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Revisions to Instructions for Calculation of Average Daily Attendance (FNS-418)

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PDF Icon Policy Memo (74.93 KB)
DATE:May 10, 2017
SUBJECT:Revisions to Instructions for the Calculation of Average Daily Attendance on the Form FNS-418
TO:Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

This memorandum announces a revision to the instructions for calculating average daily attendance (ADA) on the Form FNS-418: Report of the Summer Food Service Program for Children. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has revised the current Form FNS-418 instructions to further clarify how to calculate ADA, and to align the FNS-418's instructions with those contained in the Form FNS-10: Report of School Meal Program Operations for average daily meals. The revisions utilize language and structure similar to the instructions for the average daily meals for the FNS-10 to calculate the July ADA in SFSP. In addition, the revised instructions include examples of how to calculate the ADA in order to decrease the burden on state agencies and sponsoring organizations when preparing claiming forms. These changes will be included in the April update to the Food Programs Reporting System (FPRS).

Importance of Average Daily Attendance in the Summer Food Service Program ADA has been used to determine average daily participation in SFSP for the month of July for over three decades. FNS uses the ADA as a proxy for the number of children served by utilizing other measures, such as number of meals served and total operating days or meal service days. The calculation of ADA helps FNS understand the reach of SFSP on a daily basis across the country. Ensuring that this number is as accurate as possible is critical to program implementation and operations. The ADA helps inform program implementation at the national level and facilitates strategic planning and outreach to areas with low participation in SFSP.

Based on data received through a Request for Information issued in March 2015, it became clear that there were inconsistencies in the way the ADA was calculated. Specifically, there was confusion about which meal service to use in the calculation and how to aggregate site and sponsor level data. Providing clearer instructions for calculating the ADA will help sponsors, state agencies, and FNS better analyze the impact of providing summer meals.

Revisions to Instructions on Form FNS-418

The revised instructions include a more detailed definition of ADA, a clarification that a site's primary meal service is the meal service at which the site claims the most meals, and an example calculation of ADA. The definition of Average Daily Attendance was expanded to explain how ADA uses SFSP meal counts as a proxy for determining the attendance at a summer meal site on an average day during the claim period. The revised instructions clarify that the ADA is calculated through the following steps:

For Sponsors:
  1. Identify each individual site's primary meal service during the claim period;
  2. Divide the count of meals served at the site's primary meal service by the number of operating or meal service days for that site, for that claim period, to obtain each site's ADA; and
  3. Add all site ADA calculations together to find the sponsor total ADA.
For State Agencies:
  1. Add all sponsor total ADAs together to determine ADA for the state. Enter this total in Part D. Line 33 of the Form FNS-418, July 90-Day Report.

For most sites, the primary meal service is typically lunch; however, if a site claims more meals at a meal service other than at lunch, then the other meal service would be considered the primary meal service and should be included in the ADA calculation. In an effort to provide further technical assistance to state agencies, FNS is including a sample calculation chart (see below) within the revised instructions:

Sponsor A:
 Number of Operating Days
during Claim Period









Site 110100200 *5020 (=200/10)
Site 215300 *  20 (=300/15)
Site 32550100150 *6 (=150/25)
Total ADA

* Primary meal service

As this example shows, each site has a different primary meal service. Each site's primary meal service must be included in the cumulative ADA calculation for the sponsor. This cumulative ADA for the sponsor is the number that the state agency should use when it aggregates all sponsor ADA calculations for the state to include on the Form FNS-418.

State agencies are reminded to distribute this information to SFSP operators immediately. Program operators should direct any questions regarding this memorandum to the appropriate state agency. State agencies should direct questions to the appropriate FNS regional office.

Angela Kline
Policy and Program Development Division
Child Nutrition Programs
Sarah Smith Holmes
Program Monitoring and Operational Support Division
Child Nutrition Programs
Page updated: November 03, 2023

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.