The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Football League (NFL), Fuel Up offer US$35 million in grants to help schools upgrade their kitchen equipment and infrastructure for students to have better access to nutritious foods.
Three in five students – more than 30 million children – rely on USDA’s 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.
In 2008, USDA, NFL, National Dairy Council, and GENYOUth partnered via Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives.
“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,” said agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack.
“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.”
Since 2009, USDA has awarded US$215 million in school nutrition equipment grants, including US$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% or more of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced price meals.
This year, Fuel Up to Play 60, which has provided more than US$22 million in funds to schools throughout the country, is joining USDA’s effort by providing an additional US$5 million through a separate, but concurrent, grant application process.