July 17, 2018 – Starting this school year, students at all schools will need to apply if they wish to receive free or reduced-price meals. Guilford County Schools will no longer participate in a federal program that certified all students in an entire school as eligible for free breakfast and lunch. Students will maintain last year's status for the first 30 days, so most students who attend former Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools will continue to receive free meals for the first 30 days of school. Kindergarten students and those who came from non-CEP schools or from other district are excluded.
The change was made to give district leaders a more precise indicator of student poverty. They will use free- or reduced-price meal percentages to allocate Title I funds. Title I is a federal program that seeks to lessen the impact of poverty on learning by providing additional support to schools where 40 percent or more of enrolled students are considered economically disadvantaged. Students qualify for free- or reduced-price meals using a federal formula that takes into account regional household income and family size.
Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), a U.S. Department of Agriculture program, was introduced in GCS in 2014-15, when North Carolina first became eligible. More than 50 GCS schools qualified for the program.
School Nutrition team members will work with current CEP schools to help them transition to the application system. To fill out an application for free or reduced-price meals, go to www.lunchapplication.com or click here for more information. Families may also find applications at open house events at their schools.