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Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will provide free breakfast and lunch to all CPS students, regardless of their economic eligibility, for the first time beginning this school year due to the district’s expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).
“This program will allow all CPS students to focus on their studies without being distracted by hunger or worry about the stigma of free or reduced lunch,” said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Chief Executive Officer of CPS.
Formerly known as the Community Eligibility Option (CEO), the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, allows qualifying high-need school districts to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students, providing the nutrition and energy children need to be healthy and ready to learn. CEP is a powerful tool that will assist in removing the stigma of the Free and Reduced Price meal program of the past.
Participating in the CEP program, allows Chicago Public Schools Nutrition Support Services to receive full federal reimbursement for up to 100 percent of meals served. CEP has already been successfully implemented in 456 pilot schools across the district and has experienced positive results since its launch in 2012. CEP Program reimbursements for the 2013-14 school year increased by $6 million. As a result of this, Nutrition Support Services was able to give over $10 million in administrative costs back to the General Fund, which went directly back into the classroom. This transition also allows CPS to redirect these funds to lunchroom infrastructure improvements and to increase the quality of food served to students.
For the first time since the program’s launch, all schools for which CPS serves as the School Food Authority (SFA) will be participating in CEP. Charter schools for which CPS does not serve as the School Food Authority will need to apply to ISBE directly and be approved to participate in CEP.
Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.