POWER — Power Public Schools was recently awarded $137,945 from Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) to upgrade kitchen facilities, modify recipes, and add Farm to School infrastructure, with the goal of improving the nutritional quality of school meals in Power.
"The grant is vitally important to Power because we do not have any walk-in freezers or walk-in coolers," said Power Public Schools School Nutrition Director, Laura Toeckes. "I had a three-door reach-in freezer, a two-door reach-in freezer and a chest freezer to serve a hundred and some odd children. Our goal in Power is to obtain local foods to provide to our students, and without sufficient storage, we were unable to do a lot of that. We can do a little bit here and there, but we can't do a lot."
The Healthy Meals Incentives grant is part of an allocation of nearly $30 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service to 264 schools across 44 states and the District of Columbia.
Power Public Schools noted that they take pride in serving locally sourced ingredients to their students. This grant is said to increase their storage space, therefore providing them the opportunity to expand the local ingredient offerings to their student body.
Explaining the process to receive the grant, Toeckes said, "there was about a two-month time frame which you could apply. The USDA had granted some funds to the Healthy Meals Incentive program, and they had questions you needed to answer, and you had to say what you wanted to purchase and how much it was to support the amount that you wanted. The maximum amount of the grants were $150,000, and we ended up coming up with items to a little over $137,000 for the grant."
As part of the Healthy Meals Incentives grant program, AFHK and its partners will provide Power Public Schools with in-depth individualized technical assistance to support the implementation of key strategies in improving school meal quality.
"Last fall, we went to the farm to school Institute, and Montana Farm to School Institute," Toeckes said. "Many schools applied and three were selected. Hamilton and Saint Ignatius were the other two, but while we were there, it helped us focus our attention as to how to implement farm to school. Here at Power. I'd been doing things by purchasing local items. We had local beef, we had local honey, we had local wheat, but we wanted to expand."
An online map on the Healthy Meals Incentives website features the selected school districts and their grant amounts. The map will be updated on a rolling basis as school districts formalize their grant agreements.
Link to the map: https://healthymealsincentives.org/grantees/