Nutrition Services Division Information Alert
To: National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program Sponsors
Attention: Food Service Director
|Date: March 2009|
|Subject: Request for Comments on Interim Rule: Verification of Eligibility for Free and Reduced-Price Meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs|
|Reference: Title 7 Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), Parts 210 and 245; Federal Register, Volume 73, Number 244, Thursday, December 18, 2008|
March 18, 2009
This Information Alert (IA) transmits the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) interim rule regarding verification of eligibility for free and reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. The verification interim rule is located on the USDA’s Regulations Web page at:
The USDA requests public comments on the verification interim rule as well as suggestions on potential criteria for error prone applications: possible parameters may include different thresholds depending on household size or different triggers for consideration of error prone applications.
Please submit your comments and suggestions to the USDA regarding this interim rule by March 18, 2009, and include the title, Verification of Eligibility for Free and Reduced-Price Meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, in your response. You may use any of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions for submitting comments
- Fax: 703-305-2879, Attention: Robert Eadie
- Mail (postmarked on or before March 18, 2009): Mr. Robert Eadie, Chief, Policy and Program Development Branch, Child Nutrition Division, Food and Nutrition Service, Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 640, Alexandria, VA 22302-1594
- Hand deliver to the same street address above, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The rule implements statutory amendments of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, which became effective on July 1, 2005. Without regulations, the USDA issued several guidance memoranda (listed in the rule) to implement the statutory verification provisions while waiting for these regulations to be issued. The interim verification rule includes the following primary changes to current regulations:
- Transfers the responsibility for conducting verification from the school food authority (SFA) to the local educational agency (LEA)
- Establishes a new standard verification sample size of three percent, which is both the minimum and maximum requirement
- Reduces required sample sizes for LEAs that improve their verification response rates
- Permits LEAs to replace applications in the sample prior to contacting the household, on a case-by case basis, when complying with the request for verification may pose a particular challenge to the selected household
- Requires LEAs to conduct a confirmation (second) review of applications selected for verification to check for approval errors
- Requires LEAs to have a telephone number that households may call, at no charge, for assistance with verification
- Establishes direct verification methods which use records from certain public agencies
- Requires follow-up by the LEA with households selected for verification
- Revises deadlines for completing verification activities
The rule’s preamble discusses these changes in the order listed above to provide the reader with a sequential overview of the verification process and an understanding of any new procedures as well as how existing procedures are affected.
If you have any questions regarding the interim verification rule, you may call Robert Eadie, Chief, Policy and Program Development Branch of the USDA, in Alexandria, VA at 703-305-2590. If you have any questions regarding this IA, please contact Evonne Morrissey, Nutrition Services Division, School Nutrition Specialist, at 916-322-8315 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.