Meal Charge Policies (GA)

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

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 Georgia Open Records 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.
3. Copies of any spreadsheets that list 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, though PDF works if those are not possible.

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: Georgia Department of Education

Mr. Rony,

I am writing in regard to the open records request below received by the Georgia Department of Education (“Department”) on April 24, 2018. Please note that the Department was closed for a state holiday on April 23rd. Specifically, you requested information regarding the school nutrition program.

Please find attached information responsive to your request. There is no charge for this information because it took 15 minutes or less to provide. Below is information I received from school nutrition regarding the attachments.

1. The State of Georgia School Nutrition Program does not have a Statewide Charge Policy. We follow the USDA Guidance in memo SP-48-2016 dated July 8, 2016, that states each local educational agency must have a charge policy. We monitor this when we conduct administrative reviews each year.
2. We have included the charge policies collected from the most recent administrative reviews for school year 2017-2018.
3. We have included the requested spreadsheet for our current CEP participating schools and districts. This information is also available on our website at this location http://snp.wpgadoe.org/units/rtau/community-eligibility-provision/cep-percentages-2016-2018/. We have included a map of our school food authorities currently participating in Provision II and a spreadsheet with a list of those participating in Provision II. It is also located on our website here: http://snp.wpgadoe.org/provision-2-training/. Georgia does not participate in Provision 3.

There is an additional spreadsheet that is responsive to your request that I will forward to you next week. I am waiting on a response from school nutrition in order to determine if the information needs redaction.

Regards,
Julie James
Paralegal
Legal Services
Georgia Department of Education
2052 Twin Towers East
205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive, SE
Atlanta, GA 30334
jjames@doe.k12.ga.us<mailto:jjames@doe.k12.ga.us>
(404) 463-0325 – Phone
(404) 657-8376 - Fax
http://www.gadoe.org<http://www.gadoe.org/>
"Educating Georgia's Future"

From: Georgia Department of Education

Please find attached the additional spreadsheet responsive to your request.

From: Alexander Rony

Hi,

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

Sincerely,
Alexander Rony

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