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Community Eligibility Provision Planning and Implementation Guidance

EO Guidance Document #
FNS Document #
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
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PDF Icon Policy Memo (101.48 KB)
PDF Icon CEP Guidance (1.53 MB)
Please Note

This resource does not reflect the changes made by the Final Rule published on Sept. 26, 2023, which lowered the minimum identified student percentage required to elect CEP from 40% to 25%.

DATE: September 30, 2016
SUBJECT: Fall 2016 Edition: Community Eligibility Provision: Planning and Implementation Guidance
TO: Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

Attached is the second edition of Community Eligibility Provision: Planning and Implementation Guidance. A key provision of The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA, PL 111-296; Dec. 13, 2010), the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a meal service option for schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) in high poverty areas. CEP allows participating schools to provide breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge and without the burden of collecting and processing school meal applications. Instead, schools that have adopted CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students participating in other means-tested programs. Schools implementing CEP have experienced great success, including eased administrative burden, improved efficiency, and increased participation in their school meal programs.

On July 29, 2016, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published the final rule, National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Eliminating Applications through Community Eligibility as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 [81 FR 50194, July 29, 2016; 7 CFR 245.9(l)], codifying CEP in federal regulation.

This manual includes new information codified in the final rule and consolidates existing CEP guidance, policy, and best practices from the local level. Notable changes are highlighted throughout the manual. The highlighted version will be removed after three months while an un-highlighted version will remain available for use. FNS will continue to update the manual as needed to reflect policy changes and to incorporate clarifications requested by state agencies and FNS regional offices.

State agencies are reminded to distribute this memorandum and attachments to program operators immediately. LEAs, school food authorities, and other program operators should direct any questions concerning this guidance to their state agency. State agencies with questions should contact the appropriate FNS regional office.

Angela Kline
Policy and Program Development Division
Child Nutrition Programs

Page updated: September 26, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.