News and events

Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

An innovative approach to offering universal free school breakfast and lunch

What is it?

The Community Eligibility Provision allows schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) in high-poverty areas to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students without having to go through the standard household application process to determine meal program eligibility.  Any school district can use this option if at least one of its schools has 40 percent or more “Identified Students”, meaning, students who are certified for free meals using other forms of direct certification data such as qualifying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Progarm (SNAP), Medicaid, Head Start, etc.  By removing the burden of  having to collect household applications to determine eligibility for the few students that do not qualify for free or reduced-price meals, CEP significantly lessens the administrative work of having to collect and verify school meal applications and allows schools to focus on feeding children.

Introduced by the The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, this option is now available to all schools, nationwide – the deadline to opt in for the 2015-2016 school year is August 31, 2015.

What are the benefits?
  • Reduced administrative burden – removes paperwork for both parents and school staff, lowering administrative costs, eliminating the need to track unpaid meal charges and allowing staff to focus on improving education and meal service operations.
  • Increases participation and factilitates implementation of alternative breakfast models – maximizes access to free nutritious meals to students, reducing stigma and making it easier for schools to implement Breakfast in the Classroom and Grab N Go.
  • Improves efficiency and financial viability of school nutrition programs – CEP schools traditionally show significant increases in breakfast and lunch participation, resulting in higher revenue through reimbursements, which districts can use to improve meal program quality.
How it works

The percentage of Identified Students multiplied by 1.6 = the percentage of meals reimbursed at the “free” rate.  The rest of the meals are reimbursed at the paid rate. Therefore, the higher the poverty level (Identified Student Percentage), the higher the reimbursement rate.

Schools can determine their eligibility status by visiting the Center on Budget and Policy Priority’s CEP eligibility database and can also use tools like the No Kid Hungry School Calculator to help determine the financial viability of becoming CEP.



Illinois was one of the first states to pilot CEP in the 2011-2012 school year and since then, has grown from less than 250 to over 1,000 schools participating.  According to the Food and Research Action Center, breakfast and lunch participation in the first three pilot states, Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky, increased by 25% (29,000 meals) and 13% (23,000 meals) respectively, in CEP schools within the first two years. Such increases in participation underscore the impact of community eligibility and its ability to improve low-income children’s access to healthy meals at school, particularly through the School Breakfast Program, which has been underutilized. Administrators, child nutrition staff, and parents in participating schools, who experience the benefits of community eligibility first hand, have enthusiastically embraced the option¹.

However, compared to the rest of the nation only 55% of Illinois’ eligible school districts and 29% of eligible schools participate¹. This means, we can do better.

What can you do?
  • Apply to become CEP for the 2015 – 2016 school year by August 31, 2015 with the Illinois State Board of Education.
  • Utilize the tools, resources and information fact sheets on the Share Our Strength Center for Best Practices Community Eligibility Provision webpage.
  • Take action and connect with a Rise & Shine breakfast coordinator, who can help:
    • Determine the best breakfast plan for your school or district
    • Provide technical assistance for implementing CEP and alternative breakfast models
    • Assist with applying for Rise & Shine Illinois breakfast grants

After-school Grants Awarded!

The children are all smiles at the Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center in Evanston after receiving eating an after-school meal.  The City of Evanston, sponsor of the Center's At-Risk After-School Meals program is a recent recipient of a No Kid Hungry after-school meals expansion grant.

The children are all smiles while eating an after-school meal at the Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center in Evanston. The City of Evanston sponsors the Center’s At-Risk After-School Meals program and is a recent recipient of a No Kid Hungry Illinois after-school meals expansion grant.

In partnership with Rise & Shine Illinois, the Illinois No Kid Hungry campaign awarded its first round of expansion grants for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) At-Risk After-school Meals Program.  The purpose of the grants is to help sponsors maximize their ability to serve full supper meals and expand participation in the program. $10,000 was awarded to six different sponsoring organizations throughout the state:

  • Northern Illinois Food Bank, Geneva
  • Catholic Charities of Chicago, Chicago
  • City of Evanston, Evanston
  • Casa Central, Chicago
  • Church of Peace, Rock Island
  • Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center, Urbana

Grants are still available! Applications are accepted on a rolling basis with two remaining deadlines.  The next application deadline is August 15.  For full grant details and to apply, click here.

For Chicago school, breakfast is a source of pride

“Our waste log never gets filled”


A mural outside the Beidler School cafeteria, where 403 children receive breakfast each day.

Too often we hear what can’t be done to serve breakfast at school. But that’s not the case at Beidler School on Chicago’s West Side. At Beidler, breakfast is part of the school day. In fact, breakfast, lunch and supper are part of the day. The school’s doors open to students at 7:30 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

“We educate socially, emotionally and academically,” said Principal Charles Anderson. “If they’re hungry, it’s hard to do any of those things.”


