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Office for Prekindergarten through Grade 12 Education
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

Superintendents, School Business Officials, Executive Directors, School Food Service Directors/Managers
Paula Tyner-Doyle, Coordinator
Monday, April 17, 2017
2017-18 Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Application and Instructions

Deadline: June 30, 2017

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is now accepting applications from local education agencies (LEAs) and schools that want to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for the 2017-18 school year.  LEA/group of schools/individual school considering CEP must be participating in both the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs.  The CEP enables LEAs or schools to serve all children breakfast and lunch at no charge for four successive school years, plus a qualifying grace year (if applicable).  Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs) may not participate in the CEP as they are not included in the purpose of the legislation.

The CEP is a wonderful opportunity that an eligible LEA, group of schools, or individual school should consider as it reduces administrative paperwork and costs, while making it easier for children in low income communities to receive meals at no charge in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.  It also increases program integrity by relying on data from other means-tested certifications (i.e., SNAP, Medicaid).  Those LEA/group of schools/individual school that qualify to participate agree to cover any excess costs for serving breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students with funds from other sources if they cannot sustain operations on CEP reimbursements received.  If the reimbursement received from CEP covers the cost of serving all meals to all students, no transfer of funds is needed while insuring the quality of the reimbursable meal. 

The CEP is a viable and valuable alternative for the LEA/group of schools/individual school in high poverty areas.  It results in simplified processes and procedures for claiming reimbursable meals and eliminates the need to conduct verification in participating schools, although direct certification data must be reported annually for the FNS-834 Direct Certification Rate Data Element Report.

Attached to this memorandum are all of the supporting documents necessary for CEP application, including application instructions, application form, CEP Questions and Answers, CEP estimator tool, USDOE Title 1/CEP Guidance, and lists of LEAs and recipient agencies who should evaluate whether CEP would be beneficial.


For 2017-18, eligibility is based on the Identified Student Percentage (ISP) certified for free meals by a means other than a household application, compared to total LEA/group of schools/individual school enrollment as of April 1, 2017 data.  The intent is to identify students directly data matched by one of the methods below based on April 1, 2017 enrollment and 2016-17 Direct Certification data.  An additional file of SNAP and Medicaid data has been added to the Direct Certification Matching Process (DCMP) module on the Child Nutrition Management System (CNMS) that includes eligibility through March 31, 2017.  If you have not already done so, please download these files to certify additional students and increase your ISP for use in establishing participation in the CEP for the 2017-18 school year.  

The ISP includes:

SNAP recipients identified through electronic direct certification

Medicaid recipients identified through electronic direct certification

Eligibility Letter for Free Meals/Milk

Extension of eligibility to siblings or household members of SNAP, Medicaid or Eligibility Letter for Free Meals/Milk

Homeless children identified by the Homeless Liaison

Head Start/Evenstart

Migrant Youth


Foster Children certified directly by the State or local foster agency

*Students who are eligible for free meals based on submission of an application are not included in the ISP, even if the application includes a SNAP/TANF/FDPIR number.  We encourage you to check the DCMP database to directly match these numbers to electronic data in an effort to increase the ISP.  It should be noted that if you cannot find the electronic match for an application that includes a SNAP number, the application cannot be included in the ISP, but must be taken at face value and the student provided free meal benefits. This application is then included in the pool for verification.

An eligible LEA/group of schools/individual school must have an ISP of 40 percent or more of the student enrollment eligible for free meals by a means other than a self-reported household application.  No LEA/group of schools/individual school with an ISP less than 40 percent is eligible to be included.  LEAs may combine groups of schools or the whole LEA may implement CEP if an ISP of 40 percent is met.  You may include in your LEA or group of schools a school whose ISP is less than 40 percent as long as the entire LEA or group of schools ISP is greater than 40 percent.  


Meal program claims are based on the percentage of identified students multiplied by the current factor of 1.6 for the 2017-178 school year.  LEA/group of schools/individual school that attains an ISP of 62.5 percent of enrolled students (based on the 1.6 multiplier) will receive 100 percent free reimbursement for all breakfasts and lunches served to all students.  An LEA or school cannot receive more than 100 percent free reimbursement. 

The claiming percentages established for the LEA/group of schools/individual school from the information noted above are guaranteed for a period of four school years, and may be increased if the ISP rises for the LEA/group of schools/individual school based on subsequent April 1, data.  The LEA/group of schools/individual school may also choose to begin a new four-year CEP cycle with the increased ISP. 

