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How to prepare for (and Ace) your School Food Admin Review

The Administrative Review, or AR, is the triennial audit that all school meal programs receive from their state agency. This audit is an extensive review of the entire meal program and includes 5 major areas:

Meal Access & Reimbursement

Meal Pattern & Nutritional Quality

Resource Management

General Program Compliance

Other Federal Program Reviews

The AR process can seem daunting, but we break it down to help simplify the process. There are 3 major components: AR training, Off-site Assessment Tool (OAT), and On-site visit. At least one person from the SFA is required to either attend an in-person AR training or watch an online training.

The OAT is a series of questions pertaining to the meal program that you answer either online or in a tool provided by your state auditor. The State reviews your answers to determine if you need a more in-depth review.

The on-site visit is when your auditor schedules time to visit the schools selected for the audit and observe the meal program(s). The auditor may also ask to see some documents while on site, such as monitoring forms, production records, temperature logs and edit checks (meal counts) for the day they observed.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your AR and feel confident when your auditor shows up for their visit!

  • Review the OAT questions and work with your team on the answers. Provide all requested attachments ahead of time to your auditor for review. States will typically provide written guidance on these how to answer these questions.

  • Review your policies to make sure they meet current regulations. Your state likely provides templates for many of these procedures if you are unfamiliar.

  • Create a box or binder of documents pertaining to the meal program. You should receive checklist of needed items from the state.

  • Observe your meal program from an auditor’s perspective and have someone who doesn’t work in the meal program join you.

  • Are students taking a compliant, reimbursable meal?

  • Are cashiers ringing up only compliant meals or notating if a meal is not reimbursable?

  • When you ask cashiers to explain what a reimbursable meal is, can they correctly answer?

  • Are all the required signage posted in and in public view?

  • Are required temperature logs and production records filled out completely each day?

  • Is Offer vs. Serve or Serve being implemented correctly? Do all staff know the definition of Offer vs. Serve and Serve?

The key to having a successful audit is preparation. As soon as you are notified you have an administrative review, begin to gather documents and review your procedures. Work closely with your state auditor to ensure you have time to correct or find all items needed - prior to an auditor being on site.

At School Food and Wellness Group, we offer AR support and total program support. Contact us today to see how we can help you!

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