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Press Release: More Than 200 Maryland Schools Implement Community Eligibility For 2015-16

Allows Eligible Schools to Offer Free Meals to All Students

For Immediate Release                                          

Contact: William Reinhard, 410-767-0486, Bruce Schenkel, 410-767-0225

Baltimore, MD (September 18, 2015)

The Maryland State Department of Education today announced that 227 schools have implemented the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) in School Year 2016. The CEP is a component of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act that allows eligible schools to serve nutritious meals, free of charge, to all students. The Provision eases the administrative burden of collecting household meal benefit applications and eliminates the stigma sometimes associated with receiving a free or reduced-price school meal.

To qualify for CEP, a district or school participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program must have 40 percent or more of its students directly certified for free meals. Ten school systems are taking advantage of CEP this year, including Baltimore City and Somerset County which are implementing the Provision district-wide.

“The link between nutrition and academic achievement is undeniable,” said Dr. Jack Smith, Interim State Superintendent of Schools. “Through CEP, even more Maryland students will have access to nutritious school meals, ensuring they are ready to learn.”

Last school year, CEP became available nationwide, with roughly half of all eligible schools electing to participate. In Maryland, approximately 60 percent of eligible CEP schools will participate in 2016, thanks, in part, to the passage of the Hunger-Free Schools Act of 2015 which reduced some barriers to participation.   

For more information on CEP, contact the Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs, at 410-767-0214.


The Maryland State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are equal opportunity providers and employers.

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