The Food Research and Action Center released last week a new report status update on the adoption of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) across the country. Last year was the third school year that CEP was available to schools and districts with high concentrations of students from low-income families, and the report shows that Nebraska continues to struggle in maximizing this opportunity to ensure that hunger is not a barrier to learning.
CEP allows schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students. Instead of collecting school meal applications, schools are reimbursed for meals served using a formula based on the percentage of students who are categorically eligible for free meals due to participation in other programs. Schools that have adopted CEP have reported extremely promising effects, including increased meal participation and lower administrative costs.
According to the report’s data from the 2016-2017 school year show that only 27.6 per cent of eligible Nebraska school districts had at least one school participating in CEP, compared to a national average of 46.8 per cent; and only 13.6 per cent of eligible Nebraska schools were participating in CEP, compared to a national average of 54.7 per cent. The low rate of participation in Nebraska represents a missed opportunity in utilizing a targeted solution to child hunger.
Nebraska is currently ranked second-to-last in the country, as a percentage of eligible schools that have adopted CEP.
For more information and a copy of the report go to www. FRAC.org.