President Obama's proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year, announced today, could provide a small boost to school kitchens.
The budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Agriculture includes $23.7 billion in discretionary spending, about $938 million less than the enacted 2014 level.
The proposal includes an additional $35 million in school equipment grants, which will allow food-service directors to update cafeteria kitchens.
About 88 percent of 3,459 food-service directors recently surveyed by Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said they needed additional equipment to adequately prepare meals. About 55 percent of respondents said they need infrastructure changes, like additional space for food storage and service. New school nutrition standards, which call for more fresh produce and grains, have fueled a need for upgrades, they said.
The USDA recently awarded $11 million in grants for school cafeteria equipment. The budget proposal would build on that.
Spending for school meals was included in the recently passed, nearly $1 trillion Farm bill.
Photo: Arlington Public Schools food service workers discuss the day's lunch service for Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia.USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.