The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) enables high-poverty schools to serve free meals to students by removing the need for schools to collect paper applications to determine Free and Reduced Meal eligibility.

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Community Eligibility Provision
teenage boy sitting at his school desk, listening to the teacher while eating an apple

Community Eligibility provides a number of benefits to students and schools. It helps schools reduce administrative costs related to collecting and processing applications, tracking students and collecting overdue fees. Because participating schools no longer have to collect payments, meal service can be more efficient.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is one way in which a school or group of schools can provide students with access to universal free school meals. To learn more about CEP and to compare it with two other options for providing universal free school meals, Provision 2 and non-pricing, check out this resource: Providing Universal Free School Meals.

To ensure widespread and effective adoption of CEP in your state, you can:

  • Spread the word - community eligibility is a relatively new program and many key decision makers may be unaware of the program and its benefits. Send a letter to the editor, use social media or encourage your governor or state agency officials to publicize CEP.
  • Identify eligible schools - states are required to post lists of eligible schools and districts on their websites. Use this searchable database to find eligible schools in your state.
  • Encourage eligible schools to participate - work with relevant decision makers, such as administrators, school board members, school food service staff and others.

Schools that implement CEP quickly become advocates for it; it’s an effective way to increase breakfast participation. Check out this guide targeted at advocates to promote community eligibility and learn how to get involved as a CEP advocate.

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