Now Is the Time for CEP

It’s been one heck of a year, but school nutrition directors and staff are some of the most resilient, determined, unflappable bunch there is. As they continue to serve meals in new and innovative ways, federal nutrition waivers have reduced one burden on them for this year: collecting lunch money.

Free school meals for all students have increased access during a difficult time and reduced administrative and logistical burdens while schools are appropriately focused on keeping kids safe.

Thanks to USDA’s extended Federal nutrition waivers, operating on SSO next school year will ensure that student’s nationwide will continue to have access to free meals. These waivers are a step in the right direction towards offering Universal School Meals and guaranteeing that the support children received during the pandemic will continue for years to come.

Though the 2022-2023 school year seems far away, it’s not too soon to begin considering how to continue the free meal benefit to students in your school district. Luckily, we have a tool in our back pockets! Starting the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) in your district would wipe out this issue and continue the increased access to school meals for all students. CEP allows all students to eat school meals for free, regardless of income. A school or district’s reimbursement rate is determined by the percentage of students identified as SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid users, foster kids, students experiencing homelessness, or in other qualifying groups (ISP).

There are a TON of CEP benefits, such as no tracking down school meal debt payments, less work for school nutrition staff when students are going through the lunch line, greater school meal participation, and if the numbers stack up, a higher reimbursement!

From our friends at No Kid Hungry, here are a few reasons why your school district should begin considering CEP TODAY:

  • Applying for CEP now is a no-risk opportunity to lock in your current ISPs, and high reimbursement rates, through SY 24-25. Rates in many districts are higher than ever before due to the pandemic and record SNAP enrollments.
  • Even though you’ll be operating SSO this year, you can lock in your current ISPs and ability to serve universal free meals for the following 3 school years (SY22-23 through SY24-25).
  • If your ISPs continue to increase next year, then you can reapply and lock in higher rates next year. However, it’s more likely that your ISPs will go down next year, as the economy rebounds.
  • If you don’t apply for CEP this year, and your ISPs decrease next year, then it will have been a missed opportunity to lock in the current peak reimbursement rates.
  • Another benefit of electing CEP now is that all students in a CEP school are eligible for valuable P-EBT food benefits. If schools continue to be impacted by the pandemic, P-EBT benefits may be extended into the 21-22 School Year, and all of the students in your CEP schools would receive this important benefit.

USDA extended the CEP application deadline to September 30. If you have the capacity to run your numbers and apply by the end of September, we recommend doing so. If your capacity is limited, please reach out – we are happy to help!

If you are interested in learning more about how CEP could benefit your school or district, check out these resources and feel free to reach out to riseandshineillinois@gcfd.org for additional support.

CEP Resources

Overview of the CEP Evaluation and Application Module (Recorded Webinar by ISBE)

Community Eligibility Provision: Serving free meals to all students, regardless of income (Webpage by No Kid Hungry Center of Best Practices)

CEP Evaluation & Application Module (Fact Sheet by ISBE)

MealsCount USDA CEP Grouping Tool (Tool by MealsCount)

Additional after-school meals information sessions announced

CACFP At-Risk After-School Meals Information Sessions – Fall 2015

No Kid Hungry Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Education hosted a series of regional information sessions on the Child and Adult Care Food Program’s At-Risk After-School Meals Program this past summer.  Due to high demand, four additional sessions have been added for the fall.  The sessions are geared toward potential new sponsors and sites of the After-School Meals Program.

If your after-school program . . .

  • Is located in the attendance area of a school with 50% or more free and reduced price eligible children
  • Serves snacks or meals out of your own pocket
  • Participates in the National School Lunch Program After-School Snacks Program
  • Does not serve food at all

. . . Then you should come learn how you can serve nutritious meals for FREE to all children through the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program At-Risk After-School Meals Program, which provides reimbursements for snacks and meals served in eligible low income after-school programs.

Topics to be covered include eligibility, application and administration requirements, partnership resources, best practices and grant opportunities.

Session Dates and Locations
  • October 13: Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago
  • October 21: Illinois Central College, Peoria
  • October 29: The Pavilion of the City of Marion, Marion
  • November 5: Champaign Public Library, Champaign

*Please note that this information session will be part of an all-day Summer and After-School Meals summit. All sessions are free to attend and lunch and refreshments will be provided.  Attendees may register for any or all sessions.

