An Advocate’s Guide to Promoting Community Eligibility
Jessie Hewins (Food Research and Action Center) and Becca Segal (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a powerful new federal option that allows school districts to offer meals at no charge to all students in high-poverty schools. After a successful initial rollout in 11 states over three years, community eligibility became available nationwide in the 2014-2015 school year. In just the second year of nationwide availability, implementation in the 2015-2016 school year was widespread and robust with community eligibility reaching more than 8.5 million children in more than 18,000 schools. However, there are still many eligible schools that have not yet adopted the provision.
This guide highlights key steps that advocates and community members can take over the next few months to support school districts’ adoption of community eligibility in the 2016-2017 school year and beyond. These steps are divided into three categories:
- Informing school districts
- Analysis and policy work
- Engaging relevant stakeholders
By selecting the steps best-suited to their state or school districts, advocates can facilitate broader implementation of community eligibility.