Biden-Harris administration invests $80 million to improve school lunch nutrition

Washington, DC, October 11, 2022 – The Biden-Harris administration today provided $50 million in grants for schools to invest in new catering equipment that will allow them to continue serving nutritious meals. Today’s funding is in addition to the $30 million in equipment grants that the administration gave to schools earlier this year. The announcement comes as the USDA stands alongside partners and advocates in the child nutrition community to celebrate National School Lunch Week (October 10-14), a time to recognize the essential nutrition school lunches provide. to tens of millions of children every school day.

Additional support for school meals and child nutrition builds on momentum from last month White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Healthwhere the administration unveiled a National strategy ending hunger and reducing diet-related disease by 2030.

“Ensuring access to nutritious school meals is one of the best investments we can make in our fight to end child hunger and improve health,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “As we celebrate the valiant efforts of school nutrition professionals across the country this National School Lunch Week, the USDA is redoubling its efforts to help schools overcome challenges including rising food prices and continued supply chain disruptions. These additional resources will enable schools to provide healthy and appealing meals by meeting vital catering equipment needs.

The USDA provides state grants (see: state-by-state distribution), which use a competitive application process to award them to school districts that participate in the National School Meals Program. School districts can use the funds to purchase upgraded equipment that will support:

  • Serve healthier meals, including those from local foods;
  • Implement scratch cooking;
  • Establish or expand breakfast at school;
  • Storage of fresh food;
  • Improved food security.

Here are some testimonials of how equipment grants have improved food service for school districts across the country:

  • Better food preparation and visually appealing meals (Hoke County Schools, Raeford, NC) – “The grant allowed us to purchase new and updated equipment for our school kitchens. Students eat with their eyes and when the food looks good, they eat more. We purchased handy hot cupboards and refrigerators for our middle and high schools to place behind our service lines, which helped us serve our complex menu items. We have increased our participation in these schools because students do not have to wait long for their meals. The equipment that has really helped our program over the past two years has been the blast chillers, which allow us to quickly chill our food. The ultimate goal of Hoke County Schools is to provide the highest quality menu foods to all students and with this equipment we are able to achieve that goal. – Deborah Carpenter, Executive Director of Child Nutrition, Hoke County Schools
  • No more scratch cooking thanks to the new dishwasher (Iowa-Grant School District, Livingston, Wisconsin) – “We replaced a 63-year-old dishwasher with a new, more efficient dishwasher that allows more time for food preparation. We have increased scratch cooking in our kitchen, which in turn increases the number of dishes we wash. Now we can make things like homemade granola for breakfast and cheesy broccoli soup for lunch – we never would have done this in the past. The new dishwasher is essential to have the washing time and capacity we need to continue to increase the amount of fresh meals we cook in our kitchen. – Barbara Hugill, food service supervisor, Iowa-Grant High School
  • Prepare local produce with steamers (Boyne Falls Public School, Boyne Falls, Michigan) – “We were able to use our funds to buy a new steamer for our kitchen. Since the installation, we have been able to provide a variety of locally sourced vegetables in the most appealing and healthy way possible, including beets, green beans, Brussels sprouts! The children were happy to see these types of vegetables because of their fresh and vibrant appearance. Plus, it’s a much easier and more efficient process because we don’t have to blanch vegetables in large, heavy pots of boiling water and transfer them to the kitchen. It was a process that could take up to an hour; now we get better results in ten minutes! In the end, we have to prepare large quantities with little work. This equipment did the job perfectly and we are grateful for it. – Nathan Bates, Principal, Boyne Falls Public School

These grants are just the latest in a series of efforts by the Biden-Harris administration to financially support school lunches and ensure the nutritional security of our country’s children. Last month, the USDA launched the first phase of a $100 million healthy meal incentive initiative, which will provide grants to small, rural schools to improve the quality of their meals. The application request is open to all non-governmental organizations through November 28, 2022. Later this year, FNS will announce the second and final phase of the initiative which will expand nutritious food options for school meals through collaboration with partners across the ‘food industry.

Here’s a look at the investments the USDA has made in school lunches for the 2022-2023 school year.

The administration is also investing more heavily in infant nutrition. Last month the USDA released a final rule that improves children’s access to the USDA Summer Food Service Program by streamlining and strengthening program operations. The USDA also authorized families of nearly 33 million children to receive summer child support benefits of $391 per child for summer 2022, with higher amounts in Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories. . These advantages thanks to the Summer P-EBT The program helps families cover food costs during the summer months when schools were closed.

This announcement is part of the Biden-Harris administration National strategy on hunger, nutrition and health. The National Strategy provides a roadmap of actions the federal government will take to end hunger and reduce diet-related disease by 2030, while reducing disparities. The national strategy was released in conjunction with the first White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health in more than 50 years, hosted by President Biden on September 28, 2022.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the U.S. food system with a greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring the access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and capacity clean energy in rural America, and committing to equity across the department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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