Food Assistance:

Readmitting Private Nonprofit Sponsors into the Summer Food Service Program

RCED-91-82: Published: May 23, 1991. Publicly Released: May 23, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed legislative provisions readmitting private sponsor participation in the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Summer Food Service Program, focusing on: (1) the Food and Nutrition Service's (FNS) and state agencies' compliance with the legislative requirements; (2) private sponsors' program participation and compliance; and (3) issues that could present problems for the program.

GAO found that: (1) FNS issued the required implementing regulations and provided states and FNS regional offices relevant materials needed to train sponsors; (2) the two FNS regional offices and five state agencies that GAO visited carried out their required recruiting, training approval, and monitoring activities; (3) FNS monitored all 190 approved private sponsors in the 1990 program; (4) as of March 1991, FNS had not completed its analysis of private sponsors' compliance; (5) all of the 10 private sponsors GAO reviewed made errors, but their frequency and seriousness varied, with such errors ranging from failing to include required civil rights notices in sponsor advertising to recording meals without providing supporting receipts; (6) overall, FNS disallowed reimbursement for 8,700 of the 46,200 meals served, of which 8,400 failed to meet milk program requirements; (7) FNS believed that many errors could be attributed to sponsors' lack of experience, but it was too early to determine whether some sponsors consciously committed those errors; and (8) meal recipients' unusually low attendance, meal recipients' sustained low attendance, and sponsor overstaffing could result in financial difficulty or over-reimbursements.

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