USDA Awarding $8 Million in Grants for School Lunch Programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be awarding more than $8 million in grants to help school nutrition professional prepare heathy meals for their students.
About $2.6 million in grants will support implementation of the new professional standards for school nutrition employees, and $5.6 million will go to help states expand and enhance food service training programs and provide nutrition education in school, child care, and summer meal settings.
The grants announced today add to the large number of resources that USDA provides to help schools serve healthier food options that meet updated nutrition standards, including technical assistance, educational materials, and additional reimbursements. More than 95 percent of schools report that they are successfully meeting those nutrition standards, which were based on recommendations from pediatricians and other child health experts at the Institute of Medicine.
In February, USDA announced national professional standards for school nutrition employees that went into effect on July 1, 2015. These standards, which vary according to position and job requirements, ensure that school nutrition professionals have the training and skills they need to plan, prepare, purchase, and promote healthy meals. In addition to several built-in flexibilities intended to facilitate the first year of implementation and address the challenges faced by smaller school districts, USDA is providing a total of $2.6 million to 19 state agencies to develop and enhance existing trainings within their state that will allow school nutrition professionals to meet these standards. The Professional Standards Training Grants promote training in nutrition; operations; administration; and communications and marketing.
In addition, 19 states received a 2015 Team Nutrition Training Grant of up to $350,000 – $5.6 million in total – to support trainings that focus on encouraging healthy eating.
The Team Nutrition Training Grants are awarded as part of USDA's Team Nutrition initiative, which provides resources, training, and nutrition education lessons for schools and child care providers. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Team Nutrition initiative. In that time, Team Nutrition has provided nearly $90 million in grant funds to state agencies that implement USDA Child Nutrition Programs.