P. O. BOX 2120
April 18, 1997


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Uniform Policy Statement for Free and Reduced Price Meals: 1997-98 School Year

  Federal regulations governing the National School Lunch
  Program and the Child Nutrition Programs require each school
  division to submit to the Department of Education a "Uniform
  Policy Statement for Free and Reduced Price Meals."

  One copy of the prototype "Policy Statement for Free and
  Reduced Price Meals," attachments, and instructions for
  completion was sent under separate cover to the 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 all documents, must be returned to
  the State School Nutrition Programs Office no later than July
  1, 1997, for approval.  Upon approval, one copy will be
  returned to the school division.

  School divisions have the option of directly certifying
  children who receive food stamps or VA TANF (AFDC) benefits
  for free meals.  This method benefits the food stamp/VA TANF
  (AFDC) households and the school division.  Student
  eligibility can be determined before the start of the school
  year without paper applications submitted by the household. 
  Administrative workload is reduced significantly by
  eliminating paper applications for these children.  In
  addition, children are not included in the verification of
  eligibility for free meals.

  The Department, in cooperation with the Virginia Department of
  Social Services, offers to all Virginia school divisions a
  data file listing school age children within their demographic
  areas who receive Food Stamp/VA TANF (AFDC) benefits.  This
  list may be used only for the direct certification of school
  children for free school breakfasts and/or lunches or for the 
  special milk program.  School divisions may request permission
  to implement the direct certification program and describe
  their procedures in Attachment H of the Policy Statement.

  To assist school divisions, the Department of Education plans
  to provide a data file of the names and appropriate
  identifiers of Food Stamp/VA TANF (AFDC) eligible school age
  children in July.  The information may be obtained in a
  computerized data tape/disk or a spreadsheet print-out.  The
  computerized data tape/disk will be provided in standard ASCII
  format and will enable school divisions with automation
  capability to load and use the information with the school
  division student database.

  The school division must describe on Attachment H the exact
  procedures it will use to directly certify children.  NOTE: 
  Students' eligibility 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 parents or guardians.  The child's eligibility for free or
  reduced-price meals, code, 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
  receiving free or reduced price meals.  THIS INFORMATION IS
  NUMBERS CAN NOT BE RELEASED.  To assist school divisions who
  would like to request permission from parents or guardians to
  release free or reduced price eligibility, an optional
  paragraph is included in the notification of eligibility
  letters (Attachments C1 and C2).  This paragraph must describe
  what the eligibility information will be used for, why it is
  needed, and request that the parent sign and send or take the
  letter to the school official responsible for that program.

  It is recommended that the policy statement be submitted as
  soon as possible.  Reimbursement cannot be paid to any school
  division for school year 1998 school breakfast and lunch
  claims without an approved policy statement.  Any changes from
  the prototype attachments or in collection procedures during
  the school year must be approved by this office prior to
  implementation.  A copy of the approved policy statement must
  be on file at each participating school/unit.

  If you need assistance in completing the attachments and/or
  developing procedures, contact a School Nutrition Programs
  Specialist or Dr. Jane Logan, Director, (804) 225-2082.


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