Thanks to community eligibility, more than 18,000 high-poverty schools served free breakfast and lunch to more than 8.5 million low-income students during the 2015–2016 school year. That is the bottom line of the data analysis in Community Eligibility Adoption Rises for the 2015–2016 School Year, Increasing Access to School Meals (pdf), a new report by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Community eligibility has proven to be a great strategy for high-poverty schools – it gets nutritious meals to more children, and reduces the paperwork and administrative burdens that schools must usually shoulder. With more than half of all qualifying schools now participating in community eligibility, the program grew significantly this school year, having increased by 4,000 schools compared to the 2014–2015 school year. Building further on community eligibility’s momentum in its first two years of nationwide availability will ensure the program will be implemented in the vast majority of eligible schools and that it will get millions more students the healthy meals they need to learn and thrive.