P. O. BOX 2120

May 12, 2000


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: JoLynne DeMary
Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Uniform Policy Statement for Free and Reduced Price Meals for 2000-2001 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 

The enclosed prototype Policy Statement for Free and Reduced Price Meals, 
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, 2000.  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 2000-2001 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 the 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).  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 VATANF, and whose names are not on the file 
provided by the Department of Education, 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.  The paragraph 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 or reduced price meal eligibility 
when being considered for other benefits or services, such as the Children's Medical 
Health Insurance Plan (CMSIP), 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.



















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