Governor Pat Quinn today announced the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will distribute nearly $4 million in federal recovery funding to improve school cafeterias in some of Illinois’ neediest schools. The competitive grants were awarded to 84 districts to purchase equipment for 254 schools that will improve the quality of meals, increase energy efficiency of cafeteria operations and boost participation in schools meals programs.
“Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, school districts throughout Illinois will now have healthier food offerings in their cafeterias,” said Governor Quinn. “This program is one example of what we are doing to make sure all children have access to nutritional food, helping them thrive in the classroom and in life.”
Schools participating in the National School Lunch program were eligible to apply for the grant. Priority was given to those programs in which at least 50 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced meals. (Click here for a list of funding recipients)
“Good nutrition gives children a better chance to succeed in the classroom,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “These funds will help schools improve their cafeteria equipment and the quality of the meals served for some of our neediest children across the state.”
Schools and facilities were required to identify at least one of the following federally-mandated priorities in their application:
- Equipment that lends itself to improving the quality of nutrition to meet dietary guidelines, such as purchasing an equipment alternative to a deep fryer.
- Equipment that improves the safety of food served in the school meal programs, such as cold/hot holding equipment, dishwashing equipment, refrigeration, milk coolers, freezers and blast chillers.
- Equipment that improves the overall energy efficiency of the school nutrition operations such as purchase of an energy-efficient, walk-in freezer replacing an outdated, energy-demanding freezer.
- Equipment that allows schools to support expanded participation in a school meal program, equipment for serving meals in a non-traditional setting or to better utilize cafeteria space.