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Direct Certification is the process that enables children from families receiving SNAP to receive free meals or free milk at school without having to complete an application. Direct Certification results in more students gaining access to the school nutrition programs because some parents do not complete application forms correctly or do not submit applications. Students found in the Direct Certification Matching Process (DCMP) that are noted as Medicaid are also to be provided free eligibility. SFAs may extend free meal benefits to all children living in the same household as a child receiving SNAP benefits. Extension can also be provided to other household members of a student who was deemed Medicaid through the DCMP. School enrollment records of children living at the same address must be kept to document extension of eligibility. 

Direct Certification Matching Process (DCMP)

To provide increased access to free meals to children entitled to free meal benefits and allow for more accurate reporting, better policy and decision making at the local, State and federal levels, the Child Nutrition Program Administration (CNPA) has developed a new Direct Certification Matching Process (DCMP). Direct certification (DC) data is no longer accessible through the Child Nutrition Management System (CNMS). The DCMP process must now be completed through the NYSED Business Application Portal available on the NYSED website at

The new State Match feature provides users with access to direct certification (DC) data (e.g., SNAP and Medicaid lists) and to DC data that has been matched to New York State student records through the New York State Student Identification System (NYSSIS).

The NYSSIS system is already in-use by school personnel responsible for assigning unique IDs to students.  NYSSIS uses a sophisticated matching engine to identify duplicate student records and discourage the creation of multiple student IDs for the same child.  The engine is also being used behind the scenes by the State Match system to match DC records to student records maintained in the NYSSIS system.  State Matching is a USDA best practice as it relieves School Food Authorities (SFAs) from having to match at the local level.  Rather than DC data alone, the State Match system will deliver to SFAs student identifiers (e.g., a local ID and a NYSSIS ID) appended to DC data for easy import into food service management or other local student information systems. 

* The NYSSIS system and State Match capabilities are available on the NYSED Web site, at the NYSED Application Business Portal (  Instruction for conducting this process is provided in a separate memo on the CNKC website.

All SFAs are required to complete the online DCMP process a minimum of three times a year. The new system processes DC data monthly; therefore, SFAs are encouraged to access the data more frequently to ensure that children entitled to free meal benefits receive them.  DCMP users are required to certify that this information will remain confidential in compliance with the disclosure statement provided. The online DCMP helps reduce the waste from paper applications and the burden on low income households to return applications. The DCMP is intended to certify all eligible students receiving SNAP and Medicaid (determined by the Medicaid Administering Agency at or below 133 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines before the application of blocks, exceptions or disregards).

SFAs must inform directly certified families that they have been approved for meal benefits through the DCMP. The family must be provided the opportunity to decline the program benefits. SFAs should use the prototype notification letter for directly certified students in the attachments tab.   


Direct Certification Record Keeping

Record keeping and reporting requirements for children whose eligibility is obtained from these direct certification methods are the same as for free and reduced price application forms. Records must be maintained at the SFA level; retrievable by building; and, maintained for three years plus the current year, regardless of the child's actual attendance during this period. The number of children eligible for program benefits as a result of direct certification must be included with the count of free eligibles on reimbursement claim forms when reporting numbers of approved applicants. Schools can use students’ previous year designations for the first 30 operating days of the new school year only.

Eligibility Letters

The Eligibility Letters for School Meals/Milk have been discontinued with the start of the new Direct Certification Statewide Match System.

Last updated
June 5, 2019

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