P. O. BOX 2120

October 15, 1999


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 distributed to every school division.  

The sample size must be based on the number of meal 
applications on file as of October 31, 1999, although school 
divisions may begin verification immediately.  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, 1999.  
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 9/99) must be submitted 
to the Virginia Department of Education's Office of School 
Nutrition Programs by January 20, 2000.

Important Points to Remember:

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

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.

Racial/Ethnic Data       
Section 4 of the Verification Report requires school divisions to 
provide a racial/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 racial/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 racial/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.

As a reminder, the verification letters used to notify households 
(found in the supplement, Eligibility Guidance for School Meals 
Manual) must include the revised non-discrimination statement as 
follows: USDA prohibits discrimination in all its program on the 
basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, or 
disability.  To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, 
Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Washington D.C. 
20250-9410 or call (202) 720-9564.

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 and its attachment
                Will be sent to the superintendent's office.