Community Eligibility Provision Resources

The Community Eligibility Provision

Feed more students and realize administrative cost savings.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) provides schools with high percentages of low-income children the option to offer free school meals to all children in those schools without collecting applications. Under this provision, schools elect to provide meals to all students at no charge and are reimbursed by the federal government through a formula using the percentage of “identified students” – that is, students certified for free school meals without an application due to their enrollment in designated assistance programs – multiplied by a factor of 1.6.

For additional information and resources, please visit Virginia Hunger Solutions' CEP homepage. 

Benefits of Community Eligibility:

  • Helps low-income students and families have access to free nutritious meals for all students, no stigma, and less time spent in cashier lines and more time to eat nutritious meals
  • Increases efficiency and school meal participation
  • No household application means less paperwork and no worries about lunch accounts
  • Improves the financial viability of school nutrition programs
  • Eliminates unpaid meal fees

“CEP has been an amazing addition to our school division this year!  As with any change, many in the division were nervous about CEP and the changes that it could bring. After much consideration, the division decided to make the transition and after one week of school, we have received only positive feedback! Through just the first five days, we have served 17% more breakfasts and 24% more lunches compared to last year.  One of our largest elementary schools is experiencing 70% participation in breakfast and 87% participation in lunch! CEP is a change worth embracing because we are able to feed more students and give them the fuel they need to reach their full potential.”

Patrick Barnes, Supervisor of Operations, Hopewell City Public Schools


"[Adopting] CEP was a no-brainer decision. If you’re sitting in a classroom and your stomach is growling and you haven’t eaten, that’s another distracter; that’s another challenge for the teacher when it comes to encouraging our students and making sure that they are…ready to learn.”

Dr. Dana T. Bedden, Superintendent, Richmond City Public Schools

CEP Documents