The USDA is rewarding Delaware’s efforts to ensure hungry kids in First State schools are certified for federal supplemental nutrition programs.
The state’s School Nutrition Program is taking home a nearly $340,000 performance grant for getting 100 percent of eligible children certified for the federal aid.
Program manager for the state’s school nutrition programs Aimee Beam says Delaware did away with a “letter method” of certifying children, replacing it with an automated process to reach that benchmark.
“[The automated system] gives eligible children access to the free meals possibly sooner than in the past,’ said Beam. “Our goal here, especially at DOE, is to make sure that [the children's] needs are being met and we know that if children are hungry that really can have trouble learning. So it’s really important for us to ensure that if they qualify for these meals that we get them those services.”
To be eligible for the award, states had to meet federally mandated 80 percent benchmark for direct certification.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2012 established performance awards to encourage states to get more eligible kids to participate in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Beam says possible uses for the award money include upgrading equipment to implement meal pattern changes and funding training programs for local nutrition staff.