Charles Anderson

The meaning of school, and community, takes on another dimension at Beidler, a public elementary in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. School at Beidler is about much more than educating children from pre-K to eighth grade. It’s about supporting a community and providing a “safe haven,” in the words of Mr. Anderson. The school keeps its doors open longer because of the flexibility needed by parents. A significant percentage of students are homeless, and many parents are working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

East Garfield Park faces a food insecurity rate of 38.5 percent, nearly three times the statewide rate. Mondays and Fridays are the busiest days in the Beidler School kitchen. Mondays because children arrive at school having eaten sparingly over the weekend. Fridays because children ask for seconds to tide them through until Monday.

“Our waste log never gets filled,” said Mr. Anderson.

For too many low-income families, breakfast becomes one more variable in their lives. The Rise and Shine Illinois campaign is seeking to address food insecurity by expanding school breakfast statewide. Experts agree that breakfast correlates with better attendance, less tardiness and improved academics. Common sense tells us that a hungry child can’t concentrate at school and is at risk of falling behind.

On a recent morning with Mr. Anderson, children approach for a hug, a smile or a few friendly words, the atmosphere becomes familial and perhaps warmer than many schools. “This is my son,” Mr. Anderson said kidding one child who stays in a homeless shelter. Mr. Anderson takes time to greet every parent, teacher and student, seemingly knowing everyone in East Garfield Park by name. The school is a source of pride for the community.

When told that some schools in Illinois, many in fact, don’t participate in school breakfast, Mr. Anderson expressed surprise. It never occurred to him not to serve breakfast.

“They’re missing out on a great way to start the day,” he said “We always say a good breakfast will do everything.”

The next Rise and Shine Illinois breakfast grant deadline is Monday, June 15. Contact us at or
773-247-3663 to learn how to bring breakfast to your school.

Grab N Go Breakfast increases participation by over 120% in Beardstown

Operating as a well-oiled machine – students grab their breakfast on the way into school each morning and then head off to class.

Operating as a well-oiled machine – students grab their breakfast on the way into school each morning and then head off to class.

Nourishing students from the inside out

For many students at Beardstown Junior/High School, the breakfast they receive through the National School Breakfast Program may be one of the only two nutritious meals they receive in a day. According to Principal Scott Riddle, for most of these kids, “If we don’t serve breakfast, they don’t get breakfast.” With over 73% of the school’s student population eligible for free or reduced-priced meals, the need is high and therefore “the goal,” says Riddle, “is to get food into the hands of the kids.”

With the help of a Rise and Shine Illinois grant, Beardstown was able to implement a Grab N Go service model for the 2014-2015 school year in order to make breakfast more accessible to all students and increase participation in the breakfast program. The children simply pick up a packaged hot or cold meal in the cafeteria or hallway as they enter school and eat together before class starts.

Principal Scott Riddle stands in front of an “inspirational” art installation created by the students at Beardstown Junior/High.

Principal Scott Riddle stands in front of an “inspirational” art installation created by the students at Beardstown Junior/High.

To start the Grab N Go program, the Junior/High School needed two Point of Service (POS) terminals, which they were able to purchase with funds from the Rise and Shine Illinois grant. An electronic pad collects student fingerprints as they pick up their meal and it automatically records and tracks the number of meals served in a reporting database. By reducing the amount of time students have to wait in line and the amount of paperwork for administrative staff, the new system makes serving breakfast a more efficient process and ultimately helps to feed more kids meals.

Since implementing the program, Riddle has seen two major improvements – a spike in attendance because kids are coming to school on time in order to get breakfast, and increased productivity in the classroom. “Teachers say you can see kids who are distracted in the classroom because they’re hungry and sleepy. With breakfast, they perform better, they’re more attentive.”

On average, about 520 of the 840 students in the Junior and High School are eating Grab N Go breakfast, a 122% increase over last year. In a county that has a food insecurity rate of over 23%, these meals serve a significant need. Nourishing kids from the inside out, the program not only ensures that the students are receiving a healthy meal but it provides them the opportunity to share and participate in the communal act of eating with one another. As Riddle points out, “Breakfast is about making sure your neighbor has something to eat. It’s teaching a community value.”

