SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 4
May 28, 1999
|FROM:||Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
|SUBJECT:||Uniform Policy Statement for Free and Reduced Price Meals 1999-2000 School Year|
Federal regulations governing the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program require each school division to submit an annual Uniform Policy Statement for Free and Reduced Price Meals to the Department of Education 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 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, 1999. 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 the school year 1999-2000 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 Department of Education's School Nutrition Programs office, prior to implementation. When 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 for free meals if they receive Food Stamps or Virginia Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), formerly Aid to Families with Dependant Children (AFDC). 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. 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, 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 through October 31 to directly certify 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 be accessed only 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 Department of Education has granted permission to release student eligibility for free and reduced- price meals only for two programs other than the School Nutrition Programs-Title I 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 may be 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 parents and/or guardians that may be eligible for other benefits or services. The parents and/or guardians may then present this notification letter as proof of free/reduced-price meal eligibility when being considered for other benefits or services, such as the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIPS), Medicaid, tuition waivers, dental care, etc. The same or similar paragraph may be added directly to the meal application, allowing parents and/or guardians to identify the programs for which they would permit the release of the information contained in the application. 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. PDS/idl Attachments: A hard copy of this memo and its attachments will be sent to the superintendent's office. .