Community eligibility allows high-needs schools and districts to meet the nutritional needs of the many low-income families they serve. The option creates hunger-free schools by ensuring that students are well-nourished and ready to learn, and it allows school nutrition departments to use their resources to provide nutritious meals by streamlining administrative requirements. As the nation struggles to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, community eligibility offers an important opportunity for schools to respond to the increased need among their students.

This report analyzes community eligibility implementation — nationally and for each state and the District of Columbia — in the 2019–2020 school year, and is based on three measures:

  • the number of eligible and participating school districts and schools;

  • the share of eligible districts and schools that have adopted community eligibility; and

  • the number and share of eligible schools that are participating, based on the school’s poverty level.

The Food Research & Action Center also has compiled all data collected in a database of eligible and participating schools that can be searched by state and school district.