P. O. BOX 2120

May 28, 1999


TO: Division Superintendents
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.

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