Benefiting from a Free Lunch?: The Effects of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) on School Performance in Michigan

Student Author(s)

Brennan Mange

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sarah Estelle

Document Type


Event Date



The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), also referred to as the Community Eligibility Option (CEO), of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act is a unique piece of federal public policy that expands the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). CEP eliminated the need for individual applications for subsidized lunches by providing funds for schools to feed all enrolled students breakfast and lunch if the school meets a 40% "identified student" requirement. Michigan, Kentucky, and Illinois were the first states to begin the phase-in of the program. This paper utilizes data from the Michigan Department of Education for the school years beginning in 2007-2013, which nicely frame 2011, the first year that CEP was an option for schools. This paper utilizes difference-in-difference analysis with school fixed effects to measure the effect of CEP participation on the school outcomes of attendance, standardized test scores, and expulsions. The results will indicate the degree to which an expansion from a means tested school meals program to a universal program impact school performance. The results indicate that CEP participation is correlated with a decrease in test scores, attendance rates, and expulsions. Further evaluation is needed to explain these results.

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