Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs - Flipbook - Page 46
Two federal provisions allow meals and snacks to be distributed based on the eligibility of an entire district or area rather
than that of individual students. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows schools to provide free lunch and breakfast
to all students without requiring individual household applications.184 The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) allows
schools to distribute free fruits and vegetables on a similar basis. The required thresholds are different: CEP requires that twothirds of the students served live in low-income households, while FFVP requires a student poverty rate of at least 50 percent.
These thresholds ensure that the beneficiaries are students who live in areas of concentrated poverty.
The following are other equitable aspects of Child Nutrition programs:
Income Eligibility. No matter where children live, if they are from a low-income household, they may apply
for free or reduced-price school meals. This is true whether they live in a wealthy area, a neighborhood of
concentrated poverty, or a middle-class suburb. It also applies regardless of race, gender, religion, or other
Group Eligibility. This approach certifies and enrolls children for free or reduced-price school meals
automatically based on their membership in certain groups, in an effort to ensure that students with the greatest
needs receive the benefits for which they qualify. There are two types of group eligibility:
Categorical Eligibility. In this type, children who are part of specific categories are eligible for benefits.
Parents do not need to fill out individual applications because children are considered “categorically”
eligible for FARMS. Currently, categorical eligibility is granted to children who live in households that
participate in SNAP, FDPIR, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and/or Head Start, as well
as children who are homeless, part of a migrant family, or in foster care.
Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP provides services to students as members of a group. CEP
provides universal free lunch and breakfast to all students who attend schools where many or most families
have low incomes. Schools who serve these students are not required to use their time and resources to
collect and process individual household applications.185 CEP streamlines the process of serving school
meals to all children in low-income schools and reduces the stigma associated with receiving free or reducedprice school meals, thereby increasing student participation. By providing increased reimbursement,
Community Eligibility also helps reduce the financial burden on low-income schools seeking to serve quality
meals.186 The implementation of CEP applies a racial equity lens, since most schools that qualify for the
program are in concentrated areas of poverty with high percentages of students of color.
Additional fresh fruits and vegetables are targeted to children in greatest need. The Fresh Fruit and
Vegetable Program (FFVP) is also based on community eligibility. It provides additional funding of $50 to
$75 per student per year so that elementary schools with FARMS eligibility rates of 50 percent or more can
distribute free fruits and vegetables to all students.187 The program promotes nutrition education alongside the
introduction of new fruits and vegetables. In addition to increasing children’s consumption of fresh fruits and
vegetables,188 FFVP helps counteract the damage done by the widespread advertising of unhealthy foods in
Targeted support is provided to children after school and during the summer. Children in areas of
concentrated poverty may also receive support as a group when not in school, whether that is over the summer
or after school each day. The Summer Food Service Program offers reimbursement to providers for all meals
that are either served at sites in areas where at least 50 percent of the children in the community live in lowincome households, or at sites where at least 50 percent of students served are low-income. The Seamless
Summer Option has the same eligibility requirements but can be operated only by schools that participated in
the NSLP during the previous school year. These eligibility requirements also apply to the At-Risk After-School
Meals Program, part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
Seven out of 10 African American and Latino/a children attend schools that qualify for such targeted support.189
See Appendix 6 for more on SFSP and SSO.
APPLYING RACIAL EQUITY TO U.S. FEDERAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS: SNAP, WIC AND CHILD NUTRITION