Missouri School Meals Program Wins USDA Performance Award


The Department’s Food and Nutrition Services Section has earned a Fiscal Year 2014 Direct Certification Performance Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for helping more Missouri children in need receive free meals.

The Department program was noted for its substantial improvement in directly certifying children for free school meals through use of data from the Missouri Student Information System (MOSIS). Missouri improved to a direct certification performance rate of 86 percent for the 2013-14 school year, a 13 percent improvement over a two-year period. Missouri is one of seven states to win the award. The award totals nearly $285,000.

“This was a team effort,” said Food and Nutrition Services Coordinator Karen Wooton. “We work with the Department’s Data System Management team, the Department of Social Services, the Office of Administration’s Information Technology Department and all school districts to provide free, nutritious meals for the children most in need.”

Proper nutrition is vital for learning. Providing free school meals for eligible children is directly related to Missouri’s Top 10 by 20 goal of ensuring that all children graduate ready for college and career. The Top 10 by 20 initiative is an ambitious effort to place Missouri among the top ten states in education by 2020.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 established performance awards to encourage state agencies that administer the National School Lunch Program to ensure that all children who are eligible under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are directly certified. This is the third year the awards have been granted.