. Community eligibility — which allows high-poverty schools to offer breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge without having to process meal applications —is a proven success and an important tool to help children achieve their academic goals. More than 28,000 schools nationwide are eligible to adopt the provision and become hunger-free.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has encouraged states to continue to accept applications after the deadline and even after the school year begins. During this transition year, schools can still implement community eligibility even if they have disseminated and collected free and reduced-price meal applications, according to USDA’s July 2014 Guidance. The sooner they adopt the provision, however, the sooner they will be able to cut back on paperwork, receive reimbursement according to the community eligibility formula — and make meals more readily available to all students.
Community eligibility allows high-poverty schools to ensure that students are ready to learn and receive two nutritious meals every day. Schools can receive more information on their individual state’s application process by contacting their State Nutrition Director.