Community Eligibility Provision Feeds One Million Kids Daily

Rachel Cooper

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) means that over 1 million Texas public school students now receive free breakfast and lunch each day. This new tool makes school meal signups easier and increases revenue for schools. CEP is now in place at over 1,648 schools in Texas, making the Lone Star State the national leader in CEP participation.

CEP – now in its second year – allows eligible high-poverty schools and school districts to serve breakfast and lunch free of charge to all students.

School districts have embraced Community Eligibility because it keeps kids from going hungry, and schools actually make more money, making it a win for children, parents and schools.

“At Spring ISD, we were already doing Universal Free Breakfast, so signing up for CEP was a no-brainer. We saw it as a benefit to both the students and our district. The students do not have to worry about having lunch money, and the district does not have to worry about student charges or alternative meals. We have already seen an increase in both breakfast and lunch participation, and continue to see that number rise each month.”

-Kevin Truong, Assistant Director of the Child Nutrition Department at Spring ISD

Many school districts that adopted CEP last year report that breakfast and lunch participation increased at eligible schools, and families are spending less on school meals. And because the entire student body is eligible for free meals, CEP also effectively removes the stigma associated with free and reduced-price meals – resulting in fewer hungry kids.

Research shows that students who eat well perform better in school. By adopting community eligibility, schools and districts are ensuring that more Texas kids are fueled up and ready to learn each day.

School nutrition departments find financial benefits, as well. Higher meal participation increases department revenue (through additional reimbursement), and more kids eating can decrease per-meal costs.

Advocates and schools have worked closely together to expand participation in CEP. The latest school districts in Texas to sign up for CEP include Austin, Corpus Christi, Spring, Killeen, Liberty-Eylau, Ysleta, Edcouch-Elsa, Paris and Springlake-Earth.

Large school districts that still have a chance to sign up include Abilene, Waco, Alief, Eagle Pass and Beaumont.

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.

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