United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the federal school
meal programs, including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and works
cooperatively with the USED. There is a
connection between School
meal programs, Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), Free/Reduced Meals, and
programs operated under Title I, Part A (Title I). State educational agencies (SEAs)
and local educational agencies (LEAs) often use NSLP data to carry out certain
Title I requirements.
1113 of the ESEA states an LEA must rank its school attendance areas or schools
based on the percentage of economically disadvantaged students to determine a
school’s eligibility to receive Title I funds, to allocate funds to selected
schools, and to calculate the amount generated for Title I services to eligible
private school students. In terms of accountability, each SEA and LEA that
receives funding under Title I must assess and report annually on the extent to
which economically disadvantaged students are making progress toward meeting
state academic achievement standards in reading or language arts and
mathematics. Moreover, an LEA must hold schools accountable for the
achievement of student subgroups. To meet these requirements, an LEA must have
school-level data on economically disadvantaged students. For many LEAs,
NSLP data are likely to be the best source to identify those students.
School Nutrition Program supervises the CEP and Free/ Reduced Meal
eligibilities and documentation. The School Nutrition Program in each LEA provides
the poverty numbers to the Title I Staff to complete the Eligible Attendance
Area Spreadsheet to determine the rank order of schools.
may choose to use the free and reduced application process in which each
student must apply for status determination. Additionally, LEAs may choose to implement
CEP eligibility data, such as data from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, to
determine the Federal cash reimbursement for school meals provided by USDA. With
this method, LEAs do not rely on annual household applications that are
generally used to determine eligibility for free and reduced-price meals. A
school may elect for CEP if at least 40-percent of its students are directly
certified, or otherwise identified for free meals through means other than
household applications (for example, students directly certified through
SNAP). To account for low-income families not reflected in the direct
certification data, USDA sets meal reimbursement levels for CEP schools by
multiplying the percentage of students identified through the direct
certification data by a multiplier established in the Act (currently the
multiplier is 1.6). LEAs may use a combination of both the free and reduced lunch method and/or the CEP method amongst its schools. However, the CEP schools must all use the 1.6 multiplier or not. Either method that is utilized by the district, the schools still must be served in rank order.
which ever method the LEA selects, the School Nutrition Program provides the
poverty numbers to the Federal Program Director to utilize for the completion
of the Eligible Attendance Area Spreadsheet.
The Eligible Attendance Area Spreadsheet located on the Title I section
of the Federal Programs website is color coded and may be helpful for the LEA
to determine rank order.