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Electronically Scanned and Stored Applications

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy

To: National School Lunch Program Sponsors, School Breakfast Program Sponsors

Number: USDA-SNP-22-2009

Attention: County and District Superintendent, Business Official, Food Service Director

Date: October 2009

Subject: Electronically Scanned and Stored Applications for Free and Reduced-Price Meals

Reference: United States Department of Agriculture School Programs Policy Memo 02-03
Supersedes: Management Bulletin 02-124, September 2002

This Management Bulletin (MB) supersedes MB 02-124 and reminds local educational agencies (LEA) of guidance from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the use of electronically scanned and stored applications for free and reduced-price meals.

LEAs may scan and store free and reduced-price meal applications if they:

  • Provide assurance to Nutrition Services Division (NSD) that LEA eligibility staff dates, signs, and certifies the eligibility of the meal application batches. LEA staff must receive adequate training to process these applications, and LEA officials will randomly check the application batches for accuracy
  • Provide assurance to NSD that the LEA eligibility staff accurately scans and maintains free and reduced-price applications
  • Develop a manual procedure to accurately count all applications on file prior to scanning each batch
  • Compare the count to the number of applications successfully scanned
  • Perform a manual edit check to verify that the scanning system provides accurate free and reduced-price eligibility determinations
  • Establish and maintain access and security procedures to ensure confidentiality of all household information
  • Maintain original meal applications, at a central location or by site, for a minimum of three years after submission of the final Claim for Reimbursement for the fiscal year, or as required for review and/or audit resolution
  • For schools on Provisions 1, 2, or 3, maintain the original meal applications for base year data and the period that the provision is in effect, including all extensions, plus three fiscal years after the sponsor submits the final Claim for Reimbursement, or longer if required for audit resolution
  • Provide original meal applications upon request during the retention period (this may occur, for example, if the sponsor cannot operationally access the scanned versions of the meal applications in a timely manner)
  • Maintain computer backup files for the electronic meal application files
  • Provide assurance to the NSD that its reviewers will be able to complete all procedures during a Coordinated Review Effort, including the review of 10 percent or more of those students eligible on the benefit issuance documents when compared with meal applications and the review of denied meal applications
  • Provide assurance that State laws on eligibility and confidentiality will not be violated

Scanned meal applications are an allowable option only if all of the above criteria are met. NSD reviewers will require original meal applications if the school cannot access the scanned versions in a timely manner during a review, technical assistance visit, or for any other appropriate reason.

If you have any questions regarding this MB, please contact your assigned SNP Specialist. The SNP county specialist list is available in the CNIPS Download Forms section, Form ID Caseload SNP. You can also contact Lila Seastrom-Price, SNP Office Technician, by phone at 916-322-1450 or by e-mail at to be directed to your SNP County Specialist.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, May 6, 2015

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