USDA Civil Rights

In order to recognize a USDA civil rights complaint and how to report one, please read all the information below before sending in your civil rights form. 
USDA Civil Rights Form and Documentation

How to Recognize a USDA Civil Rights Complaint

If a person says their civil rights are being affected the complaint must be treated as a civil rights complaint. Other legitimate complaints may only be voiced or observed as being unequal treatment. In all cases, the established procedure is to use a complaint form, the log, referring the request to the civil rights authority in the school district or facility and reporting the complaint to the USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. The complaint must be investigated by USDA, Office of Civil Rights.
Potential issues for a civil rights complaint may start with a phone call, letter, email, fax, or any form of communication where someone feels they or someone they know has received unequal treatment in the operation of any Child Nutrition Program, i.e. program administration, food service, or employment.
There are six protected classes in Child Nutrition Programs and these are race, color, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), age, national origin, and disability.  Discrimination is defined as a different treatment that makes a distinction of one person or a group of persons from others; either intentionally, by neglect, or by the actions or lack of actions based on race, color, sex, age, national origin, or disability.
To quickly identify a civil rights violation, remember 4 D’s
  1. Deny Program benefits unfairly
  2. Delay Program benefits unfairly
  3. Treat Differently (or a policy or practice that has an adverse impact or any form of intimidation or retaliation)
  4. Give Disparate Treatment (defined as a policy or practice which, “on the face of it” is not discriminatory, but has a discriminatory impact in practice, also known as the “effects test”)

USDA Civil Rights Complaint Procedure

  • Civil Rights Complaint Received by Sponsor (Verbal or Written)
  • Civil Rights Complaint Documented - In Civil Rights Complaint Log
  • Sponsor gives Complainant Civil Rights Complaint Form and/or Sponsor Completes Civil Rights Complaint Form with Complainant
  • If Complainant Returns Civil Rights Complaint Form to Sponsor  - Sponsor Forwards Civil Rights Complaint Form to USDA within 3 Working Days
Send USDA Civil Rights Complaints to:
    (1)  Mail:  US Department of Agriculture
          Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
          1400 Independence Avenue, SW
          Washington, D.C.  20250-9410; or
   (2)   fax: (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
   (3)   email:
This institution is an equal opportunity provider. 
Back to Top
Share This Page!
Last updated on January 24, 2024