USDA increases school meal funding

On January 14, 2022, in School Lunch Program, USDA, by David Elrod

USDA this week announced it will adjust school meal reimbursement rates to keep pace with inflation, including providing schools an estimated $750 million.

USDA in December provided an additional $1.5 billion to states and school districts to increase reimbursement rates. Typically, reimbursement rates do not increase during the school year, but USDA allowed schools to utilize the Summer Food Service Program rates, which are the highest that are available. By law, those rates adjust for inflation annually in January.

The move is intended to help school districts keep pace with the high rate of inflation while still providing the highest level of reimbursement rates. Schools will now receive an additional 25 cents per lunch on top of the summer rates, which are themselves 15 percent higher than standard reimbursements for free lunches. Together, schools are receiving 22 percent more for school lunches than they would under normal conditions, which helps schools continue to purchase food products for the school meal programs.