February 22, 2016 Office Hours Q&A and Video Recording

February 1, 2016 Office Hours Q&A and Video Recording

January 14, 2016 Office Hours Q&A and Video Recording

Participant Questions – Child Information
1. It is required to list the names of all students and non-student children, however, it is not required to list the names of adults in all scenarios. Is this correct?
2. If only applying for foster children, is it required to list names of non-student children not applying?
3. If you have foster children AND non-foster children AND anyone in your household participates in the assistance program, then are ALL children eligible for free meals?
4. Is it acceptable to list only the applicant student child's name in the case of (a) only a foster child applying or (b) only an assistance program participant applying?
5. Is there a distinction between student grades?
6. Can you list the same child as both a foster child and also as having homeless, migrant, or runaway status?
7. Clarifications about the skipping patterns for children
8. There is a reference to a "Head Start participant" field. I am not sure where to add this or what it should be: radio button/checkbox/textbox, etc.

Participant Questions – Assistance Program Participation
9. If a household member is a participant in SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR, is it required to list the names of the additional household member(s) or non-student children who are not applying?
10. Could a household include participants in more than one assistance program (SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR)? If so, is there a priority on the case number USDA would want?
11. Are case numbers a mix of numbers and letters? Just numbers? Just letters?
 
Participant Questions – Other Household Member Information
12. Clarificaiton on Definition of Household Member:"anyone who is living with you and shares income and expenses, even if not related.”
 
Participant Questions – Income Information
13. Is income counted as the amount earned before or after taxes?
14. Why is it necessary that we ask how often the child or adult earns income? What is the difference between someone that earns $500 bi-monthly vs. $1000 once a month?
15. How is income verified? Do people get rejected for misreporting their income?
16. If I asked the family to report their income on an annual basis, would that be fine?
17. I would like to understand how the income verification process works to help reduce errors in submissions.
 
Participant Questions – Signature & Contact Information
18. Does having a social security number increase the odds someone is granted eligibility for this program?
19. SSN requirements
20. Is this form always filled out by an adult from the household? It is ever filled out by a family friend, third party agent, counselor, etc.?
21. The form must be filled out by an adult household member. Is that correct?
22. For the optional section, who is the ethnicity related to? Is it the child, person filling out the form, etc.?
23. In step 4, I see address and phone/email are not required fields. Are City/State/Zip required? Should either address or email/phone be required?
 
Participant Questions – Capturing & Exporting Applicant Data
24. Is there a requirement for data extract of all filled out applications?

General Questions
How do I follow the hackathon and get updates?
Who can I contact if I have questions about the hackathon? 

Submission Requirements
What do I need to use to build my application?
What APIs or datasets can I include in my application?
Why do I have to upload a video?
What should I put in my video?

Testing Process
How can I provide Devpost with access to test my application?

Eligibility & Intellectual Property
Who is eligible to enter the competition?
We are an organization. Can we enter?
Do the applications have to be newly created for this competition, or can they be preexisting?
Can more than one person work on an application and receive credit for it? And if the application wins a prize, how will the prize money be split among the creators?
Can my application win more than one prize?
Can I enter more than one application?
Do I retain intellectual property ownership? 
What else will you do with my submission?

Public Voting
How does public voting work?

1. In all scenarios, it is required to list the names of all students and non-student children, whether foster/non-foster, applying/not applying, etc. However, it is not required to list the names of adults in all scenarios. Is this correct?

Listing the names of all students, non-student children, and adults in the household is necessary when a household is applying based on income eligibility, because the total size of the household determines the income cutoff for free and reduced price meals.

However, listing the names of all household members (other students, non-student children, and adults) is not always necessary when an eligibility determination for the household is based on categorical eligibility. A child is categorically eligible for free school meals when he/she is in foster care, Head Start, has homeless or migrant status, or is living in a household receiving SNAP, FDPIR and/or TANF benefits. 

