USDA Helps Strengthen School Meal Programs in Guam
Increase of Reimbursement Rates Supports Island Economies and Equitable Access
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 7, 2023 To address food insecurity in Guam and provide more equitable resources to remote locations, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is increasing the reimbursement rates that child nutrition program operators receive for meals served in Guam from 17% to 30% above the contiguous United States (CONUS) rates. 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. 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’s child nutrition programs have a wide-reaching impact on the health and well-being of children,” said FNS Western Regional Administrator Jesus Mendoza. “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.”
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to financially supporting school meals and ensuring our nation’s children are nutritionally secure. This 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.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of more than 15 nutrition assistance programs, such as the school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC and SNAP. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and wellbeing. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To learn more about FNS, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/ and follow @USDANutrition.
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