how school meal programs are financed

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For most Vermont schools, the per-meal reimbursement and commodities provided by the federal school breakfast and lunch programs is not sufficient to cover all of these school meal program costs.  School meal programs also finance themselves through:

  • The money they collect from the families of “full pay” students for reimbursable school meals

  • The sale of a la carte (competitive) foods and beverages to students instead of / in addition to the reimbursable meal. See negative effects of competitive foods here. 

  • Selling food and beverages to teachers, administrators, and other school staff

  • Catering meetings and special events for the school, supervisory union, and/or school district

  • Additional taxes assessed to local communities as part of the annual school budget to cover program deficits.  The majority of Vermont’s school meal programs are operating at a deficit each year.

Some schools operate “independent” school meal programs, meaning that school meal program staff are employees of the supervisory union or school district, and program costs are paid directly by the SU or SD business office.  Some Vermont schools outsource the operation of their meal programs to private, for-profit food service management companies. For these programs, the SU or SD pays an annual management fee, and the company is responsible for hiring school food service staff, providing their training and any benefits the company chooses to provide, purchasing the food, and in some cases, upgrading equipment.

Want to learn more about how Vermont schools are financing their programs? Read Tricks of the Tray from KidsVT.