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Q & A: Summer Food Service Program

Published: May 15, 2014
Audience:
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Types:
Q&A

Q1:  Would using TANF funds to support Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites require that every participating child be evaluated for TANF eligibility based on individual income?

A1:  No. Many SFSP sites do not require individual case eligibility determinations for participants. For example, Open Sites serve children in geographical areas where 50 percent or more of the local children are eligible for free or reduced price school meals. Enrolled Sites serve identified groups of children of which at least 50 percent are eligible for free or reduced price school meals. According to guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), all the children who attend Open or Enrolled Sites are eligible to receive meals at no charge, regardless of their individual eligibility.

If a SFSP site meets the criteria set by USDA to be an Open or Enrolled Site, then a jurisdiction may consider all participating children (regardless of individual family income) to be eligible for TANF-funded non-recurrent, short-term benefits related to that SFSP.

On the other hand, Camp Sites receive USDA reimbursement only for meals served to children who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Since these sites determine eligibility based on an individual income criterion, a jurisdiction may only use Federal TANF funds or claim State maintenance-of-effort (MOE) for SFSP-related services provided to eligible children.

Q2:  Does the requirement to verify qualified alien status apply to children participating in the SFSP?

A2:  No. Jurisdictions only need to verify qualified alien status for benefits that are Federal public benefits. According to Title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, in order for a benefit to be considered a Federal public benefit, it must be provided to an “individual, household, or family eligibility unit.” HHS has previously determined that benefits that are generally targeted to communities or specified sectors of the population without individual eligibility determinations of need do not fall within the definition of Federal public benefits (63 Fed. Reg. 41658, 41660 [Aug. 4, 1998]).

Q3:  Do the IEVS requirements at section 1137 apply to children participating in the SFSP?

A3:  ACF has previously stated that the IEVS requirements apply to any applicant or recipient of a TANF-funded benefit, whether assistance or non-assistance, where income or citizenship and alienage are a condition of eligibility (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/polquest/ievsys.htm). As described above, individual income and qualified alien status are not conditions of eligibility for children attending Open and Enrolled SFSP Sites.

Therefore, the IEVS requirements do not apply where a jurisdiction uses Federal TANF funds or claims State maintenance-of-effort (MOE) to support Open and Enrolled SFSP Sites.

Please note that the IEVS requirements do apply when TANF funds or MOE funds are expended in the TANF Program to support SFSP-related services at Camp Sites, since these sites determine eligibility based on an individual income criterion. However, the IEVS requirements do not apply to benefits provided under a separate State program.