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National School Lunch Program

In Rhode Island, the National School Lunch Program provides nutritious, low-cost or free lunches to over 72,000 children daily. Schools that take part in the lunch program get cash subsidies and donated foods from USDA.

Participating program Sponsors include all public schools, state schools and charter schools, and some private schools, special needs citizen centers, and residential child care institutions.

All public schools in Rhode Island are mandated by state law to provide lunches.

Children from families with income:

  • Up to 130 % of poverty level are eligible for free meals.
  • Between 130 to 185 % of poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals ($.40 or less).
  • Over 185 % of poverty pay a price determined by the school or institution for their subsidized meal.

69 % of the lunches served in Rhode Island are served free or at the reduced price.

For additional program information contact:

Jennifer Goodwin, MS, RD

Community Eligibility Provision

The new Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) makes it easier for all children in low-income communities have access to healthy meals at school.  CEP allows schools in high poverty areas to offer nutritious meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs to all students at no change while eliminating school meal applications. Contact Jennifer Goodwin for additional information on CEP in RI. 

The CEP Fact Sheet provides an overview of the Community Eligibility Program.

Click here to view a recorded webinar on CEP.

Here is the of listing of:

For additional information, check the USDA CEP website and the Food Research and Action Center website. 

CEP Reimbursement Estimator (calculator tool) allows schools that are considering the Community Eligibility Provision to calculate their estimated federal reimbursement they will receive.  This will help assess the financial viability of their school meal program under CEP.

Districts interested in participating in the CEP in 2021-2022 should complete the CEP SFA Participation Form, and the CEP Eligibility Worksheet.

Districts/schools that have elected to participate in CEP for at least one site must notify households of children attending the CEP school(s) of CEP participation in the 2021-2022 school year.  LEAs may use this Sample Household Letter to serve as the required notification.

E-Rate guidance has been issued by both USDA and the Federal Communications Commission.  It provides information on newly adopted rules for the E-rate program, including how school districts with CEP schools should calculate their discount rates beginning in School Year 2015 2016.

US Department of Education has issued guidance on Title 1 Part A. and CEP .

Sponsor Annual Renewal Documents

Annual Update for Current School Nutrition Program Sponsors

In September each year, Sponsors in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, the After-School Snack Program and the Special Milk Program need to update their Agreement with RIDE. By August 29th, 2019, please complete the form below and return it to RIDE. Our fax number is 401-222-6163 or email it.



Must complete the following form by AUGUST 29th, 2019:

Annual Sponsor Update Form 

This annual update is a federal requirement. It provides the opportunity to update certain information that RIDE has on file about your district’s or school’s participation in and operation of the Federal School Nutrition Programs. 

Indicate on this form whether or not you:

  • Need to change the names of your staff who have access to our CNP CONNECT system.  (You can check your CNP Connect Rolodex to see who has access.) 
  • Have closed any sites. 
  • Are adding new sites. 


      Complete the "Delegation of Authority Level 1" form if you want new users to approve or submit data and information through CNP Connect.  This must be approved by an existing Level 1 User.

Complete the "Delegation of Authority Level 2" form if you want new users to enter data into CNP Connect.  This must be approved by an existing Level 1 User.

    Once this form has been received by RIDE, we will contact you with more instructions to complete the annual renewal process.   


    Our EZ Guide provides step-by-step instructions to help you update your on-line Agreement.
    Please review and update your Agreement. All information associated with your Agreement will be carried forward except the following:   
  • meal prices being charged in schools (on-line Agreement tab, page 1)
  • attendance factor (on-line Agreement Tab, page 2)
  • individual school/site enrollment (on-line Site tab, page 2)
    • You'll need to re- enter these pieces of information into your Agreement.

  • review all the information in your on-line Agreement in CNP Connect,
  • update any missing information, and
  • make changes where appropriate.   

    If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Goodwin at jennifer.goodwin@ride.ri.gov


Annual Verification Process


Verification in a required part of school meal program administration.  

  • Verification must be completed annually by November 15th..
  • The Verification Summary Report (FNS 742) is due to RIDE by December 15th. 

Regulations prohibit the oversampling of meal benefit applications for Verification.  If your meal benefit eligibility process is decentralized (each school handles its own eligibility determination), here are specific instructions for the Consolidation of the Verification process and results. 

Below are links to resources to assist with the Verification process.

Please contact Jennifer Goodwin at jennifer.goodwin@ride.ri.gov or 401-222-4269 if you have any questions about this important aspect of school meal program administration.

