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Community Centered Message

Dear Education Partners,

USDA announced an expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) in September. This meal service option allows schools to provide meals at no cost to all students without requiring families to apply for free and reduced-price meals. Instead, CEP funding is used based on a formula using existing data from the Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program (SNAP) and other programs to determine eligibility for these funds. The change, which goes into effect on October 26, 2023, means more schools may qualify to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision. 

Previously, 40% of students were required to be in households participating in certain income-based federal assistance programs; this has decreased to a threshold of 25%, as outlined in this final rule.  

What does this mean for Oregon Schools? 

ODE CNP has applied for a waiver from the USDA to permit mid-year CEP election to allow newly eligible schools to participate in CEP during the 23-24 school year. 

Local Education Agencies (LEAs) will need to determine their eligibility and abilities to cover any costs necessary to provide meals at no cost that may lie outside of the amount of this funding. Additional costs will need to be covered by other funding sources. Electing CEP is a voluntary decision by local school districts based on student populations, including student nutrition, educational, administrative, and financial factors. The USDA has guidance for LEAs on its website. 

What happens if our school does use CEP funding?

Suppose a newly eligible school district or public charter school does receive CEP funding. In that case, this may mean that all students attending that district can receive breakfast and lunch at no charge once the implementation is complete. It may be during the 23-24 school year if the USDA accepts the waiver. The school administration should communicate this with families and students at the local level. 

What happens if our school does not elect to use the CEP funding?

Suppose your local school district or eligible public charter school is not electing to participate in CEP or doesn't qualify. Families can submit a Household Application for Free and Reduced-Price School Meals. Eligible school districts and public charter schools must participate in the Oregon Expanded Income Group (EIG) Reimbursement Program. Oregon EIG provides the financial resources to school districts to offer no-cost meals to students from households with incomes between 185 – 300% of the federal poverty level.