Increase in Students Directly Certified for Free School Meals


1.29.2016 State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson reported a 32 percent increase in the number of students automatically approved to receive free meals in California schools. This increase brings the total number of students in the state automatically approved for free school meals to 1.3 million.

The increase in students automatically approved for free school meals is the result of improvements to direct certification, the process of matching student enrollment data with participation data in CalFresh and California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) programs. California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) worked collaboratively on this effort with three state agencies, California Departments of Education, Health Care Services and Social Services.

The press release recognizes CFPA as, "...instrumental in pursuing efforts to assist eligible families not participating in the state's free school meals programs."

Read the press release.

Direct certification is an efficient method for schools to determine students'eligibility for free school meals without the administrative burdens of processing household applications. In addition to benefits to administrative efficiency, direct certification increases access to school meals for low-income students. Through direct certification, low income students are more likely to receive nutritious school meals through participation in the school meal programs.

Learn more about direct certification. PDF

Increasing access to and participation in school meals through direct certification is a priority for CFPA. Through a similar collaborative effort, California is now participating in a demonstration project to directly certify low-income students in Medi-Cal households for free school meals.

CFPA advocated for the demonstration project and thanks to this advocacy and the leadership of the California Department of Education, California was one of seven states selected. Fourteen school districts have been approved and begun matching students using Medi-Cal data. The number of free and reduced price students in districts served by this demo is over 240,000.

Learn more about California's Medi-Cal Direct Certification demo. PDF

Questions? Contact Anna Colby at 213.482.8200 ext. 204