Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education 2023-2024 SY Reimbursement Rates, Non-Reimbursable Meal Prices, and Meal Equivalency for FSMC Contracts

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
District Operations
Regulatory Authority
7 CFR 210, 7 CFR 220, and 7 CFR 225, A.C.A. ยง 6-18-720 Act 656 of 2023
Response Required
Child Nutrition Directors/Managers; Superintendents

Primary Contact Information

Secondary Contact/s Information

Memo Text

Reimbursement rates for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), and Afterschool Snack Program (ASP) for the 2023-24 school year have been released. 


Non- Severe Need Breakfast

Severe Need Breakfast

Non- Safety Net Lunch

Safety Net Lunch

Afterschool Snack



















Severe Need Breakfast

Severe need breakfast rates are approved on a by school basis.  Districts must apply each year to receive the severe need breakfast rate.  Any school in the district that served forty percent (40%) or more lunches during the 2022-23 school year at the free or reduced rate receive an additional forty-five cents (0.45) reimbursement on all free and reduced priced breakfast claimed during the 2023-24 school year. 

Safety Net Lunch

School districts that served sixty percent (60%) or more lunches during the 2022-23 school year at the free or reduced rate are designated as “Safety Net” districts and receive an additional two cents ($0.02) reimbursement for each lunch claimed during the 2023-24 school year. 

Performance Based Reimbursement (PBR)

The PBR is an automatic payment for those districts that have completed the meal certification process. The PBR rate is $0.08 for each reimbursable lunch claimed during the 2023-24 school year.  The additional PBR will be included in each monthly claim.

Afterschool Snack Area Eligible 

An afterschool snack program site is Area Eligible if it is located at a school where fifty percent (50%) of enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.  Area eligible sites will claim all afterschool snacks served at the free rate.  Schools that do not qualify for area eligibility must claim students based on their free, reduced, or paid eligibility status.

Value of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Donated Foods

The national average minimum value of USDA donated foods, or cash in lieu thereof, per lunch under the NSLP shall be 29.50 cents for the period July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024.

Non-Reimbursable Meal Prices (Adult, Contract, & Second Meals)

It is recommended that school districts adjust non-reimbursable meal prices charged for participation in the NSLP or SBP by the amount of increased free reimbursement plus the USDA donated food rate for the 2023-24 school year. 

All non-reimbursable meals must be priced to cover the entire cost to produce the meal which includes food, labor, and other operating costs. Pricing of non-reimbursable meals is monitored during the Administrative Review process. 

See the example for lunch prices below:

  1.  The current Free Reimbursement rate ($4.25 or $4.27) +
  2.  The Performance Based Reimbursement ($0.08) +
  3.  The USDA donated food rate for school lunch ($0.295)

$4.25+ $0.08 + $0.295 = $ 4.625 round up to $4.63 per meal

The price for a non-reimbursable breakfast should be at least the amount of the free reimbursement rate.  The free reimbursement rate for 2023-24 is $2.28 for regular and $2.73 for severe need breakfast.

Meal Equivalency for Food Service Management Companies (FSMC)

Meal equivalency is a method used to convert total cash sales (other than meals) to a number of meals.  This number of meals is then billed to the district at the per meal contract rate.  The student reimbursable lunch (standard or safety net as applicable) is used in converting revenue of non-program food sales such as a la carte or catering.  


Total free lunch reimbursement + PBR + USDA donated food value for lunch = Meal Equivalency Factor


For non-safety net districts, the meal equivalency factor for the 2023-2024 school year is $4.63.

For safety net districts, the meal equivalency factor for the 2023-2024 school year is $4.65.


Sample conversion:  Total cash sales = $2,500 ÷ $4.63 = 539.95 or 540 meals (non-safety net)

                                     Total cash sales = $2,500 ÷ $4.65 = 537.63 or 538 meals (safety net)


Districts contracted with an FSMC should provide this factor for their company and check monthly invoices to assure that the correct factor is used in the billing process. 


ACT 656 of 2023

Beginning in school year 2023-2024, child nutrition programs that serve school breakfast and/or school lunch shall not charge a qualifying student a reduced-price copayment. The traditional $0.30 copayment for breakfast and $0.40 copayment for lunch may not be collected from the household.


This restriction on payment collection does not change the requirements for processing meal applications.  Determining officials will continue to process meal applications and assign meal status in eSchool and the point of service software to students based on the income eligibility guidelines released annually. 

Districts must continue to claim meals based on assigned eligibility status.  Meals counted by students that have a reduced meal status must be claimed for reimbursement as reduced meals.

The State Legislature is currently working on securing the appropriation for the reimbursement of the copayment to districts. 

Print Memo

Share this memo