Community Eligibility Provision Election Date for Schools Extended


The opt-in deadline for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) option for determining eligibility for the National School Lunch Program deadline has been extended. The original deadline of June 30th has been extended to August 31st.

Section 104(a) of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) amended section 11(a)(1) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) (42 U.S.C. 1759a(a)(1)) to establish the Community Eligibility Provision, which is an alternative to household applications for free and reduced price meals in districts and schools in high poverty areas.

Districts and/or schools may be eligible if they meet a minimum level (40%) of identified students for free meals in the year prior to implementing the CEP. They must also agree to serve free lunches and breakfasts to all students; agree to not collect free and reduced price applications from households in participating schools; and agree to cover with non-Federal funds any costs of providing free meals to all students above amounts provided in Federal assistance.

Students are certified for free meals through means other than individual household applications. Students may be directly certified for free meals on the basis of their participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). It also includes homeless, runaway, Head Start, and migrant youth. It does not include students who are categorically eligible based on submission of a free and reduced price application.

Since most districts use the free and reduced price application for households to determine their Title I allocations to schools, the CEP’s requirement of not collecting these applications forces districts to find an alternate way to calculate school poverty levels for determining Title I allocations. The US Department of Education has issued guidance related to CEP and Title I allocations, which may be accessed at:

TransACT provides an application for the Free and Reduced Price School Meals through its parent notices in the General Education Collection. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) also provides a prototype household application for the Free and Reduced Price School Meals, with multiple translations. The USDA site may be accessed at:

Alyssa Thornley

About The Author

Alyssa Thornley has spent her career working to support schools and communities in providing opportunity to all students. In positions as a teacher, professional development coordinator, and as a volunteer, she has focused on the community’s role in education, and in designing efficient programs that work for diverse needs. Alyssa leads TransACT’s customer engagement and market strategy efforts, and works to ensure innovative programs, guidance, and thought leadership from across the country’s districts are being shared and spread.