Community Eligibility Option to Boost School Meal Participation in High-Poverty Areas

The Board of Education was informed about a program for an innovative universal free meal service option designed to make it easier for low-income children to receive meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.  Illinois has been selected to participate in a pilate of the program. The Community Eligibility Option (CEO) will allow schools in high-poverty areas to provide free breakfasts and lunch to all students, using preexisting data to determine the eligibility of kids to receive free nutrition assistance.

To be eligible, a school must:

  • Have 40% “identified students” as of April 1 in the year prior to implementing the options.
  • Agree to serve free lunches and breakfast to all students for up to four consecutive years.
  • Agree to cover with non-Federal funds any costs of providing free meals to all students above amounts provided in Federal assistance.

The following schools would meet the eligibility requirements:  Adams, Berrian, Dewey, Washington, and Early Childhood and Family Center.  All students at these schools would receive breakfast and lunches regardless of their income level and no forms would need to be completed. Money would no longer be collected for meals at these schools.  Students at Ellington, Madison, and Monroe would still be able to fill out a free or reduced meal application in order to receive free or reduced priced meals if they qualify.

“Community eligibility offers innovative strategies to help ensure that children in high-poverty areas have access to the nutrition they need to learn and thrive,” said Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. “We know that if our country is going to win the future, our kids must be healthy and ready to learn so that they can reach their full potential.”

The Community Eligibility Option is among the early reforms enacted as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010.   Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The legislation authorizes USDA’s child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Summer Food Service Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children, and help a new generation win the future by having healthier lives. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.

The Quincy Board of Education will further review the program at the June Board meeting.

Close Toggle
Search Site