H. R. 5223

To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve direct certification, and for other purposes.

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117 HR 5223 IH: School Modernization and Efficient Access to Lunches for Students Act of 2021

U.S. House of Representatives

2021-09-10

text/xml

EN

Pursuant to Title 17 Section 105 of the United States Code, this file is not subject to copyright protection and is in the public domain.

I

117th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 5223

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 10, 2021

Mrs. Hayes

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the

Committee on Education and Labor

A BILL

To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve direct certification, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the

School Modernization and Efficient Access to Lunches for Students Act of 2021

or the

School MEALS Act of 2021

.

2.

Expanding direct certification

Section 9(b)(4)(F)(iii)(II)(bb) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1758(b)(4)(F)(iii)(II)(bb)) is amended by inserting

in not more than 3 school years

after

measures

.

3.

Direct certification improvement grants and technical assistance

Section 9(b) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (

42 U.S.C. 1758(b)

) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(16)

Direct certification improvement grants and technical assistance

(A)

Definitions

In this paragraph:

(i)

Eligible entity

The term

eligible entity

means—

(I)

a State agency; and

(II)

a Tribal organization.

(ii)

Indian Tribe

The term

Indian Tribe

has the meaning given the term

Indian tribe

in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (

25 U.S.C. 5304

).

(iii)

Rate of direct certification

The term

rate of direct certification

means the percentage of children eligible for direct certification under paragraphs (4) and (5) for a school year that were directly certified under those paragraphs for that school year.

(iv)

Tribal organization

The term

Tribal organization

has the meaning given the term

tribal organization

in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (

25 U.S.C. 5304

).

(B)

Grants

(i)

In general

The Secretary shall provide grants to eligible entities that administer the school lunch program under this Act to improve the rate of direct certification in the State in which the eligible entity is located.

(ii)

Priority

In providing grants under clause (i), the Secretary shall give priority to States and Tribal organizations with the lowest rates of direct certification.

(iii)

Use of funds

An eligible entity that receives a grant under clause (i) shall use the grant funds to pay costs relating to improving the rate of direct certification in the State or Indian Tribe, as applicable, including the cost of—

(I)

improving technology relating to direct certification;

(II)

providing technical assistance to local educational agencies;

(III)

newly implementing or revising a direct certification system or process in the State (including at local educational agencies in the State) or Indian Tribe, including the cost of equipment; and

(IV)

coordinating with multiple public benefits programs to increase the rate of direct certification, including by conducting feasibility studies and demonstration projects under section 18(c).

(C)

Food Distribution Program on Indian reservations

(i)

In general

The Secretary shall provide grants to States and Tribal organizations administering the food distribution program on Indian reservations under section 4(b) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (

7 U.S.C. 2013(b)

)—

(I)

in the case of a Tribal organization, if applicable, to establish a rate of direct certification of children that are members of households receiving assistance under that program; or

(II)

to improve the rate of direct certification of children that are members of households receiving assistance under that program.

(ii)

Use of funds

A State or Tribal organization receiving a grant under this subparagraph shall use the funds to pay the costs described in subparagraph (B)(iii).

(D)

Technical assistance

The Secretary shall provide technical assistance to assist the recipients of grants under subparagraphs (B) and (C), and other eligible entities, as appropriate, in improving the rates of direct certification.

(E)

Funding

(i)

In general

On October 1, 2021, out of any funds in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the Secretary of the Treasury shall transfer to the Secretary to carry out this paragraph $28,000,000, to remain available until expended.

(ii)

Food Distribution Program on Indian reservations

Of the funds transferred to the Secretary under clause (i), the Secretary shall use not less than $2,000,000 to carry out subparagraph (C).

(iii)

Technical assistance

Of the funds transferred to the Secretary under clause (i), the Secretary shall use not more than $3,000,000 to carry out subparagraph (D).

(iv)

Receipt and acceptance

The Secretary shall be entitled to receive, shall accept, and shall use to carry out this paragraph the funds transferred under clause (i), without further appropriation.

.

4.

Enhancing the community eligibility option

Section 11(a)(1)(F) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (

42 U.S.C. 1759a(a)(1)(F)

) is amended—

(1)

in clause (iv)—

(A)

in subclause (I)(bb)—

(i)

by striking

as of April 1 of the prior school year

and inserting

during the period beginning on April 1 of the prior school year and ending on the last day of that school year

; and

(ii)

by striking

as of April 1 of the school year prior

and all that follows through

subparagraph

and inserting

during the period beginning on April 1 of the covered school year and ending on the last day of the covered school year

; and

(B)

by adding at the end the following:

(III)

Definition of covered school year

In this clause, the term

covered school year

means the school year prior to the first school year that a school or local educational agency elected to receive special assistance payments under this subparagraph.

; and

(2)

in clause (x)—

(A)

in subclause (I), by striking

for the next school year if, not later than June 30 of the current school year,

and inserting

if

;

(B)

in subclause (II)(aa), by inserting

, based on counts conducted by schools of identified students beginning on or after April 1 of that school year,

after

clause (viii)

; and

(C)

in subclause (IV)(aa), by inserting

, based on counts conducted by schools of identified students beginning on or after April 1 of that school year,

after

clause (viii)

.

5.

Enhancing direct certification

Section 9(b)(15)(B)(ii)(III) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (

42 U.S.C. 1758(b)(15)(B)(ii)(III)

) is amended by striking

10

and inserting

20

.

6.

State performance on enrolling children receiving program benefits for free school meals

Section 4301(b) of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (

42 U.S.C. 1758a(b)

) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (2), by striking

and

at the end;

(2)

in paragraph (3), by striking the period at the end and inserting

; and

; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following:

(4)

in the case of a State identified under clause (ii)(I) of section 9(b)(4)(F) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (

42 U.S.C. 1758(b)(4)(F)

), a description of—

(A)

the technical assistance provided to the State; and

(B)

the progress made by the State in implementing the measures and meeting the goals described in items (aa) through (cc) of clause (iii)(II) of that section.

.