Thank you for your patience this fall as we worked out some major “glitches” in the Direct Certification in STARS. All processes are working well now, and it appears that most districts have been utilizing the system appropriately. Listed below are some common questions we’ve received regarding the system, as well as our answers:
Q. How does the Direct Certification system work?
A. The student dent enrollment information from STARS is sent to Department of Human Services (DHS) data hub. The DHS data is matched with DPI data and the student matches (linkages) are broadcast back to STARS. Districts are notified of matches by e-mail and directed to go into STARS to enroll the students into Direct Certification special program.
Q. Why do we have to worry about Direct Certification?
A. Public Law 110-246, the Child Nutrition and WIC* Reauthorization Act requires local educational
Q. Why do I have to enroll or not enroll the names on our notifications lists? Aren’t the lists themselves enough documentation of a student’s eligibility for Direct Certification?
A. By enrolling the students into Direct Certification in STARS, a district is acknowledging that the students are receiving Direct Certification benefits (free meals) at school.
Q. Why do I receive the name of one student on my notification list, but not the name of their sibling?
A. This may occur because the sibling’s name was not matched to the district’s enrollment, either because the name isn’t listed on the district’s enrollment in STARS or because the Direct Certification match process was not able to match the student’s name to a child receiving SNAP or TANF. Sometimes the student’s birth date, gender or name entered in STARS is different from the information listed by the Department of Human Services (DHS), and a match can’t be made.
Q. How do I enroll students on my Broadcast Notifications List?
A. Follow the directions on this file to enroll a student from the Broadcast Notifications list
Q. What is the difference between the Broadcast Notification List and the Matched Notification List?
A. Students listed on the Broadcast Notifications list are children who are receiving SNAP or TANF, but have not been matched to any school’s enrollment in STARS. These names are sent out to the 5 closest schools to the address on file at DHS
Q. Why don’t I see a list of names when I click on Matched Notifications?
A. Most of the Direct Certification notifications will show up on the Matched Notifications list. For some of our larger districts, the list can have over 1000 names. To prevent the system from timing out before all of the names can be displayed, the system has been designed to require the user to enter filter criteria (optional) for example, change search criteria to one school and to click on the Search button (required).
Q. There are names of preschool students on my notifications lists. These students don’t participate in the school meals programs. Should I enroll them into Direct Certification any way?
A. Students, such as preschoolers or home schooled students, who are enrolled in the district, but do not have access to the school meals programs should not be enrolled in Direct Certification as they would not be included in the free eligible number on the schools claim for reimbursement.
Q. Once I enroll (or not enroll) a student into Direct Certification, the name no longer shows up on the notification list. Why does this happen.
A. Once enrolled (or not enrolled) the students name will show up on the district’s Direct Certification export or pdf report, or in the case of not enrolled, the student’s name is changed to “No Current Enrollment” status.
Q. I know of some families in our district that are receiving SNAP or TANF, but the student names don’t show up on the notification lists.
A. There are a few reasons for this. First, the family isn’t actually receiving SNAP or TANF. Some SNAP or TANF beneficiaries receive benefits sporadically. For instance, a family might receive SNAP for a few months while one of the household members is unemployed, but then go off benefits when that person becomes employed again. If the student’s enrollment is matched at the time the family isn’t receiving SNAP or TANF, the names will not show up on the notifications lists. If the family begins to receive SNAP or TANF later in the school year, the student will become eligible for Direct Certification and the name will show up on the notification lists. Remember, once a student becomes eligible for direct certification, the eligibility is good for the entire school year and up to 30 school days the next school year, regardless of the income status of the household.
Q. Where can I get more information on how to use the Direct Certification system?
A. An instructional Power Point is available at this link
Q. Is there any way I can look up a student name in the Direct Certification system?
A. Districts may search for students through the Research Notifications link in the left column of their Direct Certification page in STARS. Enter the first and last name (doesn’t have to be exact) and birth date (has to be exact). If the student name is found, the district would enroll them just like they do when the name is on the Broadcast Notifications list.
Q. Once we are notified that a student is eligible for Direct Certification (free meals), when does the eligibility begin?
A. The student becomes eligible for free meals through Direct Certification the day the district receives notification of their eligibility.
The six cents certification allows an additional reimbursement of six cents per reimbursable lunch if school food authorities are certified to be in compliance with the new meal pattern. Required documents to be submitted to NDDPI for the six cents performance-based reimbursement include:
The menu template is on our website
Schools can also enter their menus into the USDA Excel spreadsheets on our web site. Scroll down to Certification for Additional Six Cents. If you enter the menu into the worksheets, we will be able to approve the menu quicker than if we have to enter the information. Completing the worksheets will also let you know if your menu meets the criteria before you send it in.
If you cannot do the Excel worksheets, send the required documentation and we will enter your menu into the USDA worksheets for you.
Please call or write Deb, Kaye, Shayna or Joe if you have any questions at 1-888-338-3663, or firstname.lastname@example.org or 328-3718 or email@example.com or 328-2275 or firstname.lastname@example.org or 328-3549 or email@example.com or 328-3237. Schools east of Jamestown can also contact Lesli Murch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-788-8901.
It appears that some schools are so frightened of going over the bread limit that they are not serving enough bread to high school students or using the full amounts allowed. Students in grades 9-12 must be offered two bread/grain servings every day at lunch. The bread/grain limit for grades 9-12 is 12 ounces per week, which means you can serve 3 ounces of bread/grain 2 days a week.
