In January of this year, the USDA unveiled new standards for school meals based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These new healthier meal plan regulations went into effect on July 1, 2012, raising the bar on foods offered to schoolchildren in West Virginia and across the country.

In addition, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued an important piece of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – the 6 cent interim final rule – to give schools and communities the tools to meet the challenge of providing more nutritious food.  The 6 cent rule is important because it establishes the requirements for states to certify school district compliance with the new meal standards.  Once certified, school districts that meet the meal standards are reimbursed an additional 6 cents for each lunch served.  

Currently, the Office of Child Nutrition is providing technical assistance to School Food Authorities (SFAs) as they work to submit the required certification documentation to this office.  SFAs must submit one week of menus, a detailed menu worksheet and either a nutrient analysis or a simplified nutrient assessment of calories and saturated fat for each menu offered (for both breakfast and lunch) within the SFA, by age/grade group.  Once the certification documentation is submitted, the OCN has 60 days to notify SFAs of their standing for the 6 cent reimbursement.  

For the 2012-2013 school year, the OCN must also conduct on-site validation reviews for 25% of randomly selected SFAs.  All large school districts (40,000 or more children) must be included in the sample. The on-site visit is conducted to affirm that a certified SFA has been and continues to meet the updated meal patterns and, by doing so, may continue to receive the 
6 cents reimbursement.

In years subsequent to the year certified, through 2014-2015, the Office of Child Nutrition will require that SFAs submit an annual attestation of compliance.

For additional information regarding the 6-cent rule, certification, or validation reviews, contact Gus Nelson at gnelson@access.k12.wv.us  or 304-558-2708.