Reviewing the Basics of Verification
Verification is the confirmation of eligibility for free and reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program. All school districts participating agree to comply with all verification requirements by November 15 of each year. Refer to the Eligibility Manual for School Meals, Federal Policy for Determining and Verifying Eligibility (revised June 29, 2017) for guidance.
Let’s review the basics:
- An application counts as one application, household applications are required.
- Remove any applications that contain a student who is on the “Qualified Student List Directly Certified as Free” keep these application in a separate file. These applications should not be a part of the verification pool.
- Denied applications, while they must be kept on file, are not part of the verification pool.
- An Alternate-Random sample of three percent must be chosen. The maximum number of applications selected for verification cannot exceed the 3% sample size. All decimals must be rounded up. For example: 110 applications x .03 = 3.3. Four applications would need to be verified. Every school district must verify at least one application. School districts who had a non response rate of 20% or more last year must select the required 3% sample from the Standard-Error Prone applications. Standard-Error Prone applications are those applications within $1,200 of the annual income guidelines.
- A school district may verify questionable applications for cause. However, any verification done for cause must be in addition to the three percent random sample.
- Direct Verification is an option schools may use to verify household applications by uploading the sample selection into the Direct Verification screens provided in the online Coylar System. For assistance on the Direct Verification process, view the instructions page.
- Verification must be completed for all households notified of their selection for verification.
- Households that do not respond to the request for verification information must be contacted a second time by mail, phone, fax, email or personal contact. The second contact must be documented on the Verification Tracker, Attachment H-2.
- Verification reviews family income received anytime from the date of application through the school district’s due date for verification. Families must supply proof of all forms of income listed on their application. Tax returns (1040s) can only be submitted to verify self-employment income.
- Families selected for verification must be sent Attachment F, We Must Check Your Application, a 2-page letter.
Attachment G, We Have Checked Your Application, is used to notify families of the results of verification.
- When the verification process detects that a household’s benefits should be reduced or ended, the household must be given a 10-calendar day written notice. The first day of the 10 calendar day notice is the day the notice is sent.
- Attachment H, Verification Collection Report is a paper copy to guide districts through the web-based verification report. All participating school food authorities, both schools and institutions must complete the web-based report.
Failure to meet the November 15 deadline will result in delayed claim payments.
- Attachment H-1, Civil Rights Summary, is to be completed by all school districts and kept on file at the school.
- Attachment H-2, Verification Tracker for School Use, is to be completed for each family selected for verification.
- Households affected by adverse action may reapply for benefits any time during the school year. However, if benefits to a household have ended and the household reapplies in the same school year, the school district must verify all information on the new application before approval.
The verification process in not optional. Administrative Reviews (ARs) conducted by Nutrition Services consultants include a review of verification records. If you have questions concerning verification, contact our office at (800) 731-2233.