Jessica Donze Black, an expert with The Pew Charitable Trust's initiative on child nutrition, issued the following statement on the School Food Modernization Act, S. 2210.
"We are pleased that Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) have introduced the bipartisan School Food Modernization Act to help schools upgrade kitchen facilities and train personnel to serve healthy meals. This action builds on the support for improving school foods that Congress has already demonstrated.
"Schools across the country are serving healthy foods that meet strong nutrition standards. But many must rely on costly and unsustainable workarounds because they lack the right tools and staff training. In fact, 88 percent of school districts around the country say that they need at least one piece of new kitchen equipment, and 64 percent face challenges with staff training. This bill will help schools remove these obstacles so that they may more efficiently and safely serve the healthy foods that students need.
"The foods served in schools are now healthier than ever—an important achievement considering that 31 million students consume more than half of their daily calories at school. The School Food Modernization Act will help to build on school officials' and parents' strong desire to continue this progress."
The School Food Modernization Act
The School Food Modernization Act would establish both loan and grant assistance programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help schools upgrade their kitchens and dining areas and acquire new equipment. It would also authorize funding for training of and technical assistance to school food service personnel throughout the country. A bipartisan House version of this legislation, H.R. 1783, was introduced by Representatives Tom Latham (R–IA) and Mike McIntyre (D–NC) in 2013.
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