Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

What is Community Eligibility Provision?
Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is an alternative way to serve universal free breakfast and lunch to all students in high poverty schools and/or school districts.
Under this program, schools are required to offer breakfast and lunch. But, CEP allows the district to opt out of collecting free and reduced meal applications from families.  Therefore, students will no longer have different statuses for the meal program—all students will be equal.  And, all meals will be served at no cost.

Why CEP?
There are several advantages for a school nutrition program to operate under this provision:
•         Students will receive breakfast and lunch at no cost.
•         Eliminates risk of identifying students according to their parents’ household income.
•         Improves nutrition for at risk students.
•         Reduces paperwork at the school site and district office; allowing the focus to center on feeding children.
•         Increases meal participation.
•         Eliminates unpaid meal fees.
•         Simplifies meal counting and claiming procedures.

What will CEP look like in Early County?
•         All schools will provide both breakfast and lunch to all students at no cost.
•         Meal participation is expected to increase 5-10%.
•         With the increase in participation, school nutrition will expand service locations, especially at breakfast.
•         Increased attention to meal production and service to ensure all meals are nutritious and delicious.
•         Families will not need to complete meal applications in order to receive meals at no cost.

Are individual items, like milk or fruit, available for free too?
No, students or adults purchasing single items, like milk or fresh fruit, will have to pay for them.  Only the complete student meal will be available at no cost.  For this reason, parents will want to make sure that there is money on their student’s account because a la carte purchases cannot be charged.  They need to be paid for at the time of selection.

If the students eat for free, why don’t the teachers eat for free too?
Teachers have the incredible task of educating our children on a daily basis, and they do a fantastic job.  It would be wonderful to provide meals to teachers at no cost; however, at this time, the United States Department of Agriculture only provides reimbursement for student meals.  Therefore, teachers must pay for their meals in order to cover the cost of food and labor involved in preparing and serving their meals.  At this time, an adult breakfast costs $1.50, and an adult lunch costs $3.00.

Who is picking up the tab for the paid or reduced student?
No one is picking up the tab for the paid or reduced students.  Also, the general fund is not absorbing the cost of the paid or reduced student.  Essentially, the school nutrition program is opting out of this source of local revenue.  
How can the School Nutrition Program afford to offer all meals at no cost?
School Nutrition Programs have three sources of revenue—Federal, State, & Local.  After careful consideration, we determined that our program could afford to provide meals at no cost to all students without a significant impact to our budget.  Under CEP, we will no longer receive the local revenue associated with paid and reduced student meals; however, the amount of Federal money will largely remain the same.  This coupled with an increase in meal participation will mean our projected revenue for next year under CEP will nearly be the same as this year.  State revenue will not be impacted