Community Eligibility is an option that allows school districts in high poverty areas to offer free school meals to all students.
March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.
For more than 250,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), gone are the days of scrounging for lunch money, bumming a snack from a friend, or going into seventh period with a growling stomach. As of March 1,339 sites in the district now offer breakfast and lunch at no cost to students via the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The second largest school district in the nation, LAUSD serves a high-poverty population: More than one in five residents live below the poverty line, and the area has the largest food insecure population in the country. By expanding CEP in their district, LAUSD is guaranteeing students access to the nutrition they need to thrive in the classroom and beyond.
You may have heard us talk about CEP before. Most recently, we explored how schools around the country are remaining flexible – dealing with any barriers they may face – to implement CEP and benefit from what administrators are calling a “financial win/win.” We’re excited to report that several large districts across the country – and the hundreds of thousands of students enrolled at those schools – are now experiencing those poverty-fighting, nutrition-promoting benefits. LAUSD joins Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Shelby County (Tenn.) and Houston school districts, who have all implemented CEP, offering two nutritious meals a day at no cost to more than 100,000 students each. Read more »
Administrator Audrey Rowe joins Bibb County School District and Alexander II Magnet School faculty and students in their school garden.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 celebrated its fifth anniversary last month, and I can tell you it has made a difference! I think back on the past five years and am proud of the strides we’ve made in giving students access to more local and healthy food in our schools.
Accompanied by FNS Administrator Audrey Rowe, I had a wonderful visit with two Georgia elementary schools this fall. Our trip to Alexander II Magnet School in Bibb County and Westside Elementary School in Houston County highlighted 2015 National School Lunch Week celebrations (October 12-16) and offered a great example of progress on the school meals front. Read more »
Students, school staff, teachers, and the entire community celebrate National School Lunch Week.
The fall season has arrived and with it the National School Lunch Week celebration! During the second week of October, USDA recognizes the important role school meal programs play in providing healthy, appetizing foods to their students. Over the last several weeks, USDA leaders visited schools to experience their meal programs first hand. And they were quite impressed! Now more than ever, today’s schools encourage healthy choices by featuring creative dishes and a variety of fruits and vegetables. USDA also got the chance to tour school gardens that harvest fresh ingredients and allow students to learn where their food comes from. It was exciting to see the many ways schools get students excited about health and nutrition and the important strides made to secure a healthier next generation.
After only three years since the updated nutrition standards were implemented, more than 96 percent of schools nationwide are meeting the standards. The impact is nothing short of inspiring. School lunch revenue has increased by up to $450 million; teachers report that students are more attentive in the classroom; and a Harvard study found students are now eating more fruits and vegetables! Read more »
CEP reduces school districts’ paperwork and administrative burden, giving schools more time and resources to improve their meal service.
There’s been a lot of talk over the last several years about the nutrition of school meals – where the ingredients come from, how they’re prepared, what the food tastes like, and how the meal is presented. These are all important conversations for elevating the quality of school food service and improving the health and wellbeing of children nationwide. But it’s also important to remember one of the most vital purposes of offering school meals: fighting hunger so kids can focus on learning.
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a tool high-poverty schools can use to fight childhood hunger. It allows schools in low-income areas to serve meals to all students at no cost, eliminating individual household applications for free and reduced-price meals and increasing access to nutritious food. Read more »
Many schools in high-poverty areas find that participating in CEP is cost-effective.
When the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act authorized the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), schools in high-poverty areas gained another important tool to fight childhood hunger. By the end of school year 2014-15, the first year CEP was available nationwide, more than half of all eligible schools had already jumped on board.
Low-income schools of all kinds – rural, urban, elementary and secondary – recognized the potential impact they could have on their communities by offering meals at no cost to all students. Yet, some schools encountered more bumps on the road to implementation than others. Read more »
Students waiting to enjoy a delicious lunch.
Every day, millions of students across the U.S. walk into school with stomachs growling because they haven’t had enough to eat either that morning or the night before and eagerly anticipate getting a school breakfast. Hours later, when the lunch bell rings, the same students jet to the front of the line to make sure they get enough food to tide them over until their next meal. For many students, school meals are not a luxury or a backup in case they forget to pack a meal; they are a lifeline.
At a time when 8.6 million U.S. children lack consistent access to food at home, the availability of nutritious meals at school is more important than ever. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) provides an opportunity for schools to not only feed more kids, but can help with the bottom line. Read more »