Vilsack Announces Grants to Help Schools Improve the Quality of Meals

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $25 million in grants to help schools operating a National School Lunch Program (NSLP) replace outdated equipment with new, energy efficient, appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, and other food service related equipment. The new funding which provides $815,762 in the state of North Carolina is a one-time fiscal year 2010 appropriation to State educational agencies.

“President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that America’s children have access to safe and nutritious food through our National School Lunch Program,” said Vilsack. “These grants will help schools obtain much needed infrastructure to better serve their students and will focus on equipment that helps schools provide nutritious meals, support food safety efforts, improve energy efficiency, and expand participation in school nutrition programs.”

As mandated by the legislation, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will award these grants to school food authorities that participate in the NSLP and that did not receive an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 grant for NSLP equipment assistance in FY 2009. Additionally, priority will be given to schools where 50 percent or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced price meals under the NSLP.

Congress is currently considering reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which provides the outline for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs that serve more than 31 million children. Administration priorities include eliminating barriers that keep children from participating in school nutrition programs, improving the quality of school meals and the health of the school environment, and enhancing program performance.

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