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Office for Food and Nutrition Programs

School Nutrition Equipment Assistance for High Need Districts

To:School Nutrition Directors
From:Kathleen C. Millett, Executive Director
Office for Nutrition, Health, and Safety Programs
Date:March 23, 2011


In accordance with Section 7(a) (2) of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1776(a)(2)), the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) received a one-time appropriation of $25,000,000 for equipment assistance to eligible school food authorities (SFAs) participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). This one-time appropriation will be used for the purchase of equipment for schools under the jurisdiction of such authorities.

The NSLP Equipment Assistance Competitive Grants Program is similar in nature to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5, or "ARRA") equipment grants awarded in FY 2009, but should not be confused with them.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) will receive $346,140 for distribution to participating schools. Grants will be awarded by May 20, 2011 and must be obligated by August 31, 2011. Priority will be given to School Food Authorities that meet all of the following:

  • School Food Authorities with schools under their jurisdiction that did not receive approval for equipment under the ARRA grant in 2009;
  • Individual schools where 50% or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced meals based on October 2010 eligibility figures;
  • Schools that have the highest impact on the number of meals served to children (types of meals served and participation in other Child Nutrition Programs will also be taken into consideration); and
  • Schools that can fully obligate the NSLP grant awards within the timeframes established by ESE.

This is an opportunity to purchase equipment to increase participation in the program, and to address the school district's equipment needs. Consideration will be given to the SFAs' ability to justify their degree of need for the equipment based on a number of factors, including:

  • number of students who would benefit;
  • contribution to the enhancement of the quality of meal service;
  • availability of existing state and local funding for equipment purchases;
  • expected increase in participation in which school meals are served; and/or
  • SFAs' current budget and operating balance.

Priority will be given to the purchase of single pieces of equipment with a per unit acquisition cost of $5,000 or more such as: ovens; refrigerators; steamers; and freezers. Point of Sale Systems and serving line enhancements are not a priority. In the Proposal narrative on the school application, please indicate how the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) equipment assistance will address one or more of the following focus areas for ensuring effective use of this program (more points will be awarded for multiple focus areas being utilized by equipment requested):

  • Equipment that allows the SFAs to support and sustain expanded participation in the NSLP;
  • Equipment that lends itself to improving the quality of school food service meals;
  • Equipment that improves the safety of food served in the NSLP; and
  • Equipment that improves overall energy efficiency of the food service operation.

Equipment requests may include new equipment, renovation of equipment, or replacement of equipment. USDA regulations at 7 CFR 3016.3 and Office of Management and Budget Circular A-87 define equipment for the purpose of NSLP equipment assistance grants as articles of non-expendable, tangible personal property with a useful life of more than one year, and a per unit acquisition cost of $5,000. As with all federal grant funds, equipment procured using NSLP equipment assistance grant funds must be reasonable and allocable. Generally, using NSLP equipment assistance grant funds to purchase a walk-in freezer for school food service use would be an allowable cost; whereas renovation of the food service area would fall under the category of construction costs which must be borne by the school district's general fund.

The program application package that includes the school level information and budget form. Please complete:

  • Part I - General - Program Unit Signature Page - Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants - Please complete only one (1) form for the entire grant regardless of the number of schools applying for equipment (Public school districts- must be signed by the Superintendent or Chief Financial Officer; Private schools- must be signed by the Headmaster or Principal of the school; and Residential Child Care Institutions-must be signed by the Executive Director, CEO, or CFO of the organization).
    Send two (2) original signed copies of the abovementioned signature page to ESE.
  • Part II - Budget Detail Pages - Please complete only one (1) budget form (two pages in length) for the entire grant regardless of the number of schools applying for equipment.
    Send two (2) original copies of the above mentioned budget form to ESE.
  • Part III - School Level Information - Please complete one (1) school application for each school applying for equipment. List all pieces of equipment for the school on the same application with a breakdown of the cost for each piece of equipment.
    IMPORTANT: Please include copies of support documentation for equipment prices for each piece of equipment requested for funding as allowed in Chapter 30B (Uniform Procurement Act).
    If support documentation is not included with each school level application then the equipment request for that school will not be considered.
    Send only one (1) copy of the above mentioned School Level Information Application for each school where equipment is being requested to ESE.
    Please note that the $346,140 allocated for equipment purchase in Massachusetts is statewide. During the 2009 ARRA Equipment Assistance Grant application process, ESE awarded partial grants to schools, for example, funding one piece of equipment instead of the fives pieces requested. If a school is requesting more than one piece of equipment on the school application, please prioritize the purchases for the grant review team's consideration. Remember that a piece of equipment must have an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more.

The application is designed to capture essential information that is readily available and may be completed by a school or by the SFAs on behalf of their schools. Completed application packets must be submitted by the close of business on April 15, 2011.

All districts awarded grants will be required to report information and compliance with the grant language. Successful proposals will receive a reporting requirements template.

As a resource, the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI) has developed a resource for SFAs entitled "Equipment Purchasing and Facility Design for School Nutrition Programs," which includes information on decision making for purchase of school food service equipment. This resource is available on NFSMI's website at

If you have any questions, please contact Mary Anne Gilbert at (781) 338-6493 or by email at or Diane Sylvia at (781) 338-6464 or by email at We hope that you will consider taking part in the Equipment Assistance Program.

Last Updated: March 29, 2011
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