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Q&As Regarding the Use of SAE Funds and SA Funds for Farm to School Related Expenses

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FNS Document #
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Policy Memos
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PDF Icon Policy Memo (118.83 KB)
DATE:March 13, 2015
SUBJECT:Questions and Answers Regarding the Use of State Administrative Expense (SAE) Funds and State Administrative Funds (SAF) for Farm to School Related Expenses
TO:Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Agencies
Child Nutrition Programs
Food Distribution Programs
All States

This memorandum and attached Questions and Answers clarify and highlight the uses of state administrative expense (SAE) funds, both as initially allocated and when reallocated, and state administrative funds (SAF) for state-level coordination of farm to school activities related to the administration of the child nutrition programs (CNPs). For purposes of this memorandum, CNPs include: National School Lunch Program; School Breakfast Program; Special Milk Program; Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP); Summer Food Service Program (SFSP); Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program; and food distribution programs which provide USDA Foods to applicable programs.

SAE funds are a source of nondiscretionary funding authorized under 7 CFR Part 235 for costs incurred in the state-level administration of the CNPs in accordance with an approved SAE Plan [7 CFR 235.5(b)]. SAE reallocation is a formal process by which state agencies may annually request additional SAE funds above their initial authorized funding level, or return funds that they do not need. For additional information regarding reallocation of SAE funds, please see memorandum SP22 CACFP06-2015, Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Reallocation of State Administrative Expense (SAE) Funds in Child Nutrition Programs, issued Feb. 19, 2015. For questions related to use of SAE and SAE reallocated funds in the food distribution program, please see memorandum SP57-2013, Questions and Answers Regarding the Use of State Administrative Expense Funds and SAE Reallocation Funds in the Food Distribution Program for Child Nutrition Programs, issued Sept. 6, 2013.

SAF is nondiscretionary funding authorized under 7 CFR Part 225 for costs incurred in the state-level administration of the SFSP and in accordance with the state agency’s program management and administrative plan (MAP) [7 CFR 225.4]. Upon evaluation, funding adjustments may be made to reflect changes in program participation.

Both funding sources are allocated to state agencies annually by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Allowable uses for SAE funds and SAF include, but are not limited to: state-level salaries and benefits; travel expenses; and costs associated with providing training and technical assistance to school food authorities (SFAs), institutions and sponsors.

The USDA Farm to School Program, authorized under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 (PL 111-296, Section 243), enables FNS to assist state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, eligible schools and non-profit organizations with implementing farm to school activities through training and technical assistance, research and grants. Farm to school programs encompass efforts that bring locally or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias; hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and the integration of food, nutrition and agriculture education into the regular, standards-based classroom curriculum. For more information about the USDA Farm to School Program, please visit

FNS believes that farm to school activities may improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the CNPs. Since state agencies provide training and technical assistance on all aspects of the CNPs, farm to school activities can play a substantial role in advancing these efforts. As such, FNS supports and encourages the use of SAE funds and SAF, when feasible, for allowable state-level administrative expenses associated with the coordination of farm to school activities in support of CNPs.

State agencies should direct any questions concerning this memorandum to the appropriate FNS regional office.

Sarah E. Smith Holmes
Program Monitoring and Operational Support Division
Child Nutrition Programs


Page updated: January 11, 2024

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.