The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows eligible districts and/or schools in low income areas to provide school lunch and breakfast at no charge to all students using simplified meal counting and claiming methods.
In order to participate, school districts and/or schools must have a minimum level of students “identified” for free meals, agree to serve free lunches and breakfasts to all students, and agree to cover (with non-federal funds) any costs of providing free meals to all students above the amount provided by federal and state reimbursement.
To determine if a district/school meets the minimum level of identified students, the “Identified Student Percentage” (ISP) must be at least 40 percent on April 1. The ISP equals the number of identified students in a site/group of sites divided by the number of students enrolled in that site/group of sites.
Identified students are those certified for free meals by means other than an application for free or reduced-price meals. Identified students include:
• Directly certified students.
• Homeless, migrant or runaway students.
• Head Start/Even Start/Early Start participants.
• Recipients of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
• Foster children certified through means other than a free/reduced-price application.
Enrolled students are those who have access to either breakfast or lunch at the site(s).
Schools/districts that meet the minimum eligibility requirements for CEP must consider other factors before applying for the provision. The CEP Decision Tree, located below, provides a flowchart to help you decide if CEP would be beneficial for your school/district. U.S. Department of Agriculture Memos and Resources
Links to key USDA memos and resources on the Community Eligibility Provision are provided below.