School Nutrition: New Sponsor Application Timeline

This timeline will help you stay on track with your application for School Nutrition Programs so you will be ready to serve the students on the first day of school.

Step 1: Early in the opening planning process, determine School Nutrition Program needs

• Determine student meal service needs: breakfast, lunch, afterschool snacks and/or milk only.
• Determine facility resource needs for meal service.

Step 2: Get School Nutrition Program training

As soon as possible, complete training. New school nutrition sponsors are required to attend all five sessions of the School Nutrition Essentials Series. This series is offered several times throughout the year. Training must be completed before the application to participate in School Nutrition Programs will be approved. School Nutrition Program training opportunities.

Step 3: Address food safety issues

• Spring prior to opening, contact your local health inspection agency to obtain a facility food service license.
• Prior to the start of school, obtain Food Manager Certification through the Minnesota Department of Health for at least one staff person.

Step 4: Determine food service method

Spring prior to opening, determine how food service will be provided. Options include: self- preparation, contracting for vended/catered meal service (with existing school nutrition sponsor or a private company), contracting with a food service management company (FSMC) or establishing a joint agreement with an existing school nutrition sponsor.


• Hire and train staff in the early summer.
• Complete step three in the early summer.

Vended/Food Service Management Company/Joint Agreement

• By July 1, request bids for a catering service or cooperative agreement with a neighboring school district to provide school meals if the school will not be preparing meals on site. View information on bid proposals and contracted meals.
• After selecting a caterer, complete a Contract for Vended Meals to submit with your School Nutrition Program Application.
• If establishing a joint agreement with a school nutrition sponsor, complete a Joint Agreement.

Step 5: Complete the school nutrition application process

• Due August 1: Submit the School Nutrition Program Application. View Application Instructions for New Applicants for School Nutrition Programs for instructions and required documentation.

Step 6: Certify menu

• By July 15, begin the required menu certification documentation.
• By August 1, submit Menu Certification documentation. Menu Certification documents must be submitted prior to a new sponsor being approved for participation.

Step 7: Prepare for USDA Foods

• By August 1, view the How to Participate Web page for instructions to express interest and receive U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foods entitlement.