How to Make CEP Filing Easier

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)  

 In 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture updated the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). As you may know, “the CEP is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas. CEP allows the nation’s highest poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications.”   

The USDA released the document What Does It Mean For Your School or Local Educational Agency? This document lays out the benefits of CEP and what guidelines a school must meet to qualify for CEP.  Schools and LEAs with an Identified Student Percentage (minimum ≥40 percent) qualify for all students to access free meals. Once qualified for CEP it eliminates the need for paperwork required from: 

  • Households 
  • Administrative filing 
  • Administrative unpaid meal charges 

Overall, CEP reduces and discourages the stigma of “Free Lunches” when all students are receiving free meals, while also reducing the day-to-day administrative burden. 

The CEP can potentially be a school-altering process, especially since 2020, as many households are accustomed to receiving these free lunches as part of the COVID-19 Relief Act. However, matching and finding school districts with low enough income and high enough population can be a headache and incredibly time-consuming. 

According to the 19’-20’ CEP report, “In the 2019–2020 school year, there are 30,667 schools participating in community eligibility…” which roughly translates to 70.9% of eligible schools participating in the CEP program.  This may sound like an impressive amount, but that means that 30% of our student population could be receiving free meals, and they are not.

 eScholar DirectMatch  

eScholar DirectMatch, helps states achieve a Direct Certification rate of 95% or higher with powerful and flexible matching options. eScholar DirectMatch can match to any source of data or program where there is a source file that can be indexed. This includes: 

  • SNAP 
  • TANF 
  • Medicaid 
  • Foster 
  • Migrant 
  • Homeless data 
  • And any indexable data  

Through an LEA or state-managed processing, authorized users can accurately match through automated or manual processes, and resolve potential near matches. Users can match using address data, eScholar Uniq-ID Person data, a file, or manually enter data.  

In addition to matching and processing uploaded data, DirectMatch allows authorized users to see the total number of students identified, the total number of students enrolled, the district’s ISP, population status, and election status. DirectMatch also allows users to learn more about population details on counts in programs like Head Start or SNAP.  

Then, once all the data is sorted, DirectMatch makes generating, customizing, and submitting reports required by the USDA to submit.  

CEP & eScholar DirectMatch  

With thousands of schools being given the option to participate in CEP, our team updated eScholar DirectMatch to help states and local districts maximize the benefits of CEP with CEP Manager. By using the CEP Manager feature in eScholar DirectMatch, states can: 

  • Easily calculate “identified students”  
  • Manage eligibility and participation for schools, groups of schools, and districts. 
  • Recalculate ISP 

With DirectMatch, state officials can leverage their Direct Certification data to identify and combine eligible schools and districts to maximize the benefits of CEP.  By participating in CEP, schools can offer free meals to all their students, without having to collect any meal applications or payments from eligible students, significantly reducing the administrative burden.  

To learn more about eScholar DirectMatch, fill out the form below, and we will contact you as soon as possible! 

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