The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) promotes the health and well-being of the
Nation’s children and is one of the largest food and nutrition assistance programs in the United
States. It provides nutritionally balanced lunches to more than 30 million children each school day,
with free or reduced-price meals provided to income-eligible children.1 Eligible children may be
certified for school meal benefits either by application or directly by identifying students in
households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or other
programs that confer categorical eligibility. Increasing the participation of eligible students through
direct certification is likely to have a positive impact on the overall health of children across the
country. Increased direct certification also reduces burden on families and district staff in preparing
and processing applications for school meal benefits.

The purpose of this report is to provide a comprehensive picture of the direct certification
methods employed across the country in school year (SY) 2012-2013, including the processes and
resources used to develop the systems, the characteristics and availability of relevant data, and the
technical aspects of matching algorithms. The report also catalogs perceived barriers to effective
direct certification and strategies that States and districts planned to implement to address those
barriers. This information will help FNS, State child nutrition directors, and school districts
recognize promising trends, understand new approaches, and identify steps needed for continuous
improvement of their direct certification efforts.

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Document Details:

Publication Date: 14-Aug
Published By: United States Department of Agriculture

Categorized Under:

Content Type: Research and Studies