issue, and the related "lunch shaming" practices designed to force parents to pay their children's meal debt, have been top news stories for the past year throughout the country.

The Sierra Club is a national environmental nonprofit with no commercial interest in obtaining the requested information. Instead, our organization intends to analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that the public has a single, clear location to identify meal charge policies around the nation. The Sierra Club and its supporters have demonstrated interest and expertise in the subject area by sending tens of thousands of letters to Congress about lunch shaming and anti-hunger programs, and by researching and identifying hundreds of meal charge policies across the nation.

In addition, I ask to be categorized as a representative of the news media. The bulk of my professional duties at the Sierra Club entails planning and writing content about public policy, including analyzing public record responses, coordinating public dissemination plans, and composing mass communications to our supporters. Here are a few examples of my work, or articles based on my work:

https://www.sierraclub.org/planet/2017/09/thousands-usda-research-jobs-stalled-during-hiring-freeze
https://sierraclub.org/planet/2017/04/hiring-freeze-prevented-epa-filling-hundreds-jobs
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/05/19/nearly-700-vacancies-at-cdc-because-of-trump-administration-hiring-freeze/

The Sierra Club has the ability and intention to disseminate the information it receives through this request. The information may be shared through emails to an audience reaching into the millions, Facebook and Twitter posts reaching tens of thousands of followers, articles on our often-visited website, and analysis provided to the media.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response.

Sincerely,

Alexander Rony
Sierra Club

From: Department of Education

Good morning! I have received your FOIA request and have begun processing it. Once I have received all the responsive information, I will send it to you electronically. I will let you know if we have any questions or need any clarification. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Have a great day!

Tiffany D. Thomas
FOIA Officer/Ombudsman
Arkansas Department of Education
Legal Services
Four Capitol Mall, Room 301-A
Little Rock, AR 72201
Office: 501-682-4251
FAX: 501-682-4249
E-mail: Tiffany.Thomas@arkansas.gov<mailto:Tiffany.Thomas@arkansas.gov>
www.arkansased.org<http://www.arkansased.org>

Follow us on Twitter @ArkansasEd<https://twitter.com/arkansased>
Like us on Facebook at Arkansas Department of Education<https://www.facebook.com/arkansased>

This message is intended only for the named recipient. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.

From: Department of Education

Good afternoon! As a result of USDA Guidance Memos SP-46-2016 and SP-47-2016, the Arkansas Department of Education released a Commissioner's Memo to inform Arkansas School Districts about the meal charge policies requirements effective July 2017. Here is a link to that Commissioner's Memo: http://adecm.arkansas.gov/ViewApprovedMemo.aspx?Id=1980.

The individual school districts develop their own meal charge policies and those are provided to reviewers during Administrative Review, however, the reviewer does not keep copies of those policies. Therefore, the Arkansas Department of Education does not have copies of the school districts' policies. The School Districts are responsible for notifying the households within their districts of their meal charge policies and many do so through their websites or in the student handbooks.

This is all the information we have that is responsive to your request. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. Have a great day!

Tiffany D. Thomas
FOIA Officer/Ombudsman
Arkansas Department of Education
Legal Services
Four Capitol Mall, Room 301-A
Little Rock, AR 72201
Office: 501-682-4251
FAX: 501-682-4249
E-mail: Tiffany.Thomas@arkansas.gov<mailto:Tiffany.Thomas@arkansas.gov>
www.arkansased.org<http://www.arkansased.org>

Follow us on Twitter @ArkansasEd<https://twitter.com/arkansased>
Like us on Facebook at Arkansas Department of Education<https://www.facebook.com/arkansased>

This message is intended only for the named recipient. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.

Files