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.
This is a reminder of the statutory and regulatory requirements for categorical eligibility for the Child Nutrition Programs based on receipt of benefits from each state’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act restricts categorical eligibility to those TANF programs with standards that are comparable to or more restrictive than those in effect on June 1, 1995.