Community Eligibility Provision

FUEL 4 School - Universal School Breakfast & Lunch -  Community Eligibility Provision

What is CEP?

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a new national approach to child nutrition. It provides funding for free school breakfast and lunch for 100% of students without requiring take home applications.

red houseStarting this school year in Allegheny County, 9 districts, 3 charter networks, and 1 individual school are serving school breakfast and lunch to all of their students through CEP.

That comes to more than 41,000 students in Allegheny County who have daily access to school breakfast and lunch at no cost to their families.

Who is eligible?

Any individual school, group of schools, or school district with 40% or more “identified students” can participate in CEP.

girl and boy figures“Identified students” include children who are directly certified for no cost school breakfast and lunch because they live in households that participate in the…

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
  • Medicaid

It also includes students who are…

  • In foster care, enrolled in Head Start, homeless, runaways, or migrants.

How does it work?

Instead of take home applications, schools use direct certification percentages based on the number of “identified students” enrolled in the school.

The school or local education agency (LEA) must have an identified student percentage of at least 40% to opt into CEP.  If so, the school or LEA serves breakfast and lunch to 100% of students and receives a Federal reimbursement to cover the majority or all of the costs.

Venn diagram of CEP student eligibility and enrollmentFederal reimbursements are determined by multiplying the percentage of “identified students” by 1.6 to determine the percent of meals that will be reimbursed at the free rate.

For example, a school with 50% identified students would be reimbursed at the free rate — the amount the federal government normally pays schools to cover their free meals — for 80% (50% x 1.6) of the breakfasts and lunches eaten.  The remaining 20% of meals would be reimbursed at the paid rate — the amount schools usually get to help cover the costs of providing meals to paying students.

What are the benefits?

kid w lunch tray drawing

  • Provides breakfast and lunch for 100% of students in high poverty schools at no cost to families
  • Students receive greater access to whole grains, fruits, vegetables and milk
  • Reduces administrative costs for schools and districts by eliminating the need to qualify and track students for free and reduced-price meals throughout the year
  • Saves schools thousands of dollars, freeing up funds that can instead be used to increase food quality and other needed educational resources, including teachers, counseling services, technology, or building improvements

Overall greater participation in school meals…

  • Helps address child food insecurity, childhood obesity and supports healthy eating habits
  • Is linked to improvements in students’ academic performance, behavior, and cognitive development
  • Provides students with the nutrition they need to develop, engage, and achieve in their communities

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