USDA raises school meal reimbursement rate for Guam
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The reimbursement rate for Guam’s school meal providers will increase from 17 percent to 30 percent above the rates in the U.S. mainland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service announced today.
The increased rate is aimed at addressing food insecurity in Guam and providing more equitable resources to remote locations, the agency said.
“In recognition of the higher food costs in these locations, the increased reimbursement rates will begin on July 1 to help ensure Guam schools have access to the resources needed to continue serving children nutritious, high-quality food while also building a stronger, more competitive, and more resilient local food system,” FNS said.
Officials said the increased rates will also apply to Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as those locations also face unique hurdles associated with obtaining ingredients and getting needed supplies in their island economies.
“Healthy school meals are a top priority for USDA and FNS is committed to providing school meal operators on these islands with improved funding to operate these critical nutrition programs,” FNS said.
“FNS’s child nutrition programs have a wide-reaching impact on the health and well-being of children,” said Jesus Mendoza, administrator of FNS Western Region. “This boost in reimbursement rates helps program operators in Guam address ongoing challenges associated with the costs of preparing and serving healthy and nutritious meals, and supports building a more resilient local food system.”
FNS said the increase in rates is separate from the normal annual adjustment for reimbursement rates for child nutrition programs.
Section 12(f) of the National School Lunch Act allows USDA to adjust reimbursement rates in outlying areas to reflect differences between the cost of providing meals and supplements in those areas and the costs of providing meals and supplements in all other states.
The increased rates will apply until the next School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study is complete. Data collection for this comprehensive national study of the cost to produce a school meal is planned to begin in school year 2024-2025.