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Community Eligibility Provision

The Community Eligibility Provision provides School Nutrition Program sponsors an alternative method for claiming student meals in high poverty schools.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) was implemented as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It is one of the federal provisions to increase access to the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program while decreasing the administrative burden at the Local Educational Agency (LEA) level; specifically through an alternative method for claiming student meals in high poverty schools.

Beginning July 1, 2011, LEAs and schools in Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan were the first states selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pilot the CEP. On July 1, 2012, the USDA added Ohio, New York, District of Columbia, and West Virginia; and on July 1, 2013, they added the final states of Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The CEP is available nationwide in School Year 2014−15.

The CDE highly encourages participation in the CEP for a school with an Identified Student Percentage over 40 percent. Identified students are qualified to receive a meal at no cost through Direct Certification, including students certified as homeless, runaway, migrant, foster, children enrolled in a federally funded Head Start program, and nonapplicant students approved by the LEA.

If you have questions regarding the CEP, please contact your School Nutrition Programs (SNP) County Specialist. The SNP County Specialist list is available in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System Download Forms section, form titled “Caseload SNP.” You may also contact an SNP Office Technician by phone at 916-322-1450, 916-322-3005, or 800-952-5609. 


2013–14 Community Eligibility Provision Eligible/Near Eligible Reports (XLS; 2MB; May-2014)
The USDA requires the CDE to annually publish a list and notify all LEAs that are eligible or near eligible to participate
district-wide and by school in the CEP.

CEP Application
The USDA has extended the deadline to submit applications to August 31, 2014. Please see USDA Policy Memo
SP50-2014 below.

CEP Facts
The Community Eligibility Provision Facts provides information on reimbursement rates, application process, identified student percentage, no cost meals, and qualifying schools.

CEP USDA Monthly Federal Reimbursement Estimator External link opens in new window or tab. (XLS; Dated Jul-2014)
Form used to estimate the level of federal reimbursement received under the CEP.

The Community Eligibility Provision
May 12, 2014: Letter and attachment to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding
the community eligibility provision.

Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Alternate Forms
The CEP allows high-poverty schools to eliminate school meal applications and still serve breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students so that they can be fueled and ready to learn. Schools that have implemented the CEP have experienced striking increases in school meal participation, and many reported improved attendance. In the absence of school meal applications, California's schools will need to gather individual income information from the students to receive full funding fro
m the LCFF. The CDE has developed several sample forms to collect income eligibility information.

Please note that, to reduce the burden of data collection, Provision 2/3 and CEP schools may establish a “base year” for LCFF purposes (this is different from the base year under the NSLP). Schools using this option must collect income data for all eligible students at least once every four years, and collect income data for every newly enrolled student in the intervening years. Schools may perform the LCFF base year data collection during the same year that they establish a new base year under the NSLP. Schools will need to submit data for identified students to CALPADS every year. Auditors will review CALPADS data for students in these schools just as they review CALPADS data at other schools, so schools should be prepared to show auditors the original documentation that a student is FRPM eligible, which may be up to three years old.

USDA Resources

USDA CEP General Information External link opens in new window or tab.

Community Eligibility Proposed Rule External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

USDA Policy Memos External link opens in new window or tab.

Policy memos for the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and the Special Milk Program. To find a specific memo, filter by year and then search by date and title. The following CEP memos are currently posted:

For USDA Q&As, refer to the USDA Policy Memo SP21-2014(v.2) above. For additional information, please contact your School Nutrition Programs County Specialist. The SNP County Specialist List is available in the CNIPS Download Forms Section, titled Caseload SNP.

CEP USDA Brochure (DOC; Dec-2013)
A USDA brochure explaining the Community Eligibility Provision.

Accessible Alternate Version of the CEP USDA Brochure
This is the accessible alternative version of the USDA Community Eligibility Provision Brochure.

Title 1 Information

Refer to the USDA Policy Memo SP19-2014 above. For questions related to Title I, please contact Leslie Sharp with School Fiscal Services by phone at 916-323-4977 or by e-mail at  

Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) CEP Information

FRAC/CBPP Community Eligibility: Making High Poverty Schools Hunger-Free Report External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

This report analyzes the scope and impact of CEP in the seven states that implemented CEP in the 2011−12 and 2012−13 school year. It is meant to serve as a guide for states and school districts as the nationwide rollout of community eligibility approaches. It explains and provides resources related to how community eligibility works, how it helps participating schools and families, and how to operate without school meal applications.

FRAC/CBPP Joint Report: Community Eligibility: Making High-Poverty Schools Hunger-Free Press Release External link opens in new window or tab.

October 1, 2013 FRAC/CBPP Community Eligibility press release.

Community Eligibility Webinar Series External link opens in new window or tab.

This Webinar series provides information for districts preparing to implement the CEP. Districts should view the following Webinars:

Community Eligibility -- An Amazing New Opportunity External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

A summary on the success of community eligibility in the first seven pilot states.

CBPP: How to Identify Low-Income Students in "Community Eligibility" Schools for Title I Purposes External link opens in new window or tab.

This article describes the impact of CEP on Title I.

Additional Resources

California School Board Association (CASBO) External link opens in new window or tab.

This article describes how students in California will benefit from the CEP and the LCFF.

E-rate Information

Universal Service Administrative Company External link opens in new window or tab.

Federal Communications Commission guidance on the impact of the CEP on the universal service E-rate program.

Related Content
Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
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