Are you eligible to provide free meals to all students?

Date: May 16, 2018 Posted by Amy Mail Twitter Facebook



No one wants kids to go hungry for lack of resources or simply because the proper paperwork was not submitted. Schools serving large populations of low-income families don't have to turn kids away if the school qualifies for the USDA's Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). Every student in these qualifying schools receive free school breakfast and lunch without verifying household income.  

Eligible schools are those with 40% or more of its students “identified,” meaning they qualify for free or reduced meals without an application because they live in households that participate in federal nutrition programs such as SNAP or TANF, or live in foster care, are homeless or migrant, or participate in HEAD START. If your school currently has 75% or more of its students receiving free and reduced-price meals, you are likely among the schools eligible for CEP. 

Benefits of the program:

  1. More students receive nutritious meals twice a day.
  2. Reimbursements and overall revenues increase because of increased participation.
  3. Your school does not have to collect payments from students, eliminating the need for collections or refusal of meals.
  4. Less administrative work for your school and for parents because parents no longer need to file an application for free and reduced meals for your school to determine eligibility.
  5. Your school no longer needs to track which students are participating in meals.
  6. Easier implementation of grab-and-go breakfast programs because all students receive meals – which also eliminates the stigma of breakfasts only being for lower-income students.

Results from CEP schools have been positive, with schools reporting higher student participation in both breakfast and lunch, which has generated higher reimbursements and revenues to reinvest in their school nutrition programs.

The USDA has developed a downloadable CEP Estimator to help you determine if it's financially sound to enroll in CEP based on your current monthly reimbursement.

Other CEP Resources:

Category: School Food