The LEA/group of schools/individual school must provide to the NYS Education Department their ISP for each April 1 in the four year CEP cycle if, at initiation of the cycle, they were not at an ISP that would yield 100 percent free reimbursement (using the 1.6 multiplier, this percentage is 62.5).  If the LEA/group of schools/individual school provides an ISP that is greater than the year one ISP, they may choose to increase the ISP in the current CEP cycle, or begin a new four year cycle.  If the LEA/group of schools/individual school provides an ISP that is less than the year one ISP, the year one ISP will remain in effect through the remainder of the CEP cycle, or until a subsequent percentage increase is reported.

Reimbursement to LEA/group of schools/individual school is based on the percent of eligible students (ISP) times the current multiplier of 1.6.  For example, if 40 percent of the students in the LEA, group or school were identified using the aforementioned methods of certification, you would multiply 40 percent x 1.6, which equals 64. You would then receive 64 percent of your reimbursement in the free category and the remaining 36 percent in the paid category. If 55 percent of your students were identified using the aforementioned methods of certification, you would receive 88 percent of your reimbursement in the free category and the remaining 12 percent in the paid category. There is no reduced price reimbursement in the CEP.

*% of free eligible Claiming Percentages
40 x 1.6 = 64 free 36 paid
50 x 1.6 = 80 free 20 paid
62.5 x 1.6 = 100 free 0 paid
*These percents are for illustration purposes. Any percent 40 or above may be used to initiate CEP.

Since monies are not being collected from any student, you must either ensure that the CEP reimbursement covers all meal costs or cover those costs from another source.  General fund, donations or some other non-federal funding would be needed if your cost of implementing the CEP is higher than the reimbursement received for the CEP.  Assurance must be provided that the nutritional quality of the breakfast and lunch meals is maintained at all times during participation in CEP.

Rather than take a meal count by category for each breakfast and lunch each day, participating schools will take a total count of reimbursable meals, by meal (count breakfast discretely from lunch).  The closer the school is to attaining an ISP of 62.5 percent, the more attractive CEP participation becomes.

Data Matching

If you have not completed the electronic DCMP with SNAP and Medicaid data during the 2016-17 school year, it’s not too late to log into the CNMS website and conduct the match for the purpose of establishing eligibility for CEP.  Ensure that all DCMP files are included (August, October, February, April) in your download.  Check all family applications with SNAP numbers against the DCMP file to validate potential eligibility and include in the ISP. 

All LEA/group of schools/individual school opting to implement CEP must conduct electronic Direct Certification at least once annually for the required reporting of SNAP/Medicaid on CNMS used for FNS-834 - Direct Certification Rate Data Element Report.  You should conduct DCMP multiple times to provide data for other federal, State and local funding that use child nutrition data as a proxy for poverty (i.e., BEDS reporting, Title 1 apportionment, e-rate, etc.).  

Collection of Income Information from Families for Other Federal, State and Local Funding/Reporting

In addition to electronic DCMP with SNAP and Medicaid, you may also collect income information from families not directly certified, as this data is used as a proxy for poverty for many purposes in New York State.  However, LEAs cannot distribute the application for free and reduced priced meals, since all meals will be served at no charge, unless a statement exists on the application that communicates that the LEA is participating in the CEP.  A Family Income Inquiry form that looks very similar to the Free and Reduced Price application will be provided for your use once your CEP application is approved.  Please note that DCMP efforts may be charged to the Child Nutrition Programs as the DCMP is required in all years of CEP participation for reporting on the FNS-834 Direct Certification Rate Data Element Report.  The collection and certification of the Family Income Inquiry form is not a chargeable activity as the data collected from these forms is not being used for Child Nutrition Program purposes.  Certification activities other than the DCMP must be supported/funded by the General Fund or other alternative non-federal funding.

Please note that the Family Income Inquiry Form cannot be used to provide free or reduced price meals to students, should the students move from a participating building within the LEA to a non-participating CEP building, or to another LEA that is not participating in CEP.  Should a student move within or outside of the LEA to a non-participating building, they must either be directly certified using the DCMP, or provide a Free and Reduced Price Eligibility Application in order to receive Program benefits.  The Application must include all of the appropriate confidentiality and non-discrimination statements.

