Community Eligibility Adoption Rises for 2015-2016 School Year:
- 18,247 schools are participating in 2,979 school districts.
- More than 8.5 million children attend community eligibility schools.
- 4,000 additional schools are participating over the 2014-2015 school year.
Search the eligible and participating schools database.
See how your state compares on our interactive maps.
Community eligibility is a powerful tool for schools with high concentrations of low-income children to provide breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students. Community eligibility reduces administrative paperwork for schools, allowing them to focus on providing healthy meals so students can learn and thrive. At the same time, it increases the number of students participating by removing stigma, maximizes federal reimbursements, and makes it easier to implement innovative service models like Breakfast in the Classroom. Community eligibility is a win for everyone – administrators, students, families, and school nutrition staff.
Established in the 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and made available to high-poverty schools nationwide in school year 2014-2015, community eligibility has grown to impact 8.5 million students who now can receive two healthy school meals at no charge. More than 18,000 high-poverty schools have implemented community eligibility, but there are just as many eligible schools that have not yet adopted the cost-saving provision. The deadline to apply for the 2016-2017 school year has been extended to August 31, 2016, giving eligible schools more time to apply for this exciting opportunity.
Learn more about the basics of community eligibility and how schools qualify:
Find eligible schools in your state or school district, advocate for community eligibility with your local school officials, and highlight and support community eligibility implementation.
Community eligibility has a number of financial benefits. It reduces labor costs, facilitates economies of scale purchasing, eliminates unpaid meal costs, and increases the number of students accessing the meal programs. Because finances play a big part of the decision making process, it is important for school districts to fully understand the financial implications to make the best decision for their school district.
Watch USDA’s Webinars on evaluating the finances:
USDA and the U.S. Department of Education have developed a number of resources on best practices for implementation, frequently asked questions, and comprehensive guidance for community eligibility schools to access educational funding sources that traditionally rely on free and reduced-price school meal information, like Title 1 or E-Rate.
USDA Implementation Guidance:
Implications for Eliminating School Meal Applications: