Meals Count: New Tools to Optimize CEP Grouping and Funding

Published on Jul 22, 2020 in Child Nutrition, School-Aged Children, State Administration

The COVID-19 crisis continues to harm millions of families across California. With rising rates of unemployment and food insecurity, our students urgently need access to nutritious, affordable food, including school meals. Implementing the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a powerful strategy to help nourish more children, strengthen school meal programs, and simplify meal service operations. The economic effects of COVID-19 mean more schools are now eligible to apply for CEP and many schools can receive increased reimbursement through CEP.

School districts have until August 31, 2020 to apply for CEP in 2020-21. 

On July 9, 2020, California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) and the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) co-hosted a webinar that featured  an overview of the Community Eligibility Provision and virtual tours of two new tools that school districts can use to optimize CEP.

  • Meals Count is a free, online, customizable, online tool that effectively and efficiently groups schools to get the most out of CEP.
  • FRAC’s CEP financial calculators are available to help assess and maximize CEP funding.

Didn’t have time to join us for the webinar or need a refresher?

Watch the webinar recording now…

  • CEP overview at 4:00 (Gurjeet Baraya, California Department of Education)
  • Introduction to Meals Count at 27:35 (Paloma Perez-Bertran, San Diego Hunger Coalition),
  • Virtual tour of Meals Count at 31:35 (Nikolaj Baer, Open San Diego)
  • CEP financial calculators at 54:20 (Etienne Melcher Philbin, Food Research & Action Center)
  • Q&A Session at 1:01:04

CEP Resources

Getting Help

Grouping Schools for CEP: Meals Count is developed and supported by Open San Diego, CFPA, and the San Diego Hunger Coalition. Contact the Meals Count team for help using the tool.

Applying for CEP: If you have any questions or are interested in applying for CEP, please contact your School Nutrition Programs (SNP) Specialist. The SNP Specialist list is available in the CNIPS Download Forms section, Form ID Caseload.

You can also contact an SNP Office Technician by phone at 916-322-3005 or 916-322-1450, or call 800-952-5609, Option 2, to be directed to your SNP Specialist.

Are you a school district located in San Diego County? Please contact Paloma Bertran-Perez for technical assistance at

Have questions or suggestions?

Please contact Angeles Nelson ( or Tia Shimada (


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