Last week, the USDA published the Final Rule, Child Nutrition Programs: Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) – Increasing Options for Schools. This Final Rule lowers the CEP minimum identified student percentage (ISP) from 40% to 25%, giving states and schools greater flexibility to choose to invest in non-federal funds to offer no-cost meals to all students.
SNA provided comments in response to the related proposed rule published in March. In the letter, SNA expressed appreciation for USDA’s ongoing efforts to expand access to CEP. SNA recognized that for states or localities that committed funds, lowering the ISP allows more schools to participate, eliminating longstanding barriers to healthy school meals. For those without supplementary non-federal funds, implementing CEP at the lower ISP would be financially unviable.
SNA urged USDA to continue advocating for Congress to increase the CEP multiplier to allow more schools to successfully implement the program, and to pass other measures to expand access to free school meals for all students.
USDA has an updated estimator tool to help LEAs determine if CEP is financially viable and to help assess LEA groupings to optimize Federal reimbursements.