Appendix A
Glossary

This glossary provides definitions of terms used in the school meals programs. The panel determined which terms to include based on their experience in preparing this report.

Application Local education agencies provide a letter to parents of students just prior to or at the beginning of a school year describing the school meals programs, inviting them to apply, and providing an application form. The application requests information about program participation, family composition, and family income. School or district officials review the applications and, within 10 working days of receiving an application, make a determination about whether the child should be approved for free or reduced-price meals. If an application lists a legitimate case number for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or other approved program, the student is certified as being categorically eligible for free meals.

Approved Students who have been directly certified as eligible for free meals or who have applied for benefits and have been determined to be eligible for either free or reduced-price meals.



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Appendix A Glossary T his glossary provides definitions of terms used in the school meals programs. The panel determined which terms to include based on their experience in preparing this report. Application Local education agencies provide a letter to parents of students just prior to or at the beginning of a school year describing the school meals programs, inviting them to apply, and providing an application form. The applica- tion requests information about program participation, family composition, and family income. School or district officials review the applications and, within 10 working days of receiving an application, make a determination about whether the child should be approved for free or reduced-price meals. If an application lists a legitimate case number for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or other approved program, the student is certi- fied as being categorically eligible for free meals. Approved Students who have been directly certified as eligible for free meals or who have applied for benefits and have been determined to be eligible for either free or reduced- price meals. 

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 USING ACS DATA TO SUPPORT THE SCHOOL MEALS PROGRAMS Categorically Eligibility arising from a student’s family participation eligible in means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. A stu- dent is also categorically eligible if a family member is enrolled in a Head Start or Even Start program (based on meeting that program’s low-income criteria) or if the stu- dent is (1) a homeless child, as determined by the school district’s homeless liaison or by the director of a homeless shelter; (2) a migrant child, as determined by the state or local Migrant Education Program coordinator; or (3) a runaway child who is receiving assistance from a program under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and is iden- tified by the local education liaison. Certification The process of determining which enrolled students are eligible for the school meals programs. There are two subprocesses: (1) direct certification, and (2) application. Direct The process by which local education agencies identify certification “categorically eligible” students primarily based on their participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assis- tance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act requires that all school districts establish a system of direct certification of students from households that receive benefits from SNAP by school year 2008-2009. Some states or districts also make use of TANF or other program data as part of direct certifica- tion. For direct certification, states or districts match lists of students (including names, addresses, etc.) with the administrative data concerning individuals participating in SNAP or other assistance programs. Students matched in this way are “directly certified” as being eligible for free school meals. Eligible Students are eligible for free school meals if their family’s “current” monthly income is no greater than 130 percent of the poverty guideline or if they are categorically eli- gible. Current income requested on the application form “may be for the current month, the amount projected

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 APPENDIX A for the first month the application is made for, or for the month prior to application.”1 Students are eligible for reduced-price meals if their family’s current income is greater than 130 percent of poverty but no greater than 185 percent of poverty. All other students are eligible for full-price meals. Local Local education agency is the public board of education education or other public or private nonprofit authority legally agency constituted in a state for the administrative control of public or private nonprofit schools in a political sub- division of a state; an administrative agency or a combi- nation of school districts or counties that is recognized by the state; any other public or private nonprofit institution or agency having administrative control and direction of a public or private nonprofit school, residential child care institution, or the state education agency in a state or territory in which the state education agency is the sole education agency for all public or private nonprofit schools. Meal counts The total number of meals served that satisfy nutritional requirements of the school meals programs by eligibility category (free, reduced price, and full price). Cashiers determine whether a student’s meal qualifies under the school meals program and whether each child is eligible for a free, reduced-price, or full-price meal. This process provides the meal counts maintained in school records that are used to determine federal reimbursements in the school meals programs. Nutritional School lunches and breakfasts must meet the applicable standards recommendations of the 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that no more than 30 per- cent of an individual’s calories come from fat and less than 10 percent come from saturated fat. Regulations also establish a standard for school lunches and school break- fasts to provide one-third and one-fourth, respectively, of the recommended dietary reference intakes (formerly 1 Eligibility Manual for School Meals: Federal Policy for Determining and Verifying Eligibility, see http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Governance/notices/iegs/EligibilityManual.pdf [accessed June 2010].

