FNS is announcing a new Direct Certification Improvement Grant opportunity to make available to States approximately $8 million in remaining funds to be used for direct certification improvements.
Purpose of Grants
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 (P.L. 111-296) amended the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) to add provisions intended to encourage States to improve program access through direct certification, including:
1. Requiring States to reach percentage benchmarks for direct certification rates for children in households receiving assistance under SNAP according to the following timelines: 80% for school year 2011-2012; 90% for school year 2012-2013; and 95% for school year 2013-2014 and each school year thereafter; and
2. Requiring States that fall below the benchmark for the previous school year to develop and implement continuous improvement plans (CIPs) to describe specific measures that the State will use to identify more children who are eligible for direct certification, including improvements or modifications to technology, information systems, or databases.
The purpose of the Direct Certification Improvement Grants described in the new RFA is to fund State agency activities in planning and implementing direct certification improvement projects that will help them reach and maintain the direct certification rate benchmarks mandated by the HHFKA. Ultimately, FNS intends for the grants to assist States in improving access, increasing accuracy, and reducing paperwork in the NSLP and SBP by simplifying the certification process for free school meals.
Types of Grants Offered
FNS is offering two types of Direct Certification Improvement Grants:
1. Tier 1: Limited-scope planning and implementation grants may be awarded for up to $150,000 under a simplified application process to fund planning (particularly continuous improvement plans for those not meeting 80% benchmarks in school year 2011-2012) and short-term implementation projects of limited scope. Please note that funding is limited to no more than $75,000 for planning activities. The grants will be awarded for periods of up to one year. States will have six opportunities to apply in 2013: February 1, March 1,April 1, May 1, June 3, and July 1, 2013 (if funds remain available); and
2. Tier 2: Full-scope implementation grants may be awarded for up to $1,000,000 to fund direct certification implementation projects of significant scope, for periods of one to three years. State agencies will have two opportunities to apply: April 1, 2013 and July 1, 2013 (if funds remain available).