State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell announced today that 242 School Food Authorities in 48 California counties will share more than $12.8 million in 2009 Equipment Assistance Grants.
This one-time funding is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The California Department of Education received $70 million in requests for new kitchen equipment, underscoring the need for additional support to improve school food operations across the state.
Santa Clarita Valley School Food Service Agency will receive $26,219. The largest grant given was to the San Diego Unified School District in the amount of $628,216.
The SCVFSA serves all the schools included in the Acton/Agua Dulce, Castaic, Newhall, Saugus and Sulphur Springs districts. The grant monies will be used for equipment at the various district sites. Agency officials were attending a national school food service conference and were not available for comment.
"This funding is critically needed by districts and other agencies to buy new or replace outdated and inefficient food preparation equipment so they may boost the amount and quality of meals offered to California students," said O'Connell. "Many schools do not have adequate food preparation equipment so it's encouraging to see the number of agencies requesting funds to move toward preparing meals on site."
"The need for this funding was so great that we were able to fund only 18 percent of the $70 million in funding requests we received," added O'Connell. "As a result, I am urging the California Congressional delegation to seek ongoing kitchen equipment funding through the reauthorization of the federal Child Nutrition Act scheduled to occur this year. We are working with other state agencies, including the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Health and Human Services Agency, to jointly developed recommendations for child nutrition changes."
The grants were awarded on a competitive basis with priority given to sites with at least 50 percent of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Eligible applicants included School Food Authorities participating in the National School Lunch Program. National School Lunch Program sponsors include public schools, charter schools, private schools, residential child care institutions, and juvenile detention/ probation facilities.
The applicants were required to demonstrate a need for the equipment focusing on four areas: (1.) increasing participation, (2.) contributing to nutritional quality, (3.) contributing to food safety, and (4.) contributing to energy efficiency.