Grace Year

LEAs and schools in year four of their CEP cycle with an ISP of at least 30 percent but less than 40 percent are permitted to continue to use the CEP for an additional fifth year, called the grace year.  The grace year eligibility must be based on the ISP as of April 1 enrollment of year four.  The reimbursements provided in the grace year will be generated by the year four April 1 ISP.  The grace year is optional and is a local decision.

An LEA/group of schools/individual school that has a year four April 1 ISP at least 40 percent or greater are not entitled to a Grace Year, but may begin a new four-year CEP cycle in the following school year by completing the CEP Application process. 

Provision 2

Eligible Provision 2 schools intending to elect CEP for the 2017-18 school year must be able to establish an eligible current ISP based on April 1, 2017 enrollment.  Eligible Provision 2 schools may elect the CEP during base or non-base years, as long as a current eligible (April 1) ISP is available.

Option to End Participation in CEP

An LEA/group of schools/individual school may elect to stop the CEP for the next year by notifying the NYSED Child Nutrition office no later than June 30 of the current school year.  Although it is an option to end participation in CEP at any time during the school year, it is not recommended as adequate communication with families and collection of certifying eligibility data must occur prior to moving to standard counting and claiming procedures.

Application Submissions

Applications for the 2017-18 school year must be submitted by June 30, 2017 and must be based on April 1, 2017 enrollment and 2016-17 DC data.  Only complete applications will be considered, therefore, ensure you have addressed all attachments prior to submission.

Since the CEP requires significant changes to the counting and claiming process and continues to require the LEA to collect eligibility information for other federal, State and local reporting purposes, a signed CEP Affirmation from the Superintendent or Chief Executive Officer agreeing to the terms must accompany the application.

Please understand that if you choose to participate in CEP for the 2017-18 school year, that in addition to conducting the mandatory direct certification match using the 2016-17 direct certification data as of April 1, 2017 required for the establishment of the ISP, that you will also be required to conduct at least one direct certification data match in the 2017-18 school year and to report the number of SNAP and Medicaid matched eligibles, by recipient site, to the NYS Education Department by November 1, 2017 for federal reporting purposes on the FNS 834 Direct Certification Rate Data Element Report.  Failure to conduct and report this match may result in Child Nutrition funding being withheld.

The CEP application and supporting documentation can be emailed to  Please see CEP application instructions for further details.  If you have any questions regarding this memo, please contact your Child Nutrition Representative at 518-473-8781.


CEP Application Instructions

CEP Application Form

CEP Affirmation Fillable

CEP Affirmation

CEP Reimbursement Estimator

CEP Q and A

CEP Planning and Implementation Guidance

Updated E-Rate Guidance for Schools Electing Community Eligibility Provision

USDOE CEP/Title 1 Guidance –Updated March 2015

List of SFAs Whose CEP is Expiring

CEP Annual Notification Report

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)     email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Los demás programas de asistencia nutricional del FNS, las agencias estatales y locales, y sus beneficiarios secundarios, deben publicar el siguiente Aviso de No Discriminación:

De conformidad con la Ley Federal de Derechos Civiles y los reglamentos y políticas de derechos civiles del Departamento de Agricultura de los EE. UU. (USDA, por sus siglas en ingles), se prohíbe que el USDA, sus agencias, oficinas, empleados e instituciones que participan o administran programas del USDA discriminen sobre la base de raza, color, nacionalidad, sexo, discapacidad, edad, o en represalia o venganza por actividades previas de derechos civiles en algún programa o actividad realizados o financiados por el USDA.

Las personas con discapacidades que necesiten medios alternativos para la comunicación de la información del programa (por ejemplo, sistema Braille, letras grandes, cintas de audio, lenguaje de seas americano, etc.), deben ponerse en contacto con la agencia (estatal o local) en la que solicitaron los beneficios. Las personas sordas, con dificultades de audición o discapacidades del habla pueden comunicarse con el USDA por medio del Federal Relay Service [Servicio Federal de Retransmisión] al (800) 877-8339. Además, la información del programa se puede proporcionar en otros idiomas.

Para presentar una denuncia de discriminación, complete el Formulario de Denuncia de Discriminación del Programa del USDA, (AD-3027) que está disponible en linea en: y en cualquier oficina del USDA, o bien escriba una carta dirigida al USDA e incluya en la carta toda la información solicitada en el formulario. Para solicitar una copia del formulario de denuncia, llame al (866) 632-9992. Haga llegar su formulario lleno o carta al USDA por:

(1)     correo: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; o

(3)     correo electró

Esta institución es un proveedor que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.