Eligibility for Free and Reduced-price Meals and Free Milk in School Nutrition Programs

Related Resources

CSDE Training Program: Determining Eligibility in the School Nutrition Programs and Summer Food Service Program

Determining Eligibility Logo: Icon of a piece of paper with an apple in a white circle with a green background

The CSDE's Determining Eligibility training program is a series of recorded modules that provide guidance on complying with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations for determining a child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meals or free milk in the school nutrition programs and free meals in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The school nutrition programs include the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Afterschool Snack Program (ASP) of NSLP, Seamless Summer Option (SSO) of the NSLP, and Special Milk Program (SMP).

Target audience: This training program is intended for the staff responsible for approving applications for free and reduced-price meals or free milk, conducting direct certification, and ensuring the accuracy of eligibility determinations through the verification process.

Navigating the modules: The videos include a toolbar that can be used to pause, rewind, and resume the video, adjust the sound, turn on closed captioning, and search for topics. The chapters feature (the icon with three dots and three lines on the far right of the toolbar) allows easy navigation to each topic. To access the toolbar during the video, move the mouse to the green bar at the bottom of the video.

Knowledge check and score: After viewing modules 1-3 and 5-7, participants will complete a brief knowledge check that will display a score after all questions are complete. Participants may print their knowledge check score to document participation in these training modules.

Professional development training hours: School nutrition personnel may use the CSDE's Determining Eligibility training program to count toward the annual training hours required by the USDA’s Professional Standards for School Nutrition Program Professionals. For more information, refer to the CSDE’s Professional Standards Topics and Training Hours for the Determining Eligibility Training Modules.

Accessing the videos: The training module videos are housed in Qualtrics. To view the videos, click on the module, then enter the required contact information (name and title, email, school/district/institution, city/town, and state).

Module Resources

Module 1: Introduction to Application Certification and Verification  (length: 25:27)

Introduces the training modules, provides an overview of the application and verification process, identifies important terms and documents, and highlights relevant resources for managing requirements and deadlines.

Module 2: Processing Applications  (length: 1:22:12)

Reviews the requirements for processing free and reduced-price meal or milk a applications including flagging applications, error-prone applications, notifying households of eligibility, application addenda, processing timeframes, carryover and transfer of eligibility, requirements for a complete application, calculating income on an application, applications for foster children, handling written SNAP or TFA case numbers, web-based applications, verification for cause, benefit issuance document, independent review of applications, records retention, and appeal procedures.

Module 3: Direct Certification  (length: 44:37)

Reviews the requirements for the direct certification process, including the types of direct certification, hierarchy of eligibility, CSDE's Direct Certification Web Application, direct certification of foster children, and records retention for direct certification. Also includes "DC or Not DC," a quiz to test participants’ knowledge about direct certification.

Before beginning this module:

  • Download and print Module 3 Worksheet

Module 4: Test Your Knowledge About Processing Applications (length: 30:52)

Provides an activity to test participants' knowledge about processing applications by reviewing seven examples of a completed Application for Free and Reduced-price School Meals or Free Milk. This module is based on the information provided in modules 1-3.

Before beginning this module:

Module 5: Confidentiality and Disclosure (length: 21:20)

Reviews the confidentiality requirements for directly certifying students and processing applications, including preventing overt identification of students’ eligibility status and restrictions for disclosing student’s personal information.

Module 6: Verification 

Module 7: Completing the FNS 742 Verification Summary Report

Refer to CSDE's webinar, Building Success: What You Need to Know about Verification, September 27, 2022 (length 1:01:48)