7 CFR 245.12 - State agencies and direct certification requirements.
(a) Each State agency, or FNSRO where applicable, shall, for schools under its jurisdiction:
(1) As necessary, each State agency or FNSRO, as applicable, shall issue a prototype free and reduced price policy statement and any other instructions to ensure that each local educational agency as defined in § 245.2 is fully informed of the provisions of this part. If the State elects to establish for all schools a maximum price for reduced price lunches that is less than 40 cents, the State shall establish such price in its prototype policy. Such State shall then receive the adjusted national average factor provided for in § 210.4(b);
(2) Prescribe and publicly announce by July 1 of each fiscal year, in accordance with § 245.3(a), family-size income standards. Any standards prescribed by FNSRO with respect to nonprofit private schools shall be developed by FNSRO after consultation with the State agency.
(a-1) When a revision of the family-size income standards of the State agency, or FNSRO where applicable, is necessitated because of a change in the Secretary's income poverty guidelines or because of other program changes, the State agency shall publicly announce its revised family-size income standards no later than 30 days after the Secretary has announced such change.
(b) State agencies, and FNSRO where applicable, shall review the policy statements submitted by school-food authorities for compliance with the provisions of this part and inform the school-food authorities of any necessary changes or amendments required in any policy statement to bring such statement into compliance. They shall notify school-food authorities in writing of approval of their policy statements and shall direct them to distribute promptly the public announcements required under the provisions of § 245.5.
(c) Each State agency, or FNSRO where applicable, shall instruct local educational agencies under their jurisdiction that they may not alter or amend the eligibility criteria set forth in an approved policy statement without advance approval of the State agency, or FNSRO where applicable.
(d) Not later than 10 days after the State agency, or FNSRO where applicable, announces its family-size income standards, it shall notify local educational agencies in writing of any amendment to their free and reduced price policy statements necessary to bring the family-sized income criteria into conformance with the State agency's or FNSRO's family-size income standards.
(e) Except as provided in § 245.10, the State agency, or FNSRO where applicable, shall neither disburse any funds, nor authorize the distribution of commodities donated by the Department to any school unless the local educational agency has an approved free and reduced price policy statement on file with the State Agency, or FNSRO where applicable.
(f) Each State agency, or FNSRO where applicable, shall, in the course of its supervisory assistance, review and evaluate the performance of local educational agencies and of schools in fulfilling the requirements of this part, and shall advise local educational agencies of any deficiencies found and any corrective action required to be taken.
(g) The State agency must notify FNS whether the TANF Program in their State is comparable to or more restrictive than the State's Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program that was in effect on June 1, 1995. Automatic eligibility and direct certification for TANF households is allowed only in States in which FNS has been assured that the TANF standards are comparable to or more restrictive than the program it replaced. State agencies must inform FNS when there is a change in the State's TANF Program that would no longer make households participating in TANF automatically eligible for free school meals.
(h) The State agency shall take action to ensure the proper implementation of Provisions 1, 2, and 3. Such action shall include:
(1) Notification. Notifying school food authorities of schools implementing Provision 2 and/or 3 that each Provision 2 or Provision 3 school must return to standard eligibility determination and meal counting procedures or apply for an extension under Provision 2 or 3. Such notification must be in writing, and be sent no later than February 15, or other date established by the State agency, of the fourth year of a school's current cycle;
(2) Return to standard procedures. Returning the school to standard eligibility determination and meal counting procedures and fiscal action as required under § 210.19(c) of this chapter if the State agency determines that records were not maintained; and
(3) Technical assistance. Providing technical assistance, adjustments to the level of financial assistance for the current school year, and returning the school to standard eligibility determination and meal counting procedures, as appropriate, if a State agency determines at any time that:
(i) The school or school food authority has not correctly implemented Provision 1, Provision 2 or Provision 3;
(ii) Meal quality has declined because of the implementation of the provision;
(iii) Participation in the program has declined over time;
(iv) Eligibility determinations or the verification procedures were incorrectly conducted; or
(v) Meal counts were incorrectly taken or incorrectly applied.
(4) State agency recordkeeping. State agencies shall retain the following information annually for the month of October and, upon request, submit to FNS:
(i) The number of schools using Provision 1, Provision 2 and Provision 3 for NSLP;
(ii) The number of schools using Provision 2 and Provision 3 for SBP only;
(iii) The number of extensions granted to schools using Provision 2 and Provision 3 during the previous school year;
(iv) The number of extensions granted during the previous year on the basis of SNAP/FDPIR data;
(v) The number of extensions granted during the previous year on the basis of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) data;
(vi) The number of extensions granted during the previous year on the basis of local data collected by a city or county zoning and/or economic planning office;
(vii) The number of extensions granted during the previous year on the basis of applications collected from enrolled students;
(viii) The number of extensions granted during the previous year on the basis of statistically valid surveys of enrolled students; and
(ix) The number of extensions granted during the previous year on the basis of alternate data as approved by the State agency's respective FNS Regional Office.
(5) State agency approval. Prior to approval for participation under Provision 2 or Provision 3, State agencies shall ensure school and/or school food authority program compliance as required under §§ 210.19(a)(4) and 220.13(k) of this chapter.
(i) No later than February 1, 2013, and by February 1st each year thereafter, each State agency must collect annual verification data from each local educational agency as described in § 245.6a(h) and in accordance with guidelines provided by FNS. Each State agency must analyze these data, determine if there are potential problems, and formulate corrective actions and technical assistance activities that will support the objective of certifying only those children eligible for free or reduced price meals. No later than March 15, 2013, and by March 15th each year thereafter, each State agency must report to FNS, in a consolidated electronic file by local educational agency, the verification information that has been reported to it as required under § 245.6a(h), as well as any ameliorative actions the State agency has taken or intends to take in local educational agencies with high levels of applications changed due to verification. State agencies are encouraged to collect and report any or all verification data elements before the required dates.