New NPI study shows that the Community Eligibility Provision improves access to school breakfast and lunch in high-poverty schools

Aug 5, 2020

The National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs help reduce food insecurity and improve nutrition for school-aged children. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows schools with high levels of children in poverty to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students. It was introduced through the bi-partisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to increase participation of low- to moderate-income students in the federal school meals programs. The CEP automatically reimburses schools for a fixed percentage of meals corresponding with their poverty level, making universal meals financially viable by reducing administrative costs and improving economies of scale in meal preparation and distribution. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers' latest study suggests that when high-poverty schools implement CEP, participation in the school breakfast and lunch programs for students who are near or above the cut-off for free or reduced priced meals increases. Data for the study came from the 2013-2014 Healthy Communities Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health. NPI researchers compared 842 kindergarten through eighth-grade students from 80 schools implementing CEP to 1,463 students from 118 schools without CEP. The study was published on August 4, 2020 in the Journal of School Health by lead author May Lynn Tann of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Evidence for Action program at the University of California (UC), San Francisco. Additional study authors include Barbara Laraia and Kristine Madsen of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Rucker Johnson of the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, and Lorrene Ritchie of the Nutrition Policy Institute. The study abstract is available online. For full access to the study, please email

By Danielle L. Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement