Direct Certification is a technique or process for determining student eligibility for free school meals automatically through data exchange with the SNAP/Food Stamp Program, the TANF Program, and Foster Child Data. When a student is Directly Certified, the student's family need not complete the traditional application for Free Student Meals. This saves parents and school administrators time, and provides a uniform and efficient method for eligibility determinations.
In today's Child Nutrition Programs, there are other advantages for effectively utilizing Direct Certification, the most important being the new Community Eligibility Program. Schools are strongly encouraged to utilize Direct Certification as early as possible in the summer, preceding the start of school. Students should be Directly Certified prior to the distribution of applications if possible. USDA Regulations require that Direct Certification be completed at a minimum of three times a year.
The Indiana Department of Education strongly encourages and facilitates the use of these methods continually throughout the school year.
Direct Verification is a special process that may be used to expedite the Verification of a sample of Applications during the October 1-November 15 time frame. It is a specialized process that should be utilized ONLY within that context and should not be used to establish eligibility. As such, it is not available for use except during the October-December time period each year.
Neither of these processes should be used within the context of the School Voucher/Indiana Choice Scholarships Program. There are other systems on the Application Center to facilitate eligibility for these benefits.