Free and Reduced Price Meal Application Processing Reminders
All families must receive an application for free or reduced price meals.
- The Letter to Households must accompany the application.
- The household must write their income information on the application form - the schools should not have to do this.
- A determination must be made within 10 days of receipt of an application.
- Children may be claimed based on last year’s eligibility for the first 30 operating days of the school year or until a new application is filed.
- All applicants must be notified of the determination. Denied applicants must be notified in writing.
Benefits Prior to Processing Applications
Before applications are processed for the school year, the local agency may claim and be reimbursed for free and reduced-price meals or snacks, or free milk for these students:
- Students from households with approved applications or Meal Benefit Notices on file from the previous year.
- Newly enrolled children from households with children approved for benefits the previous year.
- Previously approved children who transfer from one school to another under the jurisdiction of the same local agency. If the applications are not centrally maintained, both the sending and the receiving local agency must maintain a copy of the transferring student's application.
The above students must be allowed a 30 day carry-over of the previous eligibility determination. Once a current year application is received, it takes precedence over the previous year's application
Sponsors must verify (ask for documentation) 3% of the total number of income applications received by October 1 every year. Verification is confirmation of eligibility for free and reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch program or School Breakfast Program. The verification process must be separate from the approval process. Verification information may be provided at the time application is made for free and reduced- price meal benefits, but the application must be initially approved or denied based on the information supplied on the application. 3% is only 1 out of every 33 applications. When calculating the 3% all fractions must be rounded up to the nearest whole number.
Confirmation Review Before Verification
Each application selected for verification must be re-evaluated by a different person than the person who made the original determination. Once the required confirmation review is completed, the sponsor may proceed with verification if the initial determination was correct. If the confirmation review indicates the new eligibility status is to the household’s benefit, the sponsor should make the changes as soon as possible and proceed with verification. If the confirmation review shows that there should be a decrease in benefits. The sponsor proceeds with and completes verification before any notification of a new eligibility status is given.
Household Notification of Selection
When a household is selected for verification and is required by the sponsor to submit documents or other forms of evidence to document eligibility, the household must be sent a notice or letter informing them of their selection and of the types of information acceptable to the sponsor. Sponsors must provide households a means of asking questions about verification by telephone without the household incurring a charge for the call. When the sponsor verifies an application by contacting an agency such as FDPIR or County Social Services/SNAP to verify eligibility, the letter or notice of selection is not required.
A prototype letter to households selected for verification is available on constant contact at: https://files.constantcontact.com/91d3d908701/c21c4b81-c167-45b3-a958-9007797c297e.docx
Verification documentation can be from any point in time between the month prior to application and the time the household is required to provide income documentation. Acceptable verification documents are listed for the following forms of income:
- EARNINGS/WAGES/SALARY FOR EACH JOB:
- Current paycheck stub that shows how often it is received-OR-
- Signed letter from employer stating gross wages paid and how often they are paid
- SELF EMPLOYED PERSONS (INCLUDING FARMERS)
- Most recent copy of federal tax form 1040-OR-
- If previous year tax form is not indicative of current income status, business or farming papers such as ledger or tax books may be used
- SOCIAL SECURITY/PENSIONS/RETIREMENT
- Social Security retirement benefit letter-OR-
- Statement of benefits received-OR-
- Pension notice
- UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION/DISABILITY OR WORKER’S COMPENSATION
- Notice of eligibility from State Unemployment Office-OR-
- Check stub-OR-
- Letter from Worker’s Compensation
- SNAP OR TANF BENEFITS, FDPIR ASSISTANCE
- Benefit letter from agency
- CHILD SUPPORT/ALIMONY
- Court decree, agreement or copies of checks received.
- ALL OTHER INCOME
- Information or papers that show the amount of income received, how often it is received, and the date received.
If the household is unable to confirm its eligibility or refuses to cooperate in verification efforts, benefits must be terminated in accordance with the hearing procedures outlined in the sponsor's free and reduced-price policy statement.
Notice of Adverse Action
All households for whom benefits are to be reduced or terminated must be given ten calendar days' written advance notice of the change.
The first day of the advance notice period is the day the notice is sent.
The notice must advise the household of the following:
- the change in benefits,
- the reasons for the change,
- that an appeal must be filed within the ten-day advance notice period to ensure continued benefits while awaiting a hearing and decision,
- the instructions on how to appeal,
- that the household may reapply for benefits at any time during the school year, and
- that Food Stamp or TANF households may submit an application containing household names and income information and provide written evidence of current household income and the social security numbers of adult household members.
Completion of Verification
Verification of the selected/chosen sample size must be completed by November 15 of each year. Information must be recorded on the Verification Summary Report in NDFoods.