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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 PL 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 to certify eligible children for free meals without the need for household applications. 

Resource | Research | Program Access

Examining the Potential to Expand Data Matching in the School Meal Program Eligibility and Verification Processes

This White Paper examines whether any additional means-tested programs might be feasible for use in the direct certification of school-age children participating in school meals or for verification of household income on meal applications.

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.