Procedure for Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Civil Rights Complaints Pennsylvania Department of


Division of Food and Nutrition

1) Sponsor receives a Civil Rights complaint from the complainant (i.e. parent).

a) Sponsor must inform complainant of Federal Civil Rights rules and regulations that have been

established for protected classes. (A protected class is any person or group of people who are

protected from discrimination based on):

1. Race

2. Color

3. National Origin

4. Age

5. Sex

6. Disability

b) Sponsor must provide complainant the necessary information to file a complaint, which is:

1. Mailing address of the USDA:

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

2. USDA’s Telephone/Fax numbers and Email address:

(866) 632-9992 / (202) 690-7442 F/ program.intake@usda.gov

3. Electronic link to file a civil rights complaint:


Note: If the sponsor is unsure if the complaint falls under a protected class, sponsor should

provide complainant the federal complaint information.

c) After providing the complainant with the information on how to file a Civil Rights complaint

directly at the Federal level, the sponsor may attempt to resolve the complaint if it is a matter

that can be resolved quickly. Resolving complaints in real-time at the lowest possible level is

encouraged. (*Note: This is not an investigation as neither the sponsor nor the State agency has

the authority to conduct complaint investigations. This is simply trying to resolve the situation

if it was potentially caused by a miscommunication.)

If the complainant refuses to discuss the matter any further with the sponsor or if the matter

cannot be resolved quickly, then the sponsor should:

1. reiterate the complaint filing procedures in 1)b),

2. document the complaint and actions taken (i.e. referral to Federal complaint procedures) in a

Civil Rights complaint log that is separate from any other complaint log, (*Note: A separate Civil

Rights complaint log is necessary due to confidentiality and privacy laws. See complaint log

requirements in d) below.), and

3. notify the State agency of the discussion. (*Note: it is important for the sponsor to

notify the State agency because regular communication between the sponsor and State agency is key

to operating the program successfully.)

June 15, 2016

If the complainant is willing to try to resolve the issue with the sponsor and a satisfactory

resolution is achieved, then the sponsor should still remind the complainant (using the information

in 1)b)) of his/her right to file at the Federal level if necessary. (*Note: Complainants retain

the right to file at the Federal level even if a resolution seems to have been reached at the

sponsor level.) The sponsor needs to document the complaint and actions taken (i.e. how resolution

was achieved) in a log that is separate from any other complaint log, and notify the State agency

of the resolution.

d) Regardless if the complainant wishes to file at the Federal level, the sponsor should document

as much information as possible in their Civil Rights complaint log including, but not limited to,

the following:

➢ Date Complaint Received

➢ Complainant’s Name

➢ Complainant’s Address

➢ Complainant’s Telephone Number

➢ Complainant’s Email Address

➢ Allegation of Discrimination/Issue (i.e. FNS program involved, protected class(es) involved,


➢ Date of Alleged Discriminatory Action

1. The sponsor must forward the information, within 5 days of receipt of complaint from

complainant, to the State agency (process depicted below):

State Agency Civil Rights Coordinator State Agency Director* FNS Regional Office Civil

Rights Contact FNS Headquarters Civil Rights Office Complainant

2. *State Agency level must forward complaint information, within 5 days of receipt of complaint

from sponsor, to the FNS regional office.

3. FNS team conducts complaint review and investigation, which includes contact with the

complainant, State agency, sponsor, etc.

2) Additional Information:

a) Complainants must file within 180 days of the alleged action

b) Confidentiality is extremely important

c) USDA complaint form:

➢ English version:


➢ Spanish version:

http://www.ocio.usda.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2012/Spanish_Form_508_Compliant_6_8_12_0. pdf