 

2. If only applying for foster children, is it required to list names of non-student children not applying?

Because foster children are considered categorically eligible – meaning they qualify for school meals regardless of any other factor – a complete application for a foster child must only provide: the name of the foster child, indication of the child’s foster care status, and the signature of an adult household member. Information about other members of the household is not required.

  

3. If you have foster children AND non-foster children AND anyone in your household participates in the assistance program, then are ALL children eligible for free meals?

If any household member participates in an assistance program, all children in that household – foster or non-foster – are categorically eligible for free meals. Absent a household member who participates in an assistance program, foster children are still categorically eligible based on their foster status; however, that eligibility does not apply to other non-foster children in the household. These children would need to qualify separately based on other criteria in order to receive free or reduced price meals.

  

4. Is it acceptable to list only the applicant student child's name in the case of (a) only a foster child applying or (b) only an assistance program participant applying?

Yes, only the name of the applying child is necessary in these scenarios. However, if the student’s eligibility is established based on an adult household member’s participation in the assistance program (rather than through the student’s participation), the adult household member would need to list their case number.

 

5. Is there a distinction between: Student up to grade 12, Student of school system up to grade 12, Student of school system up to grade 12 applying for free lunch?

There is no distinction between the terms listed above. In order to be eligible for free or reduced price meals, a student must be enrolled in a public or private school at the high school level or below.

 

6. Can you list the same child as both a foster child and also as having homeless, migrant, or runaway status?

It is possible that a child could meet the definition of one or more of these statuses. In this case, the child would be categorically eligible for benefits; however, their eligibility status does not automatically qualify other children in the household who do not meet any of the criteria. Depending on which statuses are indicated, your application should prompt for certain information. For example, if the application is being made only for foster children, the child’s name and an indication of their status as a foster child is the only information required. Also, if the application is being made for children that may meet the description of “homeless,” “migrant,” “runaway,” or “Head Start participant,” or where some but not all children are foster children, all steps of the application must still be completed. 

The second component discussed within your question is participation in an assistance program: SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR. You are correct that only one program case number needs to be entered on the application. In fact, your application should not allow the entry of more than one case number. Also, keep in mind that if the application is being made for a child who is a member of a household receiving assistance under the SNAP, FDPIR, or TANF, the child’s name and program case number are the only information required. Applicants should therefore be fast-tracked to the end of the application, skipping the sections on the household members, income, and social security number.

 

7. I have some questions about the skipping patterns for children on the paper version of the form: If all the children on the application are marked foster child, then skip steps 2 and 3? If one or more child is marked homeless, migrant, or runaway, then go to step 2? On step 2, if applicant is not signed up for any assistance program, then go to Step 3; otherwise, skip step 3 and go to step 4? I still need to know if both options (foster child AND homeless/migrant/runaway) can be selected for the same child.

Yes, it is possible that a child might meet more than one of these criteria, but confirming eligibility based on foster status may be the easiest, and therefore most preferable, for the certifying official.

Also, it is worth noting that these steps are correct in terms of how one would fill out the current paper application. However, you may find that your web-based design can improve the efficiency of the application process by modifying the order or logic of the questions as they appear on the paper prototype. As long as the application still adheres to program rules, we encourage you to innovate here! Your application should be designed to ask the minimum number of questions necessary for determining eligibility.

As a refresher:

If the application is being completed for a student who is a member of a household in which one or more individuals receive assistance under the SNAP, FDPIR or TANF, the application should only prompt for the student’s name, program case number (student's or household member's), signature, date, and contact information.

If the application is being completed only for a student that is a foster child, the application should only prompt for the child’s name, indication of their status as a foster child, signature, date, and contact information.

If the application is being completed for children who meet the description of "homeless," "migrant," or "runaway," or "Head Start participant," OR where some but not all of the children are foster children – all steps of the application must still be completed.

 

8. There is a reference to a "Head Start participant" field. I am not sure where to add this or what it should be: radio button/checkbox/textbox, etc.

Head Start participation grants students the same eligibility for free meals as homeless, runaway, and migrant status and should be treated the same way in your application. You are free to include it how and where you think it fits best in your design.

