Community Eligibility Provision

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows eligible districts and schools in low-income areas to provide school lunch and breakfast at no charge to all students, using simplified meal counting and claiming methods. Schools or districts must have a required percentage of students identified for free meals, and must agree to serve free lunches and breakfasts to all students. They must also agree to cover the cost of providing free meals to all students, above the amount provided by federal and state reimbursement, with nonfederal funds.

To participate, the Identified Student Percentage (ISP) for a site or group of sites must be at least 40 percent on April 1. The ISP equals the number of identified students in a site or group of sites, divided by the number of students enrolled in the site or group of sites, multiplied by 100. Enrolled students are those who have access to either breakfast or lunch at the site(s). Identified students are those who are certified for free meals in the following ways (other than a free/reduced-price application):

  • Directly certified students.
  • Foster students certified through means other than an Application for Educational Benefits.
  • Homeless, migrant or runaway students.
  • Head Start/Even Start/Early Start participants.
  • Recipients of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
There are other factors to consider before applying. The CEP Decision Tree can help you decide if CEP would be right for you.


Overview and Applying to Participate

  • Application Instructions  - 4/5/21
    This document contains application instructions for those SFAs who wish to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision.
  • Community Eligibility Program Overview - 11/30/20
    This video provides an overview of the basics of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). (18 minutes)
  • Community Eligibility Program Application Process - 11/30/20
    This video outlines the application process for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). (17 minutes)
  • 10/21/20
    This document contains links to financial and grouping calculators available to SFAs who are looking into the option to participate in CEP.

Implementation Tools and Resources

  • Community Eligibility Program Implementation - 11/30/20
    This video provides an overview of the steps required to effectively implement the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). This will be most beneficial for those SFAs that are newly approved for CEP and those currently participating in CEP. (15 minutes)
  • Community Eligibility Provision Implementation Checklist  - 11/13/20
    This checklist provides an outline of the implementation tasks related to the operation of the Community Eligibility Provision.
  • Point of Service and Edit Check Requirements  - 11/9/20
    A summary of point of service and edit check procedures for SFAs participating in the Community Eligibility Provision.
  • Meal Count Form and Edit Check  - 3/3/20
    SFAs participating in CEP or Provision 2 can use this form to record meal counts and to complete the required edit check.
  • 11/4/19
    This is a link to the MARSS Student Accounting webpage, which contains a link to the alternate application for educational benefits, the household letter, and income guidelines. This alternate application is to be used only by public/charter schools with all sites participating in CEP and public/charter schools participating in Provision 2 at all sites for both meal services in a non-base year.
  • Special Provisions Meal Count Form  - 9/16/19
    A daily meal count form for SFAs operating a special provision.
  • 2/20/18
    Instructions for submitting a claim when participating in CEP.

End of Cycle Options

  • Checklist for Returning to Standard Counting and Claiming  - 3/30/21
    This document provides information for SFAs that no longer qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or that no longer wish to participate in CEP. There are many factors to consider when transitioning back to standard counting and claiming. Use this document as a checklist to assist with this transition.