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Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Frances N. O'Donnell, Coordinator
Friday, August 24, 2012
Application and Other Household Materials for Limited English Proficient Households-REMINDER

This memorandum is a reminder to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) of their responsibilities to Limited English Proficient (LEP) households in the upcoming 2012-2013 school year.  It reflects the guidance issued by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) in December of 2011, which may be referenced under

SP 06 – 2012, “Applications and Other Household Materials for Limited English Proficient Households.”  LEAs and State agencies are responsible for ensuring that their applications and other household materials (letter, application, instructions, notices, and verification materials) are available in a language the LEP household can understand.  The following information is provided to assist LEAs to determine the appropriate means of communication with LEP households:

  • Identify the primary language of households that may be free or reduced-price eligible and communicate in that language.  Most schools have a system in place to identify parents’ primary language for communications regarding the child’s education.  LEAs can use information gained from using a Home Language Survey, which is conducted at enrollment to determine the dominant language in the home. As an alternative, LEAs could use FNS’ “I speak” list ( to identify the appropriate language for communications regarding school meals.
  • Ensure that all LEP households applying receive language services; simply offering the most common alternative language is not sufficient.
  • Serve parents or guardians with limited literacy.  It is important for LEAs to ensure that individuals with limited literacy can understand the household materials.  The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) prototype materials are designed to be comprehensible to someone with low literacy.  The Federal government’s guidelines for plain writing are available at:  For parents or guardians who are unable to read, LEAs are expected to provide assistance so that parents can understand and complete the application, certification, and verification process.
  • Provide written translations.  LEAs may choose to develop written translations of their own materials (including applications submitted online) in the most prevalent languages of households in their district.  At a minimum, State agencies must make FNS’ translations of prototype materials available to their LEAs through a link on the web site where household materials are posted and by providing printed copies of the materials as appropriate.  FNS also expects LEAs to take appropriate measures to ensure that language and communication are not barriers to program participation.  If LEAs do not have their own translated application materials they must at a minimum make FNS’ prototype translations available.  Currently the FNS application package contains many materials the LEA may need to send out and they understand this has deterred some from making these materials available directly to the households.  FNS is preparing an application in all currently available translations that contains only the information generally made available when a household applies.  We will post the applications online as soon as this option is available.
  • Provide oral interpretation services.  For parents that speak less prevalent languages or who have limited literacy, LEAs should identify oral interpretation services available within the school that can be used to communicate with households about school meal benefits.  Parents should not need to rely on family members (especially children) or friends as these people are not always able to provide quality and accurate interpretations. 

    LEAs are encouraged to also partner with other local resources, such as migrant or refugee assistance agencies, when available.

  • Assist with verification.  LEAs are expected to have a system in place to provide verification notices to each household in the primary language of the parents or guardians in the household, follow up with households that do not respond to the initial verification request, and provide oral assistance if the parent or guardian has difficulty understanding the written request.  USDA translations of prototype verification materials are available on the FNS web site.
  • Include the required non-discrimination statement.  Parents need to understand that they will be treated fairly if they apply for free or reduced price school meals.  The letter to households or the application itself must include the non-discrimination statement that appears on USDA’s prototype application.

Compliance with the LEP requirements is considered part of the general areas for review in a Coordinated Review Effort. LEAs are reminded that the nonprofit food service account is a legitimate funding source to pay for translation services for food service purposes if there is a need to translate materials in a language that is not currently available.

Do not hesitate to contact your child nutrition representative at 518-473-8781 if you have questions on this information.


USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)     email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


Click here for Nondiscrimination Statement translations.

Los demás programas de asistencia nutricional del FNS, las agencias estatales y locales, y sus beneficiarios secundarios, deben publicar el siguiente Aviso de No Discriminación:

De conformidad con la Ley Federal de Derechos Civiles y los reglamentos y políticas de derechos civiles del Departamento de Agricultura de los EE. UU. (USDA, por sus siglas en ingles), se prohíbe que el USDA, sus agencias, oficinas, empleados e instituciones que participan o administran programas del USDA discriminen sobre la base de raza, color, nacionalidad, sexo, discapacidad, edad, o en represalia o venganza por actividades previas de derechos civiles en algún programa o actividad realizados o financiados por el USDA.

Las personas con discapacidades que necesiten medios alternativos para la comunicación de la información del programa (por ejemplo, sistema Braille, letras grandes, cintas de audio, lenguaje de seas americano, etc.), deben ponerse en contacto con la agencia (estatal o local) en la que solicitaron los beneficios. Las personas sordas, con dificultades de audición o discapacidades del habla pueden comunicarse con el USDA por medio del Federal Relay Service [Servicio Federal de Retransmisión] al (800) 877-8339. Además, la información del programa se puede proporcionar en otros idiomas.

Para presentar una denuncia de discriminación, complete el Formulario de Denuncia de Discriminación del Programa del USDA, (AD-3027) que está disponible en linea en: y en cualquier oficina del USDA, o bien escriba una carta dirigida al USDA e incluya en la carta toda la información solicitada en el formulario. Para solicitar una copia del formulario de denuncia, llame al (866) 632-9992. Haga llegar su formulario lleno o carta al USDA por:

(1)     correo: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; o

(3)     correo electró

Esta institución es un proveedor que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.