The USDA announces increased funding to support school meals and to help continue providing healthy meals to children

Washington, January 7, 2022 Today, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an amendment to reimbursement for school meals to help schools continue to provide healthy and nutritious meals for children. The move will save an estimated $750 million more in school meal programs across the country this year, while making sure to keep up with federal payments for food and running costs, while also ensuring children continue to have healthy meals at school.

“The USDA understands that balancing the pressures of the pandemic with the need to feed children healthy, nutritious meals remains a priority for schools across the country,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The Biden-Harris administration is doing everything they can, and these payments to pay for school meals will help allow school meal programs to continue to fulfill their mission of providing children with the nutrition they need to grow, learn, and thrive.”

School lunch reimbursement rates usually do not increase during the school year. However, this year, due to the pandemic, the USDA has allowed schools to take advantage of the highest rates available, which are usually reserved for the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). By law, these summer rates are adjusted for inflation annually in January.

This adjustment was made in time to ensure that the purchasing power of the schools keeps up with the cost of living. Schools that receive these reimbursement rates can increase their operating budgets during these challenging times, while giving families fewer meal expenses to worry about each school day.

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, due to rising food costs and other circumstances, schools will get an extra 25 cents per lunch. Combined, schools get 22% more school lunches than they would under normal circumstances.

This action is part of a joint effort by the USDA and the Biden-Harris administration to ensure that school meal programs are robust and have the help they need to overcome current challenges. This year’s upward adjustment will add to the USDA’s suite of flexibility, resources, and practical support for school meals, which included:

For more information on SFSP, visit:

To see reimbursement rates for each state, visit: District

More information about the USDA response to COVID-19 can be found at

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, and building new markets and income streams For farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across management by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

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