The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Fuel Up to Play 60 program are providing $35 million in grants to help schools nationwide upgrade their kitchen equipment and infrastructure to help provide students better access to healthy foods.
“These grants will go far in helping thousands of schools that face a daily reality that students often arrive hungry, which impacts their ability to learn,” said Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy farmer and chairman of Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff. “This partnership between Fuel Up to Play 60 and USDA really helps create meaningful changes in the lives of children by making it easier to offer healthy school meals.”
More than 30 million students – or three out of every five – rely on school meals once or twice a day. However, according to a 2014 Pew Charitable Trusts survey, 88 percent of schools reported lacking at least one piece of equipment they needed in order to serve healthier foods.
These grants will provide schools with money 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, the NFL, the National Dairy Council and GENYOUth partnered via Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program. It reaches students in 73,000 schools.
As a result of Fuel Up to Play 60, 13 million students are making better food choices and 16 million students are getting more physically active during the school day.
Fuel Up to Play 60, which has provided more than $22 million in funds to schools since it began, is providing $5 million of the $35 million in grants. USDA is awarding $30 million, bringing its total investment in school equipment grants to $215 million since 2009.
“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 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We applaud our Fuel Up to Play 60 partners for their continued commitment to child nutrition. This collaboration enables us to expand our efforts and have a broader positive impact on our youth."
Schools can apply for USDA funding through their state, or for funds from Fuel Up directly through the organization's website. In both cases, funding will support the purchase of new equipment and/or the renovation/replacement of equipment.
Schools that are interested in learning more about these grants should visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/nslp-equipment-assistance-grants.
Source: USDA, DMI