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Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
SNF Announces 2021 Equipment Grant Recipients
ARLINGTON, VA – The School Nutrition Foundation (SNF), the charitable arm of the non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA), today announced winners of its 2021 Equipment Grant Program. Five school nutrition professionals are each being awarded up to $65,000 worth of equipment to benefit their school meal programs.
Facing continued challenges stemming from the pandemic, school nutrition professionals around the country applied for SNF Equipment Grants in the fall of 2020, hoping for an opportunity to upgrade or improve their kitchen and cafeteria operations to benefit the students they serve. The 2021 Equipment Grants are made possible by generous contributions from Vulcan and Hobart (divisions of ITW Food Equipment Group), Winston Foodservice, CMA Dish Machines, Innoseal Systems, Cambro Manufacturing, Sterno Delivery Equipment, Lakeside Manufacturing Equipment, TekVisions and Unox Equipment.
The winners are:
Joni Besgrove, Food Service Director for Prairie Central CUSD #8 in Fairbury, IL – SNF Collection Grant recipient
Besgrove applied for the grant to help replace aging equipment her staff uses to feed the district’s 1,758 students. In just three years, the district has spent more than $38,000 on kitchen equipment repairs or replacements. “New equipment will help us improve the quality of food that we are preparing, especially since we wish to increase the amount of scratch cooking at each site,” said Besgrove.
Terrie Coggins, Child Nutrition Program Director for Oneonta City Schools in Oneonta, AL – SNF Vulcan Equipment Grant recipient
The 40-year-old ovens in Coggins’ kitchen are so outdated that replacements parts are no longer manufactured. Two steamers and a pass through cooler have stopped working and an additional heated holding cabinet is needed. Fully functioning, efficient equipment will allow Coggins’ team to develop new recipes for the district’s 1,400 students. Coggins looks forward to preparing more recipes from scratch, helping increase meal participation with the use of more fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Nadine Doucette, Director of Foodservices for Whitman-Hanson Regional School District in Whitman, MA – SNF Hobart Equipment Grant recipient
With this grant, Doucette plans to improve the kitchen facilities in Whitman-Hanson, including replacement of an aging stand mixer and adding a food slicer at the elementary school to offer fresh, daily deli sandwiches while saving on staff time and energy. Various pieces of kitchen equipment are no longer functional, including a commercial steamer, food warmer and a wooden prep area that must be replaced with stainless steel.
Robert Frati, Food Service Director for Methuen Public Schools in Methuen, MA – SNF Winston Equipment Grant recipient
Frati is eager replace aging equipment in his kitchens, which serve 7,000 students. Staff must plan menus based on what equipment is working. “Menu items that should be prepared in minutes can sometimes take hours,” says Frati. “At times, we’ve had to purchase prepared foods instead of scratch cooking, which raises our food costs.” Frati is planning to use this grant to replace a pair of double stack ovens and two steamers, original to the 1990 Marsh Grammar School kitchen, which continuously need repairs.
Lori McCoy, Food Service Director for Colonial School District in Lafayette Hill, PA – SNF Collection Grant recipient
In addition to aging equipment, short lunch periods and ineffective to-go packaging have challenged McCoy’s district, which serves 5,200 students. McCoy plans to add new mobile merchandiser carts and a sealer for take-home meals to help the department speed up service for students and increase sales. “Having new equipment can help us control labor costs, provide higher quality meals, serve students in a more timely manner and help our overall goal of increasing meal participation,” said McCoy.
The equipment companies will consult with grant recipients to customize the awarded equipment based on their unique needs and opportunities to improve school meal services. Equipment could include ovens, mixers, slicers, food processors, coolers and other refrigeration, holding cabinets, dish machines, package sealing equipment, steamers, insulated tote bags and more.
School meal programs operate on extremely tight budgets, funded by cafeteria sales and reimbursements for meals served. With revenue declines due to COVID-19 school closures and the shift between distance learning and hybrid models, many school meal programs lack critical funds to purchase necessary equipment and supplies or cover transportation, temporary staffing and other costs associated with current COVID-19 feeding programs.
“Amidst the challenges of the past year, school nutrition professionals on the frontlines have remained steadfast and unwavering in their efforts to ensure students’ access to healthy meals,” said School Nutrition Foundation Chair Julia Bauscher, SNS. “These grants support meal program operators with equipment upgrades that will be a great help in trying to get back on track and plan ahead for the 2021-22 school year.”
About School Nutrition Foundation:
The School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) is a 501(c)(3) and sister organization of the School Nutrition Association. SNF awards grants and scholarships to the men and women who feed the nation’s school children.
About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 50,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. For more information on school meals, visit www.SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals.