This is a new collection focusing on operational challenges in child nutrition programs and will utilize survey instruments for school years (SY) 2023–24, SY 2024–25, and SY 2025–26. The studies encompassed under this information collection will collect data from institutions administering and operating child nutrition programs such as state agencies, school food authorities (SFAs) and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors, including information on emerging and ongoing operational challenges facing child nutrition program operators.
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this proposed information collection. Written comments must be received on or before July 7, 2023.
- Comments may be sent to: Sarah Reinhardt, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1320 Braddock Pl., 5th floor, Alexandria, VA 22314.
- Comments may also be submitted via email to Sarah.Reinhardt@usda.gov.
- Comments will also be accepted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov, and follow the online instructions for submitting comments electronically.
All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for Office of Management and Budget approval. All comments will be a matter of public record.
FNS administers the child nutrition (CN) programs in partnership with states, local SFAs, other program sponsors, and local program operators. Section 28(a) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary to conduct annual national performance assessments of the school meal programs and requires states and local entities participating in the programs to cooperate with program research and evaluations. FNS plans to collect periodic data to obtain information on operational challenges facing institutions who operate or administer child nutrition programs, including state agencies, SFAs and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors. The operational challenges in child nutrition programs (OCCNP) surveys, are designed to collect timely data on emerging school food service operational challenges, including but not limited to supply chain disruptions, food costs, and labor shortages, and/or related issues in SY 2023–24, 2024–25, and SY 2025–26. Access to a timely and reliable source of data on these topics has become particularly important following the COVID–19 pandemic. In addition to changing the ways that school meal programs operated, the pandemic has contributed to lasting supply chain issues and substantial changes in the cost and availability of food and labor. The ability to collect this data will allow FNS to provide the best possible support to states and program sponsors and operators facing continued food service operations challenges and enable FNS to respond more quickly and effectively to potential disruptions in the future.
To administer the survey(s), FNS may first contact state agencies administering child nutrition programs to obtain current lists of the respondent population(s) of interest (e.g.,SFAs, SFSP sponsors, or CACFP sponsors). In the case of SFAs and SFSP sponsors, the list will be used to conduct a census; in the case of CACFP sponsors, the list will be used to generate a representative sample of respondents. After identifying the appropriate respondent population(s), FNS with provide state agencies with a template survey support email to be distributed to the respondent population(s) in their respective states to provide information regarding the survey and express support for the data collection. If state agencies administering child nutrition programs and/or food distribution for these programs will also be considered survey respondents, these agencies will receive additional communications from FNS regarding their participation in the survey. FNS will then email the survey to respondent population(s) via the Qualtrics survey software platform or a similar software. The survey instrument will include content tailored to each respondent population, and will take approximately 20 minutes to complete.
Survey administration will be similar to the methods used for the SFA survey II on school food supply chain disruption and student participation, which obtained emergency clearance for data collection in SY 2022–23 and was cleared by the Office of Management and Budget on Nov. 15, 2022 (SFA Survey II on School Food Supply Chain Disruption and Student Participation, OMB control number 0584–0677, expiration date 05/31/2023); however, this proposed data collection is different in that it is broader in scope than the previous emergency clearance, encompasses a broader potential audience, and focuses on different timeframes for collection in the future. Under the emergency information collection, data collection methods consisted of a web survey of all SFAs nationwide operating child nutrition programs in schools during SY 2022–23, and was distributed to 18,843 SFAs based on contact information collected from the 56 CN agencies that administer CN programs at the state level in the 50 states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.