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Public Notice - Summer Food Service Program Area Eligibility During Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks Waiver Request

Monday, March 30, 2020 | 11:22am

Tennessee Department of Human Services is requesting a waiver for the area eligibility requirement of Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Under this waiver request SFSP Sponsors would be able to operate SFSP open sites in locations where less than 50% of the children in the area qualify for free or reduced-price meals if they can show that there are a large number of children who normally receive free and reduced-priced meals at school but can not receive those meals now that schools are closed due to COVID-19.

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

Tennessee Department of Human Service
Allette Vayda, Director of Operations- Food Programs
James K. Polk Building, 15th Floor
505 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37243
615-313-3769
Allette.Vayda@tn.gov

2.      Region:

South East Region

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

This waiver request applies to all Summer Food Service Program Sponsors approved to operate SFSP and are in good standing.

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]:

COVID-19 has impacted communities across TN. Schools across the state are closed until at least April 24, 2020, leaving children that normally receive free or reduced-price meals without access to those meals. TN DHS is requesting a waiver of the SFSP Area Eligibility requirements in communities effected by school closures in response to COVID-19. The overall goal for the request is to serve meals to children who normally receive free or reduced-price meals in schools but do not live in areas where 50% or more of the children in the community qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

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 225.2, which defines areas where poor economic conditions exist. Additionally, TN DHS is requesting to waive 225.6(c)(2)(i)(G), 225.6(c)(3)(i)(B), 225.6(d)(1)(i), 225.14(c)(3), and 225.16(b)(4). TN DHS is requesting to waive the requirement that SFSP open sites only exist in areas with 50% or more free or reduced-price eligible children.

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

TN DHS does not anticipate any required Program operational changes, including those affecting technology, State systems and monitoring.

TN DHS will require approved program Sponsors to submit accurate documentation showing the need for an SFSP site in a location where less than 50% of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Additionally, TN DHS will require approved program Sponsors to document that there are not other SFSP or SSO sites within a reasonable distance from the proposed new site.

If the waiver is not approved, TN DHS will continue its normal process of ensuring SFSP open sites are located in areas where 50% or more of the population qualify for free or reduced-price meals.  However, If the waiver is not granted, there would be a reduction in the number of reimbursable meals served in communities affected by the closure of schools due to COVID-19.

TN DHS will continue to conduct program monitoring in accordance with 7 CFR 225.7 throughout the implementation period of the waiver.

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]:

TN DHS is not anticipating any regulatory barriers at the State level.

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

TN DHS will assist SFSP Sponsors in selecting open site locations that are not in areas that have 50% or more free or reduced-price eligible children but do have significant numbers of children that normally receive free or reduced-price meals in school.

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.

10.  Anticipated waiver implementation date and time period:

Requested Start Date: upon approval

Requested End Date: June 20, 2020, or upon expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier

11.  Proposed monitoring and review procedures:

TN DHS will follow the review procedures in accordance with 7 CFP 225.7. TN DHS will provide training and technical assistance to sponsors in need of additional guidance on SFSP site selection.

TN DHS will ensure SFSP application procedures are in accordance with USDA regulations and ensure sponsors submit adequate documents to support site eligibility. 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 sites participating in the waiver by December 31st or as requested by FNS. The SA will provide to FNS the number of meal consumed at sites located in areas that have less than 50% free and reduced-price eligible children and participating in the waiver by December 31st or as requested by FNS.