Full Day Agenda
  • 9:30am – 1:00pm: Summer Meals Program Topics – for Summer Food Service Program sponsors only
  • 1:00pm – 2:15pm: Lunch and Partner Resources Presentations – for both Summer and After-School
  • 2:15pm – 3:00pm: Grant Writing Workshop – All the tips and tricks we know!
  • 3:00pm – 4:00pm:  After-School Meals Info Session for potential new sponsors and sites


All public and charter schools, non-profit community or faith based organizations, recreational or health centers, units of state, local or municipal government, libraries, non-residential child care centers and other eligible institutions are welcome.

If you have any questions, please contact Malaney Varaljay at mvaraljay@gcfd.org or 773.843.6706.

Register for CACFP after-school meals 2015 info sessions

New Sponsor Workshops – Summer 2015

The USDA provides reimbursements for snacks and meals served in eligible low-income after-school programs through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) At-Risk After-School Meals Program.

In collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education, No Kid Hungry Illinois will be hosting a series of information sessions for interested new CACFP At-Risk After-School Meals sponsors and sites.

All schools, churches, community organizations, rec centers, libraries, park districts, health centers, and other non-profit or for-profit entities welcome!   Topics to be covered:

  • The need: learn the scope of after-school meals in Illinois, identify meal gaps and target areas
  • The solution: general CACFP At-Risk program information – assessment tools, financial calculators
  • How to: become a sponsor or site!
    • Illinois specific eligibility, application instructions, administration, reimbursements
    • Transitioning from Summer Meals Program and NSLP after-school snacks to offering meals year-round through CACFP
  • Best practices: strategies for successful implementation, outreach and partnerships
  • Grant Opportunities: No Kid Hungry after-school meals expansion and pilot grants

Register today!

  • Tuesday, July 21; 1pm – 3pm – Four Points Sheraton Hotel, 319 Fountains Parkway, Fairview Heights, IL 62208
  • Thursday, August 6; 1pm – 3pm – Peoria Public Library, 107 NE Monroe St, Peoria, IL 61602
  • Wednesday, August 19; 1pm – 3pm – Hilton Hotel, 3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle, IL 60532

Contact Malaney Varaljay at mvaraljay@gcfd.org or 773.843.6706 to RSVP.

At-Risk After-School Meals Webinar

Register for After-School Meals 101: Starting Your CACFP At-Risk After-School Meals Program – April 16th at 1pm

After-school meals serve a critical need for hungry children in Illinois.  Many schools and organizations already serve snacks or meals in their after-school programs yet they are doing this out of their own cost.  Reimbursements are available to serve free snacks and meals to children in eligible after-school programs through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) At-Risk After-School Meals Program. Join the Illinois State Board of Education and No Kid Hungry Illinois in this webinar to learn how you can start or expand your after-school meals program through CACFP At-Risk and become a stable source of nutrition in your community! Topics covered will include:

  • Current state of after-school meals in Illinois
  • General CACFP At-Risk program information
  • Eligibility, application, administration and reporting requirements for:
    – Potential new sponsors or sites
    – Schools offering snacks through the CACFP or National School Lunch Program (NSLP) looking to
    transition to offering meals
    – Summer Food Service Program sponsors looking to offer meals year-round through CACFP
  • Best practices and tools for implementation and outreach
  • Resources and No Kid Hungry Illinois after-school grant opportunities
Register now! https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2928805772288417537 

Summer Meal Program Summits Announced

When their school meals disappear, many kids struggle
with getting enough to eat in the summer

In light of our mission to end childhood hunger through school programs like Rise & Shine Illinois, No Kid Hungry Illinois is also committed to implementing and supporting summer meals programs.  For too many children, summer brings uncertainty about where and when they’ll have access to healthy food.  While federal nutrition programs do operate during the summer months, they only reach a fraction of kids in need. 

No Kid Hungry Illinois, in partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education and the USDA is conducting three summits in October 2014 to develop key for strategies for implementing and expanding summer meal programs throughout the state.  Our efforts will focus on modernizing and strengthening the way these programs work, further connecting communities and sponsors with the resources they need to serve critical meals during the summer.

Please see summit dates, locations and topics below.

All Summer Food Service Program sponsors are welcome to attend the summits.

“Roll Up Your Sleeves” Strategy Meeting Hosted by USDA
October 16th — 10:00am – 3:30pm
Marion, IL

October 23rd — 9:00am – 3:00pm
Springfield, IL

October 28th — 9:00am – 3:00pm
Tinley Park, IL

Topics include:
– 2014 Participation Results
– Grant Opportunities
– Community Partnerships
– Childhood Hunger Data
– Marketing to Increase Participation

For information and to register, please contact Suzy Lee at slee@gcfd.org