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. 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) 2008-09. In SY 2010-11, 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 2010-11 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 2010-11, up from 72 percent in SY 2009-10.