Each year USDA must adjust CACFP meal reimbursement rates and the administrative reimbursement rates for sponsors of homes according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) change during the prior 12 month period. Click here to view rates.
The CPI is broken down into many sub-categories, and Congress has determined in the law which parts are used to adjust rates in the CACFP. CACFP meal rates for Family Day Care Home meals are based on the “food at home” series of the CPI for All Urban Consumers. Rates for centers are based on the “food away from home” series of the CPI for All Urban Consumers and the administrative reimbursement rates for sponsors of homes are based on all items of the CPI for All Urban Consumers added together.
This year, the CPI on all items increased 1.87%, which resulted in a $2 (rounded) increase to admin rates on the first 50 homes for sponsors of homes and a $1 increase for homes 51 and up. The CPI for food away from home showed a 2.31% increase, which resulted in higher meal reimbursement rates for meals served by centers. This increase is slightly lower than last year’s increases, which benefited from rounding up due to a few tenths of percentage higher increase in the CPI.
Unfortunately, the food at home series showed a drop of 0.16% over the same period. This means that, by law, USDA had to adjust meal reimbursement rates downward for Family Day Care Homes. Fortunately, the percentage decrease was quite small, so in most cases it was not enough to round down to a decreased reimbursement rate. However, any percentage-based decrease affects the higher reimbursement rates more than the lower rate, so some of the higher-reimbursed meals for Alaska and Hawaii did go down a small amount. (We are asking for clarification now on why the rate for Tier 2 lunches and suppers specifically appears to be rounded down instead of up and will update this post when we hear back.)
There’s no easy way to break the news to providers that they will not receive an increase in money this year, particularly when most of us aren’t actually seeing that food prices have dropped at all in the last year. The only way to keep this from happening again is to urge Congress to change the law, prohibiting any future downward adjustment in reimbursement rates and admin rates and asking for a more realistic measure of the costs of serving food in family childcare. This is not something that a sponsor, a state agency, or even USDA can change.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization hasn’t moved forward yet, so there may still be opportunity to urge your Congressperson to ensure that the good nutrition that CACFP provides stays accessible to the neediest children. It certainly can’t hurt to let them know how much more difficult this makes getting healthy food to our most under served kids. Go here to find out how to contact your Senators and Representative.