To ensure program integrity, school districts must sample household applications certified 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. Direct verification uses information from certain other means-tested programs to verify eligibility without contacting applicants.
Potential benefits include: less burden for households, less work for school officials, and fewer students with school meal benefits terminated because of nonresponse to verification requests. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (P.L 108-265) authorized direct verification with Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) data (DV-M) and required the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to evaluate its feasibility and effectiveness. Direct verification can also use data from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
The first phase of the study evaluated pilot projects testing the feasibility and effectiveness of DV-M in School Year 2006–07 and SY 2007–08. The participating States were: Georgia, Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin. The evaluation of the DV-M pilots was completed and published in October 2009 (Logan et al., 2009). Results of both years showed that DV-M was feasible, effective, and saved time for households and school districts.