The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is based on policy requirements from the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). The intent of the CEP option is to provide an alternative to household applications and to improve access to free school meals for high-poverty schools. It is designed to be easy for a school or district to adopt.For an SFA to be eligible to use CEP, the SFA must have one or more schools having an identified student percentage of 40% or greater as of April 1. The identified student percentage is NOT the same as the total number of student’s eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Identified student counts include the following:
1. Directly certified students on SNAP
2. Extension of direct certification benefits to other household members
3. Migrant youth certified by local officials
4. Homeless and runaway youth certified by local officials
5. Head Start/Even Start students
6. Foster children certified by local foster child case workers
In the first year, the percentage of identified students will be multiplied by a factor of 1.6 to determine the total percentage of students. Any meals not covered will be reimbursed at the paid rate. The SFA or school must pay the costs of serving lunches or breakfasts in excess of the value of special assistance payments with non-Federal funds. SFAs may elect to implement Community Eligibility for all schools in the district or for certain schools.
Provision 2 requires that the school serve meals to participating children at no charge but reduced application burdens to once every 4 years and simplifies meal counting and claiming procedures by allowing a school to receive meal reimbursement based on claiming percentages. During the first year, known as the base year, there is no change in traditional procedures and administrative burden. During years 2, 3 and 4 of the cycle, the school makes no new eligibility determinations and continues to serve all children meals at no charge. The school takes counts of only the total number of reimbursable meals served each day. Reimbursement during these years is determined by applying the percentages of free, reduced price and paid meals served during the base year to the total meal count for the claiming period in subsequent years. Federal reimbursement is based on these percentages and the meals are reimbursed at the free, reduced price and paid rates.