USDA AWARDS $3.76 MILLION TO STATES TO ENSURE ACCESS TO SCHOOL MEALS FOR LOW-INCOME CHILDREN
WASHINGTON, April 29, 2006 - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today awarded $3.76 million in grants to ensure that students who qualify for the Food Stamp Program are provided free meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
"Nutritious meals are an important part of every child's school day," said Johanns. "These grants will enable states to directly certify eligible children for free school meals, ensuring that more children will have access to the nutrition assistance they need."
The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required school districts, over time and depending on size, to certify students eligible for free meals because their family participates in the Food Stamp Program. Under direct certification, food stamp families would not have to submit a separate application to receive free school meals. The 2004 Act also authorized funding for competitive grants to assist states in this effort.
Direct certification has been utilized to some extent for more than a decade, although states are at different stages in developing and implementing such systems. The grant money will be used to improve computer data-matching systems or develop new systems in states that do not already use direct certification.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program are federally assisted meal programs operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. They provide nutritionally balanced meals to children each school day. Depending on a family's income, school meals are provided at a low-cost or free of charge.