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Letter Method for Direct Certification

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FNS Document #
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Policy Memos
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PDF Icon Policy Memo (57.52 KB)
DATE:January 14, 2011
SUBJECT:Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010: Letter Method for Direct Certification
TO:Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All Regions

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the Act), PL 111-296, was signed into law by the President on Dec. 13, 2010. The purpose of this memorandum is to implement a provision affecting mandatory direct certification for children in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households.

Section 101(c) of the Act amends section 9(b)(4) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 USC 1758(b)(4)) to clarify that in meeting the direct certification requirements for children in SNAP households, households cannot be required to provide the local educational agency (LEA) with any letter notifying the household of eligibility for direct certification or eligibility for free meals. This provision is effective Oct. 1, 2010.

This means that states and LEAs cannot meet the statutory requirement to directly certify children in SNAP households by relying solely on the letter method. Therefore, as soon as possible, all state agencies must ensure they have a method in place to exchange eligibility information from SNAP officials directly with LEAs. A letter notifying SNAP families of their children’s categorical eligibility may only be used to help ensure that families whose children are not matched during a data exchange are aware of their eligibility for free meals.

Please note that this provision of the Act applies only to directly certified children in SNAP households. It does not affect the certification requirements for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).

State agencies should direct any questions concerning this guidance to the appropriate Food and Nutrition Service regional office. Regional offices with questions should contact the child nutrition division.

Cynthia Long
Child Nutrition Division

Page updated: June 20, 2024

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.