 

9. If a household member is a participant in SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR, is it required to list the names of the additional household member(s) or non-student children who are not applying?

If a household member participates in an assistance program, a complete application must only provide: the name of the child(ren) for whom the application is made, the assistance program case number for the child or any household member listed on the application, and the signature of the adult household member completing the application.

 

10. Could a household include participants in more than one assistance program (SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR)? If so, is there a priority on the case number USDA would want? For example, would the USDA rather use SNAP over TANF? Or perhaps they want both case numbers?

Yes, a household could participate in more than one of the assistance programs (with the exception of participating in both SNAP and FDPIR). There is no priority on which case number should be provided, but the household should only provide one case number on their application.

 

11. Are case numbers a mix of numbers and letters? Just numbers? Just letters?

Case numbers for SNAP, TANF and FDPIR vary by program and state. If you choose to incorporate a format limitation on the case number field in your application’s design, you may do so. School districts would later adjust this part of the code to match their state's case number format.

 

12. Definition of Household Member is "anyone who is living with you and shares income and expenses, even if not related.” This definition seems incorrect to me. If there is a mother, father, and child, and the mother lives with me but doesn't earn any income, that shouldn't disqualify her as a household member, right? The way this definition is phrased makes it sound like they need to meet all three of the mentioned requirements.

Yes, the mother in your example is a member of the household, despite earning no income, because she lives in the household and shares in the “pot of money.”

 

13. Is income counted as the amount earned before or after taxes?

Applicants should report their gross income – total income received BEFORE taxes and deductions. It is very important to make sure applicants report it as such on their application.

 

14. Why is it necessary that we ask how often the child or adult earns income? What is the difference between someone that earns $500 bi-monthly vs. $1000 once a month? (They earn the same amount.)

You’re right  these are equivalent. The reason we ask for the amount of income received AND the frequency is to minimize the need for the applicant to do any mathematical calculations to report their income — thereby reducing the chance for error.

  

15. How is income verified? Do people get rejected for misreporting their income? If someone's reported annual income is $20k but their actual annual income is $21k, does this result in a rejection? What source is used to cross reference their reported income? (I am thinking if they know the source, they can more accurately self-report.)

Income verification is handled in a process separate from the application process. Each school district must verify the income of a percentage of the household applications they approve for free and reduced price meal benefits that school year. During this process, the households that are selected are required to submit documentation to support their eligibility status, such as wage stubs, award letters, letters from employers, or SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR case numbers. Schools may also directly contact other public agencies administering these various assistance programs. Your application does not need to address verification of income.

 

16. If I asked the family to report their income on an annual basis, would that be fine?

Federal regulations specify that eligibility for program benefits is based on a household’s “current income.” One of the goals of the application is to encourage households to report their “current income” as accurately as possible, be that weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly. We are also interested in having households prompted to think through their various sources of income so that they do not inadvertently omit an income source.  

 

17. I would like to understand how the income verification process works to help reduce errors in submissions. If the income verification process asks for their salary in terms of annual, then ideally I would have the form be formatted so their salary is submitted by annual and not bi-weekly or 2x a month, to reduce error. I am guessing that people aren't penalized because they "omit a source of income" (as the site would suggest), but rather they "omit a source of income that they later report or is discovered on the income verification process."

This is a good question, and is addressed in the responses to questions 15 and 16. Keep in mind that the application and verification processes are distinct. Your application must not prompt the applicant for income documentation but can inform them of the programs’ verification process through the required “Use of Information” and “Attesting” statements. (See the “Requirements” tab for more information.)

 

18. Does having a social security number increase the odds someone is granted eligibility for this program?

No, United States citizenship or immigration status is not a condition of eligibility for free and reduced price meal benefits. However, if an adult household member does not possess a social security number, the household must be able to indicate this on the form. Please note that only the last four digits of a SSN should be requested.

