P. O. BOX 2120
September 25, 1998


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Verification and Racial/Ethnic Report for Free and Reduced Price Meal Applications

  Federal regulations governing the National School Lunch
  and Breakfast Programs require that school divisions
  annually select and verify a sample of applications
  approved for free or reduced-priced meals.

  The verification procedures, requirements, and prototype
  forms can be found in Part 7, pages 41-60 of the U.S.
  Department of Agriculture's publication FNS #274
  Eligibility Guidance for School Meals Manual and
  supplements that have been previously distributed to
  every school division.  

  The sample size must be based on the number of meal
  applications on file as of October 31, 1998, although
  school divisions may begin verification immediately.  The
  school divisions may project the number of approved
  applications they anticipate will be on file on October

  31, based on their experience; however, each school
  division must compare its estimate to the actual number
  of meal applications on file on October 31 and increase
  the sample size, if necessary. Students approved for free
  meals  through the Direct Certification process are
  excluded from the sample size. Verification must be
  completed by December 15, 1998.  Verification is
  completed at the time all letters have been sent to
  parents or guardians notifying them of the change in
  eligibility status if any such notification is required.

  The attached Verification Report (AC.019 9/98) must be
  submitted to the Virginia Department of Education's
  Office of School Nutrition Programs by January 20, 1998.

  Important Points to Remember:

  1. The sample size depends on the number of the actual
       approved applications on file, not the number of
       children represented.

  2. Students who are determined to be eligible for free
       meal benefits based on direct certification are not
       included in the verification process; however, the
       number of students directly certified must also be
       recorded in the space provided at the top of the
       Verification Report form. 

  3. A change in an eligibility category must be extended
       to all children in a household. The results from the
       verification must be sent to all individual schools
       where the affected children are enrolled.

  6. Copies of the documentation used to verify all
       incomes reported on the applications and a
       description of the verification process must be kept
       on file.

  Ethnic Data   
  Section 4 of the Verification Report requires school
  divisions to provide an ethnic breakdown of all students
  who have applied for meal benefits. This includes those
  who have been approved for free meals, reduced-price
  meals, and those students who have been denied benefits. 
  The ethnic information is also based on the number of
  meal applications on file as of October 31. The 
  applications for free and reduced-priced meals have a
  section for households to indicate their ethnic
  background; however, since this information is not
  required for application approval, many do not complete
  that item.  If this information is missing from the
  application, school divisions are to acquire the
  information from other school records that may be
  available or make a determination by observation.

  Questions can be directed to Catherine Digilio Grimes,
  Director, School Nutrition Programs at (804) 225-2074/2082.

  Thank you for your continuing support.


  Enclosure:   A hard copy of this memo ant its
  attachment will be sent to the superintendent's