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USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has established the Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative to improve the nutritional quality of school meals through food systems transformation, school food authority recognition and technical assistance, the generation and sharing of innovative ideas and tested practices, and grants.

Key Activities
Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Awards for School Food Authorities

Starting school year 2023-24, FNS will provide Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Awards to celebrate school food authorities (SFAs) that have made significant improvements to the nutritional quality of their school meals. Best practices from the awardees will be shared and recognized. Find more information about the Recognition Awards.

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Healthy Meals Incentives Grants for Small and/or Rural School Food Authorities

In spring/summer 2023, FNS will work with Action for Healthy Kids to offer competitive grants (up to $150,000 per grant) for small and/or rural SFAs to support their efforts to improve the  nutritional quality of their school meals and meet the HMI Recognition Awards criteria. 

FNS and Action for Healthy Kids expect to announce a Request for Applications (RFA) in spring 2023.  SFAs that participate in the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program and meet the RFA's definition of small and/or rural will be eligible to apply. 

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School Food System Transformation Challenge Sub-Grants

Starting in spring 2023, FNS will support the development and innovative solutions for K-12 food service transformation. Through partnerships between various entities, the goal is to create a resilient, equitable, and nutritious school food system. As part of these grants, grantees will work with industry partners (agricultural producers, growers, processors, etc.) to develop creative solutions to provide nutritious foods for school meals.

Healthy Meals Summits

FNS will host two Healthy Meals Summits for Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Award recipients; and School Food Systems Transformation grantees. During the summits, attendees will share best practices and strategies for sustaining their achievements.


Learn More

The Healthy Meals Incentives activities noted above are expected to increase utilization, and thereby demand, for nutritious agricultural commodities, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits as well as food products that reflect various cultures. These efforts are also positioned to strengthen small and rural school food authorities’ access to nutritious agricultural commodities through food systems transformation and grants to small and rural school food authorities.

The collection and sharing of best practices regarding school food authorities’ use of nutritious agricultural commodities in school meals, as well as the incentivization of practices such as nutrition education (including farm to school nutrition education), use of local agricultural products in scratch cooking, and the development of culturally-diverse school meal menu items is also expected to indirectly benefit producers that supply food products to schools.