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Eligibility Certification and Verification
All schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and/or School Breakfast Program (SBP) must make free and reduced-price meals available to eligible children and all schools and institutions participating in the free milk option of the Special Milk Program (SMP) must make free milk available to eligible children.
Free and Reduced-Price School Meals Application Forms School Year 2019-2020
The Free and Reduced-Price School Meals Application prototype and related materials for School Year 2019-2020 are below. For detailed instructions on the eligibility determination process, please read the materials under Guidance.
Required materials that must be provided to households:
Due to USDA not making changes to the new application, be sure to change the date (school year) before distribution.
Either Free and Reduced-Price lunch application is acceptable as long as it contains all the required information. Any questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-241-5374.
USDA Translated Free and Reduced-Price Applications - (Be sure to update school year on application)
Optional application-related materials that may be provided to households:
Verification is confirmation of eligibility for free and reduced-priced meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). Annually, each School Food Authority (SFA) must select and verify a sample of applications approved for meal benefits. The results of verification must be reported to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) in the School Food Authority Verification Collection Report (SFA-VCR).
The verification sample must be selected from households that have submitted an approved "family/household application" annually as of October 1. Verification is not required for children who have been certified for free meals under Direct Certification.
Resources for Completing Verification
Steps to Complete Verification
Verification is the process School Food Authorities (SFAs) conduct annually to confirm selected students' eligibility for free and reduced price meals in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.
Step 1 - Determine if your School Food Authority (SFA) is required to complete a second review of applications:
- Schools Required to Conduct a Second Review of Applications for School Year (SY) 2019-2020
- Information for the Second Review of Applications
- Administrative Policy No. 1 - Second Review of School Meal Applications School Year 2019-2020
- MDE SFA Second Review of Application Report Form School Year 2019 - 2020
Step 2 - Determine if your School Food Authority (SFA) must complete an Improvement Plan:
- Schools Required to Submit an Improvement Plan for Certification and Verification for SY 2019-2020
- If the SFA is on the list required to submit an Improvement Plan, use the following documents:
Step 3 - Determine the sampling method your SFA must use to identify applications for verification. There are three sample sizes established for verification activities. The standard sample size must be used by the SFA unless it qualifies to use one of the alternate sample sizes.
- Schools Required to Use Standard Sample Size for SY 2019-2020
Standard Sample Size
- If the SFA is not on the list for Standard Sample Size, one of the two alternate methods may be selected.
Step 4 - Establish the Free and Reduced Price School Meals Application pool.
- Only approved current school year applications as of October 1 make up the School Meals Application pool for Verification.
- The following students should not be included in the application pool:
- Children approved through direct certification procedures such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid Free and Medicaid Reduced-Price, Foster children, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
- Children directly certified through other programs, including children who are documented as eligible migrant, runaway, homeless, or foster children.
- Children participating in Head Start or Pre-K Even Start.
- Children attending CEP (Community Eligibility Provision) schools
Step 5 - Calculate the sample size/number of applications that must be verified.
- Follow the instructions on the sampling method information sheet(s) in Step 3.
- Round up decimals up to the whole number.
Step 6 - Conduct a Confirmation Review of the applications selected for verification.
- All approved household applications selected for verification must be reviewed for accuracy to ensure that initial eligibility determinations are correct. The review must be done by an individual other than the individual making the initial determination. This person is called the confirming official and should sign the back of each selected application in the designated signature box and document the date of the Confirmation Review.
- SFAs that use electronic systems are exempt from this requirement.
Step 7 - Notify the selected households:
- Use one of the We Must Check Your Application forms
- Give the households a due date.
- USDA Verification Toolkit
Step 8 - Verify benefits
Applications with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) case numbers can be verified by one of the following methods:
Send the prototype letter below to the local Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to verify benefits: Letter to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services from the Local Education Agency
Review the household's official letter from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as verification of benefits. However, the SFA verifying official must check to make sure the household is receiving TANF, SNAP, or FDPIR benefits. Medicaid case numbers on applications cannot be accepted.
Applications with income:
Review documentation received to ensure all income provided on the application is accurate for determined eligibility.
Ensure documents provided (see acceptable documentation on notification letter) include: name of the household member, date income was received, amount received and how often received (frequency of income).
Types of unacceptable documentation for income verification would include: copy of bank statement provided as proof of wages earned, SSI payments or child support received, etc. Copy of income tax return, except for applicants applying with Annual Income for special circumstances.
Applications with “No Income”:
If a household is selected for verification, and the household’s application indicates zero income, the LEA must request an explanation of how living expenses are met and may request additional written documentation or collateral contacts. The collateral contact may be asked to document the duration and type of assistance that is provided to the household.
Step 9 - Conduct a Follow-Up Review for any household that has not responded by the original due date. Document on the back of the original application the date of the follow-up attempt.
Step 10 - Notify all households of the final verification determination.
- Use the We Have Checked Your Application form.
- Households must be given ten-day advance, written notification that the benefits will be decreased.
- The first day of the ten-calendar day advance notice is the day the notice is sent.
Step 11 - Make any required changes to the benefit issuance documentation from the outcomes of the Verification process by November 15.
- Provide a 10-day advance notification period if the benefit has been decreased.
Step 12 - All SFAs must report verification activities and outcomes to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) annually. The results of verification are reported in the School Food Authority Verification Collection Report (SFA-VCR). The web-based report can be accessed through the Michigan Nutrition Data System (MiND) at: Michigan Nutrition Data System.
The verification results reporting will open in December 2019. The SFA-VCR must be submitted to MDE via the Michigan Nutrition Data System (MiND) Michigan Nutrition Data System by February 1, 2020.
If your SFA needs to designate a new individual to complete the SFA-VCR, the security agreement process for the MiND System has been incorporated within the Michigan Electronic Grants System Plus (MEGS+) application. Your 2019 MEGS+ application for the School Nutrition Programs will have to be amended to provide that new designee access.
- Instructions for Public and Non-Public Sponsors Completing the SFA-VCR
- Instructions for Residential Child Care Institutions Completing the SFA-VCR