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Public Notice - Child Nutrition Program State Waiver Request

Friday, February 15, 2019 | 03:00pm

NASHVILLE – In accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Nutrition Services policy memorandum, SP 15-2018, CACFP 12-2018, SFSP 05-2018 - Child Nutrition Program Waiver Request Guidance and Protocol-Revised, May 24, 2018, the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) is seeking a waiver of statutory and/or regulatory Program requirements that were recently rescinded.

One waiver request will be submitted to the USDA FNS Southeast Regional Office (SERO) for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). DHS will be requesting continued use of waivers involving:

Meal Time Restrictions (7 CFR § 225.16) for Mobile Sites.

1.    State agency submitting waiver request and responsible State agency staff contact information:

Tennessee Department of Human Services
Allette Vayda, Director of Operations- Food Programs
James K. Polk Building, 15th Floor
505 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37243
615-313-4749
CACFP.DHS@tn.gov

2.    Region:

South East Region

3.    Eligible service providers participating in waiver and affirmation that they are in good standing:

Approved Sponsors participating in the 2019 Summer Food Service Program that use a mobile feeding model

We will update this information with specific Sponsors in good standing once we complete the 2019 SFSP Application approvals.

4.    Description of the challenge the State agency is seeking to solve, the goal of the waiver to improve services under the Program, and the expected outcomes if the waiver is granted. [Section 12(l)(2)(A)(iii) and 12(l)(2)(A)(iv) of the NSLA]:

On October 11, 2018 memo SFSP 01-2019 Summer Food Service Program Memoranda Rescission was issued removing 6 waivers that had been enacted at the federal level.  One of these waivers removed meal time restrictions for summer food sites. The removal of the requirement that three hours elapse between the beginning of one meal service, including snacks, and the beginning of another meal service allowed for innovation in the SFSP and the development of the mobile feeding model and mobile meal routes. The mobile feeding model is predicated on Sponsors driving an approved route and stopping at approved sites where meals are served to children at approved times. Sponsors that serve meals utilizing a mobile route will be disproportionately impacted by meal time restrictions. Mobile feeding sites generally serve breakfast and lunch or lunch and snack at each stop. They do not have the ability to wait three hours at each stop and they are not able to drive the mobile feeding route twice in order to serve two meals. As a result, the impact of reinstating the meal time restrictions will be to decrease the number of meals served at mobile feeding sites by 50%.

Many Sponsors operating mobile site routes have invested significantly into developing mobile meal delivery systems including, but not limited to the purchase of vehicles and the conversion of vehicles into mobile diners. Due to the distances between sites, which can be particularly far in rural areas, the cost associated with operating the mobile meal delivery systems and the current SFSP reimbursements rates, Sponsors operating mobile meal sites will be financially prohibited from driving the mobile routes twice a day. Since Sponsors will only drive the route once a day, they will only be able to serve one meal a day. The goal of this waiver request is to allow children served by mobile feeding sites in the SFSP to continue to receive two meals a day.

5.    Specific Program requirements to be waived (include statutory and regulatory citations). [Section 12(l)(2)(A)(i) of the NSLA]:

TN is requesting to waive program regulations at 7 CFR 225.16(c)(1) regarding meal times. Regulations require that three hours must elapse between the beginning of one meal service, including snacks, and the beginning of another meal service. TN is requesting a waiver of these meal time restrictions for Sponsors operating mobile site routes and mobile feeding models.

6.    Detailed description of alternative procedures and anticipated impact on Program operations, including technology, State systems, and monitoring:

TN does not anticipate any impact on Program operations, including technology, State systems and monitoring. The current SFSP application system utilized by the State allows Sponsors to enter the serving times for meal and indicate if the site is a mobile site. State Agency staff will review the submitted information during the application approval process. If the site meets the waiver requirement criteria the State Agency staff will be able to approve the meal times with less than 3 hours between meals. Monitoring staff will be able to review the approved site information within the system prior to conducting monitoring visits.

7.    Description of any steps the State has taken to address regulatory barriers at the State level. [Section 12(l)(2)(A)(ii) of the NSLA]:

The regulatory barriers for this provision are at the Federal level.

8.    Anticipated challenges State or eligible service providers may face with the waiver implementation:

The SA does not anticipate any challenges with implementing this waiver, as it was in place for the previous year’s SFSP program without challenge.

9.    Description of how the waiver will not increase the overall cost of the Program to the Federal Government. If there are anticipated increases, confirm that the costs will be paid from non-Federal funds. [Section 12(l)(1)(A)(iii) of the NSLA]:

The SA does not anticipate any this waiver increasing the overall cost of the Program to the Federal Government, as it was in place for the previous year’s SFSP program without increased cost.

10. Anticipated waiver implementation date and time period:

SFSP 2019: May 2019-August 2019

11. Proposed monitoring and review procedures:

SFSP sites will be monitored and reviewed as part of the normal SFSP program monitoring schedule. Approved SFSP sites and meal times will be listed in the SFSP application system.

12. Proposed reporting requirements (include type of data and due date(s) to FNS):

The SA will provide to FNS a list of all approved SFSP Sponsors and mobile sites participating in the waiver to remove meal time restrictions by June 1, 2019. The SA will provide to FNS the number of meals served by sites participating in the waiver to remove meal time restrictions by September 1, 2019.

Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services at www.tn.gov/humanservices.   

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