Identifying The Total Cost Of A Meal – Summary

For cost-effective program operations, programs providing meals to older individuals need to know the total cost of the meals they are serving to their participants. There is much confusion relative to meal cost with the following terms: “total meal cost,” “food cost,” “reimbursement rate,” “contracted rate,” and “negotiated rate.” Often these terms are used incorrectly. Even when the terms related to meal cost are used correctly, there is inconsistency in how programs calculate their meal costs. Accurate meal cost calculations are not only necessary for efficient use of available resources, but they are also needed if programs wish to sell meals to other organizations or programs.


  • Author: Audrey C. McCool, EdD, RD, FADA
  • Publisher: Commissioned by the NRCNA.
  • Type: Articles & Documents
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