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Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

  • No-Cost Meals for all Students!

    In June of 2018, the Hernando County School Board gave the Food and Nutrition Services department approval to expand the implementation of the Community Eligibility Provision to include all schools District-wide. 

    The Community Eligibility Provision, better known as CEP, was first implemented in Hernando County in the 2017-2018 School Year for the majority of the Elementary, Middle and K8 schools in Hernando County.

    Beginning with the 2018 -2019 School Year, this program will now be available to all actively enrolled students in the Hernando County School District.

    This program is in effect for the next four (4) school years, when re-approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Hernando County School Board.


    What does this mean for me or my student?

    Simply put, this means that all students enrolled in any School inside the Hernando County School District can receive a reimbursable meal at breakfast and lunch at no cost to the student or family.

    Please note that this is not a “free lunch” or “free food” program. These meals are being paid for by the USDA on behalf of the students and their families. The CEP program explicitly states that only a complete meal, as defined by the USDA as a reimbursable meal, is provided to each student at breakfast and lunch. Any purchases that do not constitute a reimbursable meal are charged (and paid) at A La Carte prices by the student or family. Along the same lines, this program applies to actively enrolled students only and therefore no adults or non-enrolled students qualify for the no-cost meals.


    Do I need to fill out a Free or Reduced Meal application?

    No. Because the District is now expanding the CEP program to cover the county District-wide, Food and Nutrition Services will no longer be accepting any Free and Reduced Meal applications. All students will be fed a reimbursable meal for breakfast and lunch at no cost.


    Do I still need a lunch account?

    The simple answer is yes, although it is not required.

    The reimbursable meal for breakfast and lunch are being provided at no cost. However, any other items in addition to that meal, or if the student refuses to take all the required components to make a complete meal, will be charged at A La Carte prices to the student’s account.

    Student accounts may not carry a negative balance. Therefore, maintaining a positive balance on their meal accounts allows a student to purchase any additional items or the occasional treat or reward. No items may be purchased on “credit”. A student’s account that does not have enough to cover the desired item’s charge will decline the transaction.


    What is a reimbursable meal?

    A reimbursable meal is a meal that is offered to students that meet certain nutritional and portion size requirements as set forth by the USDA. What qualifies as a reimbursable meal is mandated by the USDA and every school participating in the National School Lunch and/or Breakfast Program must offer certain components to students every day.  In addition to the nutritional requirements, the information below is the minimum daily component offering requirements set by USDA based on meal and grade. Students do NOT have to take every component offered.

    Breakfast1 (Pre-K - 12th Grade)

    • Fruit - 1 cup (including 1/2 cup juice)
    • Grains - 1 oz
    • Milk - 1 cup


    Pre-K - 8th Grade

    • Fruit - 1/2 cup
    • Vegetables - 3/4 cup
    • Grains - 1 oz
    • Meat/Meat Alternate - 1 oz
    • Milk - 1 cup

    9th - 12th Grade

    • Fruit - 1 cup
    • Vegetables - 1 cup
    • Grains - 2 oz
    • Meat/Meat Alternate - 2 oz
    • Milk - 1 cup

    1: For breakfast, each plate must have at least 3 items and 1 item must be a fruit.  4 items must be offered to students each breakfast.

    2: For lunch, each plate must have at least 3 components and 1 component must be a fruit or vegetable to be counted as reimbursable.  If the plate does not contain these items, the student will be charged ala carte pricing.


    What is CEP?

    The simple answer is that it is a Program through the USDA that provides full or partial reimbursement for school meals that covers all students in a particular School, Group of Schools, or School District with an approved status.

    For a more complete answer, this excerpt is from the USDA’s CEP information site (seen HERE):

    “The Community Eligibility Provision (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. Instead, schools that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students categorically eligible for free meals based on their participation in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).”


    What is the benefit of CEP?


    Access to free nutritious meals for all students with no stigma, and less time spent in cashier lines and more time to eat nutritious meals.


    All enrolled students will be served a breakfast and lunch meal at no cost without having to complete a Free or Reduced household application. No household applications mean less paperwork and no worries about meal accounts. In addition, it saves a family household as much as $675 a school year in paid lunches, per secondary student.

    School staff:

    Streamlined meal service operation and more time for students to consume their food


    Reduced paperwork and administrative costs, no need to track unpaid meal charges, improved program integrity, and more nourished students ready to learn and grow


    Where can I get more information?

    The USDA website’s CEP section:

    The USDA website’s CEP Resource Center:

    The USDA CEP Quick Fact Sheet (PDF File):

    If you still need further assistance, please feel free to contact our Food and Nutrition Services District Office at (352) 797-7028.

Non-Student Meals

  • Adults

    Adult meals are not covered as part of the Community Eligibility Provision. Therefore, adults are not eligiable to recieve a breakfast or lunch meal at no cost.

    All adult items are sold at a la carte prices.

Non-Discriminatory Statement

  • In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

    To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

    (202) 690-7442


    This institution is an equal opportunity provider.