Simplifying Programs

Community Eligibility: Making High-Poverty Schools Hunger Free

"Community eligibility” is a powerful new tool that allows schools in high-poverty areas to offer nutritious meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs to all students at no charge. More than 2,200 high-poverty schools serving nearly 1 million children in seven states — one in ten children across these states — operated under community eligibility during the 2012-2013 school year.

This report analyzes the scope and impact of community eligibility in the seven states that have implemented it thus far. It is meant to serve as a guide for states and school districts as the nationwide rollout of community eligibility approaches.


Coordinating Human Services Programs with Health Reform Implementation
A Toolkit for State Agencies

When the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions take effect, it is likely that a large share of people (mostly parents and adults without children) who will be newly eligible for Medicaid coverage will already be enrolled in SNAP or other benefit programs. In other cases, individuals who apply for health coverage due to the new law will not have had contact with state human services in the past and many may be eligible for other benefits, such as SNAP, child care subsidies, or energy assistance. Careful consideration of how states will address and leverage applicants’ or participants’ connection to other benefits and services as a part of their health reform implementation efforts could help to yield better outcomes for families and efficiencies for state administration.

This toolkit provides states with tools and suggestions for a guided process that can be used to review the current eligibility and enrollment service delivery model and compare the current model to the desired future model. View the toolkit

Related: HHS Announces Opportunity to Streamline Health Coverage for SNAP Participants



Complex and duplicative paperwork requirements prevent many low-income families — especially working families — from receiving benefits that can help them meet basic needs such as food, health care, and child care. Such requirements also add to state agency workloads and costs. The Center established the Project on Program Simplification and Coordination to make low-income programs easier both for eligible families to participate in and for states to administer.

Featured Experts

  1. Stacy Dean

    Stacy Dean

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  2. Shelby Gonzales

    Shelby Gonzales

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  3. LaDonna Pavetti Ph.D.

    LaDonna Pavetti Ph.D.

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  4. Dottie Rosenbaum

    Dottie Rosenbaum

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By producing analyses and providing technical assistance to states and others, the Project on Program Simplification and Coordination helps states:

  1. identify ways to streamline and coordinate the rules governing Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program,  food stamps, child care subsidy programs, and TANF income assistance programs, and
  2. implement these changes in ways that will improve program participation rates while reducing red tape for both states and families.


Of Interest

The Center is interested in learning about innovative approaches to program simplification and alignment. If there are policies or procedures in your state that could be a model for others, please contact Stacy Dean at the Center on Budget and Policy priorities.

What Some States Are Doing

Arkansas and Louisiana use information collected by the food stamp program to renew people's Medicaid eligibility.

Oregon, Wisconsin and other states have online calculators that allow families to determine their likely benefit level.

In parts of Ohio, families applying for child care subsidies can apply for Medicaid on the same simple form.

The Medicaid applications in Maine and Nebraska ask families if they are interested in applying for other benefit programs.

Louisiana, Texas, and Washington state conduct many food stamp interviews by phone.

Utah electronically scans in applicants' documentation so they do not have to supply the same documents twice.

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