Reimbursable Meals/Offer vs. Serve
Did you ever wonder why the cafeteria staff may tell you that you need one more item on your tray for a Reimbursable Meal?
What is a reimbursable meal?
Under specific criteria, state and federal governments may reimburse school districts for a portion of the cost of producing school meals. "Reimbursable meals" are combinations of food items served to students at breakfast and lunch that meet either nutrition standards or calorie levels or the meal pattern specified in federal regulations, and is priced as a unit (advertised price). The district does not receive reimbursement when students purchase a second meal. In that event, students are charged the full cost of an adult meal.
What is Offer vs. Serve?
Offer vs. Serve (OVS) is a system that decreases food waste while giving students greater flexibility in choosing what to eat for school breakfast or lunch.
Students must take a combination of 2 or 3 of the 4 items offered depending on serving size for the meal to qualify for a reimbursable meal.
Students must take a serving of fruit OR vegetable plus two additional options of the 5 food items offered for the meal to qualify as a reimbursable meal. This is the minimum under Federal program regulations.
- Students may take smaller portions of the declined items.
- The meal must be prices as a unit. That is, a student who takes 2, 4, or 5 food items, or smaller portions of some items, pay the same price.
Does the school receive reimbursement when adults eat lunch or breakfast? Can adults request larger portions?
There is no reimbursement for adult meals, so the price covers the cost of a regular portion meal. Adults who desire more than the regular portion served may purchase additional food items.
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:
(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email: email@example.com.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider