Confidentiality is a set of rules that limits access to or places restrictions on certain types of information. All applications and records concerning any individual made or kept by any public officer or agency relating to free and reduced-price (F/RP) meal eligibility are considered confidential.
Although a program or person may be authorized under the National School Lunch Act to receive F/RP meal eligibility information, there must be a legitimate need to know in order to provide a service or carry out an authorized activity. The California Department of Education, local educational agencies (LEA), and schools must ensure that data systems, records, and other means of accessing a student’s eligibility status are limited to officials directly connected with the school meal programs, and may not be open to examination for any purpose not directly connected with the administration of any F/RP meal program.
Both federal and state laws impose strict confidentiality requirements regarding information gathered to determine a child’s eligibility for F/RP meals. The intent of these laws is to limit access to meal applications and any records concerning a child’s F/RP meal benefit eligibility status, such as the child’s name and F/RP meal category. The records shall not be available to any individual for any purpose not directly connected with the administration of any F/RP meal program. LEAs must establish procedures that limit access to only those assigned by the LEA to determine eligibility. In California, there are some state laws that supersede federal regulations pertaining to confidentiality.