USDA supports our tireless school nutrition professionals as they work to provide kids the nutrition they need to learn and develop into healthy adults. To further assist schools, USDA announced the availability of $25 million in National School Lunch Program (NSLP) equipment grants for Fiscal Year 2015. These grants help schools obtain much needed infrastructure to better serve nutritious meals, support food safety efforts, improve energy efficiency, and expand participation in school nutrition programs.
Here are some examples of how these grants have benefitted schools in the past:
Flowing Wells Unified School District, Arizona
Flowing Wells Unified School District was honored to have been chosen to have four of its schools selected for the USDA NSLP equipment grant in 2015. Upon learning of the grant, the district’s foodservice department took the opportunity to look at all of our schools to see where the greatest impact could be made. We decided on four schools – Centennial, Walter Douglas, Hendricks, and Flowing Wells High School and applied for the following equipment: two four-burner stove tops (Centennial and Hendricks), two double-stack electric ovens (Walter Douglas), and one Rational combi oven unit (high school). Our district was excited to receive approval for all four schools and all requested equipment. Since the equipment has been installed, our staff has increased production and improved the quality of food. Our employees are grateful that they have the new equipment and the quality of our program has increased. Flowing Wells Unified School District Foodservice Department is now in a better position to continue our pursuit of the best quality food we can offer.
Shaker Regional School District, New Hampshire
We received $23,000 in USDA funding for an equipment purchase for the Belmont Elementary School. Funds were used to buy a new double decker convection oven to replace an existing oven that was not working well. We also purchased a new 40 gallon steam jacketed kettle to replace an old broken kettle. The new equipment has allowed the school to improve the quality of the foods they prepare and offer to the 400 kids who attend Belmont.
Garfield County School District, Utah
Staff at Panguitch Middle School are very happy with their new double decker electric convection oven, which is the result of a NSLP school kitchen equipment grant. They replaced a 29-year-old oven and have improved the energy efficiency and safety of their school food operation. With the old oven, cooks were burning their arms pulling out trays of food, and one of the doors had fallen off and been fixed, but the oven wasn’t expected to last much longer. The middle school kitchen prepares daily meals for more students than any other kitchen in the Garfield School District, but had the oldest kitchen equipment. The equipment grant was a huge help to this school.
New Haven Public Schools, Connecticut
We purchased a Robot Coupe, a commercial food processor, to cut up vegetables in various shapes and sizes for the schools’ veggie bars. It can also be used when roasting vegetables and preparing fruit as well.
We’ll use it district-wide for the elementary, middle and high schools. The idea is to increase students’ interest in the veggie bar by seeing something new and different each day. Different attachments will allow them to vary size and shape for slicing, ripple cutting, cutting into sticks, strips, crisscross or dice shapes. For years, the schools offered two salads and when interest dropped they added a special salad (already mixed up) in the weekly rotation. Students really liked the new option, and it has boosted interest in the salad bar again.
The impact of the equipment grants has been remarkable in our district. We are able to now work with the UVA food program. It enables our kitchen to be used as a teaching kitchen for the community. With the equipment grant we got a brand new refrigerator holding cabinet and warming well. We needed the items to help store and keep food at the proper temperatures. We were renting the warmers and didn't have commercial refrigeration. Now thanks to the NSLP equipment grant our kitchen is like a state of the art restaurant kitchen!