Representatives DeSaulnier, Barletta Reintroduce Legislation to Modernize School Cafeterias
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) joined with Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA) to reintroduce the bipartisan School Food Modernization Act today, which would help local schools replace outdated kitchen equipment in an effort to provide healthy and nutritious meals to students. A national survey indicates that 88 percent of school districts need at least one piece of new kitchen equipment, and 55 percent require infrastructure changes.
“We have made important strides encouraging more nutritious food for our students, but too often school kitchen equipment is outdated, making it difficult to adequately prepare healthy options. Research shows that there is a statically significant increase in test scores among students who consume healthier meals. It is time we put our money where our mouths are, and give our schools the resources needed to serve healthier options that promote greater academic achievement,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.
“We need a permanent solution to ensure that our schools have the tools they need to serve our kids healthier meals,” Congressman Barletta said. “Too many of our nation’s schools have deep fryers when they really need walk-in refrigerators and freezers to keep fresh fruits and vegetables longer. They have microwaves meant to reheat pre-packaged foods when they really need something as simple as a knife and cutting board. By giving schools better access to modern kitchen equipment and infrastructure, while also strengthening workforce training, we do just that. It will result in improved focus in the classroom, and ultimately, a lifetime of healthier eating habits.”
The School Food Modernization Act:
- Allows schools to participate in a loan assistance program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help them acquire new kitchen equipment and build new infrastructure. Schools would be eligible for federal guarantees up to 80 percent of the loan.
- Provides targeted grant assistance to give school administrators and food service directors seed money for less extensive infrastructure upgrades or purchases of high-quality, durable kitchen equipment such as commercial ovens, steamers, and stoves.
- Strengthens training and provides technical assistance to school food service personnel, many of whom need additional skills and expertise to prepare healthier meals.
- Increases Congressional oversight by requiring reports on the use of workforce training funds and the progress of the programs authorized within this bill.
Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced companion legislation in the Senate. In the House, Congressman Glen “G.T.” Thompson is also co-sponsoring the bill. Additionally, fifty organizations sent a letter to Congressmen DeSaulnier and Barletta and Senators Collins and Heitkamp in support of the bill.