The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a special school meal funding option 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 benefits students and schools. Kids get free meals, and when a child’s nutritional needs are met, the child is more attentive in class and has better attendance and fewer disciplinary problems. Families with tight food budgets can rest assured that their child is getting two nutritious meals at school, reducing financial strain at home. CEP promotes equity by eliminating the out-of-pocket costs for families and by reducing stigma for school meals programs.

CEP is good for schools, too. It reduces administrative burden by eliminating school meals applications, counting and claiming by fee category, and unpaid meal charges. That’s right – no unpaid meal charges under CEP! 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. Moreover, CEP is a 4-year cycle, meaning that adopting CEP this year can help a school’s nutrition budget recover post-pandemic.

In the era of COVID-19, CEP can help support school nutrition departments as schools work to find new ways to feed students.

CEP Resources

Webinar Slides: CEP in the 2021-2022 School Year

While the pandemic has wrought crisis after crisis, one bright spot has been kids’ and teens’ universal access to school meals, and the school nutrition heroes behind those meals. This resource discusses CEP basics and new deadlines for the 2021-2022 school year. Click the link above to learn more.

Promoting Educational Equity with the Community Eligibility Provision

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) enables eligible schools to serve healthy school meals to all students, at no cost to them. CEP removes the application barriers to receiving free school meals, reduces stigma for participating in the program, eliminates unpaid meal debt… the list goes on! Click the link above to learn more.