Change Indicator

Direct certification of school meals in Delaware

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Why This Indicator Matters

A healthy diet is essential to the daily function for all people, especially the academic achievement of young people. For this reason, nutritious meals are now considered an integral part of a good education. When children are hungry, they cannot learn or grow at their highest potential. The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program that operates in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions to provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. In the 2014/15 school year, a new lunch option was made available to Delaware schools participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs call the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The CEP was enacted as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and provides universal meal service to students in school districts with at least 40 percent of students who are directly certified for free meals from July 1-April 1. Programs like this- that support child development by ensuring that all children are well nourished- are a critical component in raising healthy, strong and smart children.
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Definition and Source



Direct certification is a measure of students with low socioeconomic status (SES). Direct certification indicates that students who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Delaware's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) automatically qualify for free meals with no further documentation necessary. Other students can quality based on completion of the meal eligibility form. In Community Eligibility Program (CEP) schools, the basis for reimbursement is Direct Certification x 1.6, but all students receive free meals.

Data Source

Delaware Department of Education


Please note that while direct certification became the new methodology for calculating low-income students in the 2013/14 school year, data was available to retroactively calculate from the 2009/10 school year.

Last Updated

March 2023