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Verification Process


To date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not issued written guidance regarding flexibilities for the verification process for School Year (SY) 2020-21. If school food authorities (SFA) are operating the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) for SY 2020-21, they should continue with verification activities as required under Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations 245.6a. The deadline to complete the verification process is November 15, 2020.

The Nutrition Services Division (NSD) recognizes the many challenges that COVID-19 presents, particularly in the collection and processing of meal applications. While the USDA has verbally indicated that additional guidance is forthcoming, the requirement to complete verification activities has not been waived at this time for schools serving meals under the NSLP. The NSD will communicate any changes to the verification process as soon as additional guidance is issued by the USDA.

Verification Process

Verification is the annual, mandatory process that confirms the eligibility of a sample of approved household meal eligibility applications in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Each year, SFAs must select and verify a sample of applications approved for free and reduced-price (F/RP) meal benefits. The sample size of applications that SFAs are required to verify is based on the number of approved applications the SFAs have on file on or before October 1. November 15 is the federally established due date for each SFA to complete the verification process of the required sample size of meal applications.

For helpful resources in completing the verification process, such as The Verification Process training video, please visit the CDE Verification Materials web page.

The verification process must confirm:

  • The eligibility status of a student household’s monthly income, or

  • If any member of the household is participating in CalFresh, California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, or

  • That the applying student is Other Source Categorically Eligible

For further information on the verification process, please read the chapter on verification in the USDA Eligibility Manual for School Meals on the USDA 2017 Edition of the Eligibility Manual for School Meals web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Exceptions to the Verification Requirement

Verification efforts are not required:

  • For students who have been directly certified as eligible for F/RP meals, including students who are documented as eligible migrant, runaway, homeless, foster, or participating in Head Start or Even Start

  • For students in residential child care institutions (RCCI); however, SFAs must verify applications for any nonresidential students attending the RCCI’s school

  • In schools where all students are served with no separate meal charge, no eligibility determination is made, and no meal reimbursement is claimed (e.g., nonpricing programs claiming only the paid rate of reimbursement)

  • In schools participating in the Community Eligibility Provision

  • In schools participating in Provisions 1, 2, or 3, except in base years, when SFAs collect applications for all students in attendance
Verification Sample Size and other Reminders
  • With the exception of verification for cause (the process in which SFAs verify questionable applications), SFAs must not verify more or less than the standard sample size or the alternate sample size (when eligible) and must not verify all applications. SFAs can only use verification for cause in addition to verifying the required sample. Learn more about verification for cause on the CDE Verification for Cause in the School Meals Program web page.
Verification Report

SFAs must submit their annual verification report (VR) to the NSD in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) by January 15. The NSD will notify SFAs by email when the report is available in the CNIPS. For details on how to complete the VR in the CNIPS visit the CDE Verification Reporting web page.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact your School Nutrition Program (SNP) County Specialist. The SNP County Specialist list is available in the Download Forms section of CNIPS, Form ID Caseload. You can also contact the SNP Office Technicians, by phone at 916-322-3005 or 916-322-1450 to be directed to your SNP County Specialist.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Friday, September 25, 2020
Related Content
  • SNP Verification Materials
    School Nutrition Programs verification materials including applications, forms, and materials for the annual, mandatory verification process for eligibility of a sample of completed household meal eligibility applications.
  • Verification Reporting
    Instructions for local education agencies (LEAs) on submitting the verification collection report through the Child Nutrition and Information Payment System (CNIPS) using the verification report function.
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