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Paid Lunch Equity (PLE)


The Paid Lunch Equity (PLE) Tool was created to assist School Food Authorities (SFAs) calculate their paid lunch price increase requirements and/or non-Federal source contributions to meet the requirements specified in 7 CFR 210.14(e).

The PLE tool compares the weighted price for paid lunches to the determined targeted weighted average price. The targeted weighted average price is the difference between the per meal Federal reimbursement for free meals and paid lunches. 

If a SFA's average weighted price for lunches is less than the targeted weighted average price, the SFA must take action to address the difference. 

  • Please note: Only SFAs who are participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and charging paid students will need to complete a PLE Tool for school year 2021-22. 


  • Increase the average price charged for paid meals; or, 
  • Add non-Federal funds (general fund transfer) to the nonprofit food service account to cover price gap; or, 
  • Both, increase student paid lunch prices and make a non-Federal fund transfer for remaining price gap 
  • Apply for an Exemption: 
    • Under Section 767, of Division A of the Appropriations Act, for school year 2021-2022, only a school food authority that had a negative balance in the nonprofit school food service account as of December 31, 2020, shall be required to establish a price for paid lunches served through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in accordance with section 12(p) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1760(p)).
    • SFA must submit the nonprofit food service account balance sheet as of 12/31/20 to along with a completed CDE PLE tool. 
    • Submit all necessary documents and forms to by August 9, 2021. 

EDAC approval stamp for paid lunch equity

Questions? E-mail or call 303-854-4915.