PY 2023-2024 School Nutrition Program
Meal Pricing Requirements
- Prior to the start of SY 2023-2024, all CEs must determine the price for adult meals.
- All CEs who charge for student meals must determine the student meal price.
- Update all adult and student meal price postings. i.e. TXUNPS site application(s), menus, websites, POS system, etc.
- *NEW Students approved for reduced-price meals will receive breakfast free of charge for SY 23-24 & SY 24-25.
Adult Meal Prices
- USDA released the SY 23-24 reimbursement rates!
- Calculate the breakfast & lunch meal prices for adults with the updated reimbursement rates.
See ARM Section 19, Meal Pricing guidance --------------------> CEs that charge a student meal price can choose Method 1 or Method 2 for the adult meal price. However, when choosing Method 1 (incorporates highest student paid price) the total must be greater than all reimbursement/supplemental payments plus USDA Foods rate of assistance (Method 2 total).
Student Lunch Meal Price
Each year, CEs must evaluate their lunch pricing structure and determine if the cost and income from lunch meals are equitably distributed among free, reduced-price, and paid meals—Paid Lunch Equity (PLE). CEs that determine that their lunch pricing structure is not equitably distributed must take action to remedy the inequity—increase meal prices, provide additional funds from nonfederal sources, or a combination of both.
On April 27, 2023, USDA released the newest PLE Tool. CEs required to complete PLE should use this tool to calculate their paid lunch price for SY 2023 – 2024.
CEs or sites that have implemented a non-pricing policy that applies to all students are not required to complete PLE requirements—this includes the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), Provision 2 (P2), or other non-pricing, universal free feeding programs that provide reimbursable meals at no charge to all students.
Further, CEs with a positive or zero fund balance as of June 30, 2022, are not required to complete PLE requirements for SY 2023 – 2024 due to flexibility provided by Congress in the 2023 Appropriations Act.
The PLE Tool is available under the Administration/Form tab of the National School Lunch Program page at https://squaremeals.org/Programs/National-School-Lunch-Program/Administration-Forms.
For guidance on PLE requirements, see Section 19 of the Administrator’s Reference Manual (ARM) located at
PLE Tool Issues and Errors:
Functionality issues and errors have been reported with the recently released Paid Lunch Equity tool for districts using older versions of Microsoft Excel, dating back to at least the 2016 version (TDA has not received any notification about versions later than 2016).
USDA has indicated that a version compatible with older versions will not be released.
PLE Tool Troubleshooting:
You may open the PLE Tool in Google Drive to prevent error messages. However, you may not have the drop-down arrow available on the SY 23-24 Report tab. Suggestion: type your selection on the box, save & print.
Free breakfast for "reduced-price" students
Sec. 17.19. Department of Agricultural Grant Funding ...... IX-111
- During the June 28 School Call Lena Wilson, Assistant Commissioner of TDA announced all students approved for reduced-priced meals will receive Breakfast free of charge for SY 23-24 & SY 24-25.
- *Update all announcements for the reduced-priced student's breakfast as 0.00.
2023-2024 School Meal Applications
*Update all announcements for the reduced-priced student's breakfast as 0.00.
- Join us for Determining Eligibility and Verification Process session on July 20. Register at the link provided. Session # 533633
- Charge Policy - Charge policies outline how school nutrition program contracting entities (CEs) handle providing meals to students when payment cannot be collected at the point of service. Charge policies should be reasonable, well defined and maintain the integrity and dignity of students and households to minimize harm to the student.
- ARM Section 19, Meal Pricing "Special Guidance, Students with Unpaid Meal Charges" and "Communicating the CE’s Charge Policy"
- ARM Section 16, Financial System "Debt Period Options for Student Unpaid Meal or Milk Charges"
FINANCIAL IMPACT A contracting entity (CE) may carry a student’s delinquent unpaid balance for the academic school year in which the debt occurred and one additional year in certain circumstances. Unpaid debt that exceeds the allowed delinquent debt period is then reclassified as bad debt. All bad debt must be cleared by July 1 of each year using non-school-nutrition-program funds. The CE may continue to attempt to collect the debt, but school-nutrition-program resources cannot be used for this purpose. Any payments received after the debt has been cleared must accrue to the general fund. Please see the Administrator’s Reference Manual (ARM) for details at www.SquareMeals.org.
Universal Free Sites
To provide universal free lunches, the CE must use funds from outside the nonprofit food service account (for example, funds from the General Fund) to offset the revenue lost by not charging lunch meals to students categorized as “paid.” Use of excess program funds to offset these costs is unallowable. As such, the following cannot be used to offset the revenue lost by providing universal free lunches:
- Any federally sourced payment, including additional per-meal reimbursements, providing specifically to support free and reduced-price meals.
- Any revenue from concession stands or other onsite income generating activities if the revenue or income flows through the nonprofit school food service account even if the School Nutrition Program (SNP) only gets a portion of the revenue or income.
- Revenue from foods sold in competition with reimbursable meals—i.e., competitive foods.
- Any in-kind contributions which includes the following:
- Prorated share for the salaries of teacher or office staff that serve as cafeteria monitors.
- Supplies, such as office equipment, that were previously provided at no cost to the SNP.
- Prorated share for utilities that were previously paid by the SNP.
However, funds from the nonprofit school food service account may be used to cover any expenditures associated with eliminating the charge or lowering the price for reduced-price reimbursable meals. In addition, these funds may be used to provide universal free breakfast meals.
For more information, see the Administrator’s Reference Manual (ARM), Section 19, Meal Pricing and Section 20, Counting and Claiming located at https://squaremeals.org/Programs/National-School-Lunch-Program/Policy-ARM.
Please note that TDA intends to clarify the ARM guidance soon in an upcoming release.
TDA School Call ~ June 28
TDA School Webinar – June 28, 2023 – view USDA Food Update slides; view Texas Local Food for Schools Funding slides; School Operations Update slides; Policy Update slides; National School Lunch Week: Level Up slides.
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