Through direct certification, school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program match the names of children living in households that receive SNAP, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance (TANF), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) benefits with school enrollment records. This match is then used to certify students for free school meals without the need for their families to complete a school meals application. This brief includes information on:

  • How School Districts and States Directly Certify Children for Free School Meals;
  • Interaction between Direct Certification and Community Eligibility;
  • Direct Certification Policy and Performance Standards;
  • Direct Certification Performance;
  • Call to Action: Steps to Improve Direct Certification;
  • Michigan’s Direct Certification System: A Success Story; and
  • Resources to Support Direct Certification Improvements.