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Bringing Freshness to School Lunches: The Scratch Cooked Meals for Students Act 


In an effort to boost the health and well-being of students nationwide, lawmakers in CA, PA, and CT, have introduced an initiative known as the Scratch Cooked Meals for Students Act, which aims to transform the way school meals are prepared by focusing on scratch cooking rather than pre-packaged or processed meals. 


Why the change?  

Several studies have shown that school meals play a pivotal role in students’ nutrition. With scratch cooking, schools can provide healthier, more appetizing, and culturally relevant meals to students while also contributing to environmental and economic sustainability. Scratch cooking in schools also promotes a farm-to-table system where schools get their ingredients straight from nearby farms, which helps ensure product freshness and lower food costs by reducing distribution fees.  


What are the key details? 

The Scratch Cooked Meals for Students Act will offer incentives to switch schools to scratch cooking, including: 

  1. Grant Funds: The act will allocate $100 million over five years to provide funding to schools interested in switching to scratch cooking. This money can cover everything from training staff to getting new kitchen equipment. 

  1. Priority for High-Need Communities: Grants will first go to school districts with a high percentage of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch. Preference will also be given to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and School Food Authorities (SFAs) with collective bargaining agreements or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in place. 

  1. Technical Assistance Center: The bill proposes the creation of a Technical Assistance Center at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This center will collaborate with non-profit organizations to assist and support grant recipients, ensuring the successful implementation of scratch cooking initiatives. 


How can School Food and Wellness Support? 

Understanding that transitioning to a scratch cooking program can be daunting, especially with budget constraints and limited resources. We at School Food and Wellness Group have extensive experience in meal program operations, with a combined 60+ years of experience in helping schools navigate this shift.  

We provide: 

  1. Site Review: Our team will do an initial onsite assessment to review the kitchen space and will develop a detailed plan to help upgrade the space to support scratch cooking. 

  1. Tailored Consulting Services: From planning menus to redesigning kitchen spaces, we will guide you through every step to ensure a seamless transition. 

  1. Grant Application Support: We can help your school apply for grants to support your scratch cooking endeavors. 

  1. Ongoing Support: Our team offers continued assistance and management of the program to ensure success and sustainability. 


The Scratch Cooked Meals for Students Act isn't just about food—it's about building a brighter, healthier future for our school communities. Whether you’re looking for funding to transition to scratch cooking or are ready to make the change now, our team of operators, chefs, dietitians, and project managers, is ready to support your endeavors. Contact us today at hello@sfwgroup.org to schedule a FREE consultation today! 

 

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