Community Eligibility ProvisionThe Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) provides School Nutrition Program (SNP) sponsors an alternative method for claiming student meals in high poverty schools.
Provisions are methods for reducing paperwork and other administrative burdens at the local level by simplifying the traditional operating procedures for meal eligibility and meal counting. Schools must apply to participate in Provisions and receive approval from the California Department of Education (CDE) prior to implementation. The tabs below provide information, guidance, and related forms for the CEP. For other provisions please see Provisions 1, 2, and 3.
All forms related to Provision 1, 2, 3, and the CEP are located in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS).
The tabs below provide information, state and federal guidance, and form information and tools relating to the CEP. If you have questions regarding the CEP or Provisions, please contact your SNP County Specialist. The SNP County Specialist list is available in the CNIPS Download Forms section, form titled “Caseload.” You may also contact an SNP Office Technician by phone at 916-322-1450, 916-322-3005, or 800-952-5609.
Beginning July 1, 2011, local educational agencies (LEA) 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 pilot states of Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The CEP became available nationwide in School Year 2014−15.
The CEP was implemented by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The CEP allows high-poverty schools to eliminate the administrative burden of 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.
The CDE highly encourages participation in the CEP for a school or group of schools with an Identified Student Percentage (ISP) over 40 percent. Identified students are those that 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.
The CEP Facts page provides information on reimbursement rates, application process, identified student percentage, no cost meals, and qualifying schools.
CEP USDA Fact Sheet
Univision CEP Segment
A short Spanish-language segment on Univision discussing the benefits of CEP.
USDA CEP Letter from Secretary Vilsack
A letter from Secretary Vilsack on the benefits of CEP.
FRAC/CBPP Joint Report: Community Eligibility Adoption Rises for the 2015–2016 School Year, Increasing Access to School Meals
April 7, 2016, FRAC/CBPP Community Eligibility report.
FRAC/CBPP Community Eligibility: Making High Poverty Schools Hunger-Free Report
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
October 1, 2013, FRAC/CBPP Community Eligibility press release.
California Students Will Benefit from the New School Meal Program
This article from the California School Boards Association describes how students in California will benefit from the CEP and the Local Control Funding Formula.
The CEP is authorized by the proposed rule: National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Eliminating Applications Through Community Eligibility as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (PDF)
Management Bulletin SNP-19-2015: CEP Application and ISP Increase
Please review for information regarding the application for the CEP. Applications for the CEP for School Year (SY) 2015−16 will be accepted starting April 2, 2015. LEAs may apply for the CEP throughout the remainder of SY 2015−16.
This is the USDA Web page that provides access to 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:
- SP30-2016: Extension of Deadline for LEAs to Elect the CEP for SY 2016–17
- SP26-2016: Community Eligibility Provision: Annual Notification and Publication Requirements
- SP22-2016: CEP Planning and Implementation Guidance
- SP19-2016: Community Eligibility Provision: Guidance and Updated Q&As
- SP15-2016: Community Eligibility Provision: State Agency Procedures to Ensure Identified Student Percentage Accuracy
- SP14-2016: Flexibility for CEP Certification Document Review during SY 2015–16 Administrative Review
- SP45-2015: Community Eligibility Provision: Guidance and Updated Q&As
- SP38-2015: Mid-Year Elections under the Community Eligibility Provision in School Year 2015–16
- SP 35-2015: Updated Title I Guidance for Schools Electing Community Eligibility
- SP 25-2015: Extension of the Deadline for Local Educational Agencies to Elect the Community Eligibility Provision for School Year 2015–16
- SP 24-2015: Community Eligibility Provision: Annual Notification and Publication Requirements
- SP16-2015: Community Eligibility Provision: Guidance and Updated Q&As
- SP08-2015: E-Rate Guidance for Schools Electing Community Eligibility
- SP10-2015, CACFP04-2015, SFSP03-2015: Area Eligibility in Child Nutrition Programs
- SP50-2014: Extension of the Deadline for Local Educational Agencies to Submit Applications to Elect the Community Eligibility Provision
- SP 32-2014: Community Eligibility Provision: Annual Notification and Publication Requirements
- SP19-2014: Community Eligibility Provision: Department of Education Title I Guidance
- SP15-2013: Community Eligibility Option: Guidance and Procedures for Selection of States for School Year 2013-2014
- SP 24-2012: Interim Review Guidance for States with Local Educational Agencies Electing the Community Eligibility Option
- SP12-2012: Community Eligibility Option: Guidance and Procedures for Selection of States for School Year 2012-2013
- SP23-2011: Community Eligibility Option: Guidance and Process for Selection of States for School Year 2011-2012
For USDA Q&As relating to the CEP, refer to the USDA Policy Memo SP19-2016 above.
Mid-year Election of CEP
USDA Policy Memo SP30-2016 extends the CEP election deadline from June 30, 2016, to August 31, 2016, and clarifies that State agencies will be permitted to facilitate CEP implementation beyond the extended deadline of August 31, 2016, throughout the remainder of SY 2016-17. If an LEA elects CEP after the start of the school year and all students at CEP schools in an LEA are being offered free meals prior to the last operating day of October, verification of household applications may be waived on a case-by-case basis.
