Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program: State Implementation Progress. Report to Congress
Publication Date: October 2009
Keywords: Local education agencies; Nutrition; National School Lunch Program; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Coverage: United States
Direct certification simplifies the process of certifying certain children for free school meals by eliminating the need for households to apply. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act required all local educations agencies (LEAs) to establish a system of direct certification by school year 2008-2009 for children from households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP--formerly the Food Stamp Program) benefits. Seventy-eight percent of all LEAs directly certified some SNAP participants in school year 2008-2009. These LEAs enroll 96 percent of all students in schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. The percentage of SNAP-participant children who were directly certified varied greatly across states. States with the highest rates were able to directly certify all or nearly all eligible children. The least successful states certified no more than 50 percent. Half of all states directly certified at least 72 percent of school-age SNAP participants. Mathematica's contribution to this report included interviewing states with high rates of direct certification and documenting best practices.