Sneak Preview: New Manual Calls for Extra Reviews for Some LEAs

September 16, 2014 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) The Food and Nutrition Service has issued to state educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) the 2014 version of the Eligibility Manual for School Meals, which implements new applicant review requirements for high-risk LEAs.

Beginning in school year 2014-15, LEAs designated by the state agency as being a high risk for administrative error associated with certifying and issuing school meal benefits are required to conduct a second review of applications.

Under this second review, the LEA must re-evaluate the eligibility assessment made by the original determining official based on the information provided by the household on the application. The high-risk LEA must re-evaluate whether the approved application was complete (i.e., it contains the signature of an adult household member, the last four digits of a social security number, names of all household members including the student for whom the application is made, income amount, income source and frequency). The second review must also confirm that the application was correctly approved the first time based on current income eligibility information, and that the LEA’s roster of student names correctly records the student’s eligibility.

FNS noted that this second review of applications must be done before the household is notified of eligibility and must not result in the delay of an eligibility determination. Therefore, LEAs still must notify a household of a child’s eligibility determination within 10 business days of receiving the application.

The updated manual also discusses the options for LEAs when determining student eligibility, which has now been included in agency regulations. Students are generally certified eligible for free or reduced price meal benefits on the date the household application is approved. An LEA, however, may choose to use the date of the application submission as the effective date of eligibility, rather than the date the official approves it. An LEA must notify its state agency if it chooses to use the alternate effective date and must adequately document that it using the submission date as the effective date.


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