The annual deadline to elect the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) has been extended to August 31, 2020 this year. In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, CEP can help support school nutrition departments as schools work to find new ways to feed students.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a special school meal funding option of the National School Lunch Act that enables schools to provide free meals to all students. Just like textbooks and desks, under CEP, school meals are available to all students at no cost to them. CEP promotes equity by eliminating the out-of-pocket costs for families and by reducing stigma for school meals programs.

CEP reduces administrative burden by eliminating school meals applications, counting and claiming by fee category, and unpaid meal charges. School nutrition staff are able to streamline meal service, making it easier to implement innovative service models, like meals in the classroom. These benefits taken together often result in CEP generating revenue for school nutrition budgets – CEP schools eliminate many overhead costs, eliminate school meal debt, and increase participation.

Check out these resources from No Kid Hungry’s Center for Best Practices and our partners on reviewing CEP benefits, talking points for school administrators, template letter, financial considerations, and new SNAP outreach toolkit.