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Reimbursement For Off Site Meal Consumption

EO Guidance Document #
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Policy Memos
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PDF Icon Policy Memo (120.25 KB)
DATE: June 6, 1988
SUBJECT: Reimbursement for Off-Site Meal Consumption
TO: Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs

This Instruction sets forth the policy with respect to reimbursement of meals consumed off-site under the National School Lunch, Commodity School, and School Breakfast Programs. 

The authorizing legislation and program regulations clearly intend that  meals reimbursed under the programs are to be served and consumed as part of the school program, on school or school-related premises. Therefore, school meals given to children to take home are not reimbursable. However, meals such as those taken on school supervised field trips may be reimbursed, if they meet the meal pattern requirements and are served and consumed as part of a school related function. These functions must be part of the curriculum, as defined by the state education agency, and not extracurricular events. Meals served off-site should be subject to especially stringent sanitary and precautionary measures to avoid contamination and spoilage. 

Exceptional circumstances exist for students who are enrolled in one school but attend another work-study site for the part of the day that includes the meal hour. Those students applying for free or reduced price meals should do so through their hat, e-base school since the home-base school would be more familiar with -individual circumstances. The work/study school is responsible for the service of meals and the recordkeeping for meals served and claimed for reimbursement. Therefore, the work/study school should obtain, for its records, a copy of the free and reduced price meal application for and student to whom it serves a free or reduced price meal. When the work/study site does not participate in the programs, take out school meals meeting program requirements may be served to such students and claimed for reimbursement by their home-base school. The provision of such meals is at the option of the school, since school food authorities are only required to make meals available to students who are present during the meal service period. 

In all cases, care must be taken to ensure that accurate detailed records are maintained, including meal counts for free, reduced price and paid categories.

Samuel P. Bauer
Child Nutrition Division

Page updated: April 05, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.