Schoolwide Free Lunch Program Expanding to 82 Schools in 2023-24
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a school meal funding option from USDA that enables a school to provide free meals to all students, without the necessity of completing applications for individual eligibility. CEP status is determined by the percentage of students from households receiving public benefits.
This year, CEP in South Carolina has expanded to include students who receive Medicaid benefits, which will enable 82 GCS schools to qualify for the 2023-24 school year. This is a significant increase from the 21 GCS locations that have been CEP schools since 2015.
All GCS schools currently offer free breakfast. For the 2023-24 school year, every school in the district except the following will be CEP schools, offering free lunches to all students:
- Augusta Circle Elementary
- Bell's Crossing Elementary
- Buena Vista Elementary
- Mauldin High
- Monarch Elementary
- Oakview Elementary
- Pelham Road Elementary
- Riverside High
- Riverside Middle
- Rudolph Gordon School
- Stone Academy
Families that are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at these schools must apply to receive them, and all other students must pay full price ($2.50) for their lunches. Breakfast is provided free of charge to all Greenville County students, regardless of their meal status.
The online application process for free and reduced-price meals is now live and can be accessed below.
There is a four-year eligibility guarantee, which means the 82 schools may remain in the program at least through the 2026-27 school year.
In addition to being more convenient for families, CEP increases school meal participation by an estimated 3% and is cost-neutral to the District. It was first implemented in 2014-15 by the USDA, and one GCS school participated that initial year. In 2015-16, CEP eligibility expanded to include 21 GCS schools.