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Federal regulations require that all School Food Authorities (SFAs) participating in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and/or National School Lunch Program (NSLP) conducting standard counting and claiming procedures select and verify a sample of their approved free and reduced-price meal applications on file as of October 1st by November 15th of each year. This process is called Income Verification.

Income Verification is the confirmation of eligibility for free and reduced-price meals under the NSLP and SBP. Verification is only required when eligibility is determined through the application process, and is not required for eligibility determinations made through the direct certification process.

Verification must include either confirmation of income eligibility or confirmation that the child or any member of the household is receiving assistance under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or that a child is Other Source Categorically Eligible. Verification may also include confirmation of any other information required on the application, such as household size.

Income Verification requirements have become more stringent in order to improve the fiscal integrity of the child nutrition programs and the verification process.  It is essential that verification efforts be completed on time, that changes in eligibility are implemented for all family members and that adequate records of your efforts are maintained. The selection of applications cannot target discrimination against anyone on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability.

Getting households to respond to verification requests can be challenging for SFA staff. If households do not respond, they lose their benefits regardless of their actual eligibility. In addition, the number of approved applications an SFA is required to verify is impacted by the number of responses they were able to obtain the previous year.

To assist SFAs with addressing these issues, USDA has developed a Verification Toolkit. The Toolkit contains a collection of resources that SFAs can use in their efforts to improve verification response rates and the overall efficiency of the process. These resources were developed by FNS but feature input from State and local officials from around the country. They were informed by two years of formal studies conducted by FNS and the Office of Evaluation Science’s Social & Behavioral Sciences Team, as well as through a public contest and from informal conversations with program operators. To view the Toolkit, please visit

SFAs must report the results of the income verification process by completing and submitting the Verification Collection Report on the Child Nutrition Management System (CNMS) by December 15th.

Last updated
September 22, 2023

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at:, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
  3. email:

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