Minnesota schools will receive more than $465,000 in grants to buy food service equipment to serve healthier meals, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday.
The grants will go to state agencies, which will award money to districts and give priority to schools where at least half the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, Vilsack said as he toured the St. Paul Public Schools nutrition center.
Vilsack called St. Paul an innovator for its work with local farmers and its ability to package healthier, nutritious meals.
Schools nationwide will receive $25 million to upgrade their equipment, said Vilsack who was joined by Sen. Al Franken, Rep. Betty McCollum, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, agriculture and school leaders.
More than 90 percent of schools in the country report that they are meeting updated nutrition standards and serve meals with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy, and less sodium and fat, according to the USDA. Children do better academically when they are well-fed, Vilsack added.
As summer approaches, Vilsack said, many students who depend on school lunches will be without food for summer break. He urged people to call the National Hunger Hotline to find local information on where children can eat for the summer.
The phone number is 1-866-3HUNGRY or 1-877-8HAMBRE for Spanish speakers.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story reported incorrectly that 90 percent of schools in the country were not meeting updated nutrition standards.