Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Direct Verification Pilot Study: First Year Report

On an average school day, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides subsidized meals to approximately 30 million school children, including 18 million low-income children. To ensure program integrity, school districts must select a sample of household applications for free or reduced-price meals, contact the households, and verify eligibility. This process (known as household verification) can be burdensome for both school officials and households. Some households do not respond to verification requests. When this happens, children may lose the free or reduced-price benefits even though they may be eligible for those benefits. Direct verification uses information collected by means-tested programs to verify eligibility for free and reduced-price meals without contacting applicants. Potential benefits of direct verification include: enhanced program integrity, less burden for households when no contact is needed, less work for school district officials, and fewer students with school meal benefits terminated because of non-response to verification requests. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-265) permits direct verification of school meal applications and requires the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of direct verification (instead of household verification) by school district.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Report to Congress: USDA's Simplified Summer Food Program 2001-2006

The Simplified Summer Food Program (“Simplified Summer”) is a modified version of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The modifications allow reimbursements at a fixed rate rather than limiting reimbursement to administrative and operating costs documented by the individual provider. Simplified Summer was based on the Lugar Pilot Project (“Pilot”) which was in place from FY 2001 to FY 2004. Simplified Summer began operating in FY 2005 and extends the summer food program benefits, first established in the Pilot, to additional states. Meals served are reimbursed at the allowable rates under SFSP without regard to actual or budgeted costs. Sponsoring organizations in Simplified Summer do not have to report costs in order to receive reimbursement, nor are they limited to using administrative funds strictly for administration. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required that the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) evaluate the impact of Simplified Summer which now operates in 26 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Data Matching in the National School Lunch Program: 2005

This study examines the feasibility of expanding the use of computer matching for certification and verification of children eligible for free and reduced-price meals funded under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). This study provides a detailed description of how computer matching is currently used and how it could be used. It addresses the feasibility and effectiveness of different practices, from the point of view of both State and local agencies. Computer matching for NSLP has the potential to improve the efficiency and integrity of the certification and verification process without deterring eligible households from applying for free or reduced-price meals. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-265) mandated direct certification of children in food stamp households, to be phased in over three years beginning in 2006.