You’ve sampled, you’ve called, and you’ve gotten some responses back, but now the last day for verification completion is quickly approaching. Hello, November 15! Did you get all that you needed? Are you well-read on the collection reporting process? We’ve got some Verification Collection reminders that can help put your worries at ease and finish strong.
Don’t Stop the Follow-Up!
In our Verification webbie we walked through several methods of verification collection to help increase response rates, from promoting apps to providing pre-paid envelopes. While you’re doing your last minute follow-ups, consider including a straightforward diagram like the one below (provided in the USDA’s Verification Toolkit) to emphasize to parents that responding can be quick and painless- Snap, send, or show up!
The USDA Toolkit also provides a helpful How-To for households that can educate them on how they need to respond. These sampled households will be more likely to respond if they understand what is being asked of them and have clarity on what should provide.
Now as you’re waiting on these follow-up efforts to bear some fruit, do another check on your total responses to date and make sure it’s on track. Better to have too many than too little. Run your numbers again!
Refresh Yourself on the Collections Report Process
The easy part is over. Everything you’ve worked for now has to be documented for the State and we all know that you don’t have the TIME for mistakes. No pressure, right? Since you only have to fill out the State form once a year, it’s easy to forget how it needs to be completed and feeling comfortable with this process is a must.
- Check to see what training or manuals your State offers that can show you the ropes or serve to refresh your memory on the FNS-742.
- You can also create your own detailed plan for you and your team that’s in a format that’s easy for you to pick back up and get everything in line. In a recent report published by the USDA, it was discovered that “some SFA directors create their own guidance documents more tailored to their needs and circumstances than the State-provided materials.”
Get some extra eyes on board
The verification collection report contains crucial information needed by the State for reimbursement and certification, and filling it out should be done so with as much overview as possible.
- Be safe and double-check your data. Remember that you initially pulled samples for verification based on your enrollment as of October 1. If you forget to use that same date, (or adjusting based on rolling verification or other State circumstance) your totals may be off and lead you down an unnecessary guessing game. Refer back to your notes just in case.
- Get other people on your team to sift through all the data one by one to see if they come up with the same results and placement of data (you could have the right number in the wrong spot). About one-quarter of SFA’s studied by the USDA mentioned having “multiple staff review the data prior to submission” to avoid easy human mistakes.
- Use as many automated processes as you can. Many SFAs have benefited from using vendor software to populate their forms. It saves time and reduces human error. The more you can automate, the more time you’ll have to respond carefully.
For additional information and resources, see below.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Policy Support. Evaluation of the School Meal Data Collection Process, by Melissa Rothstein, Allison Roeser, Lindsay Giesen, and Ted Macaluso. Project Officer: Jinee Burdg. Alexandria, VA, August 2019. https://www.fns.usda.gov/nslp/evaluation-school-meal-data-collection-process