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Help End Child Hunger and Improve School Nutrition through the Community Eligibility Provision

Sep 27, 2017, 10:53 AM

Looking for ways to help end hunger and develop healthier students in your schools? The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a new opportunity for schools in areas that experience high poverty levels to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. Previously only available in 11 states, all eligible schools across the country have until June 30 to opt in for the 2014-2015 school year. PTA leaders are in a unique position to support Community Eligibility and can help spread the word before the June 30 deadline.

What is the Community Eligibility Provision?

Community eligibility is a new provision of the National School Lunch Program that removes the families’ and schools’ burden of submitting paper applications to enroll students for school meals in high-poverty communities. Instead, schools provide all students with free school breakfast and lunch, and are reimbursed through a formula based on the number of students participating in additional federal benefit programs such as, homeless or migrant education, or who are living in households that receive SNAP/Food Stamps, TANF cash assistance or the Food Distribution on Indian Reservation benefits, or because they are in foster care or Head Start. Typically, schools that can participate have 75 to 80% free and reduced price meal eligibility, and also a high level of households utilizing SNAP.

How can PTA leaders take action?

PTA leaders can help promote community eligibility as we near the June 30th deadline for school districts to decide whether to opt in for the 2014-2015 school year:

  • See if schools in your School District are eligible: Check out the USDA Community Eligibility Provision map for state lists of eligible schools.
  • Write a letter to key decision-makers urging support of CEP: Use this sample letter to express support to the Superintendent to opt into CEP.
  • Write an op-ed: State your support publicly for CEP by using this sample op-ed to submit an opinion editorial to your local newspaper.
  • Learn more about CEP: Utilize these CEP resources from FRAC, and also view this webinar from the School Nutrition Association.

For more information contact: Madeleine Levin, Senior Policy Analyst, Food Research and Action Center,

Madeleine is a senior policy analyst in the Child Nutrition Unit at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), working on school nutrition issues. She focuses on the National School Lunch Program, the National School Breakfast Program and local school wellness policies. Madeleine has a rich background in maternal and child health policy and programs. After serving as health and nutrition coordinator for a large Head Start program in Chicago, she was a member of the National Technical Assistance Network for Head Start programs, working primarily with programs in the mid-Atlantic region. In addition to a strong background in child nutrition, she also has expertise in special nutrition concerns of children with disabilities. Madeleine earned her bachelors’ degree from the University of Chicago and her Masters in Public Health from the University of Illinois.