Community Eligibility for Free and Reduced Price Meals

Section 104(a) of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 amended the National School Lunch Act to provide an alternative to household eligibility applications for free and reduced-price meals in high poverty local educational agencies (LEAs) (or districts) and schools. This alternative is referred to as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The overall purpose of the CEP is to improve access to nutritious meals for students in high poverty areas by providing meals to all students “at no cost” to the students.

Although the USDA, and not the U.S. Department of Education (ED), administers the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), there is a connection between Community Eligibility and programs operated under Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), because State educational agencies (SEAs) and LEAs often use NSLP data to carry out certain Title I requirements. Under section 1113 of the ESEA, an LEA must rank its school attendance areas or schools based on the percentage of economically disadvantaged students to determine a school’s eligibility to receive Title I funds, to allocate funds to selected schools, and to calculate the amount generated for Title I services to eligible private school students.

Community Eligibility Provision Guidance (Last updated January 30, 2023)

USED Guidance on the Community Eligibility Provision

Letter to Chief State School Officers

Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and Title I, Part A

Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program

CEP Memo