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USDA Foods Entitlement Rate for SY 2022–23

On July 14, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published a notice in the Federal Register to announce the value of USDA Foods for School Year (SY) 2022–23. The new effective meal rate for National School Lunch Program recipients is 43 cents, reflecting a 3.4 cent increase.

The formula used to calculate California’s total entitlement amount is the current USDA Foods meal rate multiplied by the Total Lunches Served (TLS). For the past two years California schools have been assisted by a USDA COVID-19 waiver, which allowed California to continue to use TLS numbers from SY 2018–19 for entitlement calculations. This calculation allowed California to receive more entitlement than it would have using actual TLS numbers from SY 2019–20 and SY 2020–21. The waiver expired in June 2022 and the USDA is now in the process of returning to standard calculations and procedures, including the annual reconciliation conducted in November each year that updates current school year entitlement using TLS totals from the previous SY.

Based on preliminary TLS data for SY 2021–22, the USDA estimated California’s TLS to be 4.1 percent lower than SY 2018–19. However, the net result of that estimated decrease in TLS multiplied by the increased meal rate, reflects an increase in entitlement that is less than half of one percent overall.

Lunch participation has dropped for many agencies over the past two school years. While the increase in the USDA Foods meal rate will help offset this decline, your entitlement amounts will be dependent on your agency’s actual SY 2021–22 TLS numbers compared to the SY 2018–19 TLS numbers.

To prepare for the upcoming annual reconciliation, the Food Distribution Program (FDP) is updating TLS data in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS)External link opens in new window or tab. to reflect SY 2021–22 meal claim data through May 2022, as well as updating the meal rate to the higher $0.43 rate. This will enable all participants to see actual entitlement for the current SY and allow those who have an increased TLS to potentially place new orders of USDA Foods or increase entitlement allocations for the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The FDP may need to adjust orders to ensure usage does not exceed 100 percent of what is distributed at a State level, but will work with each program participant directly. A second TLS update in CNIPS will be completed the first week of October to capture additional SY 2021–22 claim data and a final update will be conducted when the USDA announces their reconciliation is complete.

The Federal Register notice can be viewed on the USDA Food Distribution Value of Donated Food Notices web pageExternal link opens in new window or tab..

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Amy Bell, Child Nutrition Consultant, by phone at 916-322-5051 or by email at, or Sherry Tam, Child Nutrition Consultant, by phone at 916-324-9875 or by email at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, September 21, 2022
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