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MoCo School Food Nutrition Receives $134,000 Grant

Courtesy of Montgomery County Schools

The Montgomery County School Food Nutrition Department has received a $134,000 grant to help continue to improve the school’s lunch options.

Together, with Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) and USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Montgomery County Schools is dedicated to strengthening school meals to improve children’s health. As part of the Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative, we are excited to share that Montgomery County Schools was awarded a grant to support our efforts to improve the nutritional quality of school meals. The Healthy Meals Incentives grant is part of an allocation of nearly $30 million by the USDA FNS to 264 school districts across 44 states and the District of Columbia.

“These grants are the largest targeted investment USDA has ever made for school meal programs in small and rural communities,” said Stacy Dean, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “We want to ensure every child in America has the opportunity to attend a school with high-quality, nutritious meals, and this support is a step in that direction.”

As part of the Healthy Meals Incentives grant program, AFHK and its partners will provide us with in-depth individualized technical assistance to support and guide the implementation of key strategies to improve school meal quality, as well as help us to develop creative solutions to provide nutritious foods for the children we serve.

“Offering healthier school meals is key to helping our nation’s kids get the nutrients they need today and for their long-term development,” said Rob Bisceglie, CEO of Action for Healthy Kids. “Through this historic investment in school nutrition, we will help school districts across the country overcome challenges and develop solutions to provide nutritious foods for the children they serve.”

Montgomery County Schools Food & Nutrition Director Kristen Garland said that when she applied for the grant that she was doubtful that we would be selected to be one of the schools to receive the grant. “We are so excited to have been selected and have already begun planning how we can best use this grant to improve our school nutrition here at Montgomery County Schools,” she emphasized.

The school recently implemented a change to their middle and high school lunches by offering Smart Mouth Pizza, a healthy pizza menu option that students may select each day. These pizzas cost $3 each, and feature various toppings each day.

According to Garland, this new grant will allow the school to purchase nutritional analysis software that will keep us in compliance with the USDA's menu requirements for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, provide new and updated equipment in the kitchens, provide proper training for staff by contracting with a school food nutrition focused chef, and help to engage the student population through student advisory committees at each school, which will help with taste testing and student approval. “We are looking to create 5 new menu options for the 202425 school year that the students taste test during this school year. Our chef will work with these committees to create these menu items. We will provide these student committees with nutrition education they can share with their peers, as well,” she elaborated.

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