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ERIC Number: EJ1141930
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1559-5676
Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application and Income Verification Practices in School Nutrition Programs in the United States
Kwon, Junehee; Lee, Yee Ming; Park, Eunhye; Wang, Yujia; Rushing, Keith
Journal of Child Nutrition & Management, v41 n1 Spr 2017
Purpose/Objectives: This study assessed current practices and attitudes of school nutrition program (SNP) management staff regarding free and reduced-price (F-RP) meal application and verification in SNPs. Methods: Stratified, randomly selected 1,500 SNP management staff in 14 states received a link to an online questionnaire and/or a printed questionnaire, which was developed based on interviews of 25 SNP directors regarding F-RP meal application and pilot-tested. Descriptive statistics, chi-square analyses, and t-tests were calculated using SPSS, with p < 0.05. Results: Of 319 SNP management staff (21.3%) who provided usable data, 175 (54.9%) accepted paper-based F-RP meal applications only, while 106 (33.2%) accepted both paper-based and online applications. In school districts where paper-based F-RP meal applications were received, more temporary employees (n = 17, 5.3%) or bookkeepers or secretaries (n = 89, 27.9%) processed applications than in districts accepting online applications (n = 6 [1.9%] or n = 43 [13.5%], respectively). The mean number of acceptable documents for verification was fewer (p < 0.001) in small districts (2.9 ± 1.3) than in large districts (3.4 ± 1.0), and more small districts accepted "paystubs only" as an acceptable form of income verification. About 11.9% (n = 38%) of participants perceived the current verification process inadequate because of omitted income documentations (n = 22, 6.9%), the cumbersome verification process (n = 5, 1.6%), 3% random verification being insufficient (n = 5, 1.6%), and the low response rate (n = 6, 1.9%). Applications to Child Nutrition Professionals: F-RP application and verification requires significant labor resources, and accepting paystubs and court documents only for income verifications may result in over-certification. If SNPs are able to accept both online and paper-based applications, encouraging parents to complete online applications may reduce staff efforts and improve accuracy. Using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program award letters or documents which make it hard to underreport income sources may also improve accuracy.
School Nutrition Association. 120 Waterfront Street Suite 300, National Harbor, MD 20745. Tel: 301-686-3100; Fax: 301-686-3115; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Food and Nutrition Service (USDA)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A