 

19. Let's say I'm a family of three. I'm the mother and I have no SSN, but the father has one. (The father is out of town and I don't remember his SSN.) I am currently filling out and submitting this form. If I check "No SSN," is this incorrect? I am trying to understand if the question means, "If some adult in your household has a SSN, it must be entered on your application or it will be rejected" or if it is saying, "If you personally don't have a SSN, just check no. You don't need to go ask your husband what his SSN is."

There are several situations in which a SSN may not be required. The last 4 digits of the SSN of any adult household member may be used; however, in your example it would be permissible for the mother to check “no” if she does not possess a SSN. You need not attempt to write instructions or code for all possible exception cases. A simple instruction to applicants regarding the SSN requirement, like the one on page 4 of the document “Information on How to Apply for Free and Reduced Price Meals” on the FNS website (http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/applying-free-and-reduced-price-school-meals), would be sufficient.

 

20. Is this form always filled out by an adult from the household? It is never filled out by a family friend, third party agent, counselor, etc.?

The application is meant to be filled out by a parent or guardian, and it must be signed by an adult member of the household. Perhaps you’re wondering whether a parent might ask a friend who’s more comfortable navigating through web-based forms to fill out the application. Part of the reason we are challenging you to make your application accessible and inviting is so that individuals who normally shy away from web-based technology do not need to seek outside help.

 

21. I understand you are trying to encourage people who would normally not fill in an online form to be more engaged/likely to complete this form without outside assistance. What I am trying to convey is, if all of the adults in the household are too busy to fill out the form, can a relative or third party help fill it out on their behalf? And it seems to me like you are saying the answer to this is no. The form must be filled out by an adult household member. Is that correct?

Yes, the form must typically be completed and signed with the direct involvement of an adult household member, who is responsible for attesting to the information on the application. This does not prevent that household member from getting assistance as needed; however, it is important to reiterate that regardless of whether outside assistance was received, the adult member of the household is liable for the accuracy of the information provided.

 

22. For the optional section, who is the ethnicity related to? Is it the child, person filling out the form, etc.?

The optional question regarding racial and ethnic identities refers to the children.

 

23. In step 4, I see address and phone/email are not required fields. Are City/State/Zip required? Should either address or email/phone be required?

You should prompt applicants to provide a street address, including city, state, and zip code, if they are able. However, the lack of a permanent address does not make one ineligible for program benefits, so applicants without this information may leave these blank. Both email and phone are optional.

              

24. Is there a requirement for data extract of all filled out applications? If yes, Is there any format for data extract, e.g., if they want a CSV or an Excel file download, columns on those files need to be identified in advance, because the children count and adult count is variable (could be 1 or 10 members). We will need to know how many columns are required in the data extract.

Yes, there is a requirement for data extraction of all completed applications. This requirement is found on the rules page, section 4.A.ii: “Include a way to capture, save, and export the completed web-based form responses.” There is no set number of fields required; however, all applicant information relevant to their eligibility should be captured and should be able to be exported. Please keep in mind that once the prototype is completed, school districts may need to access the data in different formats, so you should choose a data format that is commonly used (such as CSV or XML, etc.).


 

How do I follow the hackathon and get updates?
When you register for the hackathon, you’ll automatically be signed up to receive email updates about it. Follow us on Twitter at @DevpostHacks.

 

Who can I contact if I have questions about the hackathon?

Email support@devpost.com or post a question to the discussion board.

 

What do I need to use to build my application?

There are no specific tools, data, or APIs required for your application. However, to be eligible for prizes submissions must include a functioning website-based form that runs on a desktop web browser and will collect data required for the FNS school meal programs while improving applicant user experience and reducing applicant errors.

Submitted applications must:

  • Include and collect all required fields necessary for application consideration by local school districts. A list of the required fields can be found on the Requirements page.
  • Be open-sourced and provided under MIT license.
  • Include a way to capture, save, and export the completed web-based form responses
  • Include user interface question prompting to assist with form completion.

    

Can I use other APIs or datasets in my application?

You may use whatever APIs, SDKs, and datasets you choose, as long as you are authorized to use and distribute them. Remember, you MUST meet the requirements above in order to be eligible for a prize.

