March 1, 2012

Community Eligibility Option (CEO)

CEO is an alternative to collecting, approving, and verifying household eligibility applications for free and reduced price eligible students in high poverty local educational agencies (LEAs) for schools participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

For a LEA to be eligible to use CEO for school year 2012-2013, the LEA must have one or more school that have an identified student percentage of 40% or greater as of April 1, 2012. The identified student percentage is NOT the same as the total number of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Identified student counts ONLY include the following:

The LEA and school must agree to offer all enrolled students breakfasts and lunches at no cost (free) and cover any cost above the federal reimbursement received with non-Federal funds.; CEO is approved for four successive school years, with an option annually to return to traditional meal counting and claiming procedures. Reimbursement for schools participating in CEO is based on claiming percentages (Free and Paid only) derived from the percentages of identified students multiplied by a USDA established factor.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Nutrition Programs Division will host a CEO webinar for new applicants on March 27, 2012 from 2:00pm - 3:30pm. This webinar will provide interested sponsors general information about CEO, how to determine the "identified student" number as well as application information. Please register for this webinar at: If you are unable to attend the webinar, this webinar will be recorded and available for viewing at your convenience from our website shortly after the live webinar is presented.

The CEO application for SY2012-2013 (July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013) will be available online on April 1, 2012.   The application must be completed and returned to ISBE for review by close of business June 29 , 2012.

For more information about CEO including the USDA Fact Sheet about this option, please visit our website at:

If you have any questions please contact our office via email at or via telephone at 800/545-7892.