Fourteen Kansas schools will be able to expand their school breakfast programs thanks to a grant totaling more than $90,0000 from the 2016 Fuel Up to Play 60 School Nutrition Grant Program.
Representatives from the Kansas State Department of Education, the Midwest Dairy Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture gathered Thursday, Oct. 13, at Washburn Rural Middle School in Topeka for a check presentation.
“This will ensure that more students have access to nutritious foods,” said Cheryl Johnson, director of KSDE’s Child Nutrition and Wellness Team. “Nutritious meals allow students to study more efficiently and perform better throughout the school day.”
School breakfasts play an important role in the health and well-being of students. Students who eat breakfast have better memory, attention and behavior. They also perform better on tests, according to research and the Midwest Dairy Council.
Last school year, Kansas schools served more than 111,000 breakfasts and 327,922 lunches each day.
Innovative ideas, such as grab-and-go breakfast carts, allow students who may not have time to eat breakfast to get the nutrition they need.
Sabetha dairy farmer Dwight Rokey presented the check to Johnson.
“Dairy farmers in our state are proud to present these grants to Kansas schools that are continuing to make sustainable changes in the lives of their students,” Rokey said.
The funds will be distributed in the coming weeks to 14 qualifying school districts throughout the state. The districts will then distribute the money to specific schools to fund innovative programs or to add new school menu offerings, such as yogurt-based smoothies.
Districts receiving the grants are: Andover USD 385, Anthony-Harper USD 361, Auburn-Washburn USD 437, Baxter Springs USD 508, Chanute USD 413, Ellsworth Kanopolis Geneseo USD 327, Fort Scott USD 234, Hoisington USD 431, Hugoton USD 210, Iola USD 257, Olathe USD 233, Oxford USD 358, Pratt USD 382, Spring Hill USD 230.
Auburn-Washburn used its grant of $5,000 to purchase a breakfast cart, which allows Washburn Rural Middle School to begin a grab-and-go program to increase school breakfast participation.
Rokey presented the $5,000 check to Stan Vallis, food service supervisor for Auburn-Washburn USD 437.
“We are thrilled to have been chosen as a recipient of the school nutrition equipment grants,” Vallis said. “These funds enabled Washburn Rural Middle School to purchase a portable breakfast cart, which has provided our students with easy access to our grab- and-go breakfast each school morning. Thank you to Fuel Up to Play 60 for making this grant possible and to the Kansas dairy farmers for their commitment to the kids in our school and district.”
Fuel Up to Play 60 School Nutrition Grants were available to qualifying K-12 schools enrolled in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which is supported by the 300 dairy farmers throughout Kansas who have made a commitment to youth wellness by funding projects that provide access to healthy and nutritious school meals.
Seeing a need to create healthier environments in schools throughout the Midwest, dairy farmers provide funding to the Fuel Up to Play 60 program and the School Nutrition Grants program, which allows schools to apply for up to $5,000 in total value. The funds are to be used toward the purchase of equipment and infrastructure upgrades that will enhance school breakfast and lunch programs, ensuring all students have access to more nutritious foods.
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.
“Midwest Dairy Council’s 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 Melissa Young, vice president of health and wellness for Midwest Dairy Council.
To learn more about the program, visit https://www.fueluptoplay60.com/funding/nutrition-equipment-grant.