THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Office of P-20 Education Policy
Beginning in the 2023 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), program sponsors are no longer allowed to use visual observation to obtain participant race and ethnicity data and are required to collect this data using an alternative method. The following guidance is provided to aid program sponsors in capturing this data.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for ensuring compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 among its federally assisted programs, including the SFSP. As such, the USDA requires SFSP sponsors to ask all program applicants and participants to identify all racial and ethnic categories that apply. Sponsors must ensure applicants and participants are made aware that failure to provide racial or ethnic identity information will not impact their eligibility or participation in the SFSP. The collection of race and ethnicity data by SFSP sponsors is consistent with the Office of Management and Budget guidance on the subject. These data are used to determine how effectively programs are reaching potential eligible persons and beneficiaries, identify areas where additional outreach is needed, assist in the selection of locations for compliance reviews, and complete reports as required.
USDA issued memorandum SFSP 07-2021 to provide guidance to program operators on removing visual observation and identification as an allowable practice in obtaining race and ethnicity data for SFSP participants. Outlined below are methods sponsors can use to collect this required information.
If income applications are collected from participant households to determine participant or site eligibility, the racial and ethnic data reported by families in section five of the Income Eligibility Form can be used.
School Certified Rosters
For locations that document site eligibility using School Food Authority (SFA) certified participant rosters, the certifying SFA can provide aggregate totals, using the chart below, of the racial and ethnic data of participants, at the same time they certify the roster.
|Ethnic Identity:||Racial Identities:|
|Hispanic or Latino||Asian|
|Not Hispanic or Latino||Black or African American|
|Native Hawaiin or other Pacific Islander|
|American Indian or Alaskan Native|
Parent/Guardian Racial/Ethnic Data Questionnaire
For SFSP sites that qualify to participate because they are in an “area in which poor economic conditions exist” as defined in 7 CFR 225.2, obtaining data from parents or guardians is the preferred method of data collection. Program sponsors should choose data collection methods that are easy for parents and guardians to use. The Parent/Guardian Racial/Ethnic Data Questionnaire, Attachment 45, may be used to collect this information. For the purposes of this requirement, the participant’s name is not required.
- Use Census data found at the U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: United States
- Use racial and ethnic data obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data database at Search for Public Schools (ed.gov)
- Use aggregate school enrollment data to obtain localized data on the population to be served for sites that are operated at the same school or at a site located in the area served by a school.
Providing racial and ethnic data is voluntary on the part of the participant. When completing the Food Service Review Form, the program sponsor may designate a participant's response as "unknown" if they are unable to obtain that participant's information. For this reason, it is not expected that the number of respondents will equal the number of children at a meal service site.
FNS also issued memo SFSP 05-2022 to provide clarification on questions related to SFSP 07-2021.