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School Nutrition Unit

Our Mission

The CDE School Nutrition Unit administers the USDA Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) that provide healthy food to children in Colorado. Each of these programs helps to fight hunger and obesity and promotes the health and well-being of children. School Nutrition is committed to ensuring all school-aged children have equal access to healthy meals by supporting, training, and connecting Colorado's child nutrition community.

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The Dish is our monthly e-newsletter designed to help you implement Child Nutrition Programs.

Child Nutrition Programs


School Breakfast Program  |  Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program  |  After School Snack Program  |  Provisions  |  Seamless Summer Option

Monthly Spotlight

What is the Community Eligibility Provision?


The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a meal service option for schools and districts in low-income eligible areas that allows all enrolled students to eat breakfast and lunch at no cost to the families. Instead of collecting income applications and claiming students’ reimbursable meals based on individual eligibility, schools operating CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students that participate in other nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). CEP can help reduce childhood hunger by guaranteeing nutritious and fulfilling meals at school in high-need communities. CEP can be beneficial for the administration of child nutrition programs, as well. When implementing the provision, a school may see an increase in program participation, reductions in unpaid meal charges, alleviation of benefit issuance paperwork, and a solution to the stigma associated with receiving free or reduced-price meals. Multiple school districts in Colorado have seen success in implementing CEP. Jo Ellen Mitchell, food service director for HOPE Online, said “When beginning CEP, our administrative hours were reduced by such a large amount that I was able to begin culinary classes in our numerous learning centers.” She continues, “CEP has allowed me to spend more time with the staff and students and has made life easier for those counting lunches.” According to Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger Report, one in six children in Colorado may not always know when or where their next meal will be. CEP can be a great solution to mitigate that statistic. The Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger is a multi-year plan to end hunger for all Coloradans. Part of this plan is for stakeholders to work collaboratively to clarify CEP program requirements for potential adoptees, increasing awareness of the program and remove barriers to participation. In 2018-2019, it is estimated that CEP reached over 39,000 students in 21 SFAs throughout Colorado. If you are notified in April that your school and/or district is eligible to implement CEP, please contact Benjamin Wetherbee in the CDE School Nutrition Unit to find out if the provision is right for you.

Frequently Requested

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race,color, national origin, sex, religious creed, disability, age, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (PDF), (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email: institution is an equal opportunity provider.

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Contact Us

Colorado Dept. of Education
201 East Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 303-866-6600
Fax: 303-830-0793
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