USDA FNS has established the Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative to improve the nutritional quality of school meals through food systems transformation, SFA recognition and technical assistance, the generation and sharing of innovative ideas and tested practices, and grants.
This Initiative consists
of four key activities:The Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Awards for SFAs will recognize and share best practices from SFAs that have made significant improvements to the nutritional quality of their school meals.The Healthy Meals Incentives Grants for Small and/or Rural SFAs will offer competitive grants of up to $150,000 per grant for small and/or rural SFAs experiencing challenges in the improvement of the nutritional quality of their school meals due to limited staffing, difficulty in accessing training, increased food costs due to limited purchasing power, lack of physical space, and outdated kitchen equipment.
The grants are intended to help small and/or rural SFAs overcome these challenges, improve the nutritional quality of school meals, and meet Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Award criteria.Healthy Meals Summits will convene Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Award recipients and School Food Systems Transformation grantees to be recognized, share best practices, and discuss strategies for sustaining their achievements into the future.School Food Systems Transformation Grants will stimulate innovation in strengthening the availability of nutritious food products in the kindergarten–12th (K–12) grade school food marketplace.
The Healthy Meals Incentives activities noted above are expected to increase utilization, and thereby demand, for nutritious agricultural commodities, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits as well as food products that reflect various cultures.
These efforts are also positioned to strengthen small and rural SFA’s access to nutritious agricultural commodities through food systems transformation and grants to small and rural SFA’s.
The collection and sharing of best practices regarding SFA’s use of nutritious agricultural commodities in school meals, as well as the incentivization of practices such as nutrition education (including farm to school nutrition education), use of local agricultural products in scratch cooking, and the development of culturally diverse school meal menu items is also expected to indirectly benefit producers that supply food products to schools.This Development and Implementation of Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Awards and Sub-Grants for School Food Authorities RFA specifies USDA FNS’ intent to enter into a cooperative agreement with a non-governmental entity to assist with the recognition awards, grants for SFAs, and the planning and implementation of the Healthy Meals Summits.
School Food Systems Transformation Grants are not an activity included in this RFA announcement but are a part of the overall Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative.
These grants will be released under a separate RFA.