The Maryland State Department of Education’s (MSDE) School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch distributed $1,231,398 in grants to area schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The Equipment Assistance Grants, a one-time appropriation totaling $100 million nationally, are a part of the federal stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
A total of 83 schools in Maryland will benefit from the equipment grants. Eighteen public school systems received awards for 113 pieces of equipment; total funds to be received is $1,093,017.47. Seven private school systems received awards for 17 pieces of equipment; total funds to be received is $138,380.71. The grant money was awarded by MSDE in a competitive process. One hundred and thirty-five schools applied for the funding.
Priority was given to schools in which at least 50 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals and addressed USDA’s four focus areas. The four focus areas of the grants involve purchasing equipment that: improves food safety, enhances meal quality relating to the dietary guidelines, increases overall energy efficiency, and boosts participation in the school meals programs.
The funding seeks to improve the school lunch program infrastructure. In a release from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “equipment” in the ARRA is defined as new equipment, renovation of equipment, or replacement of equipment.
These funds are particularly important since schools do not typically get support for the purchase of new equipment. “This new program offers a great opportunity for our schools,” said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. “This will be a catalyst to increasing participation in the child nutrition programs, which have been shown to improve academic performance and bring more federal dollars into the state.”
Last school year, 96.9 million nutritious meals were served to children through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs in Maryland. With the new equipment funding, the number of children served nutritious school meals is expected to grow.
For more information about the ARRA and the Equipment Assistance Grants, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/default.htm. For information about the child nutrition programs in Maryland, visit www.eatsmartmaryland.org.
Equipment Assistance Grants Award List 2009