Meal Charge Policies (MI)

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

It is a clone of this request.

Est. Completion May 7, 2018
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

Pursuant to the Michigan 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.
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: Michigan Department of Education

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David Head
FOIA Coordinator
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
Michigan Department of Education
517-241-2882

Our collective efforts can help make Michigan a Top 10 education state in 10 years! Here are the goals and strategies: http://mi.gov/top10in10/

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From: Michigan Department of Education

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David Head
FOIA Coordinator
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
Michigan Department of Education
517-241-2882

Our collective efforts can help make Michigan a Top 10 education state in 10 years! Here are the goals and strategies: http://mi.gov/top10in10/

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From: Michigan Department of Education

May 7, 2018

Alexander Rony
MuckRock News
DEPT MR 52691
411A Highland Ave
Somerville, Massachusetts 02144

Dear Mr. Rony:

This notice is in response to your April 22, 2018 email request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), MCL 15.231 et seq, that was received by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) on April 23, 2018.

You have requested the following information:

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.

To the best of my information, knowledge, and belief, the data requested was uploaded to the Muckrock website and is all of the responsive records in the possession of the Department falling within the scope of your request. Because the information you requested is available electronically and involved minimal staff time, your fee of $14.70 is waived and you are not being charged for this request. You may be charged for any future requests.

Sincerely,

David Head
FOIA Coordinator

Enclosures

From: Michigan Department of Education

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David Head
FOIA Coordinator
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
Michigan Department of Education
517-241-2882

Our collective efforts can help make Michigan a Top 10 education state in 10 years! Here are the goals and strategies: http://mi.gov/top10in10/

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From: Alexander Rony

Thanks so much for your help with this request, David! I really appreciate it. I received the uploaded files. I saw the various district meal charge policies, but I didn't see any documents related to my third requests (participating LEAs in CEP or Provision 2). Normally I would get this straight from the department website (https://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-66254_80468---,00.html), but the link to the "Current List of Community Eligibility Provision Schools" is broken (https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/CEO_WEBSITE_PUBLIC_BUILDING_LIST_2014_446672_7.pdf). I've informed the department about the broken link through the website, but I was hoping that you received this document as part of the search process.

Sincerely,
Alexander Rony

From: Michigan Department of Education

Alexander,

Our office of school supports has supplied the attached regarding your request. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Best,

David Head
FOIA Coordinator
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
Michigan Department of Education
517-241-2882

Our collective efforts can help make Michigan a Top 10 education state in 10 years! Here are the goals and strategies: http://mi.gov/top10in10/

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From: Alexander Rony

Thanks David. I take it that this means that there are no similar documents that detail which LEAs (local educational agencies) are participating on a districtwide basis? If that's correct, then this fulfills my request.

Best,
Alexander

From: Michigan Department of Education

Alexander,

Attached is the what the food unit is able to pull at this point. Their data person is out on leave, and at this time, the Department can only send this.

Let me know if this works. If not, you may have to wait until their data person returns.

Thanks,

David Head
FOIA Coordinator
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
Michigan Department of Education
517-241-2882

Did you know most Michigan educator certificates expire June 30th of any given year? Educators can check expiration dates and renew or progress certificates using the Michigan Online Educator Certification System at www.michigan.gov/moecs<http://www.michigan.gov/moecs>. Not your year for renewal? Use MOECS to manage your education-related professional learning<https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Education_Related_Professional_Learning_604294_7.PDF> for future renewals, view effectiveness ratings and update personal information!
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From: Alexander Rony

Thanks for following up. I'm looking for LEAs participating district-wide, so this still doesn't fit my needs. However, I'm willing to wait until the data person returns and/or take this directly to the Department and out of the Michigan Freedom of Information Act space.

Alexander

From: Michigan Department of Education

I've attached our last correspondence. I believe you said you are willing to wait for the data person to return from maternity leave. She will be back in July I believe.

If this not your understanding, please let me know.

Thanks,

David Head
FOIA Coordinator
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
Michigan Department of Education
517-241-2882

Did you know most Michigan educator certificates expire June 30th of any given year? Educators can check expiration dates and renew or progress certificates using the Michigan Online Educator Certification System at www.michigan.gov/moecs<http://www.michigan.gov/moecs>. Not your year for renewal? Use MOECS to manage your education-related professional learning<https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Education_Related_Professional_Learning_604294_7.PDF> for future renewals, view effectiveness ratings and update personal information!
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