August 13, 2012

National School Lunch Program Sponsors - Back to School Message

Welcome Back to School!

With the start of the 2012-2013 school year, staff with the Illinois State Board of Education, Nutrition and Wellness Programs Division would like to alert schools participating in the National School Lunch and/or School Breakfast Program to some new requirements for this school year. To remain up-to-date throughout the school year, we encourage you to visit our website regularly as well as reviewing the Outlook, our monthly newsletter (August - May).

The State Superintendent recently announced that the Nutrition Programs Division will now be called the Nutrition and Wellness Program Division, operating under the Specialized Instruction, Nutrition and Wellness Center. Mark R. Haller, SNS, now serves as the Acting Division Administrator. The new division name reflects how the nutrition aspects of the Child Nutrition Programs and ISBE's objectives will align with the overall wellness for students and children so that they are ready to learn, help to combat the obesity epidemic, and provide access to healthy meals for all families including food insecure families.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) requires all schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to implement the new food based meal pattern requirements for lunches served starting School Year 2012-2013. Detailed information on the new food based meal pattern requirements including guidance documents, meal pattern charts, updated questions and answers, and recorded webinars are available online.

The HHFKA provides for an additional 6 cents of reimbursement for each lunch meal served in districts that have been certified. The additional 6 cents of reimbursement is available for lunches claimed beginning October 1, 2012, but cannot be awarded until all sites within the district are certified by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). This certification process is REQUIRED for ALL School Food Authorities (SFAs). The required documentation (menu, menu worksheet, simplified nutrient assessment/nutritional analysis, and attestation statement) must be electronically submitted to ISBE for review and certification. A recorded webinar detailing this process is available online.

In the near future, we anticipate additional resources to assist SFAs with the completion of these requirements. Resources planned include the following:

A new system is being introduced this year for schools to submit their annual applications to participate in school meal programs as well as submit claims for reimbursement. As of October 1, 2012, the Web-based Illinois Nutrition System (WINS) will replace the current Application and Claim Entry System (ACES). Instructions on completing the Sponsor and Site applications using WINS are now available. Sponsor and site application(s) are to be completed by September 17, 2012. The first claim month that will be submitted using WINS will be October 2012.

All public schools should access their Annual file by logging into IWAS and accessing the Electronic Direct Certification System through ACES as soon as possible. Additionally, all LEAs participating in the School-Based Child Nutrition Programs can complete sponsor upload files or single child lookups at this time. All non-public schools would need to access the system using the sponsor upload file or single child lookup for all children enrolled in their school(s).

All enrolled students located in the direct certification system must be notified of their eligibility benefits. A sample letter to notify households of eligibility via direct certification is available. Household Eligibility Applications would only need to be distributed to households that were not directly certified.

All schools are reminded to utilize the secure Electronic Direct Certification System designed for this purpose and to refrain from contacting local Department of Human Services Office for verification of such benefits. Further guidance, including a recorded webinar, guidance document and sample forms are available online.