Meal Policies and Pricing


No-Cost Meals for all Students!

In June of 2018, the Hernando County School Board gave the Food and Nutrition Services department approval to expand the implementation of the Community Eligibility Provision to include all schools District-wide. 

The Community Eligibility Provision, better known as CEP, was first implemented in Hernando County in the 2017-2018 School Year for the majority of the Elementary, Middle and K8 schools in Hernando County.

Beginning with the 2018 -2019 School Year, this program will now be available to all actively enrolled students in the Hernando County School District.

This program is in effect for the next four (4) school years, when re-approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Hernando County School Board.

What does this mean for me or my student?

Simply put, this means that all students enrolled in any School inside the Hernando County School District can receive a reimbursable meal at breakfast and lunch at no cost to the student or family.

Please note that this is not a “free lunch” or “free food” program. These meals are being paid for by the USDA on behalf of the students and their families. The CEP program explicitly states that only a complete meal, as defined by the USDA as a reimbursable meal, is provided to each student at breakfast and lunch. Any purchases that do not constitute a reimbursable meal are charged (and paid) at A La Carte prices by the student or family. Along the same lines, this program applies to actively enrolled students only and therefore no adults or non-enrolled students qualify for the no-cost meals.

Do I need to fill out a Free or Reduced Meal application?

No. Because the District is now expanding the CEP program to cover the county District-wide, Food and Nutrition Services will no longer be accepting any Free and Reduced Meal applications. All students will be fed a reimbursable meal for breakfast and lunch at no cost.

Do I still need a lunch account?

The simple answer is yes, although it is not required.

The reimbursable meals for breakfast and lunch are being provided at no cost. However, any other items in addition to that meal, or if the student refuses to take all the required components to make a complete meal, will be charged at A La Carte prices to the student’s account.

Student accounts may not carry a negative balance. Therefore, maintaining a positive balance on their meal accounts allows a student to purchase any additional items or the occasional treat or reward. No items may be purchased on “credit”. A student’s account that does not have enough to cover the desired item’s charge will decline the transaction.

For more information on accounts, please see the Meal Accounts page.

What is a reimbursable meal?

A reimbursable meal is a meal that is offered to students that meet certain nutritional and portion size requirements as set forth by the USDA. What qualifies as a reimbursable meal is mandated by the USDA and every school participating in the National School Lunch and/or Breakfast Program must offer certain components to students every day.  In addition to the nutritional requirements, the information below is the minimum daily component offering requirements set by USDA based on meal and grade. Students do NOT have to take every component offered.

Breakfast1 (Pre-K - 12th Grade)

  • Fruit - 1 cup (including 1/2 cup juice)
  • Grains - 1 oz
  • Milk - 1 cup


Pre-K - 8th Grade
  • Fruit - 1/2 cup
  • Vegetables - 3/4 cup
  • Grains - 1 oz
  • Meat/Meat Alternate - 1 oz
  • Milk - 1 cup
9th - 12th Grade
  • Fruit - 1 cup
  • Vegetables - 1 cup
  • Grains - 2 oz
  • Meat/Meat Alternate - 2 oz
  • Milk - 1 cup
  1. For breakfast, each plate must have at least 3 items and 1 item must be a fruit.  4 items must be offered to students each breakfast.
  2. For lunch, each plate must have at least 3 components and 1 component must be a fruit or vegetable to be counted as reimbursable.  If the plate does not contain these items, the student will be charged ala carte pricing.

What is CEP?

The simple answer is that it is a Program through the USDA that provides full or partial reimbursement to Food Service Sponsors that covers school meals provided to enrolled students at reduced or no-cost to the student. CEP covers all students in a particular School, Group of Schools, or School District with an approved status.

For a more complete answer, this excerpt is from the USDA’s CEP information site.

“The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas. CEP allows the nation’s highest poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications. Instead, schools that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students categorically eligible for free meals based on their participation in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).”

What is the benefit of CEP?


Access to free nutritious meals for all students with no stigma, and less time spent in cashier lines and more time to eat nutritious meals.


All enrolled students will be served a breakfast and lunch meal at no cost without having to complete a Free or Reduced household application. No household applications mean less paperwork and no worries about meal accounts. In addition, it saves a family household as much as $675 a school year in paid lunches, per secondary student.

School staff:

Streamlined meal service operation and more time for students to consume their food


Reduced paperwork and administrative costs, no need to track unpaid meal charges, improved program integrity, and more nourished students ready to learn and grow

Where can I get more information?

The USDA website’s CEP section:

The USDA website’s CEP Resource Center:

The USDA CEP Quick Fact Sheet (PDF File):

If you still need further assistance, please feel free to contact our Food and Nutrition Services District Office at (352) 797-7028.



Student meals are covered as part of the Community Eligibility Provision. Therefore, students may receive a meal at no cost.

However, if a student fails to take enough components to make a reimbursable meal, or takes a second meal, they will be charged based on the A La Carte pricing below.

Non-Students and Adults

Adult meals are not covered as part of the Community Eligibility Provision. Therefore, adults are not eligiable to recieve a breakfast or lunch meal at no cost.

All adult meal items are sold at a complete meal price, but if insufficient components are taken to make a complete meal, items will be sold by the A La Carte pricing below.

A La Carte

Below is the price schedule for students and non-students for meal components, complete meals for adults, and second complete meals sold to students.

Pricing List

Complete Meal Pricing
  Students Adults
Breakfast $3.50 $3.50
Lunch $5.50 $5.50
Meal Components
  Students Adults
Sides $0.50 $0.50
Breakfast Entree $2.50 $2.50
Lunch Entree $3.75 $3.75


As per School Board policy po8500, unclaimed meal accounts are considered abandoned 15 days after a student has graduated or withdrawn from the School District. If no refund request has been received within 15 days of a student's withdrawal, the balance may be receipted into the school lunch fund. To ensure your student's account will not be considered abandoned, please submit a refund request by visiting the Refund Request page and filling out the form. As always, you can view your student's current account balance by logging in to your parent account in the Linq Connect Portal or in the Linq Connect app.


In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at:, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

(833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442


This institution is an equal opportunity provider.