As the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has updated its nutrition standards for school meals, America's schools were finding themselves with a serious shortfall of sufficient resources to improve equipment, train staff and meet the new requirements. To help bridge this gap, Iowa Congressman Tom Latham has introduced the School Food Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill which helps schools replace outdated equipment and provide training to cafeteria staff on the proper preparation of safe, healthy meals all at no cost to the taxpayer.
"The health and safety of America's school kids should be a vital concern for all of us," Congressman Latham said. "Parents should be able to send their children to school without worrying that outdated and substandard conditions and practices could threaten their kid's health."
The School Food Modernization Act would help schools improve their meal programs in two ways. One part of the legislation would authorize a USDA competitive grant program through which schools could obtain training and technical assistance for foodservice employees. The program's goal is to provide training and technical assistance to a region, rather than to work through each state. Not more than $10 million of grant funds would be available per year.
The second part of the bill would assist school districts in the purchasing of major equipment or improvements of school kitchen and lunchroom facilities. Under this program, the USDA would guarantee loans from commercial banks, credit unions, and similar establishments at a time when schools can take advantage of very low interest rates. The USDA has a long and successful history of running this type of program; so much so that this program would be scored as "no cost" to taxpayers.