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Direct certification in the national school lunch program expands access for children


  • Philip Gleason

    (Mathematica Policy Research, Geneva, NY)


Under the policy of direct certification for free school meals, school districts use information shared by state agencies about household eligibility for means-tested programs in the state in order to determine the potential eligibility for free meals of students enrolled in the district. This information allows districts to automatically approve students in these eligible households for free meals without requiring the household to complete the application process. This paper examines the impacts of direct certification on students' likelihood of becoming certified for free meals, using data from a national survey of school food service directors as well as statelevel administrative data on program participation. A state-level fixed effects model is estimated to account for the possibility of selection bias. The key finding is that direct certification leads to a statistically significant increase in the number of children getting free school meals. More generally, this finding highlights a promising approach for improving access to means-tested programs without compromising program integrity. © 2008 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip Gleason, 2008. "Direct certification in the national school lunch program expands access for children," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(1), pages 82-103.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:27:y:2008:i:1:p:82-103
    DOI: 10.1002/pam.20308

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:mpr:mprres:1523 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Janet Currie, 2003. "U.S. Food and Nutrition Programs," NBER Chapters,in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 199-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    1. repec:mpr:mprres:7608 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Quinn Moore & Nancy Cole & Elizabeth Potamites, 2012. "Modeling of High Risk Indicators of Certification Error in the National School Lunch Program," Mathematica Policy Research Reports a293b027547c431793e2daa76, Mathematica Policy Research.

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