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VerificationVerification 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. Verification is not required for children who have been certified for meals under Direct Certification or for school buildings operating the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).
Verification in School Year 2023-2024
- The Verification sample should be based on approved current school year applications as of October 1, 2023.
- Verification is not required for school buildings operating the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).
- Whether you are currently participating in Michigan School Meals program or the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), all traditional claim schools and districts that collected free and reduced-price applications are required to conduct verification.
- Verification is still necessary for schools operating Michigan School Meals program and required because school meal applications are used to establish eligibility for Summer EBT and meal counting and claiming.
Steps to Complete Verification
Step 1 - Determine if your School Food Authority (SFA) is required to complete a second review of applications:
If the SFA is on the list required to complete a second review of applications, use the following documents:
- Information for Second Review of Applications 2023-2024
- MDE SFA Second Review of Application Report 2023-2024
Step 2 - Determine if your School Food Authority (SFA) must complete an Improvement Plan:
If the SFA is on the list required to submit an Improvement Plan, use the following documents:
- Requirements for an Improvement Plan for Certification and Verification
- Improvement Plan for Certification and Verification, SY 2023-2024
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.
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 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.
Step 8 - Verify benefits
Applications with Food Assistance Program (FAP), Family Independence Program (FIP), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) 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 FAP or FIP, 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.
- Use the We Have Checked Your Application - Michigan School Meals Version 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 -The results of verification are reported in the School Food Authority Verification Collection Report (SFA-VCR), which will open in December. The SFA-VCR must be submitted to the Michigan Department of Education via the Michigan Nutrition Data System (MIND) Michigan Nutrition Data System by February 1.