After-School Meals Grant Opportunity – Deadline may 15

Rise & Shine Illinois announces After-School Meals grant opportunity through No Kid Hungry Illinois

CACFP At-Risk After-School Meals Program Expansion Grant

Application Deadline: MAY 15, 2015

In partnership with Rise & Shine Illinois, this grant opportunity for up to $2,500 each is funded through Share Our Strength and the Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign to help At-Risk After-School Meal (aka “Supper”) sponsors expand access to and participation in after-school and extended day meal programs that receive reimbursement through the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The priority is to help sponsors maximize their ability to provide students in eligible after-school programs ( with a full supper meal.

Click here to read more


The supper program must be:

  • Located in an eligible site or area
  • Served in conjunction with an eligible after-school enrichment program

Within the scope of the purpose above, the following programs are top priorities for support:

  • Starting new CACFP supper programs in conjunction with eligible after-school enrichment programs.
  • Sponsors currently providing after-school snacks supported by either CACFP or the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) who wish to expand their program to provide a full meal in place of or in addition to a snack.
  • Sponsors currently providing a CACFP supported supper, looking to expand or enhance their program to help them reach more children.

All applying organizations must be either 501(c)(3) nonprofits currently in good standing, schools/school systems approved to participate in CACFP or NSLP, local government agencies able to accept grants, or churches/tax-exempt religious organizations not required to apply for official 501(c)(3) status.

You must have already started the CACFP application process with your state agency at the time you submit your grant application. We will accept grant applications from organizations that have started the process and/or are awaiting approval from your state agency; however grants will only be awarded to organizations that are approved as program sponsors.

Eligible Uses of Funds

These grants are intended to help with costs associated with starting or growing a supper program, including, but not limited to:

  • Staffing
  • Equipment
  • Program costs (per USDA guidelines, programs that wish to provide a full supper must provide some kind of enrichment programming)
  • Outreach to increase enrollment
  • Support to offset registration or other enrollment fees for low-income families
  • Transportation

Average Grant Award: $2,500

Reporting Requirements

If funded, you will be required to complete a report on the following:

  • Financial report on use of funds
  • Monthly participation numbers
  • Interim and final narrative report on the successes and challenges of your program over the course of the program

Organizations that do not submit a report will be ineligible to receive future grants from Share Our Strength.

Grant applications will be evaluated based on:

  • Adherence to Eligibility and Requirements guidelines
  • Program sustainability beyond the grant funding period
  • Growth potential for CACFP afterschool meals and snack program participation.

All applicants must submit a complete application; incomplete applications will not be considered.

Application Due Date

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through November 15, 2015 with three deadlines: May 15th, August 15th and November 15th.

CLICK HERE TO APPLY.  You will need to create a user profile. Use the access key: ILCACFP2015 when prompted (all caps).

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! 

Recent data on food insecurity, poverty, school breakfast

Research underscores high need, importance of child nutrition programs

Blue Island

A summer meals site in Blue Island.

Four important data sets released in recent weeks characterize the depth of food insecurity and poverty in Illinois and the extent to which programs like school breakfast are making progress. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2015, released today, 643,040 children in Illinois were food insecure in 2013–a troubling 1 in 5 children under the age of 18. Illinois’ child food insecurity rate has ranged between 20.8 percent and 23.3 percent in the five years that state rates have been available. Two counties in Illinois, Alexander and Hardin, have child food insecurity rates of more than 30 percent and are among the highest rates in the nation.  Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.


Another recent report highlights child poverty, a key factor in food insecurity. Illinois Kids Count 2015, a project of Voices for Illinois Children released in February, shows that child poverty rates in Illinois are higher than pre-recession levels and are much higher than in 2000. In 2013, 21 percent of Illinois children lived in households with incomes below poverty level, compared with 17 percent in 2007 and 15 percent in 2000. The dramatic increase confirms what economists tell us and what we observe in the community: a high, sustained need remains in the community. Further, the poverty level for a family of three is only $18,750. It’s likely that many people are struggling to make ends meet who are above the poverty level, particularly in communities where $18,750 is only enough to cover housing costs.

Two other findings from Kids Count:

  • The number of children in poverty in Illinois increased from 457,000 in 1999 to 634,000 in 2012.
  • The City of Chicago accounted for 46 percent of the state’s child poverty population in 1999 but only 33 percent in 2012. The share in the metropolitan suburbs rose from 22 percent in 1999 to 33 percent in 2012.

Federal nutrition programs, working in harmony with nonprofit organizations, provide the majority of food for families who are struggling to make ends meet. Schools can be the conduit for reaching more low-income children, in particular at the start of the school day. (Indeed, this is what the Rise and Shine Illinois campaign is all about!). With that in mind, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released its annual School Breakfast Scorecard last month. While the nation has made progress, Illinois dropped to 40th nationally based on its ratio of breakfasts to lunches for free and reduced-price eligible students (note Illinois’ ratio essentially remained static while other states rose).