Resources and Tools
2015–16 Community Eligibility Provision Eligible/Near Eligible Reports (XLS; Dated May-2016)
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. This data is intended for informational purposes for School Year 2015-16 and does not confer eligibility for participation in the CEP.
LEAs Participating in the CEP
A list of LEAs currently participating in the CEP. This list is updated periodically based on the most current information.
CEP Contact List
A list and contact information for CEP early adopters.
CalFresh County Contacts for Direct Certification
A list of local welfare or social service office contacts to verify CalFresh participation to directly certify students. LEAs should contact their counties to ensure they have an accurate ISP.
Migrant Education Regional Offices
A list of Migrant Education Office contacts. If an LEA has migrant students in their population, they should contact their Migrant Education Office to certify those students and ensure they have an accurate ISP.
The CEP Letter from State Superintendent of Public Instruction
May 12, 2014: Letter and attachment to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding the community eligibility provision.
FRAC/CDE CEP Webinar:
The Community Eligibility Provision: Making High-Poverty Schools Hunger-Free (Dated May-2016)
FRAC and the CDE co-hosted a Webinar on the CEP. This Webinar is tailored for California schools, and provides an overview of CEP, answers questions regarding LCFF, and discusses successful strategies for implementation of the provision.
Community Eligibility Webinar Series
This Webinar series provides information for districts preparing to implement the CEP. Districts should view the following Webinars:
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service Webinar – Community Eligibility: Partial District Implementation (Jul 28, 2015)
- Community Eligibility – Successful Implementation Strategies (Jun 10, 2015)
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service Webinar: Community Eligibility – State & Local Education Funding: Allocations in the Absence of Application Data (May 20, 2015)
- USDA Food And Nutrition Service Webinar: Outreach to Eligible School Districts (Apr 15, 2015)
CEP USDA Monthly Federal Reimbursement Estimator (XLS; Dated Jul-2014)
LEAs should use this calculator to estimate the level of federal reimbursement received under the CEP.
Policy Statement Addendum – Community Eligibility Provision Implementation Request (SNP-19)
This form is used to apply for the CEP and amend procedures to reflect current practices for schools.
Schools or a group of schools must have an ISP of 40 percent or higher as of April 1 of the school year prior to implementing the CEP. Schools must apply to participate in the CEP and receive CDE approval prior to the beginning of the four-year cycle. The form must be accompanied by SNP-55 (Community Eligibility Provision – Identified Students Validator).
Community Eligibility Provision – Identified Student Percentage Change Request (SNP-56)
This form must be submitted each year after the first year of the four-year CEP cycle if the LEA wishes to request a higher ISP for the upcoming School Year. The form must be accompanied by SNP-55 (Community Eligibility Provision – Identified Students Validator).
Community Eligibility Provision – Identified Students Validator (SNP-55)
This form will be used to validate the identified students for all sites that will implement the CEP. The completed form should be submitted with SNP-19 (Community Eligibility Provision Implementation Request) or with SNP-56 (Community Eligibility Provision – Identified Student Percentage Change Request) as supporting documentation for the LEA’s ISP determinations. Do not mail in this form. All three worksheets of this form will be uploaded into the CNIPS as a checklist item. A separate SNP-55 will need to be completed for each group or individual site.
Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)
The LCFF is California’s new funding formula for school districts and charter schools. To reduce the burden of data collection, Provision 2/3 and CEP schools may establish an “LCFF 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 free or reduced-price eligibility documentation for a student, which may be up to three years old.
LCFF Alternate Forms
In the absence of school meal applications, California's schools will need to gather individual income information from the students to receive full funding from the LCFF. The CDE has developed several sample forms to collect income eligibility information.
Title I Information
Title I funding is provided to some schools to help disadvantaged students meet state academic content and performance standards. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Identify Low-Income Students in "Community Eligibility" Schools for Title I Purposes
This article from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes the impact of CEP on Title I.
SP 35-2015: Updated Title I Guidance for Schools Electing Community Eligibility
This USDA memorandum provides guidance relating to the areas in which Title I requirements and CEP requirements overlap.
The Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries (E-Rate) provides discounted telecommunications, Internet access, and information technology services to eligible schools and libraries. Traditionally, school districts have calculated E-Rate discount rates based on each school’s percentage of free and reduced-price certified students under the school meal programs.
New Policy Makes It Easier for Community Eligibility Schools to Participate in E-Rate Program
This article from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes the CEP in relation to the E-Rate program.
Universal Service Administrative Company
This letter from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides guidance on the impact of the CEP on the universal service E-rate program.
SP08-2015: E-Rate Guidance for Schools Electing Community Eligibility
This USDA memorandum notifies state agencies and local program operators of recently updated rules issued by the FCC regarding the calculation of discount rates under the E-Rate program for schools electing the CEP.