Nutrition and Wellness Programs

Electronic Direct Certification Process

Direct Certification is a simplified method of determining student’s eligibility for free meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs or free milk under the Special Milk Program without completing a Household Eligibility Application. In addition, students directly certified to receive free meals or milk are not subject to verification.

Effective with school year 2009–2010, a NEW Electronic Direct Certification System was implemented statewide.  The eligibility certificates that were mailed to each student receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) will NO LONGER be mailed.

<empty> Medicaid Records are Not Available

Effective July 2015, the Electronic Direct Certification System will NOT include matches with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) file that includes income eligible Medicaid children. Thus, a reduced number of direct certification matches for 2015-16 Annual and Monthly files is likely for most sponsors when compared to last year’s 2014-15 files. ISBE Nutrition and Wellness Programs Division staff will continue to work with USDA and HFS staff to utilize income eligible Medicaid matches in the future. If we are able to provide such matches in the future, School Food Authorities will be notified immediately.

At this time, households that were directly certified during the 2014-15 school year via income-eligible Medicaid benefits will continue to be eligible for free meal benefits based on the USDA required carryover provision in which the eligibility status from the previous school year is carried over for up to 30 operating days into the current school year or until a new eligibility determination is made, either approved or denied. The new eligibility determination supersedes the carryover eligibility. During this time, we encourage school food authorities to work with this population to ensure that they understand that the household eligibility application must be completed and returned to the school for processing. A Medicaid case identification number is not approvable on the HEA, thus most households will need to complete the HEA with household size and income information. Detailed guidance can be found in the Administrative Handbook, Electronic Direct Certification System and Certification of Eligibility – Processing Household Eligibility Applications sections available online at

<empty> Electronic Direct Certification Guidance PDF File

<empty> Sample Documents