Case Study of National School Lunch Program Verification Outcomes in Large Metropolitan School Districts

Publisher: Alexandria, VA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Analysis, Nutrition and Evaluation
Apr 30, 2004
Authors
John Burghardt, Tim Silva, and Lara Hulsey
Recent media attention has suggested that some children who are certified as eligible for free school lunch may in fact be ineligible because their family income is too high. This report presents the result of a case study of the process used to identify and detect these types of errors, indicating that the verification process itself is subject to errors. Among students approved for benefits on the basis of income reported on the application and whose benefits were terminated because the family did not respond to the district’s verification request, half were income eligible for at least the benefit amount they had been receiving. About a third of households whose benefits were unchanged as a result of verification were not income eligible for their benefit level two to three months after completing verification.