Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's
During the 2014-15 School Year, the Community Eligibility Provision will go nationwide. This development comes after 11 states, including Massachusetts, have piloted the program over the past 1-3 years. And even in Massachusetts the program is set to expand greatly over the next few years.
What is CEP?
CEP allows individual schools or whole districts to provide free meals to all students as long as a 40% of enrollment is "identified", meaning directly certified for free school meals without need of an application. Directly certified students are those enrolled in one of a subset of federal anti-poverty programs including SNAP, TANF, or Food Distribution on Indian Reservations. Students with homeless, foster, or migrant status are also directly certified. If you're interested in more information The Food Resource and Action Center (FRAC) has a great snapshot of the program here and the USDA has an in-depth battery of resources on their site.
What are the benefits of CEP? (Adapted from Share Our Strength's Four Things to Know About Community Eligibility)
How do I switch to CEP in my district?
Interested districts should contact their state agency (in Massachusetts, that's the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) to learn how to get started. In the meantime, FRAC has some great tools to help you educate your district about the possibilities that CEP opens up. Check out a template letter for use with superintendents, a testimonial for a school board presentation, and another power point for use at a wellness committee or PTA meeting. Also, pay attention to the @FRACtweets, @madeleinelevin, and @centeronbudget twitter accounts for more tools and infographics. CEP is a great chance to feed every hungry child in your district so don't miss out.