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Validation and Validation Review Checklists

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin
Purpose: Policy
To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors Number USDA-SNP-04-2013
Attention: Food Service Directors Date: February 2013
Subject: Validation and Validation Review Checklists
Reference: Management Bulletin USDA-SNP-29-2012, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Memo SP 40–2012: Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010: Certification of Compliance with New Meal Patterns—Validation Review Checklists and SP 31-2012: Certification of Compliance with Meal Requirements for the National School Lunch Program under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (2nd Revision)

This Management Bulletin (MB) provides guidance on the validation procedures as related to School Food Authorities (SFA) and the Nutrition Services Division (NSD) which is required under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Policy Memo SP 40-2012: Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010: Certification of Compliance with New Meal Patterns—Validation Review Checklists and mandated in the interim final rule, Certification of Compliance With Meal Requirements for the National School Lunch Program Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, State Agency Validation Reviews.


The HHFKA requires State Agencies (SA) to select 25 percent of SFAs certified to receive the six cents performance-based reimbursement for a validation review during School Year (SY) 2012–13. During a validation review, the California Department of Education (CDE) must observe a meal service for each type of certified menu (i.e. each distinct menu by grade group) and review the menu production records to ensure the current meal service meets the daily and weekly meal pattern requirements and is consistent with the documentation on which certification was based. Please note that the certification worksheet evaluates all combined serving lines for compliance with the New Meal Pattern (NMP); however, a validation review checks each individual serving line for compliance with the NMP. Validation reviews will only be conducted during SY 2012–13.

Selection for Validation

Starting October 1, 2012, and approximately every two weeks following this date, the CDE will create a list of all certified agencies not yet selected for validation.

From this list, the CDE will divide agencies into two categories:

The USDA requires SAs to automatically select agencies in Category A for validation; however, randomization of sites within the SFA will occur in order to determine the location of the validation sites. Category A agencies do contribute to the mandated 25 percent validation requirement.

The CDE will place agencies in Category B in a pool from which the selection is made using a randomizing computer program based on the SFA’s Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) number. The CDE will then use a second randomization process to determine the validation sites.


The CDE will utilize the USDA validation review checklist during validation reviews. The checklist is divided into three sections and each section of the checklist corresponds to one of the three mandated areas of review.

  1. The Meal Observation Checklist Section includes a list of requirements for observation of the meal service, including signage at the front of the serving line, meal components, and the point of service.
  1. The Meal Documentation Checklist Section includes a list of requirements pertaining to the records review associated with the day of observation and the week of review. Records review includes menu production records for the day of observation and documentation for daily and weekly requirements for the current week of review.
  2. The Certification Documentation Checklist Section includes a list of documents that demonstrate on-going compliance with the updated meal pattern. The CDE will review documents that support the calculation of calories and saturated fat, which were submitted in the Nutrient Analysis or Simplified Nutrient Assessment.

The USDA checklists for lunch and breakfast meal service are available as attachments to USDA Policy Memo SP 40-2012, which can be accessed on the USDA FNS School Meals Policy Memos Web page at The CDE highly recommends that SFAs selected for validation utilize these forms to prepare for their validation review.

On-site Validation Procedures

The CDE will provide selected SFAs with a two week written validation notice by certified letter. The CDE team will observe a meal service for each type of certified menu during the on-site validation review.

The USDA requires the CDE to review the documentation submitted for certification to ensure that ongoing meal service operations are consistent with certification documentation. All of the following documents will be reviewed for lunch and breakfast in order to determine consistency.

Note: The CDE will not review the planned quantity calculations in the originally submitted nutrient analysis or Simplified Nutrient Assessment as part of the validation review.

Technical Assistance and Corrective Action

The primary role of the CDE during SY 2012–13 is technical assistance (TA). The CDE will provide focused TA in instances where insufficiencies can be resolved within five operating days. This is an opportunity for the SFA to work with the CDE to remedy any identified issues. In this case, the six cents performance-based reimbursement will not be affected; although failure to submit timely and acceptable corrective action documentation may result in fiscal action.

If a shortage is identified with any of the daily or weekly meal pattern requirements, the CDE will provide the SFA an opportunity to correct the deficiency within five operating days. If an agency cannot demonstrate correction of the shortage within five operating days, the CDE may take fiscal action. An example of a shortage would be an SFA offering one ounce of meat per meal when the meal pattern requires two ounces per meal.

The amount of fiscal action required is dependent upon the severity and longevity of the areas identified to be out of compliance. The USDA has defined circumstances in which SAs must take fiscal action to recover any improperly paid performance-based reimbursement funds. Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), Section 210.19(c) requires the CDE to take fiscal action against SFAs for Claims for Reimbursement that are not properly payable under 7 CFR, Part 210. The CDE may offset the fiscal amount against current and/or future reimbursements until the outstanding amount is collected.

As a reminder, the new breakfast meal pattern requirements go into effect July 1, 2013. Therefore, compliance is based on the current breakfast requirements for SY 2012–13, which includes the requirement to offer at least two types of milk. Non-compliance with the breakfast requirements will result in corrective action and standard fiscal action; the six cents performance-based reimbursement is not affected. If an SFA is preapproved by the CDE for early implementation of SY 2013–14 breakfast requirements, then the validation review will assess compliance with the new requirements.

Ongoing Compliance and Administrative Reviews

If an SFA is not certified by June 30, 2013, then the CDE will schedule the SFA for an administrative review as early as SY 2013–14, but no later than SY 2014–15. This will become the first year of the SFA’s three year review cycle. In addition to the normal components of an administrative review, this review will monitor compliance with the new breakfast and lunch requirements in effect beginning July 1, 2013.

The SFA must certify ongoing compliance with the NMP in SYs 2013–14 and 2014–15 by submitting an annual attestation of compliance with the meal pattern as new federal requirements become effective. Compliance with federal and state National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program requirements, including the meal pattern, will be monitored as part of the regular administrative review process.

If you have any questions regarding this MB, please contact Karen Yee, Child Nutrition Assistant, by e-mail at or by phone at 916-445-4849.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
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