MARSS-Student Accounting

Community Eligibility for Meal Programs

Beginning in FY 2015, schools with a high percentage of students who are eligible for the free meal program through Direct Certification are eligible to participate in a relatively new program for Food and Nutrition Services purposes. It’s called Community Eligibility Provision. Schools that choose to participate in Community Eligibility Provision provide free meals to all students enrolled in the school and, for food services purposes only, do not need to collect annual Applications for Educational Benefits. However, for MARSS reporting, the requirement to report the economic status by individual student based on supporting documentation such as Direct Certification, Application for Educational Benefits or the Alternate Application for Educational Benefits doesn’t change.

Application for Educational Benefits

Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) will continue to provide the Application for Educational Benefits for use by all schools that provide a food service program but are not participating in Community Eligibility Provision. The material is posted to the FNS website. The cost of processing these applications can be attributed to Food Service.

Alternate Application for Educational Benefits

An Alternate Application for Educational Benefits has been designed specifically for use by the following types of schools:

• Schools participating in Community Eligibility Provision
• Provision 2 and 3 schools
• Schools without a food service program

All of these schools should use the Alternate Application which removes references to receiving a meal but provides a description of how the data will be used for determining the student’s economic status. The form and related documentation will be posted to the MARSS-Student Accounting website. The cost of processing these applications cannot be attributed to Food Service and should be charged as a general education fund cost.

Direct Certification

Whether or not the school is on Community Eligibility Provision, Direct Certification can also be used to certify students as eligible for the free meal program. Direct Certification is a process by which a file of eligible children is provided to MDE by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and is matched to MARSS enrollment records. The enrolling district needs to verify that the student on the Direct Certification list is the same student who is enrolled in the school. If they are the same student, the student can be reported on MARSS as eligible for the free meal program – Economic Status 2. Direct Certification can occur in two ways:

• Schools with a food service program have access to a Direct Certification report through FNS. This is a list of the potentially matched students.
• All public schools have a warning message on the Fall MARSS edit that identifies students who are enrolled in the district who may also be matched to the DHS list.

Students directly certified do not need to have an Application for Educational Benefits or an Alternate Application for Educational Benefits on file. For audit purposes, keep a copy of all applications and Direct Certifications used to report students on MARSS as eligible for the free or reduced price meal program.

Cost of Certifying Alternate Applications for Educational Benefits

The cost of processing Applications for Educational Benefits to provide school meal benefits may be charged to the Food Service Fund (02) or the General Fund (01). The cost of processing the Alternate Applications for Educational Benefits for a Community Eligibility Provision school must be charged to the General Fund (01) because there is no meal benefit to the students; rather the data are used for other than food service purposes. For more information, refer to the FNS Web site discussion of Financial Management System Requirements.

Contacts: Sharon Peck at 651-582-8811 for questions on the Alternate Application for Educational Benefits.

School Financial Management for questions on accounting for the cost of certifying the Alternate Applications for Educational Benefits.