Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, along with the National Dairy Council, announce the availability of $35 million to help schools upgrade their kitchen equipment in order to offer students better access to nutritious foods.
Schools can apply for USDA grants through their state, or for funds from Fuel Up to Play 60directly through the NDC website. In both cases, funding will support the purchase of new equipment and/or the renovation/replacement of equipment. Equipment may include large and small items including utility carts, utensils, large-capacity food processors, industrial scales, steamers or freezers. Infrastructure elements may include building needs related to physical space, electricity, plumbing, ventilation and other remodeling needs.
“Success at all ages begins with a healthy meal, and that is why at USDA we have worked to overhaul school meal standards to ensure kids have access to nutritious foods. This commitment from our partners will ensure schools have the equipment they need to provide kids with a well-balanced meal, promoting childhood health and wellness,” said Vilsack.
Three in five students – more than 30 million children – rely on the USDA National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for one to two meals per day, however according to a 2014 survey, 88% of schools reported lacking at least one piece of equipment they needed in order to serve healthier foods . These grants will give millions of additional children access to more nutritious meals by providing schools with the funds to purchase additional equipment to help them meet updated national nutrition standards, and serve healthy meals with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy, and less sodium and fat.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded $215 million in school nutrition equipment grants, including $30 million being announced today. USDA provides this funding to states, which then competitively award grants to school districts in order to purchase necessary equipment, giving priority to high-need schools where 50 percent or more of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced price meals. This year, Fuel Up to Play 60, who has provided more than $22 million in funds to schools throughout the country, is joining USDA’s effort by providing an additional $5 million through a separate, but concurrent, grant application process.
Schools that are interested in learning more about these grants should visit: http://tinyurl.com/jx395po
Fuel Up to Play 60 (https://www.fueluptoplay60.com/) is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the NDC. The program encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.