Finally, the Rise and Shine Illinois School Breakfast Report, compiled by Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center, provides a sunnier outlook on breakfast. Analyzing three years of data from the Illinois State Board of Education, the Report shows that average daily breakfast participation per school has increased from 106.1 students in 2011-2012 to 115.2 students in 2013-2014. Yet Illinois leaves $90.4 million in federal funding on the table because schools do not serve breakfast. (The Rise and Shine Illinois report differs from the Scorecard in several ways, but most importantly in that it benchmarks against “possible meals served” rather than lunch participation.)

The research underscores the importance of keeping up momentum for our programs, especially as the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization is debated in Congress this year. Much work remains, and that’s what Rise and Shine Illinois is here for: providing funding and technical assistance, literally from Rockford to Cairo. We hope you’ll join us: Rise and Shine Illinois has breakfast grant deadlines April 15 and June 15, and you can take our breakfast pledge by clicking here.

What’s next? The Annual Illinois Hunger Summit takes place May 5 at the Hilton Springfield. Join us!

2015 Illinois School Breakfast Challenge

Be rewarded for serving more kids more meals!

As an extra incentive for schools to expand their breakfast programs, Rise & Shine Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Midwest Dairy Council present the 2015 Illinois School Breakfast Challenge.

How it works:

Eligibility: All Illinois schools currently participating in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and serving an alternative breakfast model (Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab N Go or Breakfast After the Bell) are eligible to participate. Schools had to participate in the SBP the previous year although they did not have to serve an alternative breakfast model. Up to 20 schools will be accepted into the Challenge on a first-come first-serve basis. From each district, one elementary, one middle and one high school will be eligible to participate.

Challenge Duration: February – May, 2015

Reward: The Challenge will be based on increases in student breakfast participation compared to the Average Daily Participation (ADP) rate of the previous year for the corresponding month.  For each additional meal served above the previous year’s ADP for that  month, the school will receive $.25. The maximum award amount is $5,000 per school.  The total award will be given to schools in the Fall of 2015.

To Enroll:  Sign up HERE! (click the link and then scroll to the bottom of the page for the enrollment form)

Schools entering the Challenge will receive a marketing starter kit including school breakfast flyers, posters and banners to help increase awareness and participation.

Funds earned can be used toward anything related to your breakfast program (except food), such as additional equipment and supplies, POS systems, outreach materials, staff, etc.

The more meals you serve – the more funds you earn – to help you serve more meals, and feed more hungry children.  It’s a positive feedback loop! Enroll in the Challenge today.  

Illinois Breakfast Week Details Announced

Breakfast-Week-Cover-Pic_V2 (2) 4

Rise & Shine Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Education are teaming up to raise awareness about the need for school breakfast among low-income children during Illinois School Breakfast Week – February 23rd – 27th, 2015.

The week’s festivities include a Breakfast Challenge kickoff event the morning of Thursday, February 26th in Decatur and a working lunch convening statewide breakfast partners in Springfield later that day.

How can you get involved?

  • Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter
  • Participate in our Breakfast Week Thunderclap!
  • Scroll to the bottom of this page and..
    • “TAKE THE PLEDGE” to support school breakfast and help us exceed our goal of 1,000 pledges by February 27th
    • Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive updates on Rise & Shine grants, events and other news
  • Fill out our Take Action form to be connected with a School Breakfast Coordinator and receive more information on implementing breakfast in your school

Superintendent announces Rise & Shine Illinois Grant Opportunity

Weekly Message from Superintendent Christopher A. Koch features Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine Illinois Breakfast Grant Opportunity Available to Schools 


FEBRUARY 9, 2015  — “Rise & Shine Illinois is offering grants of up to $5,000 to help schools cover the costs of providing free breakfast to students in need.

Under the School Breakfast Program (SBP), federal reimbursements are available to all public schools for breakfasts served to low-income children yet only 45 percent of eligible students actually receive breakfast.

Participation is often low because breakfast is either served in isolation before the start of the school day or there is a stigma surrounding students needing free or reduced-price meals.

Rise & Shine Illinois works with schools to reduce these barriers to participation by implementing alternative breakfast models such as Breakfast in the Classroom and Grab N Go.

While the cost of food for the SBP is reimbursed, schools need equipment and supplies, such as insulated bags, point-of-service terminals, Grab N Go carts and trash cans to make this program work. Rise & Shine Illinois offers grants to cover these extra expenses.

Rise & Shine Illinois has awarded $200,000 total to schools throughout the state since 2013, helping to increase breakfast participation in some districts by more than 200 percent.

Grants for 2015 are available for up to $5,000 each. The next application deadline is Feb. 15. Contact to apply.”


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