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Senate Bill 138: Universal Meal Service

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: Child Nutrition Program Sponsors

Attention: Child Nutrition Program Operators

Number: CNP-02-2018

Date: February 2018

Reference: Senate Bill 557; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Policy Memos SP 11-2012, CACFP 05-2012, and SFSP 07-2012; SP 29-2009, SFSP 04-2009, and CACFP 07-2007; Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, Section 9; California Health and Safety Code, sections 113871, 113876, 114079, and 114432; California Civil Code Section 1714.25; California Education Code Section 49580; California Department of Education Management Bulletins 96-110 and CNP-03-2018

Supersedes: California Department of Education Management Bulletin USDA-CNP-04-2012

Subject: Guidance on the Donation of Leftover Food in Child Nutrition Programs

This management bulletin provides information on the changes made to California Education Code (EC) Section 49562 and the addition of sections 49564 and 49564.5 through the passing of Senate Bill 138 (McGuire, Statutes of 2017). To read SB 138, visit the California Legislative Information Web page at


On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 138, School Meal Programs: Free and Reduced-price Meals (F/RP): Universal Meal Service (Chapter 724, Statutes of 2017). The law requires that on or before September 1, 2018, local educational agencies (LEA) that have very high poverty schools apply to operate a federal universal meal service provision and provide breakfast and lunch free of charge through the universal meal service to all pupils. Very high poverty schools are defined as ones that qualify to receive the free meal rate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

Existing Law

Existing law (EC Section 49550) requires a school district or county superintendent of schools maintaining a kindergarten through grade twelve to provide a needy pupil one nutritionally adequate F/RP meal during each school day, and authorizes the school district or county superintendent of schools to use funds available from any federal or state program to comply with this requirement. A needy pupil is defined as a child who meets federal eligibility criteria for F/RP meals.

Section 49562 Amendments

SB 138 amended Section 49562 to state that public school districts, county offices of education (COE), and charter schools that participate in the federal school meal program shall use Medi-Cal participation data to directly certify pupils eligible for F/RP school meals starting in School Year 2017–18. This data is now available through the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) and can be found on the CALPADS direct certification (DC) extract report.

Section 49564 and 49564.5 Additions

SB 138 added Section 49564 to define a “very high poverty school” as a school that enrolls pupils in kindergarten through grade twelve, inclusive, and is eligible to receive the free federal reimbursement rate for all reimbursable school breakfasts and lunches served, pursuant to the CEP in Title 42 United States Code, Section 1759a.

EC Section 49564 requires that on or before September 1, 2018, a school district or county superintendent of schools that has a very high poverty school in its jurisdiction to apply to the California Department of Education (CDE) to operate a federal universal meal service provision, which may include, but is not limited to, CEP or Provision 2. This requirement also applies to very high poverty charter schools.

EC Section 49564 also states that a school district, county superintendent of schools, or charter school may stop providing the universal meal service at a school if the school ceases to be a very high poverty school.

In addition, the governing board of a school district, COE, or charter school may adopt a resolution of fiscal hardship with demonstrated reasons it is unable to comply. The resolution must be publicly noticed on at least two consecutive meeting agendas. The first meeting as an information item and on the second meeting agenda as an action item. If the resolution is approved by at least a majority of the governing board, the school district, COE or charter school is exempt from the requirements. The governing board must reconsider the resolution at least once every four years.

EC Section 49564.5 states that a school district or county superintendent of schools may determine a pupil’s eligibility for F/RP school meals based on data including the DC match from CALPADS to certify school-age recipients of CalFresh, CalWORKs, and Medi-Cal benefits as eligible for free school meals without further application and alternative measures of poverty.

How to Determine Which Schools are “Very High Poverty”

Very high poverty schools are determined by calculating the school’s identified student percentage (ISP) used for CEP. A very high poverty school must apply for CEP or Provision 2, or the school must apply for an exemption.

An ISP is determined by calculating the number of students who are directly certified to receive free meals on the basis of their receipt of CalFresh, California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), or Medi-Cal benefits and the extension of those benefits to students within the same household. The calculation also includes students who are certified as homeless, migrant, runaway, foster, and income-eligible for Head Start.

To calculate the ISP, add all the students receiving the benefits listed above and divide that number by the school’s total enrollment. Multiply the result by 100. The resulting percentage is the ISP.

Any school with an ISP equivalent of 62.5 or higher is deemed very high poverty for purposes of the changes in EC Section 49564.

Also, please note that the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires the CDE to publish a list of schools that are eligible or near eligible to participate in the CEP by May 1 of each year. This list contains each school’s individual ISP. LEAs may refer to this list as an additional resource. The CDE already posts this data no later than May 1 each year to the CDE CEP Web page at

How to Apply for CEP
Step 1

Upload all documents listed below into the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) Attachments section of the Application Packet. These documents are located in CNIPS Download Forms. To implement the CEP, the LEA must:

  • Complete the CEP Application Checklist, Form SNP-71, to ensure a complete application packet is included. Upload the original Word version with electronic signature, or a signed scanned version with original signature.
  • Complete Form SNP-19 to amend their original Meal Count and Collection Procedures form on file. Upload the original Excel version (not a scanned version) with electronic signature on page 4, or upload the original Excel version and scanned signature page with original signature if you cannot electronically sign.
  • Complete Form SNP-55 in order for the CDE to review the ISP calculation. Upload the original Excel version (not a scanned version) with electronic signature on page 1, or upload the original Excel version and scanned signature page with original signature if you cannot electronically sign.
Step 2

Upload all source documents used to determine the ISP into the CNIPS as attachments. Source documents may include CALPADS extract(s), local county direct certification list(s) containing CalFresh, CalWORKS, or foster data, foster list(s), homeless/runaway list(s), migrant list(s), and Head Start list(s). Refer to Form SNP-71 for details on where to locate these documents, and the correct formats in which they need to be uploaded.

Step 3

Send an email to once all forms and documents are uploaded. This will notify the CDE that you are applying for CEP and that your documents are ready for review.

If all documentation above is not submitted in the appropriate format in a timely manner, the CDE has the discretion to deny the LEA participation in the CEP.

How to Apply for Provision 2
  • Step 1: Complete form SNP-13 in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS.
  • Step 2: Upload completed and signed form to the Attachments section of the CNIPS
  • Step 3: Email your intent to apply to
  • Step 4: Contact your SNP Specialist if you need assistance completing this form.
How to Apply for Exemption

Submit a signed and dated letter to your SNP Specialist listing the reasons why the school is unable to comply with these requirements.

Include copies of the two school board meeting agendas containing the resolution (mentioned on page 2, under sections 49564 and 49564.5 Additions).

When Does SB 138 Become Effective?

SB 138 takes effect on September 1, 2018.


The CDE CEP Web page at contains additional information as well as CEP resources.

The CDE Provision 2 Web page at contains additional information and resources.

The CDE DC Web page at contains additional information regarding DC and the Medi-Cal demonstration project.

The SNP Specialist list is available in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS, Form ID Caseload.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the SNP Unit by e-mail at or you can contact your SNP Specialist.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, October 18, 2023
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