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.
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) CEP General Information
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) CEP General Information
CEP USDA Fact Sheet (PDF)
A USDA fact sheet explaining the CEP.
The CEP is authorized by the final 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
Management Bulletin SNP-02-2022: Community Eligibility Provision Application and Increasing Identified Student Percentage
Please review for information regarding the application process and increasing Identified Student Percentage (ISP) process for the CEP.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Guidance
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:
- SP10-2023: Updated Title 1 Guidance for Making Within District Allocations
- SP09-2023: Community Eligibility Provision: Statutory Annual Notification and Publication Requirements and School Year 2023-2024 Election Deadline
- SP18-2021: Community Eligibility Provision Operations during School Year (SY) 2021-2022: Questions and Answers
- SP30-2019: Requirements for Students Transferring from Provision to non-Provision Schools
- SP17-2019: Community Eligibility Provision: Statutory Annual Notification and Publication Requirements and SY 2019-20 Election Deadline
- SP11-2018: Community Eligibility Provision: Statutory Annual Notification and Publication Requirements
- SP20-2017: Community Eligibility Provision: Annual Notification and Publication Requirements
- SP61-2016: Fall 2016 Edition: Community Eligibility Provision: Planning and Implementation Guidance
- SP54-2016: Community Eligibility Provision: Guidance and Updated Q&As
- SP30-2016: Extension of Deadline for Local Educational Agencies (LEA) 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
- SP35-2015: Updated Title I Guidance for Schools Electing Community Eligibility
- SP25-2015: Extension of the Deadline for Local Educational Agencies to Elect the Community Eligibility Provision for School Year 2015–16
- SP24-2015: 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
- SP32-2014: 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
- SP24-2012: 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 SP54-2016 above.
Deadline to Apply for CEP
The deadline to apply for the CEP for school year
–24 is June 30, 2023.
Resources and Tools
CEP Guidance Manual
U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) guidance manual for operating CEP. This includes guidance on frequently asked questions.
Please refer to the Q&As for additional guidance and common questions about the CEP.
2021–22 Community Eligibility Provision Eligible/Near Eligible Reports
The USDA requires the CDE to annually publish a list and notify all local educational agencies (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 2021–22 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. Local Educational Agencies (LEA) should contact their counties to ensure they have an accurate Identified Student Percentage (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.
This webinar was created by the CDE. The purpose is to provide a basic overview of the CEP.
Food Resource and Action Center (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 USDA Webinar Series
This webinar series provides information for districts preparing to implement the CEP.
CEP USDA Monthly Federal Reimbursement Estimator
LEAs should use this calculator to estimate the level of federal reimbursement received under the CEP.
The forms below can be downloaded from the Child Nutrition Information Payment System (CNIPS) .
Community Eligibility Provision - Application Checklist (SNP-71)
This form is used to apply for the CEP and must be accompanied by SNP-19 (Community Eligibility Provision - Implementation Request), SNP-55 (Community Eligibility Provision - Identified Students Preapproval Review), and all source documents referenced in this form..
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.
The form must be accompanied by SNP-71 (Community Eligibility Provision - Application Checklist) and SNP-55 (Community Eligibility Provision – Identified Students Preapproval Review).
Community Eligibility Provision – Identified Students Preapproval Review (SNP-55)
This form will be used to review the identified students for all sites that will implement the CEP. The completed form should be submitted with SNP-71 (Community Eligibility Provision - Application Checklist) and 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 attachments. A separate SNP-55 will need to be completed for each group or individual site.
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-71 (Community Eligibility Provision - Application Checklist) and SNP-55 (Community Eligibility Provision – Identified Students Preapproval Review).
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 National School Lunch Program [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 the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (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.
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. These forms are available on the LCFF Frequently Asked Questions web page.
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 Title I Policy and Program Guidance by phone at 916-319-0917 or by email at TITLEI@cde.ca.gov.
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 10-2023: Updated Title I Guidance for Making Within District Allocations
This U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) memorandum provides updated guidance for making within-district Title 1 allocations.
SP 35-2015: Updated Title I Guidance for Schools Electing Community Eligibility
This U.S. Department of Agriculture (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 U.S. Department of Agriculture (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.