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Preparing for Equipment Grant Season

Matthew Good, MS, RD, LD
There’s been some exciting news announced by the USDA via press release on October 11th, 2022. For FY 2022, an additional $50 million on top of the original $30 million is being provided for use in the annual NSLP Equipment Assistance Grant. Of note, this grant total has been $25 or $30 million since 2014. This additional funding will dramatically increase your state’s allocation, theoretically increasing your district’s chances for an award at the close of this year’s upcoming grant season. For example, in my state, Ohio, our original allocation was $985,299 based on the initial $30 million in funding. Now being increased to $80 million, Ohio’s allocation is boosted to $1,629,235, a 65% increase. You can find your state’s allocation here.
If your school district has never applied for or been previously overlooked for an award from this grant, this is not the year to be complacent.

Getting Started…

Many of you are most likely well-seasoned in applying for NSLP equipment grants. But if not, let me reassure you that the actual application process couldn’t be more straightforward. At least in Ohio, it’s as simple as filling a few fields into an online form. We’re talking minutes, not hours. The only time-consuming part comes with the preparation of following your state’s procurement protocols for obtaining quotes for your desired equipment. A little trick I’ve learned is getting those quotes out of the way early. Waiting until the last minute can lead to unnecessary anxiety and frustration, decreasing the follow-through of submitting your application.

Deciding On Equipment Needs…

Understanding the criteria for the grant is vital for award selection. This year is focused on the following:
  • Serving healthier meals, including those sourced from local foods;
  • Implementing scratch cooking;
  • Establishing or expanding school breakfast;
  • Storing fresh food;
  • Improving food safety.
When filling out the application, you’ll likely have to justify the requested equipment based on one of the above criteria. For example, i3 Education offers a variety of software and accompanying hardware solutions for school nutrition operations. Their PaySchools point-of-sale software (and all necessary accompanying hardware) could be justified by providing mobile terminals near school entrances for increased breakfast participation. Additionally, their cloud-based free and reduced application software, QuikApps, could be validated as a way to increase benefit accessibility, thus increasing breakfast participation.
Of course, justification is clear-cut if you need a new walk-in cooler to expand your scratch cooking capabilities or a new steam table to improve food safety. But if you’re already well-equipped, don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Meeting Procurement Guidelines…

Does your district need software and accompanying hardware to make your K-12 nutrition program processes simpler, safer, and smarter? At i3 Education, they’ve made the procurement process quick and easy for grant season. Click here to be taken to a simple online form. Their sales team is ready to provide you with the necessary information for your grant application today.

What Can I Do Right Now?

At the time of writing this article, I’m told that states are getting ready to roll out the NSLP Equipment Assistance Grant applications. Make sure you’ve subscribed to your state’s department of education nutrition services newsletter, which should provide updates on these issues.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, why not take a moment to follow i3 Education on social? We strive to provide priceless content regarding K-12 nutrition program operation, and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Matthew is a registered dietitian nutritionist and freelance content provider for i3 Education, with over a decade of experience in K-12 nutrition.

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