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How Will the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Affect Food Stamp Program Operations?

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On June 30, 2004, the President signed into law, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-265). While the legislation focuses primarily on the child nutrition programs, it does amend the Food Stamp Act and will have some impact on Food Stamp Program operations. State food stamp agencies will now be required to assist states in directly certifying children who participate in the Food Stamp Program to automatically enroll them for free school meals. In addition, state agencies will be required to provide information to schools for the purposes of verifying a sample of children’s eligibility for free and reduced-price school meals. Finally, the new law provides modest resources to assist states with these new requirements. USDA regions have issued preliminary guidance to food stamp agencies describing the new provisions. This paper also provides a description of the provisions that affect food stamp agencies and raises implementation issues that agencies may wish to consider as they review the legislation.