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The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), established in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, improves access to free school meals in eligible high poverty local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools. In 2016-2017, it is estimated that CEP reached over 36,000 students in 18 LEAs throughout Colorado. Since implementation of CEP, participating LEAs have seen improvements in program operations, including:
- Increased participation at lunch and breakfast.
- Reduced of unpaid meal fees.
- Simplified food service operations and increased use of alternative service models, such as “grab and go” at breakfast.
- Increased time for students to eat due to faster meal service lines and simplified counting methods.
- Increased customer satisfaction from students, parents and staff.
For a LEA to be eligible to implement CEP, the LEA must have one or more schools with an identified student percentage (ISP) of 40 percent or greater, as of April 1. The identified student percentage is NOT the same as the total number of student’s eligible for free and reduced price meals. This refers to students directly certified with documentation from:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Extended eligibility with SNAP.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, Basic Cash Assistance and State Diversion only)
- Extended Eligibility with TANF
- Federal Distribution Program on Indian Reservation (FDPIR).
- Foster children certified through means other than an household application.
- Migrant children certified by a migrant coordinator
- Runaway and homeless youth, as defined under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act or under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
- Children enrolled in a federally funded Head Start Program, or a comparable state funded pre-kindergarten program.
- Students approved by a local education official.
In the first year, the ISP will be multiplied by a factor of 1.6, to determine the total percentage of students at the free rate of reimbursement. For example, an LEA with a 62.5 ISP, multiplied by the factor of 1.6 will receive 100 percent at the free reimbursement rate. If the total percentage of students is below 100 percent, the remaining percentage of students will be reimbursed at the paid rate by the LEA with non-federal funds.
Provision 2 requires that the school serve meals to participating children at no charge but reduced application burdens to once every 4 years and simplifies meal counting and claiming procedures by allowing a school to receive meal reimbursement based on claiming percentages. During the first year, known as the base year, there is no change in traditional procedures and administrative burden. During years 2, 3 and 4 of the cycle, the school makes no new eligibility determinations and continues to serve all children meals at no charge. The school takes counts of 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 base year to the total meal count for the claiming period in subsequent years. Federal reimbursement is based on these percentages and the meals are reimbursed at the free, reduced price and paid rates.
For more information, email Benjamin Wetherbee or call 303-866-6529.