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Information Alert: Mandatory Direct Certification

Nutrition Services Division Information Alert

To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors

Number: NSD-SNP-05-2008

Attention: County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and School Food Service Directors

Date: June 2008
Subject: Mandatory Implementation of Direct Certification in Districts of All Sizes

This Information Alert provides a notification that Federal law requires all public school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education that participate in the school lunch or school breakfast programs supported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to implement a system of Direct Certification for CalFresh by the start of the 2008-09 school year. Implementation requirements affected local education agencies (LEAs) in phases, with those that have enrollments of less than 10,000 needing to comply by the beginning of the 2008-09 school year.

Direct Certification is the process through which school-age recipients of CalFresh and CalWORKs benefits are certified as eligible for free school meals without further application. LEAs may comply by using either or both of the following methods:

  • Establish a local agreement, with the county department of social services, for matching students against those children receiving CalFresh (and CalWORKs) benefits
  • Participate in the state-level matching system available through the California School Information Services (CSIS)
Local Data Matching

Information on how to implement direct certification by setting up an agreement with the county social services agency may be found at the California Department of Education Web address:

When our new Web-based Child Nutrition Information Payment System (CNIPS) is implemented this summer, we will ask LEAs whether they have implemented direct certification and what method they are using.

If you have a question about implementing Local Data Matching, you may contact Katie Tully, Program Analyst, at 916-445-4309, or by e-mail at

State Data Matching

The CDE has established a statewide direct certification system whereby data from the CSIS State Reporting and Records Transfer System is matched against statewide data on Food Stamps and CalWORKs beneficiaries. The direct certification results based on this data matching process are made available to participating LEAs by the CSIS. Every LEA has a CSIS coordinator who is familiar with submitting data to the CSIS. The CSIS coordinator is a key person in making use of the statewide direct certification system. If you do not know who your district CSIS coordinator is, you will find a district list on the CSIS Web site at:

To use the statewide data match, an LEA must submit student addresses to the CSIS. If your district does not presently do this, we recommend that you begin doing so. However, LEAs that use the CSIS Extended Client option (i.e., LEAs that do not have a CSIS capable student information system, and cannot submit addresses through the CSIS for direct certification), cannot use the CDE system at this time. We hope to make that possible in the near future, but such districts will need to establish a direct certification system through their counties via Local Data Matching until those modifications are made.

In order to use the CDE’s direct certification system through the CSIS (State Data Matching), your agency’s CSIS coordinator must obtain training and register with the CSIS. More information about training and the statewide direct certification system may be viewed on the CSIS’s Web site at:
[Note, the preceding Web address is no longer valid.]
[Note, the preceding Web address is no longer valid.]

In addition, the CSIS will provide a series of Web-based training sessions for the statewide direct certification system from mid-May through August. All CSIS coordinators will be notified when registration opens for these sessions. If you have a question about participating in the statewide match, you may contact CSIS client support staff at 916-325-9210, or by e-mail to

For a sample household eligibility notification of direct certification of free meals, see the Direct Certification Eligibility Notification Sample at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, March 20, 2017
Related Content
  • CalFresh County Contacts for Direct Certification
    List of local welfare or social service office contacts to verify CalFresh participation to directly certify students for free meals in the School Nutrition Program.
  • Direct Certification
    A federally mandated process that sponsors must use to certify school-age recipients of CalFresh and CalWORKs benefits as eligible for free school meals without further application.
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