Statement Attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center
WASHINGTON, March 23, 2023 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) applauds the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent announcement of a proposed rule to expand the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).
CEP allows high-poverty schools and districts to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students and reduces administrative paperwork and costs for schools; increases school meal participation; eliminates stigma; maximizes federal reimbursements; and makes it easier to implement Breakfast in the Classroom and other innovative breakfast models. Prior to the pandemic, about one in one in three schools were offering free meals to all students through CEP.
The proposed rule would lower the threshold required for schools and school districts to implement CEP from 40 percent to 25 percent. This change would dramatically increase the number of high-need schools and districts that can offer Healthy School Meals to All of their students. It also makes it easier for states to implement Healthy School Meals for All statewide.
During the 2021–2022 school year, schools across the country were able to offer free meals to all of their students through pandemic waivers that ended at the start of the 2022–2023 school year. FRAC’s recent report, The Reach of Breakfast and Lunch During the 2021–2022 School Year, shows that participation in school breakfast and lunch increased dramatically when school meals were offered to all students at no charge, allowing millions more students to experience the education and health benefits linked to school meals participation.
Community eligibility is a pathway to Healthy School Meals for All — and is a win for everyone — administrators, students, families, and school nutrition staff.
About The Food Research & Action Center:
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.