LANSING – Students at 45 schools statewide are eating healthier thanks to almost $1 million for food-service upgrades, according to a joint announcement today by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM).
The MDE awarded $639,000 in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance (NSLP) grant funds to the 45 schools in 18 districts, while the UDIM added $250,000 for a total of nearly $990,000. The districts are using the funds to improve school meals through upgrades to their kitchen equipment and infrastructures.
“More than 20,000 students at these schools are, or will be, benefiting from more nutritional foods because of this funding,” State Superintendent Brian Whiston said. “I’m so glad to see partnerships like this because they’re able to pool resources and expand their reach to help more of Michigan’s kids.”
In February, the USDA and National Dairy Council (NDC) announced the availability of $35 million in federal and private grants to help schools upgrade their kitchen equipment and infrastructure. Eligible school districts nationwide could apply for funds to support the purchase of items such as utility carts, utensils, large-capacity food processors, industrial scales, steamers, and freezers.
“The United Dairy Industry of Michigan and Michigan dairy farm families have supported school nutrition for more than 100 years, and we are excited to work with the USDA to continue that tradition,” said UDIM Chief Executive Officer Sharon Toth.
Since 2009, the USDA has awarded $215 million in school nutrition equipment grants. The USDA provides this funding to states, which then competitively award grants to school districts for the purchase of necessary equipment. Priority is given to high-need schools where 50 percent or more of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced price meals. This year, the NDC and its network of local dairy councils across the country joined the USDA’s efforts by kicking in an additional $5 million through a separate, but simultaneous, grant application process.