Last week, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, joined by National PTA President Otha Thornton and Rayburn Elementary PTA President Norma Cavazos, announced that more than $30 million in grants will be awarded to help schools prepare healthy meals for students. Of the grants, $25 million will be provided to help schools purchase needed equipment to make preparing and serving healthier meals easier and more efficient, and $5 million will provide additional training for school food service professionals.
“With more than 31 million students participating daily in the National School Lunch Program, ensuring children have access to nutritious foods is critical to help them learn and develop a healthy lifestyle into adulthood,” said Otha Thornton, president of National PTA. “It has long been a top priority of National PTA to improve school meal programs as it makes a difference for the lives and futures of our nation’s children. National PTA applauds the Administration’s commitment to supporting schools as they work hard to provide a healthier environment for students.”
In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve the nation’s child nutrition programs. The grants announced last week by Secretary Vilsack serve to support schools as they implement updated standards for foods sold during the day as included in the Act.
The school equipment grants will be provided to states, which will then award them to school districts in order to purchase necessary equipment. Priority will be given to high-need schools where 50% or more of enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. The Team Nutrition Training Grants will be awarded to state agencies administering the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program or Child and Adult Care Food Programs.
PTA leaders, members and families play an important role in helping schools implement improved meal and snack offerings. National PTA and its constituents are committed to working at the federal, state and local levels to strengthen programs that promote healthy school environments and enhance the nutritional health of our nation’s children.
“Monday through Friday, children spend more time in school than they do at home, and no amount of education will suffice if children do not have a healthy mind and body,” said Norma Cavazos, president of Rayburn Elementary PTA in San Antonio, Texas. “It is essential that children across the country have access to healthy foods during the school day that they need to grow and succeed. I am pleased to see the U.S. Department of Agriculture be a loud voice for the importance of proper nutrition and step up to ensure healthy meals are prepared and provided in schools.” Texas will receive more than $3 million in grant money, more than any other state.
Federal investment in health and wellness initiatives is critical to children’s and the nation’s long-term success. National PTA remains dedicated to working with Congress and the Administration to ensure investments continue to be provided that enable every child to reach his or her potential.
For more information about the grants, visit www.grants.gov.