Healthy Snacks & Beverages in Schools

Healthy Snacks & Beverages

USDA recently published practical, science-based nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold to children at school during the school day.  As of July 1, 2014, these standards allow schools to offer healthier snack foods to children, while limiting less nutritious foods.

Smart Snacks in Schools

The new USDA Smart Snacks nutrition standards support better health for students and echoes the good work already taking place in schools in RI. Smart Snacks are also know as competitive foods because they "compete" with the nutritious school meals.  

Smart Snack standards apply when competitive food & beverage items are:

  1. Sold to students,  
  2. On the school campus (vending machines, school stores, a la carte lines, snack bars and sold through fund raisers), 
  3. During the school day (midnight before, to 1 hour after the end of the official school day),

must meet the nutrition standards for competitive foods. In other words, children will be able to buy only foods that their parents would find generally acceptable.

More guidance is found on the USDA Smart Snacks webpage.

USDA is now closely aligned with the:

For guidance on aligning with both Federal Smart Snacks Nutrient Standards and RI State Nutrition Standards, this flyer from the RI Healthy Schools Coalition and RIDE combines both standards in a concise reference sheet.  

Fund Raising in Schools

For alternate, healthy fundraising ideas, check out Healthy School Fundraising - Promoting a Healthy School Environment.  

Training & Training Resources

September's upcoming webinars: Meal Benefit Eligibility Determinations and Professional Standards

USDA's Team Nutrition is an initiative of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to support the Child Nutrition Programs through training and technical assistance for foodservice, nutrition education for children and their caregivers, and school and community support for healthy eating and physical activity.

RIDE Hosted Webinars

Meal Pattern Requirements

Here you will find information regarding the USDA meal pattern requirements.:

The meal pattern requirements for infants and preschoolers who participate in the School Meal Programs has changed. The new requirements are in effect beginning October 1, 2017. However, USDA has issued a memo regarding flexibility when the preschoolers are co-mingled with the school age children during meal time. See below:

SP 37-2017: Flexibility for Co-Mingled Preschool Meals: Questions and Answers

This memorandum provides guidance on meals served to preschoolers when they are in the same service area at the same time as grade K-5 students, and it includes Questions and Answers. 

Additional Information about changes to the Child and Adult care food program can be found here.

Guidance can be found here on reducing food waste with the use of "Share tables" and food donations.




Documents, Resources & Links Library

Nutrition & Wellness

Wellness and the National School Lunch Program

Local wellness policies are an important tool for parents, schools and Sponsor in promoting student wellness, preventing and reducing childhood obesity, and providing assurance that school meal nutrition guidelines meet the minimum federal school meal standards.  

USDA requires that each local educational agency that participates in the National School Lunch Program or other federal Child Nutrition Programs establishes a local school wellness policy for all schools under its jurisdiction.  

Check out USDA Team Nutrition's School Nutrition Environment & Wellness Resources  

RIDE works closely with the RI Healthy School Coalition to provide technical assistance, resources, and guidance on the development and implementation of local wellness policies.  Resources include: 



Reimbursement Rates and Processing Claims

The Reimbursement and Claims section provides information on USDA reimbursement rates, and RIDE's CNP Connect secure claims processing and management system.

USDA Reimbursement Rates

USDA reimbursement rates are updated on a yearly basis.

USDA Reimbursement Rates 2021-2022:

USDA Donated Foods Program (Commodities)

The USDA's Schools/Child Nutrition Programs support American agricultural producers by providing cash reimbursements for meals served in schools, but also by providing nutritious, USDA-purchased food to the following nutrition programs:

  • National School Lunch Program;
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program; and the
  • Summer Food Service Program

For additional information:


CNP Connect Claims & Management System

CNP Connect includes a secure section for processing meal claims. For additional information on filing meal claims, go to the CNPConnect site.

Program Data & Finance

This section provides local and national data on the National School Lunch Program, and information about fiscal aspects of the Program.

Breakfast State Match

Here is data on the allocation and distribution of RI state funds meant to support public schools providing breakfast meals to students.

2013 RIDE State Breakfast Funds Allocation [XLS, 41KB]

USDA Donated Food Entitlement

The USDA's Schools/Child Nutrition Programs support American agricultural producers by providing cash reimbursements for meals served in schools, but also by providing nutritious, USDA-purchased food to the following nutrition programs:

  • National School Lunch Program;
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program; and the
  • Summer Food Service Program

For additional information:

Breakfast Participation

The Annual RI Kids Count's Fact Book includes analysis of breakfast participation in the USDA School Breakfast Program.

USDA Program Finance and Participation Data

FNS Program Data


Administrative Review Summaries


In accordance with current USDA requirements, below is the posting of administrative review findings by year for each district: