Every student who attends a Philadelphia District school is entitled to a free lunch as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school feeding program – because for a high-poverty district, it’s simply more economical and efficient to feed everyone.
Under the “community eligibility provision," or CEP, students are automatically eligible for free school meals if their family qualifies for other federal assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps). The School District of Philadelphia has certified through state records that enough of its students fall in this category to warrant a universal feeding program.
Depending on the poverty level of the student body, charter schools can also be certified under CEP and provide free meals to all their students.
The table presented below shows the rates of participation in October 2014 of all Philadelphia charter school meal programs for breakfast and lunch, the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced meals, and CEP status. (Note: Some charter schools have multiple campuses. For some of those sites, data was reported, for others they were not. And some schools may have qualified for CEP status for the first time this year.)
If a school is certified as having CEP status, all students are entitled to free breakfast and lunch, regardless of individual economic status. Schools that aren’t certified as CEP participate in the USDA program, but free or reduced-price meals are available only to those individuals who qualify.
The table also shows the rate of participation among students in each school in taking (not necessarily eating) meals, both lunch and breakfast. Such accounting is necessary in order for the school to receive reimbursement from the federal government.
Some charters contract for meals with the School District for food services, others with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Some engage private contractors.
There are eight charter schools for which there is no state data available (although that does not necessarily mean that the school does not participate in the USDA meals program). Those schools are: Eastern University Academy, Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures (FACTS), General David B. Birney, Green Woods, Imhotep, Philadelphia Montessori, Preparatory Charter, and YouthBuild.