Sending Office: Honorable Kim Schrier
Sent By:
Jennifer.Cash@mail.house.gov

Members: Alcee L. Hastings, Mark DeSaulnier, Ilhan Omar, Jimmy Panetta, Harley Rouda, Sheila Jackson Lee, Tulsi Gabbard, Jahana Hayes, David Scott, Ro Khanna

Dear Colleague:

Please join our letter to Ag Subcommittee Appropriators supporting $35 million in funding for the USDA School Kitchen Equipment Grants Program, an increase of $5 million.

Many school kitchens were built decades ago and designed with little capacity beyond reheating and holding food for dining service. Just one new appliance or serving station can have considerable benefits for meal programs and students. Without the right
tools, school districts rely on expensive, unsustainable workarounds. This is especially important at a time when we are focusing on improving school nutrition and setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating. It doesn’t matter how healthy foods are
if our children won’t eat them. Let’s give our schools the tools they need to make healthy food taste great.

This letter also includes a request to include language lowering the minimum grant amount from $5,000 to $1,000, similar to that which was included in the FY2019 Omnibus Bill.

If you have questions, or wish to sign onto the letter in support of this critical funding for life-saving research, please contact Jennifer Cash (jennifer.cash@mail.house.gov) in Rep. Schrier’s office. The deadline to sign on is COB, March 29th,
2019.

 

XXXX XX, 2019

The Honorable Sanford Bishop

The Honorable Robert B. Aderholt

Dear Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Aderholt:

As you prepare the Committee’s FY 2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill, we respectfully ask that you fund school kitchen equipment grants at a level of at least $35 million to enable schools to serve healthier, more nutritious meals by modernizing their
kitchens and updating the essential equipment needed to prepare foods that our children will enjoy. We further request you include report language lowering the minimum limit for school equipment from $5,000 to $1,000 to allow schools the flexibility to procure
equipment needed the most.

Since 2009, Congress has made funding available to schools for the purchase of updated school kitchen equipment through the USDA School Kitchen Equipment Grant program. This support is vital, as nearly 90% of schools need at least one piece of updated kitchen
equipment and many school administrators lack the funds needed to make these investments. Many school kitchens were built decades ago and designed with little capacity beyond reheating and holding food for dining service. Without the right tools, school districts
rely on expensive, unsustainable workarounds. This is especially important at a time when we are focusing on improving school nutrition and setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating. It doesn’t matter how healthy foods are if our children won’t eat
them. Let’s give our schools the tools they need to make healthy food taste great.

While access to funding for more costly equipment remains important, lowering the threshold provides flexibility to schools to address the needs most important to their program. Federal regulations (2 CFR Part 200.33) dictate that equipment purchased through
federal grant programs have a minimum value of $5,000. Research indicates that much of the equipment needed most in schools falls well below that threshold. For example, large capacity food processors have an average cost of $1,941 and mobile milk coolers
have an average cost of $3,110. A report from the Pew Charitable Trusts identified slicing fruits and vegetables and serving produce in salad bars as the most effective strategies to increase consumption by students. Yet, salad bars and automated slicers or
sectionizers often fall below the $5,000 threshold.

Accordingly, we further request the inclusion of the language below within the FY2020 Committee Report, similar to that which was included in the FY2019 Omnibus Bill:

That of the total amount available to provide competitive grants to State agencies for subgrants to local educational agencies and schools to purchase the equipment, with a value of greater than $1,000, needed to serve healthier meals, improve food safety,
and to help support the establishment, maintenance, or expansion of the school meals program.

We very much appreciate your commitment to school nutrition and your leadership in devoting $35 million in funding for competitive school kitchen equipment grants in FY 2020, and we urge you to again support these vital educational priorities by funding
school kitchen equipment grants at that level or greater for FY 2020. We can think of no better way to support local educators, school food service, and students.

Sincerely,

 

KIM SCHRIER, M.D.

Member of Congress

 

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Agriculture, Appropriations, Labor, Trade

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