We can round the weight of bread and meat items down to the nearest quarter ounce. Please take full advantage of this. Buns can be 2.2 ounces and count as 2 ounces. If your students really miss croutons or cheese, serve a .24 ounce portion. Also, 1 heaping teaspoon of peanut butter (slightly less than 1 ½ teaspoons) could be rounded down to zero. We would still count the calories in the small portions, however, it does give you more leeway in offering additional bread and meat/meat alternate items.
The offer vs. serve requirement is that 1/2 cup of fruit OR vegetables must be on every tray, NOT BOTH. The student can certainly take both; however, please do not force students to take fruits and vegetables against their will when only one is required.
Garbanzo beans are not going over as well as we had hoped. Most schools are having better luck with black beans. Please rinse the beans so they are not messy on the salad bar. It might be better to buy beans in small household size cans instead of number 10 cans if the beans do not go quickly.
Salt shakers are allowed. Regular ranch dressing is allowed if you can afford the calories.
If you have a small amount of food leftover, (i.e., ten percent over the estimated number of students), the food can be served out. If you make 300 chicken burgers for 200 students, that would not be considered leftovers; it is planned seconds that need to be charged for. True leftovers can be served to the last students or the oldest students, whatever the school decides.
Recording seconds should not be taking much time. If you serve 300 chicken burgers to 200 people, 100 were seconds. The planned serving size is “1”, the total amount used is “300, (100 seconds)”.
Thirty kid-approved recipes from the Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition, which the Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched in September 2010 in support of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative in collaboration with the American Culinary Federation and School Nutrition Association Competition, have been standardized to provide 6, 25, 50, and 100 servings so they can be used in homes, childcare centers, and schools. They have been compiled into three cookbooks: one for homes, one for child care centers, and one for schools. The cookbooks are now available from the Team Nutrition website. They will be published and available in print later this fall.
North Dakota needs additional Summer Food Service Program sponsors to provide meals for kids when school is out. Contact Kaye Knudson for more information. NOW is a great time to make plans for summer 2013!
Verification is the process of documenting the income reported on 3 percent of the approved free and reduced applications.
We have a form letter on our web site that you can use to contact the families selected for verification:
Verification consists of asking for and examining check stubs for wages, taxes for farming or business income, and copies of checks or court orders for child support. The check stubs can be from anytime in August, September, October or November. Families that write in food stamps (SNAP) or TANF case number can be verified by calling the county social service office and asking if the family is eligible for SNAP or TANF. If the documentation provided matches what was reported, the family stays free or reduced, whatever the original determination. If the documentation changes their status, the family has 10 days to provide other documentation before they can be changed to reduced-price or paid status. If the family was determined reduced and should have been free, the change needs to be made within three days.
Now would be a great time to complete the Verification Summary Form SFN 54196. You should have most of the numbers necessary to complete the form. The top boxes of the verification summary ask for how many new applications you had as of October 1 and how many were selected for verification. The number of eligible students will come from your October claim.
Only count free students in one place. If students are on the Direct Certification SNAP list and the family submits an application, count them as SNAP list in 4-1 and place the application form in an inactive file. USDA judges our paperwork reduction efforts on how many students we are matching with SNAP list Direct Certification instead of requiring paper applications.
Separate the applications into free and reduced piles to come up with the numbers in the middle section.
#4 is total number of free eligible students on the October claim.
#4-1 is the number of students on the Direct Certification SNAP list, homeless students, migrant students and RCCI students.
#4-2 is free students on applications with a SNAP case number; 4-2B is the number of application forms on which these students are listed.
#4-3 is free students on an application with income; #4-3B is the number of application forms on which these students are listed.
#5 is reduced price students; #5B is the number of application forms on which these students are listed.
The bottom section should have very small numbers. This is where you report what happened with the applications you verified. If you verified two and they did not change, under #7 No Change, you will record 2 in number of applications and then how many students were on those two applications.
This form seems to cause quite a bit of confusion. If you would like assistance in filling it out, call Kaye Knudson toll free at 888-338-3663 or 328-2275. Please have your applications in piles and counted before you call.
This is a link to the Verification Summary Form, the last item on the page, click on Word Format if you want to type in the form.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the Act), Public Law 111-296, established a requirement for making water available to children in the School Nutrition Programs (SNP).
The Act requires schools participating in the SNP to make water available to children at no charge in the place where breakfast and lunch meals are served during the meal service. There are a variety of ways that schools can implement this requirement. For example, schools can offer water pitchers and cups on lunch tables, a water fountain, or a faucet that allows students to fill their own bottles or cups with drinking water. If discipline problems are a concern, the water pitcher and cups can be kept on the serving line. Whatever solution is chosen, the water must be available without restriction in the location where meals are served. The student needs to be able to take the water to their table to drink with the meal.
While water is required to be made available to students, it is not considered part of the reimbursable meal and students are not required to take water. There is no separate funding available for this provision and reimbursement may not be claimed. However, reasonable costs associated with providing water would be an allowable cost to the non-profit food service account.
We understand that some food service areas and/or procedures may require significant changes to properly incorporate this provision. The easiest solution is still providing a pitcher of water and cups on the serving line.
If you have any questions about this new requirement, please contact Kaye Knudson at or 1-888-338-3663 or 701-328-2275.
In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call toll free (866) 632-9992 (Voice). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.