FAQs For Free Breakfast & Free Lunch:

Frequently Asked Questions

Instructions: Click a question on the right to see the answer, then Click "Return to top" to return to this location.

  • 1. What is CEP?

    CEP, Community Eligibility Program, is a federally funded program that allows schools to serve breakfast and lunch meals to all students for free.   The qualifying factor is the percentage of directly certified students of the total of enrolled students in that school.  Directly certified means these students already qualify for a federal assistance program, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid or Head Start.

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  • 2. Do I Need to do anything to get these free meals at qualifying schools?

    No application is required.

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  • 3. Why are there some schools not providing free lunches for all students?

    Schools qualify based on the percentage of directly certified students attending
    Directly certified means these students already qualify for a federal assistance program, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid or Head Start.
    The five schools that did not qualify for CEP will still participate in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program and parents/guardians can apply for free or reduced-priced meals, just like in the past. (Click here to apply online)

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  • 4. Which schools are NOT qualified to participate in the free lunch program?

    Non-Qualifying schools are: Punta Gorda Middle School, LA Ainger Middle School, Charlotte High School, Lemon Bay High School and Port Charlotte High School.

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  • 5. If my school is not participating, can I still apply for the Free and Reduced Price meal program?

    Yes those other schools will still operate under National School Breakfast and Lunch Program guidelines and parents/guardians can apply (Click here to apply online).

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  • 6. With meals “free” now at many Charlotte County Schools, why can’t my child just get a free milk or a piece of fruit instead of having to take a whole meal?

    The cost of school meals provided to students in our District is subsidized by the federal government through participation in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. In order for the District to receive the federal funds that support these programs, specific meal components must be served that make up a complete meal for the student. The District does not receive any funds for any single components served, so a student would need to pay the ala carte price for a carton of milk, or select 3 food items* for a free meal.
    *one of the three food items must be one-half cup of fruit or vegetable.

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  • 7. Will the meals be the same or different?

    All meals are the same. Food and meals at CEP and non-CEP schools will be the same high quality products and recipes that meet USDA guidelines as Champ's Cafe has always offered. Brand names for ingredients and foods include:  Jennie-O Turkey, Pillsbury, General Mills, Kellogg's, Kraft Foods, Gold Kist (Pilgrim's Pride), Ocean Spray, Ken's Foods, Inc., Heinz, Rich's Products, Schwann's, Brookwood Farms and Apple & Eve.

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  • 8. Is my child required to eat the free breakfast and free lunch?

    No, your child is invited but not required to eat free breakfast and free lunch at school.  You are welcomed to send a lunch from home, but studies show a school meal offers more nutrients.   Please encourage your child to come through the serving line and obtain at least 3 foods, one of which must be one-half cup of fruit or vegetable, and they will receive a “meal” at no cost.

    Examples to supplement a lunch from home include:
    • Protein, Grain, Fruit, 2 Vegetables, Milk
    • Protein, Grain, Fruit, Vegetable, Milk
    • Protein, Grain, Vegetable, Milk
    • Protein, Grain, Fruit, Milk
    • Grain, Fruit, Milk
    • Grain, Vegetable, Milk
    • Protein, Fruit, Milk
    • Protein, Vegetable, Milk
    • Fruit, Vegetable, Milk
    • Protein, Grain, Fruit, Vegetable
    • Protein, Grain, Vegetable
    • Protein, Grain, Fruit
    • Protein, Fruit, Vegetable
    • Grain, Fruit, Vegetable

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  • 9. What if I don’t want my child to have free meals?

    All meals are served for free.  If you would like to make a monetary donation, please feel free to contact Terri White, school meals program manager at 941-575-5400 ext. 109; Terri.White@yourcharlotteschools.net

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  • 10. If my child transfers from a school participating in the CEP program to a non CEP school are they still eligible for free breakfast & free lunch?

    If a student transfers from a CEP (free meals) school to a non-CEP school: Family may apply for a free & reduced priced meal benefits or student may already qualify for free meals through Direct Certification.  If a student transfers from a non-CEP school to a CEP (free meals) school: Student receives free breakfast and free lunch.

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  • 11. What about the balance in my prepay account?

    Your child can use this balance to pay for other things at Champs Café’ that are not included in the standard school lunch, such as  snacks or special beverages.
    If you have another child who attends one of our schools that is not providing free meals to all students, you could request we transfer funds to that student account. Contact us at Champs Café Punta Gorda Center, 1016 Education ave. Punta Gorda, FL  33950-6259. 941-575-5400 ext. 105 or email Christy.Freed@yourcharlotteschools.net.
    If you would like us to refund the remaining balance, please provide us with the full student name and school location they are currently attending. Also, include the name of the person you would like the check made out to and the mailing address we are to send the refund check and a daytime telephone number in case we need to contact you. “Important Note”…… if you are using the on-line prepayment system and if you have it set up for “automatic replenishment” you must turn off the auto replenishment feature before you ask us to refund the account.

    Please send a refund request to Champs Café, Punta Gorda Center, 1016 Education Ave. Punta Gorda, FL  33950-6259.

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  • 12. What about eligibility for discounts for ACT/SAT, sports/band, cable/internet?

    When a parent requests a letter from Champs Café (941-575-5400 x109) for their child to qualify for a discount:
    • If the child attends any CCPS school and is directly certified via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid and/or Head Start, a letter will be provided documenting eligibility.
    • If the child attends a CEP school, a letter will be provided documenting that the child attends a CEP school
    • If the child attends a non-CEP school, a letter will be provided stating their eligibility according to the family’s application.

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For More information about USDA’s Community Eligibility Program:
Email: champscafe@yourcharlotteschools.net

Champ's Cafe
School Food and Nutrition Services Dept.
1016 Education Ave, Punta Gorda, FL 33950
Phone: 941-575-5400 x109
Toll Free: 1-888-532-4112
Fax: 941-575-5422

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USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

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, disability, age, 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 [ ], (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, 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: program.intake@usda.gov. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.