Categorically eligible Eligibility arising from a student’s family participation 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 student 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 student 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 identified 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 certification The process by which local education agencies identify “categorically eligible” students primarily based on their participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance 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 certification. 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 eligible. Current income requested on the application form “may be for the current month, the amount projected



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