The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows high-poverty schools participating in US Department of Agriculture meal programs to offer universal free breakfast and lunch. Authorized as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, CEP became available to eligible schools nationwide in 2014. Emerging evidence suggests that schools that provide universal free meals experience positive impacts on student nutrition, behavior, and academic performance. In particular, schools benefit from increased meal participation rates. There is mixed evidence of impacts on test scores and attendance, and limited but promising results showing improvements in weight outcomes, on-time grade promotion rates, disciplinary referrals, and food security. In this article, we summarize the growing evidence base and suggest policy approaches to increase the use of CEP by eligible schools.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health