What is Community Eligibility?


What is community eligibility?

Community eligibility is a new way to fight hunger in high poverty schools, by offering both breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students. Administrative costs are reduced by eliminating the traditional school meal application process for schools, and more kids get the meals they need.

How can community eligibility help?

Community Eligibility benefits students and the school nutrition department’s bottom line because it:

  • Increases participation in the school nutrition programs by offering breakfast and lunch for free to all students
  • Reduces administrative work for school districts by eliminating the need to qualify students for free and reduced-price meals and track which children are participating
  • Improves the overall financial viability of the school nutrition programs in high poverty schools

Community Eligibility is now available in all states.

How it works

  • High-poverty schools provide free breakfasts and lunches to all students without collecting applications
  • Any school district can use this option if at least one of its schools has 40 percent or more students certified for free meals without application (called “Identified Students”)
  • Most schools with a 40 percent Identified Student Percentage have 75 percent or more of its students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals
  • The district may implement community eligibility in one school, a group of schools or district-wide
  • Once a district is approved, it’s free claiming percentage will not decrease for four years, but it can increase if its identified student percentage increases