Many K-12 children utilize the national free school breakfast and lunch programs. It can be difficult for families to afford to put enough food on the table when they have limited funds in their bank accounts. Programs like this ensure their children can get nutritious and filling meals throughout the school year as they continue to grow and develop.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced an upcoming eligibility change that will result in millions of additional children in high-poverty communities qualifying for free school meals. An estimated 3,000 school districts in high-need areas will benefit.
The USDA is expanding access to free school meals
On Sept. 26, the USDA announced it would expand the availability of its Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program beginning on Oct. 26, thanks to a program change.
Through CEP, eligible schools in low-income areas can serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students without requiring families to fill out application forms. Removing burdens like application requirements helps to ensure kids don’t go without food.
What’s changing is the eligibility requirements for schools to qualify for CEP. Currently, for a school or group of schools to be eligible for CEP, 40% of students have to live in households that participate in certain income-based federal assistance programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Beginning on Oct. 26, the percentage will be reduced to 25%. This will give…