August 3, 2016 9 Comments
Each year USDA must adjust 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 this year’s 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. 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%, which resulted in a $1 (rounded) increase to admin rates for sponsors of homes. And the CPI for food away from home showed a 2.64% increase, which resulted in higher meal reimbursement rates for meals served by centers.
Unfortunately, the food at home series showed a drop of 0.69% over the same period. This means that, by law, USDA had to adjust meal reimbursement rates downward for Family Day Care Homes. Because any percentage-based decrease affects the higher reimbursement rates more than the lower rate, the Tier 1 rates serving the neediest children dropped more in real dollars than the smaller Tier 2 rates. Some of the differences in the Tier 2 rates were entirely erased by rounding to the nearest cent, because they were already so small.
There’s no easy way to break the news to providers that they will receive less money for the same food, 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. 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 underserved kids. Go here to find out how to contact your Senators and Representative.