Food Services Eligibility: WISEdata
Food service eligibility is an indicator of whether or not a student receives full-priced, reduced-priced, or free lunch under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or has an unknown eligibility status. For Food Services eligibility requirements, see the FAQ section below.
Food Services eligibility must be reported for all students, regardless of whether or not the school participates in the NSLP. Between differing application and DC determinants for free or reduced status, the better benefit always applies for the student.
All students in a Provision 2 District or a CEP school should be reported as ‘Free’. Note that the small percentage of students in a Provision 2 or CEP school who are not economically disadvantaged must be reported as not economically disadvantaged and receiving ‘Free’ lunch.
USES: Food Services Eligibility status codes are used for disaggregated reporting and accountability purposes, the Education Data Exchange Network (EDEN), E-rate, and certain child nutrition program purposes.
- Free Lunch Eligibility: Student is eligible for free lunch based on:
- Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility: Student is eligible for reduced-price lunch based on approved application under the NSLP. See income eligibility guidelines for reduced-price lunch.
- Medicaid-related Direct Certification Codes for Lunch Eligibility: The School Nutrition Team can now evaluate Direct Certification (DC) for Free and Reduced Price School Meals using Medicaid data. After recently going live with this change, school enrollment data is now matched with Medicaid eligibility data to identify children who receive Medicaid, or live with a child who receives Medicaid, and whose family income, before expenses and deductions, does not exceed certain thresholds. With the additional Medicaid qualifier, you should verify the number of students who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals. As a result of adding additional eligibility data to the Direct Certification Program (DCP), there are two new codes added to the Direct Certification eligibility codes for Medicaid-Free and Medicaid-Reduced.
- M – Student is identified by the state’s Medicaid database at the income level for FREE meals and is automatically eligible.
- Z – Student is identified by the state’s Medicaid database at the income level for REDUCED price meals and is automatically eligible.
- Some points worth noting with these additional matches:
· If a household submits an income application and the information provided qualifies them for free meals, and they showed up in DC as code “Z” (Medicaid –Reduced), the application takes precedence over the DC match, and the student qualifies for the free benefit. The student always receives the best eligibility benefit.
· A Medicaid case number on an application does not qualify students for free or reduced price meals.
· For the fall of 2018-19, some students may be in eligibility carryover status for the first few days of school; however, if they carried free meal benefits last school year and are matched on DC with a Z code, the Z code is considered a NEW eligibility determination and would change their status to reduced, thus ending the 30-day carryover period.
- Food Services Eligibility for Choice Schools: Choice schools, like public schools, are expected to record Economically Disadvantaged Status separate from Food Service Eligibility and report this information to WISEdata.
- Food Service (FS) Eligibility: Submitted as Free, Reduced, Full-price, or Unknown.
- Steps a Choice School may take to determine ED Status and FS Eligibility for WISEdata purposes:
- Complete the Direct Certification process. All students identified by direct certification (DC) should be reported with True for ED Status and Free or Reduced for FS Eligibility.
- For schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, the USDA household application may be gathered from families. Children in a household approved for free meals should be reported as Free for FS Eligibility, while households with an approval for reduced-price meals should be reported as Reduced for FS Eligibility.
- Schools participating in the Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2 must gather the economic information of all students every year. The alternate household income form may be used for students not returned by Direct Certification. This form is available in English, Spanish, and Hmong. A student identified as economically disadvantaged by this form should be reported as True for ED Status and Unknown for FS Eligibility.
- Alternate measures of poverty may also be used. A student identified by such measures should be reported as True for ED Status and Unknown for FS Eligibility.
- Changes in Status: Food Services Eligibility Status is determined as of a specific date. Codes provided should be based on the most accurate information available during the WISEdata submission period about the student's status on that date. For example, a student may have an unknown value in one snapshot and a free or reduced value in a year-end snapshot for the same school term. This may happen if:
- For WISEdata Count Date records, the dates are the Third Friday of September and Oct. 1.
- The student's household submits an NSLP application later in the school term due to changes in economic need after the count date and grace period, or
- A student is documented to be homeless/migrant/runaway after the count date and grace period.
- CEP Schools: Economically disadvantaged and free and reduced lunch are two separate fields in WISEdata. A student qualifying with a value for one field does not guarantee the other is also true. A student attending a school in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) who is not free or reduced for meals should be marked as Free but should be marked as NOT economically disadvantaged.
- Timing of NSLP Application Processing: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires all schools to carry over free and reduced eligibility for school meals from the previous school year for 30 operating days beginning with the first day of school. Schools do not have the option to establish a shorter carryover period. USDA requires the free and reduced price status to be changed prior to the 30 operating day carryover only if:
- a new application has been received and processed;
- the child's eligibility is verified by a direct certification list;
- the child is verified as homeless, migrant or runaway;
- or it is the 31st operating day and none of the previous have been received, at which time the student's status would revert to paid. Food Services Eligibility codes for Free and Reduced Price in WISEdata count date records should reflect NSLP applications processed during the carryover period even if that period extends beyond the count date because these fall applications will generally provide more current evidence of a student's status on the count date than applications processed during the preceding school year. The bottom line is: DPI wants the most accurate free/reduced eligibility information by the time the WISEdata collection closes. Thus, the exact date to provide the most accurate information within the current collection window will vary by district.
- K4 and PK Students: Every student in every grade in every school should be evaluated each year to find economically disadvantaged status. If you do not collect FRL information for these students, you can still obtain economic information using the Alternate Household Income form linked above.
