Community Eligibility Provision
Community Eligibility Provision
Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is an innovative federal program targeting high-need schools. Congress established CEP with the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010. This program was piloted in several states and became available nationally in the 2014-15 school year. Schools and districts enrolled in CEP can serve all students breakfast and lunch free of charge.
How CEP Works
Community Eligibility Provision replaces traditional free and reduced-price meal applications with a school-wide rate of reimbursement for meals served. The key to CEP is having an Identified Student Percentage (ISP) of 40% or more. Identified Students are those who have already been identified as low-income by federal anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. These include, but are not limited to, FoodShare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, W-2 assistance group, students in foster care or Head Start, or any student who is homeless or migrant. Identified Students are then directly certified for free meals without needing to fill out meal applications.
Schools, groups of schools or districts with an ISP at or above 40% can opt to enroll in CEP to serve 100% of school breakfasts and lunches free of charge to the entire student body. Federal reimbursement for meals served is determined based upon the percentage of Identified Students coupled with the current USDA multiplier of 1.6. This multiplier accounts for undercount of low-income students that results when households do not participate in the federal anti-hunger programs for which they qualify. As the Identified Student Percentage increases, the amount of federal reimbursement increases as well.
Benefits of CEP
- Schools typically see a 10-20% increase in breakfast participation within the first year of implementing CEP, meaning fewer kids are going hungry.
- Higher participation and reimbursement rates lead to significantly higher reimbursement revenue.
- One of the leading causes low-income children do not participate in school meal programs is the stigma associated with kids that need the “free” breakfast or lunch. When free meals are served to all students, regardless of family income, stigma is reduced.
Did Wisconsin Implement CEP Well in the First Year?
In one word, YES. For the 2014-15 school year, 660 schools were eligible for Community Eligibility Provision. Hunger Task Force reached out to every single one of them and 355 schools across 75 school districts enrolled. Almost 70% of schools that had an ISP of 62.5% or greater enrolled, meaning 100% of meals in those schools are reimbursed at the free rate. CEP in Wisconsin
The Best Part?
CEP is working. Milwaukee Public Schools is reporting 10,000 more meals served every day. The West Allis-West Milwaukee School District has double their breakfast participation numbers in schools that implemented CEP and a Breakfast After the Bell model. Schools and districts across the state are feeding more children and saving money in the process.
Is your school or district eligible? Did they enroll? Download the list HERE.
Want to do something about it?
Join Voices Against Hunger and stand up against childhood hunger in your school district!