06/25/2019 – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics joins FoodCorps and United Fresh Produce Association in commending the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives on the introduction of the School Food Modernization Act of 2019.
The Academy calls on Congress to pass legislation, which will expand schools' ability to modernize kitchen infrastructure and equipment, as well as strengthen workforce training. The bills were introduced in Congress with bipartisan support by Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Tina Smith (Minn.) and Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (Calif.) and Glenn Thompson (Pa.).
"The National School Lunch Program feeds nearly 30 million children each year, with more than 4.8 billion school meals served nationwide in 2018. In order for our schools to have the ability to feed children nutritious meals, they need optimally functioning kitchen equipment," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Terri J. Raymond.
The National School Lunch Program is 73 years old this year and the equipment in many of the program’s more than 95,000 schools is nearly as old. "This year, I replaced two ovens that were from 1972 — they were in use for 47 years," said nutrition and dietetics technician, registered and Academy member Jeanne Reilly, director of School Nutrition, Windham Raymond School Department in Windham, Maine. "When talking to my colleagues in the state and across the country, there is a real need for equipment in school districts across the country. I'm thrilled that my senator understands the needs of school nutrition professionals and introducing legislation that can help address equipment and infrastructure needs across the country."
The School Food Modernization Act includes a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan assistance program to help schools acquire new equipment; provides grant assistance for purchase of high-quality kitchen equipment; and also provides training and technical assistance to school foodservice personnel to help them meet and exceed nutritional standards and improve the effectiveness of their school lunch and breakfast programs.
"The Academy is proud to support equipment grants for schools to serve nutritious and delicious meals to children," Raymond said. "The Academy is committed to supporting a healthy today and tomorrow for all children."