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Meal Claim Validation in the Summer Food Service Program

FNS Document #
Resource type
Policy Memos
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Policy Memo (303.91 KB)
DATE:April 19, 2024
SUBJECT:Meal Claim Validation in the Summer Food Service Program
TO:Regional Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

On Sept. 19, 2022, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published the Final Rule: Streamlining Program Requirements and Improving Integrity in the SFSP. The rule amended Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) regulations to strengthen program integrity by clarifying, simplifying, and streamlining program administration to facilitate compliance with program requirements. 

State agencies that administer SFSP are responsible for reviewing sponsors and sites to ensure compliance with program regulations. The SFSP Streamlining Final rule established a process that state agencies must follow to validate SFSP sponsor meal claims during the sponsor review. The meal claim validation process utilizes a streamlined record review process outlined at 7 CFR 225.7(e)(6)(i). The step-by-step process is outlined below. In addition, this memorandum includes two attachments. Attachment 1 provides a flow chart on conducting a meal claim validation. Attachment 2 provides an example to complement Attachment 1.

Meal Claim Validation Process

  1. Site Selection

    The state agency must first select a sample of sites to review for each sponsor under review. The state agency must review meal claims from at least 10 percent of each reviewed sponsor's sites, or one site, whichever number is greater, per 7 CFR 225.7(e)(4)(v). Under this new streamlined process, state agencies are no longer required to validate 100 percent of meal claims for all of the reviewed sponsor’s sites.1 The selected sample of sites for the meal claim validation should best reflect the sponsor’s entire population of sites by including characteristics outlined at 7 CFR 225.7(e)(5). Characteristics include:

    • The maximum number of meals approved to be served;
    • Method of obtaining meals (i.e., self-prep or vended);
    • Time since last review by the State agency
    • Type of site (e.g., open, closed enrolled, camp);
    • Type of physical location (e.g., school, outdoor area, community center);
    • Rural designation (i.e., rural, or non-rural);
    • Meal service type (congregate or non-congregate)
    • If non-congregate, meal distribution method (e.g., meal pick-up, delivery); and
    • Affiliation with the sponsor.

    The state agency may also use additional criteria to select sites to include findings from other audits or reviews, potential error in daily meal counts, or sites recommended by the sponsor.

  2. Document Review and Comparison

    Each state agency must develop a document review process for meal claim validation, per 7 CFR 225.7(e)(6)(i). At a minimum, the state agency must reconcile delivery receipts and daily meal counts from the selected sites. Other records such as the menus, site information sheets, production records and purchasing invoices may be used to validate a meal claim in addition to the delivery receipts and meal count forms, and may be especially helpful when reviewing self-preparation meal sites These documents will provide the state agency with information such as:

    • What food components were served,
    • Estimated number of daily meals,
    • Types of meals served,
    • Information to support the minimum required serving size and any details of the food or supplies purchased, as well as the date and the amount purchased.

    All meals served by the selected sites for the review period must be validated. These documents must then be compared to the sponsor’s claim consolidation spreadsheet to include the meals claimed for reimbursement by the sponsor for the period under review. The state agency must then calculate the percentage of error for each of the sites.

    For example, site ABC is selected as part of the meal claim validation process during a sponsor review. Site ABC claims to have served 100 lunch meals on a Tuesday during the period of review which included a menu item of breaded chicken nuggets. First, the state agency reviewer would confirm that at least 100 meals were delivered to site ABC on Tuesday by reviewing the delivery receipts and comparing these to the meal claim for that day and that meal service. If the reviewer finds that only 80 meals were delivered to the site for this particular meal service, then there are 20 meals that were claimed in error. The reviewer would need to calculate the percentage of error, described below.

    The state agency must, at a minimum, reconcile the delivery receipts and the daily meal count form. The state agency reviewer may also use additional records such as the menu for that particular meal service to confirm that chicken nuggets were served to satisfy the meat/meat alternate component at site ABC. The reviewer may also evaluate production records to ensure enough breaded chicken nuggets were prepared for 100 lunch meals.

  3. Error Calculation and Meal Disallowance

    Next, the state agency must establish the meal counting and claiming discrepancy for each selected site and determine the total percentage of error. The validation of each site must yield less than a five percent total percentage of error. This is calculated by adding together all discrepancies, including overclaims and underclaims, and dividing this total by the total meals claimed by the sponsor for all reviewed sites within the validation sample (see example in Attachment 2). If the validation yields more than a five percent total percentage of error, the meal claim validation must be expanded per the instructions in 7 CFR 225.7(e)(6)(v) (also see Attachment 1).

    When the validation of sites yields less than a five percent error, the review of meal claims for the sponsor is complete.

    The state agency must then disallow any portion of the claim for reimbursement and recover any payment to a sponsor not properly payable in accordance with 7 CFR 225.12. Claims for reimbursement are not properly payable if a sponsor’s records do not support all meals claimed. It is also the responsibility of the state agency to notify the sponsor of the reasons for any disallowance or demand for repayment. State agencies may also disregard overpayment which does not exceed $100 or does not exceed the amount established by state law, regulations, or procedures as a minimum for which claims will be made for state losses generally per 7 CFR 225.10(c). If there is substantial evidence of violation of criminal law or civil fraud statutes, the state agency may not disregard overpayments. Additionally, if there is reason to believe that the sponsor has engaged in unlawful acts related to program operations, the state agency has the discretion to expand the meal claim validation beyond the review period or include additional sites per 7 CFR 225.7(e)(6)(vi).

State agencies are reminded to distribute this information to program operators immediately. Program operators should direct any questions regarding this memorandum to the appropriate state agency. State agencies should direct questions to the appropriate FNS regional office.

Jessica Saracino
Program Monitoring and Operational Support Division
Child Nutrition Programs


1 The state agency may choose to complete a validation of all meals served on all operating days for all sites under the sponsor for the review period, in lieu of the streamlined meal claim validation process (see 7 CFR 225.7(e)(6)(vii).

Page updated: April 19, 2024