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The Community Eligibility Option Pilot Program

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors

Number: USDA-SNP-06-2011

Attention: Food Service Director

Date: June 2011

Subject: The Community Eligibility Option Pilot Project

Reference: United States Department of Agriculture Policy Memo SP 23-2011; Title 42, United States Code Section 1759a(a)(1)

This Management Bulletin (MB) notifies National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program sponsors that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a policy memo regarding the Community Eligibility Option pilot project.


On December 13, 2010, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Act), reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Programs. The Act amended Section 11(a)(1) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to provide an alternative to using household applications for free and reduced-price (F/RP) meals in local educational agencies and schools in high poverty areas. This meal counting and claiming alternative is referred to as the Community Eligibility Option (Option).

Pilot Project

The Act authorizes the USDA to select three states to test the Option as a pilot project beginning with school year (SY) 2011–12. California was not one of the first three states selected to participate in the pilot. However, the Option will be offered to more states in successive years and will ultimately be available to all states beginning SY 2014–15.


The Option requires schools to comply with the following procedures:

In accordance with the new federal law, Residential Child Care Institutions (7 CFR Section 210.2) are not eligible to participate in the Option.

Additional guidance regarding this Option is available at the following USDA Web page:

Please note that the California Department of Education will notify sponsors of the requirements for eligibility, reimbursement, and reporting procedures after the USDA expands the Option to California.

If you have any questions regarding this MB, please contact the appropriate SNP specialist listed on form Caseload SNP in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System. You may also contact the SNP Unit Secretary by phone at 916-322-1450 or 800-952-5609.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
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