Meal Charge Policies (CA)

Alexander Rony filed this request with the California Department of Education of California.
Due April 30, 2018
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

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

I am filing a public records request for 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.
3. Copies of any spreadsheets that identify the state's Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) that currently participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), Provision 2, or Provision 3 on a districtwide basis. Two examples are available at http://www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/fn/pdf/Approved%20CEP%20LEAs%20SY_2017-2018.pdf and https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/school-nutrition/pdf/cep-participating-schools-and-districts-1718.pdf. I prefer these in electronic, machine-readable file formats, such as CSV or XLS, if possible. The California Department of Education maintains a list of LEAs participating in the CEP at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sn/cepdistricts.asp, but does not indicate which are doing so districtwide.

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 find 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:

MuckRock News
DEPT MR 52629
411A Highland Ave
Somerville, MA 02144-2516
requests@muckrock.com

Subject: Public Records Request

Dear Mr. Rony,

On May 1, 2018, the California Department of Education (CDE) received a written request for information pursuant to the Public Records Act (Gov. Code § 6250 et seq.). The CDE responded to you in a letter dated May 10, 2018, that it had reviewed your request and preliminarily determined that the CDE may have responsive records and would provide you with a determination regarding your request no later than May 28, 2018.

Upon review of the criteria contained in your request, the CDE has determined that there are records maintained by the CDE which are responsive.

Criteria 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.

Response: The CDE has not established state-level meal charge policies which SFAs are required to implement.

Criteria 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.

Response: The CDE does not require SFAs to formally submit their meal charge policies. Alternatively, the presence of meal charge policies are verified during the SFA's administrative review (AR).

Criteria 3: Copies of any spreadsheets that identify the state's Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) that currently participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), Provision 2, or Provision 3 on a districtwide basis.

Response: See Attached

Please contact me if you have any questions about this subject. You can reach me by phone at 916-319-0458 or by e-mail at twarchild@cde.ca.gov<mailto:twarchild@cde.ca.gov>.

Sincerely,

Turtle Warchild, Program Analyst
Program Integrity Unit
California Department of Education
Office: 916-319-0458
Fax: 916-327-2753
E-mail: twarchild@cde.ca.gov<mailto:twarchild@cde.ca.gov>

From: Alexander Rony

Thanks so much for your help with this request! I really appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Alexander Rony

From: Alexander Rony

Actually, I had one question about the document you sent to me. I notice that the spreadsheet says "District-wide" in its file name, but only a few schools have "District-wide" entered in column D (and most of those are part of school districts that have schools not tagged as "District-wide"). Which of these districts participate district-wide, i.e., every school in their district participates in CEP or Provision 2?

Thanks again,
Alexander

From: California Department of Education

Good afternoon Alexander,

My apologies, the data was pulled from the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System and apparently had some issues in providing the responsive data. I will glean the data and follow up once the data has been manually validated.

Thank you

Turtle Warchild, Program Analyst
Program Integrity Unit
California Department of Education
Office: 916-319-0458
Fax: 916-327-2753
E-mail: twarchild@cde.ca.gov<mailto:twarchild@cde.ca.gov>

From: California Department of Education

Good afternoon Alexander,

I have gone through the CNIPS Data that was sent to you and validated the information. The sites that indicate district-wide are truly district wide now. If you select the “District Wide or Blank” column and select only District Wide, the workbook will provide you of the list of sponsors and all sites that participate district wide.

My apologies again on the chaotic nature of the responsive data.

Thank you.

Turtle Warchild, Program Analyst
Program Integrity Unit
California Department of Education
Office: 916-319-0458
Fax: 916-327-2753
E-mail: twarchild@cde.ca.gov<mailto:twarchild@cde.ca.gov>

From: Alexander Rony

Looks great, thanks so much for your follow-up!

Respectfully,
Alexander Rony

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