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Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)


The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas. CEP allows high-poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications.
Schools and school districts interested in participating in CEP must apply. Approved CEP applications are valid for four years.

CEP In a Nutshell

CEP for Participating Sites In a Nutshell

  • Lunch and breakfast are served free to all students in participating schools
  • No household applications for free and reduced-price meals are collected
  • No verification of free and reduced-price meals applications is required
  • Potential for increased meal participation rates, especially breakfast
  • Simplifies the counting and claiming process by not having to track meals by free, reduced-price and paid categories
  • Benefits of Community Eligibility - Interactive Graphic

Sites Eligible to Apply

  • Districts, groups of schools, or single school sites must have an Identified Student Percentage (ISP) of at least 25 percent based on Direct Certification (DC) data as of April 1st of the prior school year to be eligible. 


    • Note: DC codes S, T, O, E, G, and M can be included in the ISP. N and Z codes cannot be included in the ISP.
  • Participating sites must agree to serve both breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students for up to four consecutive school years.
  • Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs) are not eligible to participate.

CEP Planning and Implementation Guidance

​LEA ISP Calculation Worksheet 

How to Apply

The chart below summarizes the annual deadlines for key CEP requirements. 

CEP Requirement


Full Enrollment Direct Certification Run for ISP

April 1, 2024

Annual Intent Form

Accepted May 1 - June 30, 2024

CEP Application

Accepted May 1 - June 30, 2024

A Local Educational Agency (LEA) electing schools to participate in CEP must
  • Run DC for all sites with the full enrollment 
  • Submit the Agreement Form and Eligibility Worksheet

CEP Application

LEAs applying or reapplying for CEP must complete the CEP Agreement Form and CEP Eligibility Worksheet.
All LEAs applying for CEP must complete the CEP Agreement Form. 
Complete the CEP Eligibility Worksheet and submit with the signed CEP Agreement Form. 

Annual Intent Form

All participating LEAs must submit the Annual Intent Form to continue CEP participation for the succeeding school year. 

CEP Reimbursement


Once approved for CEP, each site is assigned free and paid claiming percentages. These claiming percentages are automatically added to the online claiming system. There is no reduced-price reimbursement within CEP.
The SFA is responsible for tracking all reimbursable breakfasts and lunches served. Once the monthly claims are submitted, the claiming percentages are automatically applied to the total reimbursable breakfasts and lunches.


USDA CEP Resource Center 

Annual Requirements

Counting and Claiming

Visiting and Transfer Students

Policy and Guidance




Title I and Other Funding Programs

Alternate Income Forms

DPI Alternate Household Income Form

For SFA-wide CEP:

The Alternate Household Income Application (Spanish) (Hmong) is a way to collect socioeconomic data from students in CEP schools. This application has been designed to be easy to complete, which assists in increasing the response rate from households.

Modified USDA Free and Reduced Application

For Group or Single Site CEP within One SFA (Mixed District):

It is permissible to use the USDA Free and Reduced Meal Application for CEP and non-CEP schools. This application must include additional language regarding CEP and has been included in the documents below. Some of the benefits of this application include:
  • Only one application is needed for all schools in the district both CEP and non-CEP
  • If a student transfers from a CEP school to a non-CEP school, this application can be used to determine eligibility in the non-CEP school since it is a USDA form.

You must be able to identify applications that have only CEP students on them. These applications are not needed for meal eligibility and cannot be included in Verification, Independent Review of Applications or as part of certification and benefit issuance during an Administrative Review. There is a box on the application to assist with tracking.

Even though this is a USDA application, the processing of applications with only CEP students on them, cannot be charged to the food service account since it is not needed for the school meal program eligibility determination. If there is an application with both CEP and non-CEP students listed, this application is needed to determine eligibility for non-CEP students and is permissible to charge to the food service account.

Note: The additional CEP language is also required for online applications and supporting documents used in CEP schools. The CEP Modified USDA Application Requirements document outlines the required language to assist in communicating with software vendors.
Title I and Achievement Gap Reduction Program (AGR)

Title I

Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA/ESEA) is a federal funding program designed to close achievement gaps and ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education. 

AGR Program

The AGR Program fully replaced the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education program (SAGE) and requires a participating school to create performance objectives, including reducing the achievement gap between low−income students in that school and students in the same grade and subject statewide.


Jessica Lessner, RDN
Nutrition Program Consultant
Kirsten Homstad, MS, RDN, CD
Nutrition Program Consultant