  

Why do I have to upload a video?

The Popular Choice award is determined by public voting. A video helps ensure that all users can view and experience your app. The video will also be helpful to the panel of judges and will give you the opportunity to explain your approach to designing the UX. You may create a screencast, use a handheld video camera, or any other method to make a video that demonstrates the applications UX features and error reduction methods.

  

What should I put in my video?

Aside from your actual application, your submission video is one of the most important parts of your entry. In fact, it’s often one of the first things that judges and voters view. Make a great first impression by following these tips on what to include in your video:

  • Tell your story step-by-step. Your video should include an explanation of the problem addressed, a demo of UX and error reduction features, and a demo of the app itself. You can also use your video to describe user testing any user testing you conducted. While audio isn’t required, narration or text bubbles can help judges and voters understand your submission.
  • Keep it simple. Per the Official Rules, your video shouldn’t be longer than five minutes. In the words of Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to upload your video. Keep in mind that the time it takes to upload/process a video on YouTube or Vimeo varies greatly depending on the format of your original video, the file size, upload traffic and Internet connection speed, and could take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours or more.

 

How can I provide Devpost with access to test my application?

All submitters must provide a way for us to test their applications at no cost. For this competition you must do this by submitting:

  1. A link to your open source code repository
  2. A link to the web-based working application

 

Who is eligible to enter the competition?

The competition is open to individuals (18 or older), and teams of individuals, who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States. The competition is also open to legally United States-registered corporations or organizations that employ 50 or fewer people at the time of entry. (See the next question for large organization eligibility.).

Please review the Official Rules for complete eligibility requirements.

 

We are an organization. Can we enter?

Organizations that are domiciled in the United States and have 50 or fewer employees may enter and compete for cash prizes. Organizations that are domiciled in the United States with more than 50 employees may enter. However, they may only compete only for the Large Organization Recognition Award, which has no cash prize.

 

Do the applications have to be newly created for this competition, or can they be preexisting?

Existing applications are eligible for this competition as long as they meet all of the requirements and are open sourced and provided under an MIT license.

  

Can more than one person work on an application and receive credit for it? And if the application wins a prize, how will the prize money be split among the creators?

Yes, teams are encouraged. If a team of individuals or an organization is selected as an award winner, the full prize amount will be sent to the submitter. It will be up to the winning team or organization to reallocate the prize money between the team members, as they deem it appropriate.

  

Can my application win more than one prize?

Yes. All submissions entered by eligible individuals, teams of individuals, and organizations with 50 or fewer employees can compete for all prizes. Large organizations are only eligible for the Large Organization Recognition Award.

 

Can I enter more than one application?

Yes. There is no limit to how many times an eligible person, team, or organization may enter. An individual may also participate on behalf of more than one team, corporation, or nonprofit organization. However, if you submit two or more solutions that are identical or substantially similar, the USDA and Devpost reserve the right to disqualify all the submissions or require you to choose one submission to enter into the competition.

 

Do I retain intellectual property ownership?

While there is no IP transfer or exclusive license provided to the USDA or Devpost, you are required to make your application open sourced and available under an MIT license. You grant free and unlimited use and modification of all design elements, functionality, and program code by all parties, public and private.  All parties are free to use your submission without obtaining permission or license. USDA and Devpost will have the right to feature all apps entered in the competition for promotional purposes. See the Official Rules for details.

 

What else will you do with my submission?

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service will use the open source submissions to the hackathon to develop a prototype, which will be made available to all school districts, that incorporates the best ideas and insights from UX designers and software developers.

USDA and Devpost will have the right to publicly display your submission on the hackathon website. They will also be allowed to publicize your name on the Hackathon website in connection with the submission and the Hackathon during and after the competition. For more information on publicity rights, please see the Official Rules.

 

How does public voting work?

Visitors to the site can vote for as many submissions as they like, but no more than once for a single submission. At the end of the public voting period, the votes will be tallied and verified to determine the Popular Choice award winner. Have more questions about public voting? Check out our handy public voting help articles.