USDA Announces Adjustment to School Meal Reimbursement Rate

January 09, 2022

On January 7, USDA announced an adjustment to school meal reimbursement rates that that will allow schools to receive 22% more for school lunches than they would under normal conditions. This move will put an estimated $750 million more into school meal programs across the nation this year, making sure federal reimbursements keep pace with food and operational costs.

School 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). By law, these summer rates adjust for inflation annually in January.

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. Now, because of higher food costs and other circumstances, schools will receive an additional 25 cents per lunch. This increase beings the total reimbursement rate to 22% higher than the normal rate.