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28A.235.155  <<  28A.235.160 >>   28A.235.170

RCW 28A.235.160

Requirements to implement school breakfast, lunch, and summer food service programs — Exemptions.

(1) For the purposes of this section:

     (a) "Free or reduced-price lunch" means a lunch served by a school district participating in the national school lunch program to a student qualifying for national school lunch program benefits based on family size-income criteria.

     (b) "School lunch program" means a meal program meeting the requirements defined by the superintendent of public instruction under subsection (2)(b) of this section.

     (c) "School breakfast program" means a program meeting federal requirements defined in 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1773.

     (d) "Severe-need school" means a school that qualifies for a severe-need school reimbursement rate from federal funds for school breakfasts served to children from low-income families.

     (e) "Summer food service program" means a meal or snack program meeting the requirements defined by the superintendent of public instruction under subsection (4) of this section.

     (2) School districts shall implement a school lunch program in each public school in the district in which educational services are provided to children in any of the grades kindergarten through four and in which twenty-five percent or more of the enrolled students qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch. In developing and implementing its school lunch program, each school district may consult with an advisory committee including school staff, community members, and others appointed by the board of directors of the district.

     (a) Applications to determine free or reduced-price lunch eligibility shall be distributed and collected for all households of children in schools containing any of the grades kindergarten through four and in which there are no United States department of agriculture child nutrition programs. The applications that are collected must be reviewed to determine eligibility for free or reduced-price lunches. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require completion or submission of the application by a parent or guardian.

     (b) Using the most current available school data on free and reduced-price lunch eligibility, the superintendent of public instruction shall adopt a schedule for implementation of school lunch programs at each school required to offer such a program under subsection (2) of this section as follows:

     (i) Schools not offering a school lunch program and in which twenty-five percent or more of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch shall implement a school lunch program not later than the second day of school in the 2005-06 school year and in each school year thereafter.

     (ii) The superintendent shall establish minimum standards defining the lunch meals to be served, and such standards must be sufficient to qualify the meals for any available federal reimbursement.

     (iii) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prevent a school from implementing a school lunch program earlier than the school is required to do so.

     (3) To extent funds are appropriated for this purpose, each school district shall implement a school breakfast program in each school where more than forty percent of students eligible to participate in the school lunch program qualify for free or reduced-price meal reimbursement by the school year 2005-06. For the second year before the implementation of the district's school breakfast program, and for each subsequent school year, each school district shall submit data enabling the superintendent of public instruction to determine which schools within the district will qualify for this requirement. Schools where lunch programs start after the 2003-04 school year, where forty percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, must begin school breakfast programs the second year following the start of a lunch program.

     (4) Each school district shall implement a summer food service program in each public school in the district in which a summer program of academic, enrichment, or remedial services is provided and in which fifty percent or more of the children enrolled in the school qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. However, the superintendent of public instruction shall develop rules establishing criteria to permit an exemption for a school that can demonstrate availability of an adequate alternative summer feeding program. Sites providing meals should be open to all children in the area, unless a compelling case can be made to limit access to the program. The superintendent of public instruction shall adopt a definition of compelling case and a schedule for implementation as follows:

     (a) Beginning the summer of 2005 if the school currently offers a school breakfast or lunch program; or

     (b) Beginning the summer following the school year during which a school implements a school lunch program under subsection (2)(b) of this section.

     (5) Schools not offering a breakfast or lunch program may meet the meal service requirements of subsections (2)(b) and (4) of this section through any of the following:

     (a) Preparing the meals on-site;

     (b) Receiving the meals from another school that participates in a United States department of agriculture child nutrition program; or

     (c) Contracting with a nonschool entity that is a licensed food service establishment under RCW 69.07.010.

     (6) Requirements that school districts have a school lunch, breakfast, or summer nutrition program under this section shall not create or imply any state funding obligation for these costs. The legislature does not intend to include these programs within the state's obligation for basic education funding under Article IX of the state Constitution.

     (7) The requirements in this section shall lapse if the federal reimbursement for any school breakfasts, lunches, or summer food service programs is eliminated.

     (8) School districts may be exempted from the requirements of this section by showing good cause why they cannot comply with the office of the superintendent of public instruction to the extent that such exemption is not in conflict with federal or state law. The process and criteria by which school districts are exempted shall be developed by the office of the superintendent of public instruction in consultation with representatives of school directors, school food service, community-based organizations and the Washington state PTA.

[2005 c 287 § 1; 2004 c 54 § 2.]

Notes:

     Findings -- 2005 c 287; 2004 c 54: "The legislature recognizes that hunger and food insecurity are serious problems in the state. Since the United States department of agriculture began to collect data on hunger and food insecurity in 1995, Washington has been ranked each year within the top ten states with the highest levels of hunger. A significant number of these households classified as hungry are families with children.

     The legislature recognizes the correlation between adequate nutrition and a child's development and school performance. This problem can be greatly diminished through improved access to federal nutrition programs.

     The legislature also recognizes that improved access to federal nutrition and assistance programs, such as the federal food stamp program and child nutrition programs, can be a critical factor in enabling recipients to gain the ability to support themselves and their families. This is an important step towards self-sufficiency and decreased long-term reliance on governmental assistance and will serve to strengthen families in this state." [2005 c 287 § 2; 2004 c 54 § 1.]

     Conflict with federal requirements -- 2004 c 54: "If any part of this act is found to be in conflict with federal requirements that are a prescribed condition to the allocation of federal funds to the state, the conflicting part of this act is inoperative solely to the extent of the conflict and with respect to the agencies directly affected, and this finding does not affect the operation of the remainder of this act in its application to the agencies concerned. Rules adopted under this act must meet federal requirements that are a necessary condition to the receipt of federal funds by the state." [2004 c 54 § 6.]