CEP Frequently Asked Questions

For the 2023-2024 school year, all students attending Roosevelt Elementary and Lincoln Heights Elementary will receive free breakfast and lunch regardless of income through SBPS' participation in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).  Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding the program:

1. What is the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and how long has it existed?

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program was created through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  The CEP program provides an alternative approach for offering school meals to schools in low income areas, instead of collecting individual applications for free and reduced-price meals.  The CEP allows schools that predominantly serve low-income children to offer free nutritious school meals to all students through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.  The CEP uses information from other programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families (TANF) instead of traditional paper applications.   

Based on a school and/or district's number of students who are direct certified (SNAP, TANF, etc.), will determine the eligibility level of a school and/or district.  A school may have a high free/reduced percentage but the CEP looks at the number of students who qualify for free/reduced meals through direct certification and not through a paper application.  The higher the number of students direct certified, the more the school and/or district is able to get reimbursed at the higher free meal rate.      

2. Why do only Roosevelt and Lincoln Height students receive free meals?

Roosevelt and Lincoln Heights are the schools in the district that serve the highest number of qualifying children.  During the 2020-2021 year, Lincoln Heights had a 71% free/reduced percentage and Roosevelt had a 91% free/reduced percentage.  The district-wide average in 2020-2021 was 63%.  These higher percentages have allowed SBPS, through the CEP program, to offer free meals to all students within those buildings and allow the district to get reimbursed for all meals at these sites at a higher free rate.     

3. Why didn’t SBPS combine the five elementary schools so all elementary students could receive free meals?

The Community Eligibility Provision guidelines do not permit a school district to do this.  SBPS did look at utilizing Lincoln Heights and Roosevelt's higher percentages to be able to extend the free meals to all elementary schools, unfortunately, if we added those schools, it was an estimated $175K the District would have to contribute in order to sustain the lunch program and including BMS and SHS would add another estimated $250K cost to the District.  The reason why we would have to pay to sustain the lunch program would be due to these buildings lowering the collective percentage utilized to determine the number of meals we would be able to get reimbursed at the higher "free" rate versus the lower "paid" rate through CEP.        

4. Why didn’t SBPS take the total amount of savings and discount the cost of lunch for all students?

CEP requires the meals to be free to those students in that building.  We are unable to equalize what the additional money CEP would be bringing to SBPS to sustain the meal program and prorate the cost of the meal service across the board to all schools and their students.