Loss of Direct Cert Means Increased Meal Debt
The time savings of having these families directly certified is huge, as one of the biggest mistakes on a "categorically" eligible application is getting the case number from the family. If we were not able to directly certify these families, we would definitely have more students not qualified due to families not filling out the application. It is one more thing for these families to do, and we just want to feed their children. We struggle getting families to fill out applications each year and then the parents wonder why their students have high charges. "We were free last year and nothing has changed, why do I have to fill this out again."
Since many families don't want to fill out one more form, they often don't take time to apply. Many are working two or three jobs to make ends meet and don't have time to fill out the form or don't understand the process. We would definitely have an increase in unpaid meals charges if we did not have the direct certification process. Often when a family has a high balance, the first thing I do is go into the Direct Certification data base and search for the student to see if they qualify for SNAP benefits. More often then not I find the student, so I can get them processed and get them on the right track.
We check our direct certification every week, but this is much less work then approving 111 applications. By checking weekly, we are able to stay on top of newly certified families and start feeding them right away.
Thank you for taking time to ask for and listen to feedback. Feeding students is our goal. Students should not be punished for parents who struggle with providing for their families. Debby Webster