Monday, October 1, 2012
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. In SY 2011-2012, 89 percent of LEAs directly certified some children from SNAP-recipient households. These LEAs enroll 98 percent of all students in schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program. States and LEAs directly certified 11.6 million children at the start of SY 2011-2012, 1.7 million more than in the previous school year. The national direct certification rate reached 86 percent in SY 2011-2012, up from 77 percent in SY 2010-2011.