Students Enrolled in Medicaid to be Directly Certified for Free & Reduced Lunch Program
[ST. PAUL, MN] – As students and families prepare to head back to school in the fall, Governor Tim Walz today announced a new effort across state agencies that will make school meals available to approximately 90,000 additional students. More than 200,000 students on Medicaid will be automatically enrolled or re-enrolled to receive free meals at school. This new expansion of free meals for students is a result of the state applying and being accepted to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot program this year.
Direct Certification is a process by which children already enrolled in certain state programs may also be “directly certified” for free meals based on previous eligibility from other programs. This expansion of direct certification will also increase eligibility and reduce costs for schools to participate in the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allows eligible schools to provide meals at no costs to all students, an important issue as the federal waivers that have provided meals at no costs to all students during the pandemic are not available to states next school year.
Ada-Borup-West Superintendent Aaron Cook says as a result of this new program, roughly 40% of their student body will automatically be enrolled in their free lunch program.
However, Superintendent Cook notes that there may be students who are not enrolled in Medicaid that may still qualify for free and reduced lunches, and he encourages those families to apply.
Minnesota was one of 8 states selected for the USDA pilot program to implement in the 2022-23 school year. DHS submitted data to MDE that identified 491,349 children enrolled in Medicaid who met the income threshold and requirements for direct certification for FRP meals.