EQUITY IN SCHOOL LUNCH PRICING
School Food Authorities are required to charge students for paid meals at a price that is, on average, equal to the difference between free meal reimbursement and the paid meal reimbursement.
Schools that currently charge less for meal prices than the amount needed to create paid lunch equity are required to:
(1) gradually increase their prices over time until they meet the requirement or
(2) supplement their food service operating funds with non-federal funds to ensure equity or
(3) a combination of increasing their prices and supplementing with non-federal funds.
USDA has developed price equity tools for school years 2015 and 2016 in Microsoft Excel, that school food authorities must use to determine the price increase or amount of non-federal funds necessary to meet the requirement.
The Maine Department of Education has developed a Paid Lunch Equity Tool Powerpoint to assist districts.
The USDA Policy Memo on School Year 2015 Paid Lunch Equity provides more information.
The Regulation is as follows:
PRICE FOR A PAID LUNCH.—
‘‘(1) DEFINITION OF PAID LUNCH.—In
this subsection, the term ‘paid lunch’ means a reimbursable lunch served to
students who are not certified to receive free or reduced price meals.
REQUIREMENT.—‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—For each school year beginning July 1, 2011, each
school food authority shall establish a price for paid lunches in accordance
with this subsection.
‘‘(B) LOWER PRICE.—‘‘(i) IN GENERAL.—In the case of a
school food authority that established a price for a paid lunch in the previous
school year that was less than the difference between the total Federal
reimbursement for a free lunch and the total Federal reimbursement for a paid
lunch, the school food authority shall establish an average price for a paid
lunch that is not less than the price charged in the previous school year, as
adjusted by a percentage equal to the sum obtained by adding—‘‘(I) 2 percent;
and‘‘(II) the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban
Consumers (food away from home index) used to increase the Federal reimbursement
rate under section 11 for the most recent school year for which data are
available, as published in the Federal Register.‘‘(ii) ROUNDING.—A school food
authority may round the adjusted price for a paid lunch under clause (i) down to
the nearest 5 cents.‘‘(iii) MAXIMUM REQUIRED PRICE INCREASE.—‘‘(I) IN
GENERAL.—The maximum annual average price increase required to meet the
requirements of this subparagraph shall not exceed 10 cents for any school food
authority.‘‘(II) DISCRETIONARY INCREASE.—A school food authority may increase
the average price for a paid lunch for a school year by more than 10
‘‘(C) EQUAL OR GREATER PRICE.—
‘‘(i) IN GENERAL.—In the case of a
school food authority that established an average price for a paid lunch in the
previous school year that was equal to or greater than the difference between
the total Federal reimbursement for a free lunch and the total Federal
reimbursement for a paid lunch, the school food authority shall establish an
average price for a paid lunch that is not less than the difference between the
total Federal reimbursement for a free lunch and the total Federal reimbursement
for a paid lunch. ‘‘(ii) ROUNDING.—A school food authority may round the
adjusted price for a paid lunch under clause (i) down to the nearest 5
‘‘(A) REDUCTION IN PRICE.—A school food
authority may reduce the average price of a paid lunch established under this
subsection if the State agency ensures that funding from non-Federal sources
(other than in-kind contributions) is added to the nonprofit school food service
account of the school food authority in an amount estimated to be equal to at
least the difference between—‘‘(i) the average price required of the school food
authority for the paid lunches under paragraph (2); and‘‘(ii) the average price
charged by the school food authority for the paid lunches.
SOURCES.—For the purposes of subparagraph (A), non-Federal sources does not
include revenue from the sale of foods sold in competition with meals served
under the school lunch program authorized under this Act or the school breakfast
program established by section 4 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C.
‘‘(C) OTHER PROGRAMS.—This subsection shall not
apply to lunches
provided under section 17 of this Act.
‘‘(4) REGULATIONS.—The Secretary
shall establish procedures to carry out this subsection, including collecting
and publishing the prices that school food authorities charge for paid meals on
an annual basis and procedures that allow school food authorities to average the
pricing of paid lunches at schools throughout the jurisdiction of the school