Weekly School Nutrition Newsletter


Dear Food Service Contact,

This email provides news for schools concerning the Child Nutrition Programs from the USDA and the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). If you are the food service contact for your school or corporation, it is your responsibility to relay important information provided to you about the Child Nutrition Programs to other staff members.

Exhibit A Grains Tool Webinar

  • Team Nutrition will be holding a webinar on the Exhibit A Grains on Wednesday, September 25 from 2 – 3 p.m. EST. 
  • Team Nutrition is excited to demonstrate the Exhibit A Grains Tool, which is a new feature included with the Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs Interactive Web-Based Tool.
  • The Exhibit A Grains Tool allows you to search for your grain product (as listed on Exhibit A) and enter in the serving size from the product label.
  • The tool then helps you determine:
    • The ounce equivalent (oz eq) grains or grains/bread serving(s) for the grain product, and
    • The amount to serve to provide your desired grains contribution.
  • Team Nutrition will provide in-depth practice for using the grains tool as well as highlighting the newly released training video.
  • Register here.


  • Beginning Tuesday, October 1, schools should start their annual verification process.
  • Please review the step-by-step instructions below for conducting verification:  
    • Conduct a Direct Certification Match on Monday, September 30. 
      • This will help identify more students that automatically qualify because of Food Stamps, TANF, Medicaid or Foster Status.
      • Make sure any application with students who were Direct Certified are excluded from Verification.
    • Determine the verification method you should follow.
      • Schools with a 20 percent or higher non-response rate last school year are required to conduct Standard (Error Prone) Verification.
      • Schools with a low non-response rate can choose if they want to conduct Standard (Error Prone) Verification, Alternate One (Random) Verification, or Alternate Two Verification. Most schools with this option choose Alternate One (Random).
      • If you are not sure which method you should follow, contact your field specialist.
    • Depending on the verification method selected, pull your sample size.
      • The sample size is based on the count of approved free and reduced applications on file as of Tuesday, October 1.
      • Remember to round up! If your sample size is 11.2, you will round up to 12. That means you must verify 12 applications. 
    • After pulling your sample size, perform a confirmation review. 
      • Someone other than the person who approved the original application will need to review the selected application to make sure it was approved correctly. If an error is found during the confirmation review, send a letter home titled, Confirmation Review Notification, found here.
      • Make sure to document the confirmation review and any changes resulting from the confirmation review.
    • Conduct Direct Verification in the STN Application Center.
      • If you do not have access to the STN Application Center (where Direct Certification takes place), ask the person who does have access to complete this step for you. 
      • Once logged into the STN Database, click on the purple Verification box on the Dashboard. 
      • Enter the student's information from the household application into the database.
      • You only need to find one student on the application in Direct Verification to verify the entire household.
      • You can automatically verify that application if the information matches their eligibility. 
      • **Make sure to read the information at the bottom of the verification page if a match is found. Just because a match is found does not mean that the application is verified. Additional action might be required.
      • At the bottom of the page you will see either:
        • Verified for Free
          • If the application was originally approved for free, then this application is Verified. Print off the Direct Verification page, fill out the Verification information on the back of your application, and save all documentation on file. You do not need to contact the household. 
        • Verified for Reduced
          • If the application was originally approved for reduced, then this application is verified. Print off the Direct Verification page, fill out the verification information on the back of your application, and save all documentation on file. You do not need to contact the household. 
        • Verified for Reduced, but School Official should attempt to Direct Certify the student for free meals with Direct Certification "Lookup."
          • If you get this message and can find this student through Direct Certification Lookup, then that application is no longer eligible for Verification because Direct Certified students should not be verified. 
          • Instead, replace the application with another similar application. For instance, if the first application was Error Prone, pull another Error Prone application. 
        • Verify by Household Contact
          • This means the system does not have enough information to verify the student. The school must conduct normal Verification by sending home the - "We Must Check Your Application"- letter. 
      • If you do not find the student, the determination is unclear, or states "contact the household," conduct regular verification by contacting the household. 
      • Keep all documentation.
      • Click here to check out our Direct Verification Fact Sheet.
    • For any application not Direct Verified, conduct the normal verification process.
      • Send a letter home requesting documentation to support the application.
      • Click here to access the letter titled, We Must Check Your Application.
      • Make sure to give the household enough time to respond.
      • Don't forget about the additional household notification tools, like Flyer for Households, an infographic with tips for submitting documentation with a smartphone; Navigating the Verification Process, an easy to read diagram of the verification process; and the fact sheet titled, Strategies to Improve Response Rates in Verification.
    • Review submitted documentation. 
      • If you have questions about the documentation, contact the household or State office.
      • After the results are determined, send a letter home informing them of the outcome. 
      • Click here and select We Have Checked Your Application. 
      • If the household was originally reduced and after verification they should be free, immediately make the eligibility change.
      • If verification results in a lower eligibility (i.e. free to reduced, free to paid, reduced to paid), send home a letter and enact the change in 10 calendar days.
      • Keep all documentation.
    • If the household does not respond...
      • Make at least one more follow-up attempt either by phone, letter, email, or text message and keep that documentation.
      • If the household still does not respond, then they must be removed from the program. Send a letter informing the household that their benefits will change to paid in 10 calendar days. Click here and select We Have Checked Your Application.
      • Keep all documentation.
    • The verification process must be completed on or before Friday, November 15.
  • Once verification is complete, you will need to report your results in the Verification Summary Report.
    • This report will not be ready until the October claim for reimbursement has been filed.
    • New this year! The Verification Summary Report due date has moved from December 15 and will now be due Wednesday, January 15, 2020
  • Households that experience a reduction or termination of benefits during verification, may reapply at any time during the school year. However, they must submit verification documentation with their new applications.
  • Refer to the Eligibility Guidance Manual if you have questions about the verification process. Click here to access the manual. 
  • For additional instructions for the verification process, click here
  • Utilize the new verification tracking sheet to help track the verification process for each application.
  • Click here to access the IDOE Verification Webpage.
  • Don't forget about the Coffee Break Webinars on Verification in October. Click here to learn more and to register. 
  • For further assistance, view our Indiana Verification Updates and Reminder Coffee Break Webinar on the inTEAM website.
  • If you have any questions about this process, contact Allie Caito-Sipe at acaito@doe.in.gov or your field specialist. 

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Please do not reply directly to this email. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this email, please contact Allie Caito-Sipe at acaito@doe.in.gov, call (317) 232-0849, or toll-free at 1-800-537-1142 ext. 20849, or contact Ashley Heller at aheller@doe.in.gov, call (317) 232-0544, or toll-free at 1-800-537-1142 ext. 20544.