On Jan. 21, USDA will publish in the Federal Register a proposed rule, “Streamlining Program Requirements and Improving Integrity in the Summer Food Service Program,” providing flexibilities that will allow local SFSP operators to spend more time serving children wholesome meals and less time mired in red tape.
Given the seasonal operations and the broad range of sites where meals are offered, state agencies and participating organizations need streamlined administration and flexibility to operate the program in a way that is responsive to local conditions. Still, maintaining program integrity is vital to the future of the program. USDA listened to our front-line customer service partners and, in response, this rule proposes to streamline and clarify important program requirements to ensure programs can most effectively keep children well-fed in the summer by:
- Formally updating regulations with certain operationally-proven flexibilities for local sponsors and sites to increase program participation and decrease paperwork burdens.
- Safeguarding integrity with stronger monitoring while easing redundant requirements for high performing, experienced program operators through a streamlined application process to better focus program resources.
- Providing local flexibilities to make serving and eating meals easier with local control of meal service times, choice in number of food items selected by the child, and allowing children to take certain items offsite.
- Ending confusion around important standards and eligibility requirements by clarifying language and aligning performance definitions.
These changes respond to the needs of the local operators who best understand the children and communities they serve, providing options to tailor their operations while reducing administrative burden and safeguarding program integrity. Right-sizing reporting, the frequency of reviews, and burdens on those administering programs allows them to remain true to what they value most, interacting with children and preparing meals that they are eager to eat.
This proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days through www.Regulations.gov. USDA is committed to listening to and collaborating with customers, partners, and stakeholders to make these reforms as effective as possible, and encourages all those who are interested in summer meals to share their comments and recommendations for improvement.