P. O. BOX 2120
May 15, 1998


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Uniform Policy Statement for Free and Reduced Price Meals 1998-99 School Year

  Federal regulations governing the National School Lunch
  Program and the School Breakfast Program require that each
  school division must submit an annual Uniform Policy Statement
  for Free and Reduced Price Meals to the Department of
  Education (DOE) for approval.

  The enclosed prototype Policy Statement for Free and Reduced
  Price Meals, with attachments, and instructions for completion
  will also be sent, under separate cover, to each division's
  School Nutrition Program director or contact person.  The
  instructions and attachments must be followed carefully.

  Two (2) copies of the Policy Statement and all attachments,
  with original signatures on the required documents, must be
  submitted to the Department of Education, School Nutrition
  Programs office for approval by July 1, 1998.  An approved
  copy will be returned to the school division. A copy of the
  approved Uniform Policy Statement must be on file at each
  division's participating school/unit.  Federal reimbursement
  for meals for school year 1998-99 cannot be paid to any school
  division without an approved Policy Statement.  Any changes to
  the attached prototype and attachments must be requested in
  writing and be approved by DOE, School Nutrition Programs
  office, prior to implementation.  Once the policy statement is
  approved, any changes that may occur during the school year
  must also be approved prior to implementation.

  Once again this year, school divisions have the option of
  using the Direct Certification Program to qualify children who
  receive Food Stamps or Virginia Temporary Assistance for Needy 
  Families (TANF), formerly Aid to Families with Dependant
  Children(AFDC), for free meals.  School divisions may request
  permission to implement the Direct Certification program, by
  using Attachment H of the Policy Statement.  Attachment H must
  include a detailed description of  how the school division
  will implement Direct Certification.  This program greatly
  reduces the paper work that must be handled and maximizes
  access to the School Nutrition Program.

  School divisions granted permission to implement Direct
  Certification will receive a data file (a computer tape/disk)
  or a printed spreadsheet of the names of school age children
  within the demographic area of the school division, who
  receive Food Stamps or Virginia Temporary Assistance for Needy
  Families (TANF).  This information is made available to the
  Department of Education, through cooperation with the Virginia
  Department of Social Services.  Students whose names are on
  the data file provided by the Department of Education and who
  are approved for free meals through Direct Certification do
  not have to submit an application for meal benefits.  Families
  receiving Food Stamps or Virginia Temporary Assistance for
  Needy Families (TANF), and whose names are not on the file
  provided by DOE, are required to complete an application for
  meal benefits.  The data file or list may only be used for the
  Direct Certification of school children for free meals and the
  special milk program.

  Students' eligibility information for free or reduced price
  meals, whether determined through direct certification or by
  household application, is confidential and may not be
  released, shared, or used for any non-program purpose without
  written permission of the parents or guardians. Social
  security numbers cannot be released. The students' eligibility
  for free or reduced price meals, meal codes, and/or data may
  not be stored or used in any computerized file or data base
  unless the information and/or data field is in a protected
  file requiring the use of a controlled password to access the
  information.  This file may only be accessed by eligibility
  determination officials and persons who issue benefits. 

  There have been numerous requests to use the names of children
  eligible for free or reduced price meals for other programs or
  other purposes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the 
  agency responsible for all Federal Child Nutrition Programs,
  has granted permission to release student eligibility for free
  and reduced price meals only for two programs other than the
  school nutrition programs--Chapter One and the National
  Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  No other program,
  individual or agency may have access to students' eligibility
  without the written permission of parents or guardians.

  To assist school divisions in obtaining parental permission to
  release free or reduced price eligibility, an optional
  paragraph is included in the Notification of Eligibility
  Letters (Attachments E1 and E2).  This paragraph must
  specifically describe the purpose for which the eligibility
  information will be used and why it is needed.  It must also
  inform the parent/guardian that they may be eligible for other
  benefits or services.  The parent/guardian may then present
  this notification letter as proof of free/reduced price meal
  eligibility when being considered for other benefits or
  services.   The same or similar paragraph may be added
  directly to the meal application, allowing the parent/guardian
  to identify the programs for which they would permit the
  application to be used.

  Please ensure that your division's School Nutrition Program
  director or contact person complies with this regulatory
  information by the required deadlines.

  For further information or assistance in completing the
  attachments, please contact Catherine Digilio Grimes, Director
  of School Nutrition Programs at(804) 225-2074.


  Attachments: A hard copy of this memo and its attachments
               will be sent to the superintendent's office.

  Authority Statement:  U.S. Department of Agriculture
  Regulations(7 CFR Part 245)