THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Office of P-20 Education Policy
Original memo dated April 1, 2021. The latest Q&As are indicated by double asterisks (**).
CEP Applications Are Not Being Accepted At This Time
The New York State Education Department (SED) is now accepting applications from School Food Authorities (SFAs) and schools that want to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for the 2021-22 school year (please see attachment below for the application submission process). SFA/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, while ensuring the quality of the reimbursable meal, no transfer of funds is needed.
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 must be conducted at least once annually in order to report data for the FNS-834 Direct Certification Rate Data Element Report.
Below are all the supporting documents necessary for CEP application, including application instructions, application form, instructions for submitting reimbursement claims, 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.
A new 2-step submission process has been put in place to ensure that data is securely transferred using a private and safe data stream. The CEP Application and Affirmation Form can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The enrollment records/master list must be uploaded to a secure NYSED GoAnywhere SFTP account; which your SFA will be provided access once your application has been submitted. Please see CEP application instructions below for further details.
Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the FFCRA) (P.L. 116-127), as extended by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (P.L. 116-159), and based on the exceptional circumstances of this public health emergency, USDA has issued a nationwide waiver to support the CEP while schools are responding to COVID-19; therefore, Applications for the 2021-22 school year must be submitted by September 30, 2021 and may be based on enrollment from any time between July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021 and 2020-21 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.
If your SFA is approved to operate CEP, you will receive an approval e-mail from CN which will include a sample income survey form and notification letters that you can use to notify your school community of your CEP participation and to collect income information 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.).
For 2021-22, 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 from any time between July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021. The intent is to identify students directly data matched by one of the methods below based on enrollment from any time between July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021 and 2020-21 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 2020-21 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.
The SFA/group of schools/individual school must provide to SED 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 SFA/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 SFA/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 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.
*% of free eligible
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 percentages 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.
If you have not completed the electronic DCMP with SNAP and Medicaid data during the 2020-21 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.
Please understand that if you choose to participate in CEP for the 2021-22 school year, that in addition to conducting direct certification required for the establishment of the ISP, that you will also be required to conduct at least one direct certification data match in the 2021-22 school year and to report the number of SNAP and Medicaid matched eligibles, by recipient agency (RA), to SED by November 30 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.
We encourage SFAs to conduct DCMP monthly 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 and P2 Household Income Form (provided to SFAs approved for CEP). Since Income data is used as a proxy for many education and other purposes in New York State, a sample prototype is 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 CEP and P2 Household Income Form or other SFA created 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 CEP and P2 Household Income Form 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.
Partial CEP Districts
Districts may opt to use the Application for Free and Reduced-Price School Meals/Milk to collect household income information from students in both CEP and non-CEP schools to streamline information collection. A school using a single form must ensure that all information required for non- CEP schools is contained on the form. The following details the requirements for Partial CEP Districts using a single form.
Single forms developed for this purpose must:
- Contain all information required on the school meals application;
- Include a clear, concise, and prominent disclaimer to indicate that, in CEP schools, receipt of school meals does not depend on households returning the form; and
SFA’s opting to use a single form must be able to:
- Distinguish between forms from students in CEP vs. non-CEP households so the SFA can comply with Program requirements related to household applications (e.g., only non-CEP applications are used for selecting the verification sample, conducting an independent review of applications, and the Certification and Benefit Issuance portion of the Administrative Review); and
- Cost-allocate expenses for form processing; costs for form processing for students in CEP schools may not be paid from the nonprofit school food service account.
Transfer from a CEP to a non-CEP School
A household income form or socioeconomic survey that is not a dual-purpose application cannot be used in the National School Lunch Program/School Breakfast Program (NSLP/SBP) to determine individual student eligibility. If a student transfers from a CEP to a non-CEP school, the new school must process a valid free and reduced-price application or otherwise determine the student eligible for free meals (e.g., SNAP direct certification, homeless, migrant lists).
SFAs must provide free reimbursable meals for 30 operating days or until a new eligibility determination is made for a child who transfers from a CEP school to a non-CEP school.
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 enrollment of year four. The reimbursements provided in the grace year will be generated by the year four ISP. The grace year is optional and is a local decision.
An SFA/group of schools/individual school that has a year four 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.
Switch from Provision 2 to CEP
Eligible SFA/group of schools/individual school currently implementing Provision 2 and intending to elect CEP for the 2021-22 school year must be able to establish an eligible current ISP based on enrollment from any time between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Provision 2 participants may elect the CEP during base or non-base years, if a current eligible ISP is available and the SFA/group of schools/individual school has applied by the CEP deadlines.
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.
If you have any questions regarding this memo, please contact your Child Nutrition Representative at 518-473-8781.