This rulemaking proposes to expand access to the Community Eligibility Provision by lowering the minimum identified student percentage participation threshold from 40 percent to 25 percent, which would give states and schools greater flexibility to choose to invest non-federal funds to offer no-cost meals to all enrolled students. As a result, more students, families, and schools would have an opportunity to experience the benefits of the Community Eligibility Provision, including access to meals at no cost, eliminating unpaid meal charges, minimizing stigma, reducing paperwork for school nutrition staff and families, and streamlining meal service operations.
When all students have access to healthy school meals, meal participation tends to increase, and more children can experience nutritional benefits that fuel their learning, growth, and development. This proposed rule would also support state and local choices to expand the availability of free school meals for all through programs supported by state or local funding. Lowering the eligibility threshold would allow states and local educational agencies to optimize use of the Community Eligibility Provision, helping them to support school meals in a more streamlined manner.
Request for Comments
Written comments on this proposed rule should be received on or before May 8, 2023 to receive consideration.
The Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, invites interested persons to submit written comments on this proposed rule. Comments may be submitted in writing by one of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
- Mail: Send comments to School Meals Policy Division, Food and Nutrition Service, P.O. Box 9233, Reston, VA 20195. All written comments submitted in response to this proposed rule will be included in the record and will be made available to the public. Please be advised that the substance of the comments and the identity of the individuals or entities submitting the comments will be subject to public disclosure. FNS will make the written comments publicly available on the internet via http://www.regulations.gov.
For Further Information
Michelle Frey, Branch Chief (703-305-2590)
Policy Design Branch, School Meals Policy Division - 4th floor
Food and Nutrition Service
1320 Braddock Place
Alexandria, VA 22314