Determining paid student lunch cost for school year 2012-13


The U.S. Department of Agriculture interim rule entitled “National School Lunch Program: School Food Service Account Revenue Amendments Related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” requires School Food Authorities (SFAs) participating in the National School Lunch Program to ensure sufficient funds are provided to the nonprofit school food service account for meals served to students not eligible for free or reduced price meals. There are two ways to meet this requirement: either through the prices charged for “paid” meals or through other non-Federal sources provided to the nonprofit school food service account.

SFAs must annually review their paid lunch revenue to ensure compliance with the paid lunch equity requirement. When the average paid lunch price is less than the difference between the free and paid Federal reimbursement rates, the SFA must determine how it will meet the requirement: by increasing its average paid lunch price or providing funds from non-Federal sources.

Those SFAs that choose to increase the average paid lunch price must increase it by a factor of 2 percent plus the annual inflation rate of 2.18 percent.  The inflation factor is based on the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI). Due to the timing of calculating and issuing the reimbursement rates, the paid lunch equity calculations are based on the inflation factor used for the previous school year’s reimbursement rates. Therefore, the inflation factors used by SFAs to calculate their paid lunch equity requirements will change from year to year.

For SY 2012-13, SFAs that on average charged less than $2.51 for paid lunches in SY 2011-2012 are required to adjust their average price or provide additional non-Federal funds to the non-profit school food service account. The amount of the per-meal increase will be calculated using 2 percent plus 2.18 percent, or 4.18 percent.

Questions may be directed to Walter Beesley at (207) 624-6875 or

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