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National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Questions and Answers for Charter Schools

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PDF Icon Policy Memo (147.00 KB)
DATE: Nov. 14, 2018
SUBJECT: National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Questions and Answers for Charter Schools
TO: Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) along with other child nutrition programs (CNPs) administered by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) make it possible for schools to serve wholesome and appealing meals to students each day.

FNS recognizes the importance of providing the necessary technical assistance to all schools eligible to participate in the CNPs so that all students have access to school meals that contribute to their physical and mental well-being. To assist in this effort, FNS is providing updated Question and Answers (Q&As) to address questions we have received from charter schools. This memorandum supersedes SP 07-2008: Charter School Involvement in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, Jan. 15, 2008.

Charter schools have cited challenges to participating in the CNPs including a lack of equipment, limited access to kitchen and cafeteria facilities, and the inability to establish reliable administrative systems to receive reimbursements for eligible students. However, these challenges should not prohibit charter schools from offering school meals to students through the CNPs. Federal, state, and local administrators should encourage charter schools to leverage the federal funding available to support school-based CNPs.

Since charter schools are held to the same standards for operating CNPs as traditional public or non-profit private schools, this memorandum does not contain any new CNP policies. Program operators can use the Q&As as an additional resource to assist charter schools and non-profit private, rural, or small schools that have similar questions to operate successful CNPs. These schools are encouraged to find comprehensive information about the child nutrition programs on the FNS website and in the Eligibility Manual for School Meals.

State agencies are reminded to distribute this memorandum to program operators. Program operators should direct any questions concerning this guidance to their state agency. State agencies with questions should contact the appropriate FNS regional office.

Angela Kline
Policy and Program Development Division

Page updated: January 13, 2022

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.