WINDSOR—Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union recently received $4,044 in grant funds for kitchen equipment to ensure students have greater access to nutritious foods throughout the school day. Schools benefiting from this grant include Albert Bridge School in Brownsville, Hartland Elementary School, Weathersfield School, and Windsor Schools.
“We are thrilled to have been chosen as a recipient of the school nutrition equipment grants,” said Amy Richardson, farm to school coordinator and local dairy farmer at the Richardson Farm in Hartland, Vt. “These funds will enable our district to provide our students with access to increased opportunities and reasons to participate in school lunch and breakfast, through options like smoothies, taste tests, and seasonal, fresh, whole food products.”
“Windsor Schools are very excited to try out our new blenders to make fruit and dairy smoothies during our ‘After the Bell’ breakfast and taste tests at lunch,” said Donna Ewald, physical education teacher at Windsor schools.
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union is one of many to receive grant support via these funds nationwide. The supervisory union applied for funds to offer healthier snacks such as smoothies at the schools and to implement the Breakfast After the Bell program. These efforts will not only increase the likelihood of more students participating in breakfast, but will also aid in providing vital nutrients to growing children and positively improving their concentration while at school.
In February, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Dairy Council announced the availability of a total of $35 million in federal and private grants to help schools upgrade their kitchen equipment and infrastructure. School districts nationwide had the opportunity to apply for funds to support the purchase of large and small items that will be used to enhance the quality of their school meals.
“Three in five students—more than 30 million children—rely on USDA’s National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for one to two meals per day,” said Kurt Messner, the Northeast regional administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service. “Nearly all schools are successfully meeting the meal standards and these grants are part of our ongoing commitment to give states and schools the additional resources they need. Locally, these grants will ensure students in Windsor County have access to nutritious meals.”
“New England Dairy & Food Council and Vermont dairy farm families have supported school nutrition for more than 100 years, and we are excited to work with USDA to continue that tradition,” said Jill Hussels, registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with the New England Dairy & Food Council.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded $215 million in school nutrition equipment grants. USDA provides this funding to states, which then competitively award grants to school districts in order to purchase necessary equipment, giving priority to high-need schools where 50 percent or more of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced price meals. This year, the National Dairy Council and its network of local Dairy Councils across the country, joined USDA’s effort by providing an additional $5 million through a separate, but concurrent, grant application process.
Jill Hussels, registered nutritional dietitian with New England Dairy & Food Council (third from right) presents $4,044 toWSESU. Pictured (l-r): Katie Danner, food service director with Cafe Services; Kelly Meacham, WSESU; Angie Carpenter-Henderson, physical education teacher at Hartland Elementary School; Beth Roy, Upper Valley Farm to School Network and Vital Communities; Donna Ewald, physical education teacher at Windsor Schools; and Amy Richardson, WSESU’s farm to school coordinator.