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CCPS expands free breakfast and lunch to 12 qualifying schools through USDA program

With the start of the 2023-2024 school year, Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is implementing a USDA federal grant program called Community Eligibility Provision, also known as CEP, at 12 qualifying schools this year. Students who attend these schools are eligible for a free healthy breakfast and lunch for the entire school year, effective Monday, Aug. 28. 

CCPS has received approval from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to offer CEP at the 12 identified schools for the next four school years, starting with the 2023-2024 school year. 

CEP is a federally funded program eligible for schools and school systems in low-income areas. School systems that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students eligible for free meals based on their participation in other programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). 

The following schools have been identified to participate in CEP. 

  • Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School.
  • Indian Head Elementary School.
  • Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School. 
  • Arthur Middleton Elementary School. 
  • Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School. 
  • Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School.  
  • J.P. Ryon Elementary School. 
  • Eva Turner Elementary School.
  • John Hanson Middle School. 
  • General Smallwood Middle School. 
  • Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. 
  • Thomas Stone High School. 

Under CEP, all students who attend these schools will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch for a period of four years, unless the eligibility status of a school changes. Eligibility status can change if the number of students eligible for free meals drops below the identified qualifiers included in CEP outlined by USDA. Parents of students enrolled in identified CEP schools will receive notification from CCPS of their child’s enrollment in a qualifying school and free meal eligibility. 

“Our participation in this program allows us to continue our focus on feeding as many children as possible at little or no cost to families. Children are more alert and ready to learn when they are full. I appreciate the diligence of our Food and Nutrition Services staff who secured this grant program for Charles County Public Schools,” Superintendent of Schools Maria V. Navarro, Ed.D., said. 

CCPS posts breakfast and lunch menus on the school system website at Parents can create an account to follow the menus posted for their child’s specific schools.

Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, CEP provides an alternative approach for offering school meals in low-income areas, instead of collecting individual household applications for free and reduced-price meals. The CEP allows schools that predominantly serve low-income children to offer free, nutritious school meals to all students through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). The CEP uses information from other programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Family Assistance (TFA), instead of traditional paper applications.

CEP includes breakfast and lunch meals but does not cover any a la carte items. Parents of students attending CEP schools do not need to fill out a meals benefit application, but CCPS encourages completion of the forms since data collected from the application provides for other benefits for the school system. 

Parents with children who attend CEP schools that have children enrolled in schools that do not offer the program should still complete a meals application and list the child (and school name) of the student attending the CEP participating school. 

In the event a student transfers to a school that does not qualify for the CEP program this school year, parents will need to complete a meals benefit application if they have not already done so. The application requires information that will then determine if the student qualifies for free or reduced-price meals.

Additionally, the CEP program is different from the Maryland Meals for Achievement, also know as MMFA, in which 28 CCPS schools/centers provide free breakfast to students. To learn more about MMFA, visit

For questions about the CCPS Food and Nutrition Services program, call 301-392-5570. 

About CCPS
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.
CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).

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