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Become a Sponsor
Step 1: Determine if your organization is eligible to sponsor a child nutrition program.
All sponsors must demonstrate administrative and financial ability to manage a non-profit food service effectively and cannot be seriously deficient or terminated from any other federal child nutrition program in previous years. School nutrition programs provide meals and snacks to students during the school year and include the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Afterschool Snack and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable programs. Additionally, organizations not participating in one of these School Nutrition programs yet still want to offer milk to students may operate the Special Milk Program. The Summer Food Service Program provides meals and snacks to kids and teens during the summer when school is out of session.
School Nutrition Programs Sponsor Eligibility
A sponsoring organization must be a:
- Public or private non-profit school food authority, including charter schools, residential child care institutions, Bureau of Indian affairs, or state educational agencies
Summer Food Service Program Sponsor Eligibility
A sponsoring organization must be a:
- Public or private non-profit school food authority
- Public or private non-profit college or university
- Public or private non-profit residential summer camp
- Unit of local, county, municipal, State, or Federal Government
- Any other type of private non-profit organization
Key responsibilities of a sponsor include:
- Hire, train, and supervise staff and volunteers
- Ensure staff are trained on responsibilities specific to their role
- Ensure food service directors meet annual training requirements
- Ensure staff are trained on food safety requirements and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points plan
- Manage Finances and conduct a non-profit food service account
- Use child nutrition program funds only for program purposes. Funds may not be used to purchase land or construct buildings
- Maintain a financial management system that meets CDE and federal requirements
- Limit current operating resources to an amount that does not exceed 3 months' average expenditures
- Conduct an independent audit of program operations and provide a copy of the audit to CDE
- Competitively procure food to be prepared or contract with a food service management company or meal vendor to be delivered
- Follow federal, state and local procurement requirements
- Maintain a procurement policy for purchasing goods and services
- Serve meals that meet federal meal pattern requirements
- Meal modifications must be made for students with special dietary needs that are considered a disability
- Follow the Smart Snacks competitive foods requirements and Colorado Healthy Beverage rules
- School lunch must be served between 10am-2pm. School breakfast should be served near the beginning of the school day
- Summer meal sites can serve up to 2 meals per day, including holidays and weekends. Camp sites can serve up to 3 meals per day.
- Follow meal service requirements
- Establish a point of service and ensure meals counted contain all required components in correct quantities
- Establish, implement and review a local wellness policy for school meal programs
- Follow all civil rights requirements
- Ensure equal access to programs
- Display the "And Justice for All" poster in a location visible to participants
- Ensure program materials include the USDA nondiscrimination statement
- Determine eligibility for meal benefits in school meal programs
- Accept and process household income applications
- Verify a sample of household income applications to ensure complete and accurate information and verify student eligibility
- Complete at least four direct certification uploads each school year
- Sponsors opting into the Healthy School Meals for All program must serve free meals to all students at participating schools
- Establish site eligibility for summer meal programs
- All summer meal sites serving meals must meet eligibility requirements based on site type (e.g., open, closed-enrolled, camp)
- Monitor all meal sites
- Prepare claims for reimbursement
- Ensure claims are accurate
- Submit claims within 60 calendar days following the claim month
- Conduct outreach and marketing
View these videos for an introduction to Child Nutrition Programs:
Step 2: Complete the New Sponsor Form
This form will give CDE School Nutrition details about your program. Once School Nutrition receives this form, we will reach out to schedule an initial phone call to review the form, program eligibility and requirements and answer any questions you may have.
Step 3: Create a financial management plan
- New school nutrition program sponsors will need to complete a business plan
- New summer meal program sponsors will need to complete the Financial Risk Assessment
CDE School Nutrition approval is required before moving on to the next step.
Step 4: Receive a pre-approval visit from CDE's School Nutrition Unit
When the business plan or financial risk assessment is reviewed and approved, CDE School Nutrition will reach out to schedule a pre-approval visit. This visit will ensure your organization is prepared to operate child nutrition programs and provide technical assistance as needed.
Step 5: Complete an application for participation
If approved to participate, the final step is to complete an application in the Colorado Nutrition Portal. This is the online system used to apply for program participation and submit claims for meal reimbursement. The School Nutrition Unit will provide you with a username and password to access the Portal.
Charter Schools are included in all Child Nutrition Programs offered by the CDE School Nutrition Unit.
Learn how to build strong school nutrition programs for charter schools in the guide below.
Learn ways a charter school may participate in child nutrition programs or change their school food authority in the release for transfer form below.
The CDE School Nutrition Unit works with public institutions called Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs) to provide the full benefits of School Nutrition Programs. RCCIs are operated by a federal, state or local government entity. In Colorado, RCCIs are recognized as a facility school by the Colorado Department of Education.
Institutions must operate principally for the care of children and include, but are not limited to:
- Residential and/or day program facilities for individuals with physical or mental disabilities
- Group homes
- Halfway houses
- Temporary shelters for abused and/or runaway children
- Juvenile detention centers
RCCI Food Safety Resources
For more information on becoming a sponsor, please contact Megan Johnson.