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4 USING ACS DATA TO SUPPORT THE SCHOOL MEALS PROGRAMS allowances) of protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, cal- cium, and calories. Traditionally, schools used food-based menu planning, which required school meals to offer set numbers of servings from specific food groups, with minimum portion sizes that varied by age. For example, National School Lunch Program meals were required to offer one serving of meat or meat alternatives (cheese, beans), at least one serving of grains or bread, two serv- ings of different fruits and/or vegetables, and one serving of fluid milk. There is an alternative nutrient-based stan- dard for school meals that allows schools greater flexibil- ity in the types of foods offered, but it requires nutrient analysis of planned menus. An enhanced food-based sys- tem that calls for larger fruit and vegetable portions and more grains and breads is also available. School meals must meet federal nutrition requirements, but decisions about what specific foods to serve are made by local school food authorities. Overt The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act identification (Section 9B[10], pp. 3-22) states: “(10) No physical seg- regation of or other discrimination against any child eli- gible for a free lunch or a reduced-price lunch under this subsection shall be made by the school nor shall there be any overt identification of any child by special tokens or tickets, announced or published list of names, or by other means.” See http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Governance/ Legislation/NSLA-10-2008.pdf [accessed May 2010]. Participation Computed as the average daily number of meals served rate by category in a month divided by the product of the total number of students approved in that category and the average daily attendance factor of .927. Provision 1 Schools enrolling at least 80 percent of students who are approved for free or reduced-price meals can participate in Provision 1. They are permitted to certify students’ eli- gibility for free or reduced-price meals for 2 years instead of reestablishing eligibility every year. Provision 2 Schools, groups of schools, and entire school districts can participate in Provision 2. Schools, groups of schools, or school districts establish claiming percentages for fed-

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 APPENDIX A eral reimbursement via information collected during a base period and serve all meals at no charge for a 4-year period. The first year is the base year and the school makes eligibility determinations, conducts verification, and takes meal counts by type (but does not charge for meals). During the next 3 years, the school makes no new eligibility determinations or verification checks and counts only the total number of reimbursable meals served each day. Reimbursement is based on the total number of meals served in the same proportion of free, reduced price, and full price as was observed in the same month of the base year. Provision 3 Schools, groups of schools, and school districts provide free meals to all students for a 4-year period and receive the same level of federal cash and commodity assistance as they received in the base year, with some adjustment for enrollment, the number of operating days, and infla- tion. The base year does not count as one of the 4 years; it is the last year the school made eligibility determinations, counted reimbursable meals by type, and charged for the meals. For the subsequent 4-year period, schools must serve meals to all participating students at no charge, and they do not make additional eligibility determinations or conduct additional verification checks. Provision 4 The term used in this report to refer to a new special pro- vision that would provide free meals to all children, with reimbursement based on estimates from the American Community Survey and other data sources. This provi- sion would require schools, groups of schools, or school districts to count the total number of reimbursable meals served. School The term commonly used for the entity that is responsible district for the school meals programs administration and report- ing to the U.S. Department of Education at the local level. That entity may be officially known as the school food authority or the local education agency. School food A school food authority is defined as the governing body authority that is responsible for the administration of one or more

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 USING ACS DATA TO SUPPORT THE SCHOOL MEALS PROGRAMS schools and that has the legal authority to operate the school meals programs in those schools. School year The school year straddles 2 calendar years, and official start and stop dates vary. Official statistics on the school meals programs typically cover the 9 months from Sep- tember through May. Verification A process required by each local education agency (LEA) that participates in the school meals programs and takes applications. The LEA is required to conduct an annual verification of 3 percent or 3,000 (whichever is smaller) of the applications approved and on file as of October 1 of the current school year, unless the state agency conducts the verification. The households that submitted the applications selected for verification are required to submit documentation of income for any point in time between the month prior to applica - tion and the time the household is required to provide income documentation. LEAs make at least one follow- up attempt with households that do not respond. The students in households that fail to provide the required documentation are removed from eligibility. Results of the outcomes of verification studies are reported annu - ally on Form FNS-742.