U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Friday an increase in funding to help schools continue to serve kids healthy meals this coming school year and provide financial relief for schools and childcare providers. Effective July 1, 2022, the reimbursement schools receive for each meal served will increase by approximately $0.68 per free/reduced-price lunch and $0.32 per free/reduced price breakfast. Other reimbursement rates, including rates for paid school meals and childcare meals, are available online.
The action will provide support for schools and childcare providers dealing with rising food costs, and is part of the Biden Administration's work to lower costs and provide American families some additional breathing room.
This increase includes both a required annual adjustment in reimbursement rates to reflect the cost of food and an extra temporary per-meal boost in reimbursements from the recent Keep Kids Fed Act. Combined, this will pump an estimated $4.3 billion more into school meal and childcare meal programs across the nation this school year, in addition to the nearly $2 billion in additional funding USDA has already provided.
In Colorado, the USDA is providing an estimated $72.5 million in additional funding that school meal and child and adult day care providers will receive for the 2022-23 school year.
"The boost in reimbursements will help provide financial relief for schools so they can continue serving high-quality meals to students amid higher food costs and persistent supply chain challenges," said Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. "USDA is fully committed to using every resource in its toolbelt to ensure kids get the healthy meals they need to grow, learn, and thrive."
Today's announcement is part of USDA's commitment to ensuring the school meal programs are strong and supported so they can successfully navigate current challenges and support more American families. Additional actions USDA has taken include:
- Providing an additional nearly $2 billion for schools to buy domestic food for their meal programs.
- Offering a suite of operational waivers that give states and schools flexibility to adapt to their on-the-ground circumstances such as through grab-and-go or parent-pickup of meals.
- Ensuring states continue to receive stable funding for USDA Foods for the coming school year - comparable to last school year - for purchasing 100 percent American-grown foods for their school meal programs.
- Ensuring schools are not penalized if they cannot meet meal standards due to supply chain issues.
- Awarding up to $200 million to states to purchase domestic local foods for distribution to schools, through the new Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program.
- Extending deadlines for districts to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows schools serving many high-need students to provide all meals for free without collecting applications from families.
USDA is also providing ongoing support for other child nutrition programs that work in tandem with the school meal programs to give kids a strong, healthy start. For example, USDA:
- Approved 32 states and territories to date to provide food benefits for the summer months (Summer P-EBT) to eligible children. USDA is actively working with all states to help them offer these benefits to children.
- Extended nationwide flexibilities to summer meal programs through September 2022, which allows sites to continue serving meals in all areas, at no cost to families.
- Provided all family day care homes with the higher temporary reimbursement rate for the Child and Adult Care Food Program school year 2022-23.
For information on the child nutrition programs for school year 2022-23, visit: Child Nutrition Flexibilities for Summer 2022 and School Year 2022-23.