Monday, April 21, 2014
Money Available To Help Schools Offer Healthy Lunches
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding $25 million in grants to help schools purchase needed kitchen equipment as they continue to provide school lunches and breakfasts that give children the nutrition they need to learn and grow.
More than 90 percent of schools report that they are successfully meeting the updated nutrition standards, serving meals with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy, and less sodium and fat. These new grants provide additional support to schools to help them prepare meals that meet those standards.
In December, USDA awarded $11 million in grants to the District of Columbia, Guam and 14 states. For the latest round of funding, USDA will ensure all state agencies receive a proportional share of the funding.
States will competitively award the funds to school districts to purchase needed equipment, giving priority to high-need schools where 50 percent or more of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced price meals.
New York state received about $2 million from the program in fiscal year 2014.
The Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project – a collaboration with The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – recently released a report on school kitchen equipment needs that shows most school districts in the U.S. (88 percent) need at least one additional piece of kitchen equipment, and more than half (55 percent) need infrastructure upgrades to serve healthier meals that meet science-based nutrition standards.
The report concluded: Investing in kitchens and cafeterias will help schools better serve the nutritious foods and beverages that students need.
Since 2009, USDA has provided $160 million in kitchen equipment funding to states and schools. The President's fiscal year 2015 budget requests an additional $35 million for kitchen equipment grants. These grants are one of several ways that USDA is supporting schools as the implement the updated nutrition standards.