MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Jim Doyle and State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster today announced $1.3 million in Recovery Act funds for Wisconsin schools and residential child care institutions to purchase equipment to improve food service operations.
The funds will be used for enhancing nutrition, supporting food safety, improving energy-efficiency, facilitating expanded participation in meal programs and incorporating locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables into school lunch programs.
"A good, healthy lunch is essential for kids to grow and learn," Governor Doyle said. "Schools have had to stretch very tight budgets and that often means that some schools continue to use very old food service equipment. This immediate investment in school lunch programs will help us to give kids what they need to do well in school for years to come."
The funds will be shared by 73 school districts, 28 private schools, seven residential child care institutions, and four independent charter schools of varying size from throughout the state to purchase new food service equipment. The oldest food service equipment to be replaced by the awardees is an 83-year-old oven in the Bruce School District.
"These grants emphasize cost-savings, nutrition, and local producers, and will help our students, our schools, and our communities," noted State Superintendent Burmaster. "We can't forget that a hungry child can't learn. Reaching more students with nutritious meals will help close achievement gaps between economically disadvantaged students and their peers."
Applicants submitted 275 requests to purchase 1,546 pieces of equipment for a total of $10.4 million-more than eight times the amount of funding available. States were required to give priority to schools and institutions with high poverty rates, as measured by the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. To maximize the economic impact of the grants, the funding must be spent within three months.
The ARRA also provides funding for special education, services to economically disadvantaged students, homeless student education, school construction bonds, education technology, and other purposes.