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A child who is a member of a household that receives benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) Assistance Programs is categorically eligible for free meals or milk. Households receiving benefits under Assistance Programs and submitting a free and reduced price application must list a valid case number on the application.

School officials must familiarize themselves with valid SNAP/TANF case numbers before beginning the application approval process. When you conduct the required matching through the Direct Certification Matching Process (DCMP), you will become familiar with the SNAP numbers of your locale. It is imperative that SNAP or TANF applications are correctly approved with proper numbers to prevent potential fiscal sanctions being assessed against the SFA.

If families do not know their SNAP or TANF case numbers, you should first look in the SNAP DCMP electronic file. If you fail to locate the child, you should advise the family to: (1) contact their local Department of Social Services to obtain their case number, then complete sections 2 and 4 of the application; or (2) complete sections 3 and 4 of the application reporting family income.

Applications with invalid case numbers should not be approved. Families receiving SNAP or TANF no longer have a benefit issuance card that contains the information identifying that the family is currently eligible for benefits or their SNAP or TANF case number. Families must refer to the letter they receive from their local Department of Social Services to obtain their SNAP or TANF case numbers.

It is important to note that even if you do not locate a student during the DCMP, if you receive an application with a SNAP or TANF case number, you must approve the application for free meals.

For applications with a case number for an Assistance Program, a complete application must provide:

  • Section 1: Names of the children for whom the application is made;
  • Section 2: SNAP, TANF or FDPIR case number or identifier, for the children or any household member listed on the application; and
  • Section 4: Signature of the adult household member completing the application.

*Note: Applications that list a valid SNAP, TANF or FDPIR case number do not have to include the last four digits of the adult household member’s social security number. 

Last updated
June 5, 2019

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  1. mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. fax:
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