Thanks to your advocacy, more children will receive free school meals next school year

Published on Apr 8, 2021 in Child Nutrition, School-Aged Children

Nourish California commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its decision to extend nationwide Community Eligibility Provision deadlines.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a federal program that enables schools to serve free meals to all students in high-poverty schools. 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. Thanks to action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend nationwide waiver deadlines, more schools have the opportunity to take advantage of this powerful program.

The CEP waivers provide additional time for schools to collect and process the necessary student data in order to enroll in CEP. Schools can now use data to calculate the Identified Student Percentage (ISP) anytime between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021; and the new deadline for electing to enroll in CEP for SY 2021-2022 is September 30, 2021. See below for more information.

Greater enrollment in CEP will increase access to nutritious school meals for many children across California and will help support low-income households who continue to struggle during the COVID-19 crisis. With high rates of unemployment and food insecurity, our students urgently need access to nutritious, affordable food — including school meals. School meals are a critical resource that helps students learn, grow, and achieve at their fullest potential. Unlike many public programs, school meals do not exclude children based on immigration status. By providing meals to all students at no charge, CEP will help reduce food insecurity and support school nutrition programs. 

Is your school serving free meals to all students? If not, you may be eligible. Now is the time to qualify.

The Meals Count calculator can help school districts optimize Community Eligibility Provision, maximize school meal funding, and fight childhood hunger. Find out if your school qualifies by visiting the Meals Count website

Save the date: April 27, 2021, to attend a Meals Count webinar and learn more about the Community Eligibility Provision. Subscribe for updates 

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