The beginning of the school year is an incredibly busy time. Students are returning to campus, teachers are busy establishing routines, and parents are doing their best to keep up with the mountains of paperwork that are sent home almost daily. While the days of sending colorful papers home in overstuffed backpacks are mostly in the past, parents can still have a hard time keeping up with the filling out and returning of important documentation. Fortunately, only a small percentage of households need to participate in the yearly verification of the National School Lunch Program. On the other hand, it is even more important to get a response and any updated information from those who are selected.
Our team has put together a list of tips to help you and your team prepare for verification season so that you have the greatest chance of a 100% response rate.
National School Lunch Program verification season begins October 1st and must be complete by November 15th. Since this is at least a couple weeks into the school year, this means that parents have already sent any updated phone numbers and emails when they verified their students’ enrollment. Make sure that information is input into your system so that you have the most up-to-date information when verification begins.
The hope is that every household responds to the verification request. To do this, they must submit proof of income or SNAP information. As such, it is best to be prepared and have all communication letters ready to be emailed or printed. The letters you will need are:
Whether you choose to send the letters through postal mail, email or both, take the extra step to let parents know to look out for them. Schedule an automated call, send a text message, or use your district-approved social media platform. Many school communications can get lost in the myriad of messages parents receive almost daily. Taking this extra step will increase the chances that they will open and respond to your verification request.
Once initial verification notifications have been sent out, be sure to follow up with the selected households. If you have the time and capacity, call the households to ensure they received the initial notification and offer assistance. Oftentimes, parents may not understand what is being asked of them and a simple, verbal explanation will get things moving.
Families that accept to participate in the verification process may need some flexibility. For example, allow photos of income verification documents to be emailed rather than requiring original hard copies to be sent to the school. The more flexible you can be, the more likely parents will be able to send you the information you need.
Nothing incentivizes a busy parent like a child (or children) who repeatedly asks for something. Getting students involved in the verification process can help give parents an extra push to send their response. Offer students an incentive like extra recess time, an ice cream cone at lunch, or for campuses with uniforms, a free dress day!
The National School Lunch Program verification process is essential to the continuation of funding for school nutrition programs. Getting as close as possible to a 100% response rate will help your program maintain its Planned Assistance Level and help your program continue to thrive. Imagine how much more efficient the process would be with an automated, cloud-based system that can keep track of when verification letters were sent and which responses were received. That level of automation and more is possible with LINQ’s nutrition management program. Reach out to our team today and we’ll walk you through how you can make verification season simpler than ever.
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