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FNS Announces $26 Million of Investments in School Meal Programs

New resources will help schools meet updated nutrition standards

Press Release
Release No.
FNS 003.24
Contact: FNS Press Team

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2024 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced $26 million in new grants to support schools’ efforts to serve nutritious and delicious foods to students. Headlining the new investments are nearly $6.5 million in grants that will increase healthy foods in the school meals marketplace by supporting collaboration between schools, food producers and suppliers, and other partners.

K-12 schools serve nutritious breakfasts and lunches to nearly 30 million children every school day. These meals are the main source of nutrition for more than half of these children.

“School meals are vital to the health and well-being of our nation’s children, and we have a responsibility to provide the highest quality of meal service,” said Acting Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kumar Chandran. “This financial support is part of USDA’s deep commitment to ensure schools can continue to provide students the critical nutrition they need to grow, thrive, and reach their full potential.”

Last month, the Department announced updated nutrition standards for school meals that will be gradually updated to include less sugar and more flexibility with menu planning between Fall 2025 and Fall 2027. The new grant funding further demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to improving access to nutritious school meals.


Each of these grants will provide tangible support that schools need to implement the standards and give kids the right balance of nutrients for healthy, tasty meals.

School Food Systems Transformation Challenge Grants

As part of USDA’s $100 million Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative, the Department announced the first round of grant awards for school food systems transformation:

  • Boise State University’s Center for School and Community Partnerships awarded a total of $1.67 million in grants to 12 rural school districts. These Supporting Community Agriculture and Local Education Systems grants, also known as Project SCALES grants, will help schools establish partnerships that make it easier for them to buy local foods. Further, the school districts will strive to bolster the K‐12 school food system by sharing best practices with USDA and other stakeholders through web content, social media, and print materials.
  • The Chef Ann Foundation awarded grants to eight project teams across the nation, for a total of $4.79 million in grants. These Partnerships for Local Agriculture & Nutrition Transformation in Schools grants, also known as PLANTS grants, will support projects that are led by local partners with systemic and equity-driven approaches to transforming school food supply chains. The PLANTSgrants will strengthen relationships among stakeholders, including but not limited to producers, processors, school districts, and school food purchasing cooperatives.

Read more about the grant recipients and their projects at the FNS School Food System Transformation Challenge webpage.

In the near future, additional awardees will be announced from Full Plates Potential and the Illinois Public Health Institute’s Lake Michigan School Food System Innovation Hub. Further, funding opportunities will be available for additional food systems transformation grants from Project SCALES and Lake Michigan School Food System Innovation Hub.

Equipment Assistance Grants

FNS is providing $10 million in grants for schools to invest in new food service equipment that will enable them to continue serving nutritious meals. School districts can use the funds to purchase upgraded equipment that will support:

  • Improving nutrition and quality of meals, including supporting the implementation of updated nutrition requirements for school meals.
  • Serving and storing fresh foods, including those sourced from local farmers and food providers.
  • Implementing scratch cooking.
  • Establishing or expanding school breakfast.
  • Improving food safety.

Each year, FNS awards Equipment Assistance Grants to states based on their overall school lunch participation. States then competitively award the funds to eligible school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program.

To learn more about the impact of Equipment Assistance Grants, read success stories about how the Carroll County and Graves County school districts in Kentucky have improved their meal service with the help of new food service equipment.

Team Nutrition Training Grants

Today, FNS opened applications for its Fiscal Year 2024 Team Nutrition Training Grants for Meal Pattern Modernization and Retention and Mentorship Opportunities. The grants will help states capture best practices in preparing nutritious meals from their school nutrition professionals. This knowledge will help schools meet updated school nutrition standards that will be implemented in coming years.

Applications close on July 16, 2024. States may apply for up to $800,000 in grant funds. USDA expects to award a total of approximately $9.6 million in grants through a competitive award process and plans to announce the awards later in 2024.

To learn more about the impact of the grants, meet the recipients of the Fiscal Year 2023 Team Nutrition Grant, which supported nutrition education for school-aged children.

New Food Safety Training

FNS is committed to ensuring that nutritious school meals are served to children with the highest food safety standards. Earlier this week, FNS opened applications to award a $600,000 cooperative agreement for an organization to provide trainings that will improve food safety knowledge and communications for school nutrition professionals. Applications close on July 12, 2024.

This new training opportunity, called Behind the Tray: Food Science for School Meals, will offer a series of lectures, hands-on laboratories, field trips to farms and food processing operations, and other immersive food science experiences. A small cohort of school nutrition professionals will be trained during the initial course in 2025, and the number of staff trained is expected to grow.

Additional Background on USDA’s Support for Schools

The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA are dedicated to supporting the school nutrition programs. While schools bounced back from the pandemic, the Department provided them more purchasing power to buy American foods and opportunities for enhanced grant programs for updating equipment, product innovation, staff training and farm to school efforts that serve the needs of their local school districts. Since January 2021, this Administration has provided over $13.7 billion in support to schools.

To learn about more ways USDA is investing in school meal programs, see the Support for Schools webpage.

Additional Resources

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC and SNAP. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To learn more about FNS, visit and follow @USDANutrition.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Page updated: May 22, 2024