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Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

What is Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a 4-year reimbursement option for eligible local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools participating in both the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) that wish to offer free school meals to all children in high poverty schools without collecting household applications.

Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) In a Nutshell


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


Who is Eligible to Participate

  • Districts, groups of schools or single school sites with an Identified Student Percentage (ISP) of at least 40 percent based on data as of April 1st of the prior school year. 
  • Must agree to serve both breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students for four consecutive school years.
  • Must cover any costs of providing meals above the amount provided in Federal assistance with non-Federal funds.
  • Residential Child Care Institutions are not eligible to participate.
  • CEP Planning and Implementation Guidance
Use the ​LEA ISP Calculation Worksheet to determine the ISP.

Eligible and Near Eligible Sites

Annually Wisconsin DPI will compose a list of LEAs (Local Educational Agencies) eligible and near eligible to participate in Community Eligibility Provision. Information used to compose this list is from the Verification Collection Reports of SY 2016-2017.  Data is not fully reflective of the number of identified students, nor is it representative of data as of April 1, 2017. This list is intended for informational purposes and does not grant eligibility for Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

Local Educational Agencies that do not qualify as a whole may have individual schools or groups of schools that are eligible to participate in CEP. 

The CEP LEA and School Notification Report  contains both LEA and school level eligible and near eligible data for SY 2019-20. 


CEP sites will only need to track the total number of breakfast and lunch meals served each day, and will no longer need to keep track of meals served by FREE, REDUCED, and PAID rate categories.  Instead, the total number of meals will be reimbursed at FREE or PAID rates.

SFAs will be reimbursed at the Federal free category rate using the ratio of Identified Students to enrolled students (who have access to one meal service daily), multiplied by the USDA multiplier factor of 1.6.  The multiplier factor is intended to estimate the number of free and reduced price meals that would have been served if applications were collected.  The difference between the free claiming percentage and 100 percent represents the paid claiming percentage.  There are no reduced price meals in CEP.

To Apply

LEAs electing schools to participate in CEP need to send in the Agreement Form and supporting documentation. Applications will be accepted beginning May 1, 2019. The deadline to apply for SY 2019-20 is June 30, 2019.
Note: S, T, O, E, and M codes can be included in the ISP. N and Z codes cannot be included in the ISP.


Title I and Other Funding Programs     

While CEP removes the need for free and reduced meal paper applications there may still be a need to collect household socioeconomic data for other programs such as Title 1 and SAGE. There are now two applications to choose from to collect this data.  Please note, all costs associated with distributing, collecting and reviewing these household income forms must be paid for with funds outside of the non-profit school food service account.

Alternate Income Forms

DPI Alternate Household Income Form

For SFA-wide CEP

The Alternate Household Income Application 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. 

Implications of the Community Eligibility Provision for Participating Schools and Districts - DPI Letter June 2016

Title 1 and AGR Resources


  • The E-Rate Letter explains the process for schools to determine the data to use in applying for discounts on services received under the E-Rate Program.  
  • DPI E-Rate website 

Modified USDA Free and Reduced Application 

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

It is now permissible to use a modified version of 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 can not be included in Verification, Independent Review of Applications or as part of certification and benefit issuance during an Administrative Review.  We added 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. 

Please Note: The additional CEP language is also required for online applications and supporting documents used in CEP schools.  The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Modified USDA Application Requirements document outlines the required language to assist in communicating with software vendors.  



CEP Contacts

Kirsten Voss, MS, RDN, CD
(608) 267-9132

Jessica Lessner
(608) 267-2293