Food vendors servicing public and private schools under the breakfast and lunch meal program will see an increase in their reimbursements starting Oct. 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Tim Thornburgh, federal programs officer for the Public School System, said the meal reimbursement will be adjusted by $0.20 cents for breakfast meals and $0.25 cents for lunch meals.
He said the new reimbursement rate was implemented in anticipation of the challenges facing food vendors such as the 50-cent increase in minimum wage this month and the increasing cost of commodity prices such as corn and other goods.
PSS has six food vendors this school year: MV Reyes, Songao Enterprises, Herman's Bakery, Kalayaan, LSG, and Barney's.
Schools have different reimbursement rates.
Based on the existing rates, Saipan Head Start and day care centers get reimbursement rates of $1.80 per breakfast meal and $2.40 per lunch meal. Saipan elementary schools are reimbursed $2 for breakfast and $3.10 for lunch. Saipan secondary schools, meanwhile, provide reimbursement rates of $2.30 for breakfast and $3.40 for lunch.
Tinian and Rota schools have slightly higher reimbursement rates than Saipan.
Meantime, students whose families have incomes above the 133 percent national poverty guidelines will be paying a standardized cost per meal, which is $0.50 cents for breakfast and $0.75 cents for lunch.
This rate, according to Thornburgh, was set by PSS and has never been changed since 1995. “We have not raised these rates and we don't anticipate raising it now especially when families are having difficult times,” he told Saipan Tribune.
According to Thornburgh, only 25 percent of the entire PSS student population pays a small fee for the breakfast and lunch meals. The rest avail of the school meals free of charge.
This new school year, the school breakfast and lunch meal program expects to serve 1,100 students in private schools, 200 children in day care centers, and about 8,500 students in public schools.
The PSS breakfast and lunch meal program receives assistance every year from the Food and Nutrition Services Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This new fiscal year's assistance totals $10 million.