Free school meals will be provided through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program despite the changes this 2023. Apart from CEP, children are also eligible for free school meals if anyone in their household receives SNAP, TANF, or even Medicaid benefits.During the COVID-19 pandemic era, schools had some adjustments so they could provide all children with free school meals. However, this 2023, some of those free school meal options have already been discontinued. Therefore, schools did what they can to continue providing free school meals for the children. Schools have been taking applications where a child may qualify based on their family’s income. These applications may provide free school meals or meals at reduced prices.
Some schools used the program Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to help provide children with free school meals. The state of Connecticut’s website says that the CEP program is under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). This program serves as a substitute for providing school meals for schools in areas with low income. The CEP provides free school meals to all children with the help of the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
In addition, apart from CEP, children can also be eligible for free school meals if anyone in their household receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. In a few states, households with Medicaid benefits may also be eligible based on their income.
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Who are eligible for these free school meals?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, those who are eligible for these free school meals are children. Once their household files an application, children who are homeless, in foster care, have run away, or whose parents are migrant workers are all eligible. If a household’s income is also below a specific limit, children can also be eligible for a free school meal or meals with reduced prices. Based on the information an applicant provided, schools will inform if a child is eligible for free or discounted school meals only.
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