Comment Request - Study of Non-Response to the School Meals Application Verification Process
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) provide subsidized lunches and breakfasts to millions of students each school day. Students are certified eligible to receive free or reduced-price (F/RP) meals through application or direct certification. When eligibility is determined using an application process, school districts must annually verify eligibility of children from a sample of household applications for that school year, unless the state agency assumes responsibility for verification.
This study will examine the accuracy of district verification procedures using a case study approach similar to a previous study conducted for FNS, the Case Study of National School Lunch Program Verification Outcomes in Large Metropolitan School Districts (published by FNS in 2004) (Office of Management and Budget number 0584-0516 Evaluation of the NSLP Application and Verification and Pilot Program, expiration date 10/31/2003). Consistent with the previous study, the study team will purposively select 20 participating school districts for a case study, describe the districts' verification outcomes, and independently verify eligibility for two samples of households approved by application on the basis of income and selected for verification by the district. These two household samples include: (1) Households that did not respond to the school meals application verification requests, and (2) households that responded to verification requests and experienced no change in school meals benefits. The 2004 study will be expanded by: (1) Including at least one rural district in the case study, (2) interviewing school district officials about processes for selecting applications for cause, (3) analyzing verification outcomes for applications selected for cause, (4) analyzing households' reasons for not responding to district verification requests, and (5) redesigning the 2004 analyses to reflect policy changes enacted since 2004.