Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program Report to Congress: State Implementation Progress, School Year 2014-2015

This report responds to the requirement of Public Law 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of State and local efforts to directly certify children for free school meals. Direct certification is a process conducted by the States and by local educational agencies (LEAs) to certify eligible children for free meals without the need for household applications. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act required LEAs to establish systems to directly certify children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by school year (SY) 2008-2009. This report presents information on the outcomes of direct certification for SY 2014-2015.

Resource | Research | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program State Implementation Progress, School Year 2010-2011 Report to Congress

This report responds to the requirement of Public Law 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of State and local efforts to directly certify children for free school meals. Under direct certification, children are determined eligible for free school meals without the need for household applications by using data from other means-tested programs. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act required local educational agencies (LEAs) to establish systems to directly certify children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by School Year (SY) 2008-2009. In SY 2010-2011, 85 percent of LEAs directly certified some children from SNAP-recipient households. These LEAs enroll 97 percent of all students in NSLP schools. States and LEAs directly certified 1.9 million more children at the start of SY 2010-2011 than they did a year earlier. The share of SNAP participant children directly certified for free school meals increased to an estimated 78 percent in SY 2010-2011, up from 72 percent in SY 2009-2010.

Resource | Research | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program: State Progress in Implementation Report to Congress

This report responds to the legislative requirement of Public Law 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of State and local efforts to directly certify children for free school meals. Under direct certification, children are determined eligible for free school meals without the need for household applications by using data from other means-tested programs. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act required local educational agencies (LEAs) to establish a system of direct certification of children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by School Year (SY) 2008-2009. In SY 2009-2010, 83 percent of LEAs directly certified participating SNAP students. These LEAs enroll 97 percent of all students in NSLP schools. States and LEAs directly certified 1.6 million more children at the start of SY 2009-2010 than they did a year earlier, a 24-percent increase. The percentage of SNAP participant children certified for free school meals without application increased slightly from 71 percent in SY 2008-2009 to 72 percent in SY 2009-2010.

Resource | Research | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program: State Implementation Progress - Report to Congress

This report responds to the legislative requirement of Public Law 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of State and local efforts to directly certify children for free school meals. Under direct certification, children are determined eligible for free school meals without the need for household applications by using data from other means-tested programs. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act required local
educational agencies (LEAs) to establish, by School Year 2008-2009, a system of direct certification of children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp
Program) benefits. The mandate was phased in over three years; the largest LEAs were required to establish direct certification systems first, by School Year (SY) 2006-2007. As of SY 2008-2009, all LEAs are subject to the mandate. Seventy-eight percent of LEAs directly certified SNAP-participating students in SY 2008-2009. These LEAs enroll 96 percent of all students in NSLP-participating schools. The median direct certification rate was 72 percent in SY 2008-2009. This is up from 69 percent in SY 2007-2008.

Resource | Research | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program: State Implementation Progress

This report responds to a requirement of Public Law 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of State and local efforts to conduct direct certification of children for free school meals. Under direct certification, children are determined eligible for free meals without the need for household applications by using data from other means-tested programs. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to establish, by School Year 2008-2009, a system of direct certification of children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp Program) benefits. The mandate is phased in over three years; the largest LEAs were required to establish direct certification systems for School Year 2006-2007. As of School Year 2007-2008, 67 percent of LEAs operated a direct certification system. Across all States, the 2007-2008 median direct certification rate of SNAP-participant children was 69 percent. This number is expected to increase sharply in School Year 2008-2009 as all LEAs become subject to the statutory mandate.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Study of Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program

The NSLP offers free and reduced-price school meals to students from eligible households. Households with incomes at or below 130 percent of poverty are eligible for free meals, and households with incomes between 131 percent and 185 percent of poverty are eligible for reduced-price meals. Traditionally, to receive these benefits, households had to complete and submit application forms to schools or be directly certified. Direct certification, on the other hand, is a method of eligibility determination that does not require families to complete school meal applications. Instead, school officials use documentation from the local or state welfare agency that indicates that a household participates in AFDC or food stamps as the basis for certifying students for free school meals.