Traditionally, school officials annually distribute free and reduced price meal applications to households of all enrolled children and make determinations of eligibility for free and reduced price meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). They also count the number of meals served by type (free, reduced price and paid meals) at the point of service on a daily basis to claim federal reimbursement. In an effort to reduce paperwork and other administrative burdens at the local level, Congress incorporated into Section 11(a)(1) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 USC 1759a) three alternative Provisions to the traditional requirements for annual determinations of eligibility for free and reduced price school meals and daily meal counts by type. These alternatives are commonly referred to as Provision 1, Provision 2, and Provision 3. The federal regulations for Provisions 1, 2, and 3 are found in 7 CFR 245, Determining Eligibility for Free and Reduced Price Meals and Free Milk In Schools. For a more detailed description of the Provisions, see Appendix A.
- Provision 1 reduces application burdens by allowing schools where at least 80 percent of the children enrolled are eligible for free or reduced price meals to certify children eligible for free meals for a 2 year period. Schools continue to take daily meal counts of the number of meals served to children by type as the basis for calculating reimbursement claims.
- Provision 2 requires that the school serve meals to participating children at no charge but reduces application burdens to once every 4 years and simplifies meal counting and claiming procedures by allowing a school to receive meal reimbursement based on claiming percentages. Additional 4-year extensions to Provision 2 are possible when certain conditions are met.
- Provision 3 requires that the school serve meals to participating children at no charge but reduces application burdens and meal counting and claiming procedures by allowing a school to receive a comparable level of federal cash and commodity assistance as the school received in the last year in which free and reduced price eligibility determinations were made, adjusted for enrollment, inflation and operating days if applicable, for a period up to 4 years. Additional 4-year extensions to Provision 3 are possible when certain conditions are met.
This guidance addresses Provision 2. The guidance is intended for personnel in state agencies and school food authorities/schools currently participating in the federally assisted school nutrition programs who are familiar with traditional operating procedures. This would include determining free and reduced price meal eligibility and meal counting and claiming procedures for meal reimbursement and review and recordkeeping requirements.