Financial Management

National School Lunch Program

Paid Lunch Equity Calculations for School Year 2013-14

The Paid Lunch Equity (PLE) provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires school food authorities (SFAs) to ensure each year that sufficient funds are paid to the school food service account for full-paid student lunches.

These instructions are for use by SFAs when completing the 2013-14 PLE Tool (Excel spreadsheet) to determine how much the SFA is required to increase its average student paid lunch price from school year 2012-13 to school year 2013-14. PLE calculations do not apply to a school food authority that provides all school lunches at no charge, for example a residential child care institution or an SFA that provides all lunches under Provision 2 or 3 procedures.

These instructions include additional options for PLE calculations announced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 17, 2013 (a link to the memo is provided below). The additional flexibilities are (1) the option for SFAs with a school breakfast program to use state payments for paid breakfasts to help pay for paid lunches in 2013-14, and (2) an option for SFAs “in strong financial position” to request a waiver from raising lunch prices for 2013-14.

The PLE Tool (Excel spreadsheet) developed by the USDA and the USDA memorandums on PLE calculations are available on the USDA website:

View the PLE Tool

View the USDA Memo on Paid Lunch Equity - School Year 2013-14 Calculations and Tool (February 21, 2013)

View the USDA Memo on Paid Lunch Equity – Guidance for SY 2013-14 (April 17, 2013)

Paid Lunch Equity Tool (Spreadsheet)

SFAs complete the 2013-14 PLE Tool (Excel spreadsheet) to calculate how much the SFA is required to raise its average paid lunch price for 2013-14.

SFAs that charge the full lunch price (at least $2.52 for 2013-14): An SFA is not required to complete the PLE Tool if the SFA will charge at least $2.52 on average for student paid lunches in SY 2013-14. The full lunch price of $2.52 for 2013-14 is based on the federal full lunch price of $2.59, minus seven cents per paid lunch from state lunch payments that help pay for the costs of paid lunches. (Note: the “full” lunch price will increase each school year. If an SFA does not charge the announced “full” lunch price in any year after 2013-14, the SFA will have to complete PLE calculations at that time to determine its required lunch price increase.)

SFAs raising their lunch price by 10 cents each year: An SFA that has raised its average paid lunch price by at least 10 cents each year since 2010-11, and will raise the average price at least 10 cents for 2013-14, is in compliance with PLE requirements.

However, the basic PLE calculations (calculation of SFA’s annual federal required average paid lunch price, and subtraction of the value of state paid lunch payments) should be completed each year. This allows the SFA to track how much its actual average paid lunch price is less than the “full” lunch price from PLE calculations, which the SFA will eventually need to reach.

Steps for completing the 2013-14 PLE Tool:

Complete the first two tabs on the PLE Tool – complete the Unrounded Requirement Finder tab and the SY 2013-14 Price Calculator tab. After the requested data is entered on these sheets, the spreadsheet will show the SFA’s 2013-14 weighted average price requirement - rounded down to the nearest 5 cents (on the SY 2013-14 Price Calculator tab).

Subtract 7 cents from SFA’s 2013-14 weighted average price requirement - rounded down to nearest 5 cents that was calculated in the first step. This gives the SFA’s actual average price requirement for 2013-14, after allowing for the value of state lunch payments that help pay for paid lunches. (Program regulations allow no more than 7 cents of the 12 cent state lunch payment to be subtracted for the purpose of this calculation.)

• For SY 2013-14 only, SFAs with school breakfast programs may count state breakfast payments as nonfederal funds that help pay for paid lunches. The amount of state breakfast payments that may be included as nonfederal contributions in 2013-14 PLE calculations is equal to the number of paid breakfasts served in 2011-12 multiplied by 55 cents. The amount that these breakfast payments can reduce the SFA’s required 2013-14 paid lunch price is the total breakfast funds, as calculated in previous sentence, divided by the total number of paid lunches served in 2011-12.

If state breakfast payments (or any other nonfederal funds that are in addition to state lunch/breakfast payments) will be used to help pay for 2013-14 paid lunches, the SFA must document that PLE requirements will be met by the total of:

(1) The average paid lunch price paid by students, plus
(2) 7 cents per lunch from state lunch payments, plus
(3) If applicable, the amount of funds available from breakfast funds, plus
(4) If applicable, the amount of funds available from any other nonfederal funds that are available to SFA to help pay for paid lunches.

Waiver of Required Lunch Price Increase for SFAs in Strong Financial Position

For SY 2013-14 only, an SFA in “strong financial position” may submit a request to not raise its paid lunch prices for 2013-14. The waiver request will be considered if the SFA documents that it is in a strong financial position, and projects that additional revenues from raising lunch prices would cause the SFA to exceed its three-month expenditures limit on operating fund balance.

To request this waiver, an SFA must submit the following information to Food and Nutrition Service:

(1) SFA’s 2011-12 end of year Fund 02 operating balance, and
(2) SFA’s projected 2012-13 total revenues, 2012-13 total expenses, and 2012-13 end of year operating fund balance, and
(3) SFA’s projected total amount of additional revenue to be received by SFA during 2013-14 if paid lunch prices were raised to the required amount.

If you have any questions about this information, contact Food and Nutrition Service at 651-582-8526, 800-366-8922 (MN Toll-free), or mde.fns@state.mn.us.