Community Eligibility Provision
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) provides an alternative approach for offering school meals to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools in low income areas, instead of collecting individual applications for free and reduced price meals.
The CEP allows schools that predominantly serve low-income children to offer free, nutritious school meals to all students through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The CEP uses information from other programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families (TANF) instead of traditional paper applications.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 provides an alternative to household applications in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
The intent of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is to improve access to free school meals in eligible high poverty Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) and schools and to eliminate the administrative burden of collecting household applications.
The CEP was phased in over a period of three years in a limited number of States and will be available nationwide beginning July 1, 2014.
Currently LEAs and schools in eleven States are participating, including the District of Columbia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
- Lunches and breakfasts are served free to all students
- No household applications for free and reduced price meals are collected or certified
- No certification means no verification is required.
- Potential increase in participation for lunch and breakfast.
Instead of applications, schools use claiming percentages based on the number of identified students for reimbursement in the school. Identified students are primarily certified for free meals through direct certification. LEAs and/or schools must have an identified student percentage of at least 40%.
LEAs multiply the identified student percentage by a factor of 1.6 to arrive at the free claiming percentage. The difference between the free claiming percentage and 100% results in the paid claiming percentage.
The claiming percentage established for a school in the initial year is guaranteed for a period of four school years.
Election and Deadline
LEAs may elect the CEP for all schools in the district, a group of schools in the district or individual schools in the district.
LEAs in CEP are required to inform students and parents that free meals will be offered to all enrolled students.
LEAs are also required to submit documentation no later than June 30 to begin CEP in the School Year (SY) beginning July 1.
Under proposed § 245.9(f)(4)(i), any LEA intending to elect the community eligibility provision for the following year for some or all of its schools would be required to submit to the State agency documentation demonstrating that the LEA or school meets the minimum identified student percentage threshold. Such documentation would include, at a minimum, the counts of identified and enrolled students, as of April 1st of the prior school year that CEP election is requested. LEAs would be required to submit participation agreement (found below) no later than June 30th. Community eligibility would begin of the school year starting July 1st and by State Agency approval.
The percentage of identified students is multiplied by the 1.6 multiplier. This percentage is then applied to the total school breakfast and lunch counts to determine USDA reimbursement rates. For example, if the percentage of identified students in a school is 62.5 percent (or more), the school's reimbursement rate would be 100 percent (62.5 percent x 1.6 multiplier = 100 percent), and it would be reimbursed at the Federal "free" rate for each breakfast and lunch served. Similarly, a school with 56.3 percent identified students would be reimbursed for 90 percent (56.3 percent x 1.6 multiplier = 90 percent) of the breakfasts and lunches served at the Federal "free" reimbursement rate; the remaining 10 percent would be reimbursed at the Federal "paid" reimbursement rate.
The link below to the memorandum from the USDA provides guidance and Q&A's that address common questions as the Community Eligibility Provision is implemented nationwide.
- SP 54-2016 Memo
- SP 21-2014 (v.2) Memo
- CEP Estimator Tool
A tool to assist in determining whether the CEP is right for you based on your monthly reimbursement
CEP Qualifying List - 2020
NH SAU/LEA and School Direct Certification Percentages - based on the January 2020 NSLP data. Only to be used as an estimate of possible eligibility for CEP. Actual determination of Identified Student Percentage (ISP) must be done by each SAU/LEA or School using April 2020 data.
CEP Participation Documents
CEP Participation Worksheet
Patty Carignan, Program Specialist II