- Homeless, Migrant, and Runaway Status: The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) both assume that homeless, migrant, and runaway students are economically disadvantaged. Once a student is documented to be a homeless, migrant, or runaway student, free lunch eligibility is generally effective for the remainder of the school term. However, if a student moves from one district to another during the school term, the receiving district must have appropriate documentation to support the eligibility. If the sending district does not share documentation with the receiving district, the receiving district needs to document the student's status. In any given school term, without homeless/migrant/runaway documentation for that school term, free lunch eligibility code (F) would need to be based on an approved application or direct certification.
- DOC or DHS: If a student receives services through the Department of Corrections or Department of Health Services, the student automatically qualifies as economically disadvantaged and eligible for free lunch.
- NSLP-Verified Data: Approved NSLP applications or direct certification for individual students must be current to be used as the basis for Free or reduced Price values. Most schools collect the NSLP applications or verify direct certification annually. Also see information about grace periods below.
- Alternative Provisions to NSLP-Verified Data: Schools participating in the NSLP under the Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2 are not subject to the annual application or Direct Certification requirements, so student/household level income data may not be available from these sources. In these cases, schools are expected to use codes based on the Alternate Household Income Form (refer to the Title I and Other Funding Programs section) or alternative evidence of individual student/household income level. CEP and Provision 2 schools may use Free and Reduced codes for students if the relevant evidence is available at the student level (e.g., through the automated direct certification process). Student-level data about economically disadvantaged status is required to meet a wide range of disaggregated reporting mandates, which are, in turn, used to ensure that all students, especially economically disadvantaged students, are making progress. All schools, including schools participating in the NSLP under CEP or Provision 2, are covered by this requirement.
- E-rate: The E-rate is a federal program funded from "universal service" assessments made on consumers' telephone bills, including telecommunication services, internet access, and internal network connections.The program is under the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and is managed by the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD). Wisconsin schools and libraries get about $25 million annually from this program in the form of 20 percent to 90 percent in discounts, for discounts are based on the number of students in poverty as a percentage of students enrolled. The higher the percentage, the higher the discount. DPI calculates percentages based on counts of students with Food Services Eligibility values of Free and Reduced and WISEdata count date enrollment. While schools can also use other available data to determine their E-rate discount, DPI does not verify to the SLD data using any other alternative mechanisms.
- Uses by the School and Community Nutrition Team: The DPI School and Community Nutrition Team uses the numbers of students with Food Services Eligibility values of Free and Reduced and WISEdata count date enrollment
- to qualify eligible sites for participation in the Summer Food Service Program,
- to qualify eligible centers/sites for participation in the after school snack component of the Child and Adult Care Food Program,
- to qualify eligible family day care home providers for higher rates of meal reimbursement under the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and
- to qualify eligible school buildings for participation in the after school snack component of the National School Lunch Program.
- All the above are USDA child nutrition programs administered in WI by DPI.
DATA ELEMENTS LOGIC & RULE CALCULATION
When data is published, the status code information will apply. However, when districts and schools are sending this information to DPI, it is done via two data elements. One data field is school Food Services Eligibility Descriptor, and the other is Economic Disadvantaged.
The Ed-Fi ODS API Documentation describes the data elements as: economic Disadvantaged (Boolean, optional): An indication of inadequate financial condition of an individual's family, as determined by family income, number of family members/dependents, participation in public assistance programs, and/or other characteristics considered relevant by federal, state, and local policy.
school Food Services Eligibility Descriptor (string, optional): A unique identifier used as Primary Key, not derived from business logic, when acting as Foreign Key, references the parent table.
ID (string): The unique identifier of the resource.
school Food Services Eligibility Descriptor ID (integer, optional): A unique identifier used as Primary Key, not derived from business logic, when acting as Foreign Key, references the parent table.
Name space (string): A globally unique name space that identifies this descriptor set. Author is strongly encouraged to use the Universal Resource Identifier (http, ftp, file, etc.) for the source of the descriptor definition. Best practice is for this source to be the descriptor file itself so that it can be machine-readable and be fetched in real time, if necessary.
code Value (string): A code or abbreviation that is used to refer to the descriptor.
short Description (string): A shortened description for the descriptor.
description (string, optional): The description of the descriptor.
prior Descriptor ID (integer, optional): A unique identifier used as Primary Key, not derived from business logic, when acting as Foreign Key, references the parent table.
Effective Begin Date (date-time, optional): The beginning date of the period when the descriptor is in effect. If omitted, the default is immediate effectiveness.
Effective End Date (date-time, optional): The end date of the period when the descriptor is in effect.
School Food Services Eligibility Type (string, optional): Key for School Food Services Eligibility,
_(string, optional): A unique system-generated value that identifies the version of the resource.
School Food Service Eligibility Descriptor: Free, Reduced, Unknown, Full-priced & economic Disadvantaged: Boolean
(1) If (Ed-Fi) eD = Y and sFSED = Free, then (coll) econ_disadvantaged_type = 'F'.
(2) If (Ed-Fi) eD = Y and sFSED = Reduced, then (coll) econ_disadvantaged_type = 'R'.
(3) If (Ed-Fi) eD = Y and sFSED = Full-Priced, then (coll) econ_disadvantaged_type = 'A'.
(4) If (Ed-Fi) eD = Y and sFSED = Unknown, then (coll) econ_disadvantaged_type = 'A'.
(5) If (Ed-Fi) eD = N and sFSED is not null, then (coll) econ_disadvantaged_type = 'N'.
- Direct Certification
- Free and reduced Price Meal Applications and Eligibility
- Joint U.S. Department of Education and Department of Agriculture Letter Providing Guidance on Implementation of the New Requirements of Title I by Schools that Operate School Lunch Programs
- Wisconsin State Statute115.385(1g) & 115.385(1g)(c)