USDA Allocates $5.5M to Help Schools Serve Healthier Lunches

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving schools $5.5 million in training grants, in addition to the $25 million being allocated this year for new kitchen equipment, to help districts prepare healthier meals.

“Our kids today are growing up in a very competitive economy and in this competitive economy it’s going to be very important for them and their country to be on top of their game,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Friday.

The training grants will be used to help schools comply with a rule USDA finalized this week that requires all personnel in school nutrition programs to complete annual training. It also sets minimum education standards in hiring personnel to manage and operate the national school lunch and school breakfast programs.

The kitchen equipment funding, Vilsack said, will help schools install salad bars and to transition from fried to baked food options.

The funding announcement comes just days after Republicans launched the latest attack against first lady Michelle Obama’s prized healthy school lunch regulations, a main component of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which Congress is expected to reauthorize this year.