The deadline for Local Educational Agencies to Submit Applications to Elect the Community Eligibility Provision in School Year 2015/2016 is August 31, 2015.
The Community Eligibility Provision for the National School Lunch Program (NLSP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) gives eligible local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high percentages of low-income children the option to offer free school meals to all children in those schools without collecting applications. Under this provision, eligible LEAs and schools elect to provide meals to all students and are reimbursed by the federal government through a formula using the percentage of “identified students” – that is, students certified for free school meals without an application due to their enrollment in designated assistance programs – multiplied by a factor of 1.6.
CEP screens opened on March 1 and CEs must submit their data by March 20 to record enrollment and eligibility data that will be used for reporting and application to operate the CE for the next school year.
A list of CEs and schools that are potentially eligible to operate CEP will be posted on this webpage by April 15.
Technical assistance is available by contacting your regional education service center. You may also request technical assistance via email at NSLP-SBP.Bops@TexasAgriculture.gov – please include your CE ID and CE Name in your inquiry to ensure a timely response.
Helpful Questions and Answers Regarding CEP
How will CEP affect Title 1 funding?
Answer: CEP will not impact the total amount of Title 1 funding received at the district level. However, it may impact the distribution percentages for funding received at the campus level.
Question: How will CEP impact School Compensatory Education (SCE) funding?
Answer: The Texas Education Agency will use the count of students eligible for meals reimbursed by the TDA at the free rate in the calculation of students eligible for SCE funding. As an example, if schools participating in CEP have an identified student percentage of 40%, the number of students that count towards SCE funding would be 64% of total enrollment (.40*1.6).
Question: Can a district include a mix of P2 and CEP campuses?
Answer: Yes; however, if a district is currently utilizing group percentages for P2 sites and a portion of those sites switch to CEP sites, the district must re-establish their base year for the remaining P2 sites.
Question: Isn’t it easier to stay on P2 since you don’t have to establish new claiming percentages?
Answer: The unique circumstances for each CE will determine it is easier to stay on P2 or shift to CEP. In making that determination CEs should consider the following issues. All CEs are required to report CEP data each year whether they are CEP, P2, or use standard pricing. P2 schools must also re-establish their base year or use approved data to ensure the economic situation within the community has not changed significantly every 4 years. CEs should also consider that high need schools may receive a higher amount of reimbursement under CEP than they would under P2.
Question: How is funding for e-rate determined?
Answer: Schools opting into the Community Eligibility Provision under the National School Lunch Program will use the 1.6 multiplier as is currently permitted by USDA and other federal programs. The CEP program provides a new alternative to NSLP household applications for free and reduced price meals in high poverty local educational agencies as it does not require schools participating in CEP to obtain individual income eligibility applications from each student. Instead, it derives estimates of the NSLP eligible population from existing data from other income-based programs. In order to qualify for CEP, a school, group of schools, or the entire district must have an Identified Student Percentage of 40% or more and must offer both breakfast and lunch daily. Presumably, the NSLP eligibility data that will be entered into the Form 471, Block 4 discount calculation worksheet will already contain the 1.6 multiplier. CEP schools must retain back-up calculations which may be requested during PIA and audits. Note: The previous FCC guidance that CEP schools must use the NSLP data from the year before they opted into CEP has been repealed.
Question: How long will the CEP multiplier rate continue to be 1.6?
Answer: The multiplier rate is tied to economic indicators. USDA has the authority to issue a between 1.3 and 1.6. The multiplier rate will be in effect for the entire four years of the CEP cycle unless the CE chooses to reestablish a new rate or add/remove schools to a group of school in an existing CEP four –year cycle.
Question: Are funds outside of federal funds required to operate NSLP and SBP while on CEP?
Answer: SFAs will be reimbursed at the free reimbursement rate for the number of identified students * 1.6. The remaining percentage of students will be reimbursed at the paid rate. Federal reimbursement received may be used to cover all allowable costs associated with the Child Nutrition Program at the SFA. If the federal funds received are not sufficient to cover the costs at the SFA, the district must use non-federal funds to cover any remaining costs incurred.
Question: Are campuses that offer a half day kindergarten or half-day program that has different students attending the morning and afternoon tracks eligible to participate in CEP?
Answer: Yes, campuses that offer both School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program are eligible to participate in CEP, even if that campus includes students who are in attendance for and have access to only one meal service during their regular attendance day, i.e., breakfast for the morning track or lunch for the afternoon track as long as students are not in attendance when the other meal is served.
Question: Are pre-kindergarten or half-day program students included in the number of identified students for CEP?
Answer: Students who are enrolled in and attending a school operating CEP and who have access to at least one meal service daily may be included in the number of identified students which is used to calculate the site’s identified student percentage. This includes programs for very young children such as Head Start or programs for older students such as off-campus work experience or attendance for off-campus college courses.
Question: Are state-funded pre-kindergarten students included in the number of identified students?
Answer: If the state-funded pre-kindergarten program uses income eligibility criteria which are identical to or more stringent that the federally funded Head Start program and if the eligibility certification lasts no longer than one year, students in these programs may be included in a school’s number of identified students which is used to calculate the identified student percentage.
Click here for the eligibility list by district.
Click here for the eligibility list by site.
Below are some resources to help you determine whether CEP may be a good option for your school. Additional materials are forthcoming.