P.O. BOX 2120

November 2, 2001

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Jo Lynne DeMary
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 procedures and requirements for verification can be found in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's publication FNS #274 Eligibility Guidance for School Meals Manual Part 7, pages 41-60. Revised prototype verification letters used to notify households are attached. Please insert the revised attachments in the FNS #274 Eligibility Guidance for School Meals Manual Part 7, pages 41-60.

The sample size must be based on the number of meal applications on file as of October 31, 2001. Students approved for free meals through the direct certification process are excluded from the sample size. Verification must be completed on or before December 15, 2001.

Verification is considered complete on the date all letters have been sent to parents or guardians notifying them of the change in eligibility status if such notification is required.

The attached Verification Report Form must be submitted to the Virginia Department of Education's Office of School Nutrition Programs by January 20, 2002.

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 sample size. However, the number of students directly certified must be recorded in the space provided at the top of the Verification Report Form.

3. Changes in eligibility category as a result of verification must be extended to all children in a household. The results from the verification must be sent to all schools where the affected children are enrolled.

4. Copies of the documentation used to verify all information 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 Form 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 price meals have a section for households to indicate racial/ethnic identity. Since this information is not required for application approval, many school divisions do not complete that item. If this information is missing from the application, school divisions must acquire the information from other school records that may be available or make a determination by observation.

If you have any questions, please contact the school nutrition specialist assigned to your division or Catherine Digilio Grimes, director, School Nutrition Programs at (804) 225-2074.

Thank you for your continuing support.


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