Category Archives: Grants

Fuel Up to Play 60 at Your School!

As summer slowly winds down, many families begin to prepare for another fun-filled school year for their kids. But what if your family and friends had the power to make your child’s school even better than it already is? Teaming up with Fuel Up to Play 60 can help not only your school, but also other students!

Fuel Up to Play 60

This fun program was developed to encourage the youth to eat healthy and be more active, and by being physically active and well-nourished, kids become better students in the classroom. A balanced diet, including eating a healthy breakfast every day, helps students get the important nutrients to succeed with their academic performance. Adding in physical activity has shown to help students improve their self-esteem, cognitive function and test scores.

Schools and students that participate in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program have the opportunity to earn rewards and prizes, and the students that help build the program at their school can possibly benefit even more, making it a win-win for everyone!

Educational professionals, school adults and parents can also help out with Fuel Up to Play 60! The program gives adults tools to help meet the school’s goals and supports you trying to make your school a healthier place. Fuel Up to Play 60 requires at least one Program Advisor – an adult who will engage with and empower students to help incorporate the program within the school and encourage others in the community to get involved.

Benefitting Schools

How exactly does Fuel Up to Play 60 benefit sch

Image via U.S. Department of Agriculture

Image via U.S. Department of Agriculture

ools? Fuel Up supports your school’s wellness policy and helps meet national health and physical education standards. “At the same time, the program aligns with other healthy school national goals and initiatives – all of which share the goal of reducing childhood obesity,” the website explains. “As an added bonus, Fuel Up to Play 60 can also get teachers and staff eating healthy and moving more.”

There are six steps towards getting your school started with Fuel Up to Play 60. Click here to learn all about them!

Funding Opportunities

If your school is in need of funding to get Fuel Up to Play 60 started, there are grants available for qualifying K-12 schools. Up to $4,000 is available for those enrolled in the program to kick start healthy changes. For schools to qualify, your school must participate in the National School Lunch Program and have a registered Program Advisor for Fuel Up to Play 60.

To get started with the program, the Program Advisor and your school’s Fuel Up team will need to choose one Healthy Eating Play and one Physical Activity Play from the 2014-15 Playbook. The School Wellness Investigation will help you determine which play will work best for your school.

Remember, the final deadline to register and apply for funding for this school year is Wednesday, November 5th, 2014.

Looking for tools and resources to use for Fuel Up to Play 60? Click here!

Incorporating Healthy Nutrition to the Menu

When your school is granted funding for Fuel Up to Play 60, you can use that money to improve your kitchen by shopping at Central! Vitamix products are perfect for school kitchens because of their efficiency and durability. Vitamix’s blenders can be used for food prep, drinks and smoothies and much more. Vitamix blenders are constructed out of quality materials so you can be sure it will last school year after year. You can create smoothies, ice cream, grate cheese, shred carrots and more!

Need Help?

If you’re looking for more information on the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, find all the resources and other information by clicking here. Need help on finding the right Vitamix blender for your school? Contact one of our helpful Product Consultants by chatting live or calling them at 800-215-9293.

school food service grant

School Food Service Grants and Scholarships for 2014

School Food Service Grants

What better way to improve your operation than with a school food service grant? Funding, assistance and free money will help to improve an operation.  Below are a few school food service grants for schools in the United States. Check your local area for additional grants, information and resources.

Food Service Equipment

On Dec. 18, 2013, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would award $11 million in grants for schools to upgrade their equipment to serve healthier meals and be more efficient. He acknowledged schools have already done a great job of serving healthy meals but recognizes the equipment has to be up to par to continue to improve efforts. The USDA did not post links to applications, but advised schools interested in grants reach out to their state agency for more information.

school food service grantsFarm to School

Schools that would like establish relationships with local farmers and provide fresh produce to students and staff are eligible for the “Farm to School” school food service grant. The USDA awards up to $5 million for this grant to help with training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships and implementing farm to school programs.

School Nutrition Association Conference

The School Nutrition Association (SNA) has three school food service grants available for their members. This assistance will help them attend the SNA National Conferences and there are three scholarships available:

Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools

The Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools initiative provides school food service grants to increase salad bars across the country.  Their vision is to enable every student with the choice of healthy fruits and vegetables. Salad bars are awarded based on a rubric of combining scores for the potential impact based on the district’s free/reduced percentage, application date and readiness to implement the program.

vegetables, Image from Morguefile

Food Stamps and Food Deserts: What’s the answer?

vegetables, Image from MorguefileWhile there have been a few updates in the 47 years since Congress passed The Food Stamp Act, most within the program have been relatively small.   Recently the program did away with stamps in exchange for a convenient card loaded with benefits and to go along with this new look, updated it’s name to the Supplemental Food Nutrition Program or SNAP.  Still the SNAP benefits serve the same purpose as the food stamps before it: to help ensure that individuals are receiving enough sustenance to keep them from the brink of starvation.

However, these days a new hurdle in feeding those in need has developed.  In the past, food was easily found at the corner store, local grocery or maybe even at a local farm or dairy.  Things are different in today’s economy, where many stores like these have closed in favor of big box supermarkets that can provide for larger areas and less access to farms.  This means instead of just worrying about if their benefits will be enough to feed their family, recipients are now also struggling to find a place to purchase their food.

Not having readily available food stores, referred to as food deserts, has become a hot button topic popping up everywhere from food blogs all the way up to the First Lady.   According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Food deserts are areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet.”

