Universal Free School Meals & The Community Eligibility Provision: Current Landscape of State Legislation

A growing number of states have advanced legislation in recent years to support universal free school meals (UFSM). For this analysis, the term UFSM is used to describe bills that generally require most (i.e. only public) or all schools (i.e. public, private, charter) to serve at least one meal daily at no cost to all students for at least one school year.

Many of these approaches leverage federal funding streams, like the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).2 The use of CEP has dramatically expanded since it became an option for schools in 2014,3 in part because of state legislation. As a result, many states are approaching UFSM and CEP in tandem, often including provisions related to both in legislation.

This resource summarizes the national landscape of state legislation related to UFSM and/or CEP and outlines a policy menu based on this landscape. It is organized into three sections:

  • General Legislative Trends
  • UFSM/CEP Policy Menu
  • List of Legislation