Electronic Publications from the Food Assistance & Nutrition Research Program No. (EFAN-03009) 180 pp

October 2003

Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program-Impacts on Program Access and Integrity

About 61 percent of school districts used direct certification in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in the 2001-02 school year, the same share as in 1996. Direct certification increased the number of children certified for free meals by about 400,000 and slightly increased overall NSLP participation. Under direct certification, school districts use information from State welfare or food stamp offices to certify children to receive free meals. To qualify, the children's families must receive food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or assistance from the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. Children's families who are directly certified do not have to complete certification applications. Direct certification was designed primarily to improve NSLP access and administrative efficiency. The Executive Summary provides highlights and the full report provides details of a study on the prevalence of direct certification, its implementation methods, and its effects on NSLP access and integrity.

Keywords: National School Lunch Program, NSLP, direct certification, nutrition, agricultural economics, Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, FANRP

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