Special Assistance Alternatives
In an effort to reduce paperwork at the local level, Congress has incorporated into Section 11(a)(1) of the National School Lunch Act three alternative provisions to the normal requirements for annual determinations of eligibility for free and reduced price school meals and daily meal counts by type (free, reduced price and paid meals) at the point of service.
This Provision reduces application burdens and simplifies meal counting and claiming procedures. It allows schools to establish claiming percentages and to serve all meals at no charge for a four-year period. Schools must serve meals to all participating children at no charge for a period of four years. During the first year, or base year, the school makes eligibility determinations and takes meal counts by type. During the next three years, the school makes no new eligibility determinations and counts only the total number of reimbursable meals served each day. Reimbursement during these years is determined by applying the percentages of free, reduced price and paid meals served during the corresponding month of the base year to the total meal count for the claiming month. The base year is included as part of the four years. At the end of each four-year period, the state agency may approve four-year extensions if the income level of the school’s population remains stable. Schools electing this alternative must pay the difference between federal reimbursement and the cost of providing all meals at no charge. The money to pay for this difference must be from sources other than federal funds. Provision 2 has been an option for schools since publication of regulations in 1980.
- Provision 2 Guidance: National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs-Summer 2002 (PDF)
- Amendment Expanding Provisions 2 & 3 Districtwide August 2004 (PDF)
- SP-46-2015- Review of Provision 2/3 Base Year - September 28, 2015
Community Eligibility Provision
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas. A key provision of The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA, Public Law 111-296; December 13, 2010), CEP allows the nation’s highest poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without the burden of collecting household applications. Instead, schools that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students participating in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
To be eligible, LEAs and/or schools must: meet a minimum level (40%) of identified students for free meals in the year prior to implementing the CEP; agree to serve free lunches and breakfasts to all students; not collect free and reduced price applications from households in participating schools; and agree to cover with non-Federal funds any costs of providing free meals to all students above amounts provided in Federal assistance.
- USDA CEP Estimator Tool
- Community Eligibility Provision Planning and Implementation Guide
- Community Eligibility Provision Resource Center-USDA
- Arkansas Community Eligibility Provision Annual Notification of Local Education Agencies - April 1, 2023 (XLSX)
- USDA MEMO COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #6 (PDF)
- Identified Student Reporting SY 2022-2023
- Updated Title I Guidance for Making Within District Allocations
- Community Eligibility Provision: Department of Education Title I Guidance (SP-35-2015) - March 15, 2015 (PDF)
- FCC Letter regarding E-Rate and Community Eligibility - July 31, 2012
- Updated E-Rate Guidance for Schools Electing Community Eligibility (SP-08-2015) - November 21, 2014