Breakfast and Lunch Program Denials in Virginia

A School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program denial decision in Virginia can occur for many reasons. Learning how to appeal a NSLP denial is often a task applicants who have been refused benefits need to become aware of if they believe the determination to be erroneous or discriminatory. Federal food and child nutrition program regulations require that all applicants be properly notified of their application disposition under the School Breakfast Program, National School Lunch Program or Summer Food Service Program, regardless of whether the application was approved or denied. USDA guidelines also require that information about the SBP and NSLP denial appeal process be supplied to all applicants not approved for benefits. Applicants’ rights are strongly protected under federal assistance program regulations, and all applicants can expect fair and nondiscriminatory handling of their cases in the event that they decide to pursue an appeal.

Notification of School Breakfast Program Denial in Virginia

Families must be advised of National School Lunch application denial determinations in Virginia in the form of a written notice. The notification will also include how to appeal a SBP denial decision and the reason for the rejection of benefits. Directions on how to begin the NSLP or SBP denial appeal process must be enclosed with the notification letter. By law, families served a School Breakfast application denial retain the right to reapply at any point during the academic year and have their eligibility for benefits reassessed, regardless of their decision to pursue or to decline to pursue an appeals case.

Standards for National School Lunch Program Denial Appeals Cases in Virginia

NSLP denial appeal processes and procedures are required by law to comply with accepted standards for fair hearings. In the event that applicants seek to appeal denied NSLP benefits, all schools and school districts participating in these federal food-assistance programs will be held to established federal standards of conduct.

Published USDA guidance and recommendations for applicants regarding how to appeal a NSLP denial in Virginia encourage applicants to reach out to their child’s school or the appropriate district official before formally initiating an appeal. This is particularly advised in situations when applicants have been notified that their NSLP or School Breakfast Program denial is the result of or directly related to insufficient information, submission of an incomplete or incorrectly filled-out application form or missing accompanying documentation needed during the application process. Applicants and school officials are often able to resolve these types of barriers to approval without investing the time, effort and resources required by a full SBP denial appeal process. Direct, respectful communication can facilitate the provision of assistance or support where needed and lead to the successful resubmission of a complete and accurate application likely to result in approval of benefits. Conversations between the district and an applicant, and an applicant’s cooperation in such efforts, in no way diminish an applicant’s right to pursue an appeal at a later point if a satisfactory conclusion is not achieved.

Students from families not receiving meal benefits prior to their National School Lunch application denial will not begin to receive benefits until after an appeal or reassessment of eligibility has been completed and an approval of benefits has been issued. Students whose preexisting meal benefits were to be discontinued by School Breakfast application denial will continue to receive free or reduced cost meals for a limited time. If a family decides to appeal a SBP denial, then the students in that household will continue to have access to free or reduced-price meals until a resolution is reached.

Find out what the eligibility requirements to receive free or reduced-cost meals are by downloading our comprehensive guide.

National School Lunch Program Denial Proceedings

Information on how to appeal a NSLP denial must be provided by school districts to all applicants who are denied benefits. The NSLP denial appeal process begins with a request for a hearing by denied applicants. Requests may be made in writing, in person or through other methods outlined in the instructions provided on the denial notice. Applicants are permitted to bring another party, including an attorney if they desire, to their hearings to assist or advise them. The SBP denial appeal process mandates that all parties be given a chance to review any documentation presented by either side in support of the school district’s denial of benefits and the applicants’ counter-evidence supporting their potential eligibility. Under USDA guidelines, National School Lunch application denial hearings must be presided over by unbiased officials who played no role in the initial determination of eligibility. Presiding officials are also prohibited from participating in any pre-hearing meetings or conversations between the district and the applicant regarding the application, eligibility or related subjects. This impartial official will be responsible for making the final decision regarding whether to uphold or reverse the School Breakfast application denial of benefits. In the event that a denial is reversed, a new letter of notification will be issued and students will immediately become eligible for free or reduced-price meals. If a denial is upheld, then applicants retain the right to reapply. All hearings will be thoroughly documented for the legal record. Hearing records are legally required to be saved for a certain period and made available to the participating parties upon reasonable request.

Download our free guide to learn more about successfully receiving food assistance in Virginia.

Virginia Department of Social Services