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Office of P-20 Education Policy
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
Friday, April 6, 2018
2018-2019 Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Application and Instructions

No New Applications Are Being Accepted At This Time

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is now accepting applications from School Food Authorities (SFAs) and schools that want to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for the 2018-19 school year.  SFAs/group of schools/individual school considering CEP must be participating in both the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs.  The CEP enables SFAs 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 SFA, 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 SFA/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 SFA/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 the supporting documents necessary for CEP application, including application instructions, application form, CEP Timeline, CEP Questions and Answers, CEP estimator tool, USDOE Title 1/CEP Guidance, and lists of SFAs and recipient agencies who should evaluate whether CEP would be beneficial.



For 2018-19, 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, 2018 data.  The intent is to identify students directly data matched by one of the methods below based on April 1, 2018 enrollment and 2017-18 Direct Certification data. 

The ISP includes:

SNAP recipients identified through the electronic direct certification matching process (DCMP)

Medicaid recipients identified through electronic DCMP

Extension of eligibility to siblings or household members of SNAP, Medicaid or

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 SFA/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 SFA/group of schools/individual school with an ISP less than 40 percent is eligible to be included.  SFAs may combine groups of schools or the whole SFA may implement CEP if an ISP of 40 percent is met.  You may include in your SFA or group of schools a school whose ISP is less than 40 percent as long as the entire SFA 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 2018-19 school year.  SFA/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 SFA or school cannot receive more than 100 percent free reimbursement. 

The claiming percentages established for the SFA/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 SFA/group of schools/individual school based on subsequent April 1 data.  The SFA/group of schools/individual school may also choose to begin a new four-year CEP cycle with the increased ISP. 

Reimbursement to SFA/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 SFA, 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 2017-18 school year, it’s not too late to log into the SED Business Portal website and conduct the match for the purpose of establishing eligibility for CEP.  Check all family applications with SNAP numbers against the DCMP file to validate potential eligibility and include in the ISP.  For further information regarding DCMP please refer to the State-Wide Direct Certification Matching Process and Mandatory Reporting of SNAP/Medicaid Eligible Students memo on the Child Nutrition Knowledge Center (CKNC) website.

All SFA/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

The DCMP should always be used as the first step in establishing student economic need.  Students not found in the DCMP can be provided the CEP Household Income Eligibility Form and/or Income Survey (provided to SFAs approved for CEP).  Since Income data is used as a proxy for many education and other purposes in New York State, sample prototypes are provided for this purpose.  Schools can choose to collect this information using a different process as collection of this information is not required for Child Nutrition Program purposes.

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


Grace Year

SFAs 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 SFA/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.


New Schools

New Schools may not have direct certification data from April 1 of 2018; therefore, they can use direct certification data from a later month to establish CEP eligibility. If the number of identified students and total enrollment are available before the counting and claiming of meals begins and the new school meets the eligibility requirements (either individually or as part of a group), then the SFA may elect to have the school participate individually or as part of a group of schools. New schools can elect CEP only if the number of identified students and enrollment are available because the ISP is the basis for claims for reimbursement.


Provision 2

Eligible Provision 2 schools intending to elect CEP for the 2018-19 school year must be able to establish an eligible current ISP based on April 1, 2018 enrollment.  Eligible Provision 2 schools may elect the CEP during base or non-base years, if a current eligible (April 1) ISP is available.


Option to End Participation in CEP

An SFA/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 2018-19 school year must be submitted by June 30, 2018 and must be based on April 1, 2018 enrollment and 2017-18 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 SFA 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 2018-19 school year, that in addition to conducting the mandatory direct certification match using the 2017-18 direct certification data as of April 1, 2018 required for the establishment of the ISP, that you will also be required to conduct at least one direct certification data match in the 2018-19 school year and to report the number of SNAP and Medicaid matched eligibles, by recipient site, to NYSED 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 Timeline

CEP Application Instructions

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

CEP Operating 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.