The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a powerful federal option that enables high-needs schools to offer breakfast and lunch to students at no charge. Any district, group of schools in a district, or school with 40 percent or more “identified students” – children eligible for free school meals who are certified for free school meals without a household application – can choose to participate. Identified students include children directly certified through data-matching because their households receive SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR, and in some states, Medicaid benefits, as well as children who are certified for free meals without an application because they are homeless, migrant, enrolled in Head Start, or in foster care. For more information about this provision, how it works, and its benefits, see our Community Eligibility page.
Each May, states must publish a list of eligible schools, near eligible schools (schools with 30 to 40 percent identified students), and currently participating schools and school districts. School districts have until June 30, 2017, to opt in for the 2017–2018 school year.