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School Meals

Verification Response Rate Challenge

Last Published: 05/04/2017

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service is excited to announce the Verification Response Rate Challenge for school meals! We are asking school food authority (SFA) and State agency staff to share success stories and innovative ideas on increasing household response rates in the annual verification process for school meals.


Every year, SFAs process about 5 million free and reduced-price meal applications. Of those, thousands of applications are chosen for eligibility verification, and notices are sent to the households asking them to confirm their eligibility (e.g., provide income documentation). In School Year 2015-2016, 40 percent of households that were contacted for verification did not respond to verification requests. The households that did not respond became ineligible for meal benefits, even if they met the income requirements.

Creative Solutions

Many SFAs across the country have created solutions that have improved household response rates. We would like to hear from you! Your creative solutions may help other school districts increase their verification response rates, reducing the risk that eligible children lose access to program benefits.

The Challenge

The “Verification Response Rate Challenge” is a public forum for SFA and State agency staff to exchange ideas on how to increase household response in the annual verification process. Here are three ways you can help:
1.    Share your verification success stories or ideas on Challenge.Gov by June 15, 2017.
2.    Build on others’ submissions with constructive feedback and suggestions by June 15, 2017.
3.    Vote for your favorite solution between June 16-22, 2017.

The goal is to encourage dialog, refine ideas, and implement strategies that work.

FNS is using Challenge.Gov to make the Verification Response Rate Challenge fun and encourage participation. Be Creative! All types of submissions are welcome, including simple text entries, short videos, short stories, and more. Contest judges, including SNA President Becky Domokos-Bays and FNS Deputy Administrator for Child Nutrition Programs Cindy Long, will select the winning submissions. Up to seven winners (Potential Game Changer, Popular Choice, Best Documented, and Honorable Mention) will be highlighted at SNA’s 2017 Annual National Conference in Atlanta in July 2017.

Please join us in solving the verification response problem and please forward this message to your colleagues. Submissions for the Challenge (and discussion comments) will be accepted through June 15, 2017 at 2pm, EST. Voting closes on June 22, 2017 at 2pm, EST.

Go to Challenge.Gov to participate!