Because of these so-called deserts, which are largely populated by people on assistance, many are forced to do their shopping at nearby convenience and/or liquor stores.   Though it seems somewhat surprising that places like this would even be able to accept the SNAP  benefits, it is relatively easy for these and similar locations to meet the specifications.  The Record Searchlight says, “To apply, a potential Supplemental Food Nutrition Program retailer has to show that more than half of the total dollar amount spent at a store, including purchases of food, gas and services, must come from the sale of “eligible staple foods” such as meat, poultry or fish; bread or cereal; vegetables or fruits; or dairy products.”  This issue combined with the fact that the majority of states don’t have many restrictions on what can be purchased with the funds, has played a large part in the growing obesity rate among those enrolled in SNAP.

fast food, image from morguefileAn alternative solution to food deserts has been to allow the use of SNAP benefits to purchase fast food.   This has already been approved in states like Arizona, Michigan and parts of California.   New America Media has reported that the idea has even gained support from a group called Feeding America, comprised of executives from many large food companies.  This support is due to the fact that these food companies would see increased revenue due to to their stock in these restaurants.    But for patrons on SNAP benefits, having the money to buy French fries and chicken fingers doesn’t exactly make the growing obesity rate go down any more than buying foods from the local gas station.   However, according to WalletPop.com there is a valid reason for this approach.  The site says that, “The idea here is that many homeless SNAP recipients, as well as those with unstable living conditions — say, those who are sleeping on the couch of family or friends, or who are living in cramped and insufficient quarters — don’t have a place to prepare food.”  Essentially, the thought behind allowing SNAP use at fast food restaurants is that warm pre-prepared food,  is better than no food at all.  Fast food is often also easy to find in food deserts and they often offer nutritional options like salads.

As many are working towards simply providing those with SNAP benefits with any of food to keep them from starving, there is a bigger movement trying to make sure that the food is not just available, but also nutritious.  One such program, called Wholesome Wave, operates in California, Massachusetts and Connecticut.      The basis of this initiative is that farmer’s markets are set up in areas, most often in a food desert, and SNAP benefits are not only accepted for food purchases, but are actually doubled.  This means those using the benefits are able to get more food for the same price while simultaneously stimulating their local economy.  In an article from the Stamford Advocate it states that, “In 2008, Moody’s, the credit ratings and economic analysis provider, found that one food stamp dollar, when spent in a bodega or ordinary grocery store, created $1.73 in economic stimulus. The impact of the same food stamp dollar spent on regionally grown produce is still being studied by Wholesome Wave, but theories indicate that one SNAP dollar spent at a farmers’ market may create over $3 in local economic stimulus.”

Another attempt at providing healthy alternatives was recently announced by First Lady Michelle Obama.  During a news conference she stated that stores like Walgreens and Wal-Mart will soon open new locations to help decrease the food deserts.  The California Endowment reports that the California FreshWorks Fund will loan $200 million to establish stores that will provide healthy foods (eligible for SNAP benefits) in food deserts in California as well as stimulate the economies in which they reside.

After this announcement, some have come out against the partnership with big corporations instead of supporting smaller, local retailers.  However, SFWeekly.com puts the issue into a bit of a different perspective, “We think of Wal-Mart the same way we do of Starbucks: When we have a choice, we stop at locally owned cafes, but the chain has made it possible to get a decent cup of coffee in rural and suburban cities across the nation.”  The article goes on to add,“Sure, it’d be great to see independently run stores open in all those places, but it’s more important to find cabbage, oranges, and strawberries.”

Currently all of these groups, with ideas that cover a vast spectrum, are working to improve the situation of those who receive SNAP benefits and/or live in food deserts.  It may turn out that one option is better than another or with more observation the answer may be that combining several options is the solution.  In the end, only time will tell what will be both financially and nutritionally successful.

Please share your comments below on the food stamp (SNAP) and food desert issue and your suggestions on how you think the current situation could be improved.

July 2014 Update: Below are resources passed along by HumanityCampaign.org:

As the First Lady says: LET’S MOVE!

First Lady Michelle Obama has started a new campaign to end childhood obesity. Let’s Move! focuses on four primary principles one of them being serving healthier food in school cafeterias. She has chosen to start this campaign with the hope that the next generation of children will reach adult life at a healthy weight.

This campaign was launched during President Obama’s plan to improve the quality of the food served in schools. He has proposed a $10 billion investment to upgrade kitchen equipment in schools and train the food service workers among other things. President Obama also hopes to provide the funding for more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lowfat dairy products to be served in schools.

The 5 states to receive this grant are Massachusetts, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas. The grants equal $1.9 million which is being used to increase enrollment in school meal programs. This will be done through a direct certification and  verification process. This process will allow state and local agencies to automatically certify children who are currently enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or  the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF) for free school meals without having to fill out a household application.

These two programs combined offer great promise for our future generations. Healthier eating habits at home lead to healthier eating habits at schools and vice versa. LET’S MOVE! to raise a healthier generation of kids.

More grants now available for K-12 Schools!

Did your school get part of the $100 million in school lunch equipment grants given by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2009?  If not, you’re still in luck!

The USDA announced in January 2010 that $25 million in additional funds will be available this year for school foodservice authorities to obtain lunch equipment.  In addition, any funds that were not awarded (or were rejected) by the 2009 ARRA grants will be re-allocated.

Since the USDA did not create a application process for all states, each state agency will use their own selection process to determine and notify the winners.  Most states have yet to release any information, but will probably make their decisions using the applications submitted for the 2009 ARRA Grants.

Check the Central K-12 USDA Grants Info page frequently for the newest information.  Updates will be added as soon as they are available!