ALEXANDRIA, VA – Earlier today, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a change in school meal reimbursements meant to help schools continue to serve students healthy meals. Around $750 million will be added to school meal funding nationwide, ensuring that federal reimbursements keep pace with food and operational costs.
“USDA understands that balancing the pressures of the pandemic with the need to feed children healthy and nutritious meals continue to be a priority for schools across the country,” Vilsack said. “The Biden-Harris Administration is doing everything we can and these higher meal reimbursements will help allow school meal programs to continue meeting their mission of giving children the nourishment they need to grow, learn, and thrive.”
The additional funding comes at an opportune time. Every school’s ability to purchase food will match cost of living amounts.
Lunch reimbursement rates usually do not increase during the school year. However, this year, due to the pandemic, USDA allowed schools to benefit from the highest rates available, which are normally reserved for the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
At the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the SFSP lunch reimbursement rate for participating schools was already 15% higher than the standard reimbursement for a free lunch. Due to higher food costs and other circumstances, schools will receive an additional 25 cents per lunch.