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Reimbursement & Funding
Sponsors are reimbursed for meals served to students that meet meal pattern requirements. Each month, sponsors must submit claims for reimbursement in the CO Nutrition Portal.
CDE Funding Opportunities
CDE Office of Grants Program Administration is dedicated to enhancing school improvement through federal and state grant opportunities. Education professionals can find detailed information on grants, awards, and other relevant opportunities available through various CDE offices.
Additionally, the Grants and Awards Forecast is updated regularly to reflect current and upcoming funding and award opportunities. Current opportunities, links to specific program information, Requests for Applications, and recorded webinars are available. The forecast also highlights due dates, available funding, and eligibility criteria, as well as contact information for each program.
Available Grants and Funding:
School Food Authorities (SFAs) are encouraged to apply for grant funding or utilize available funding to support program innovation, expand access to meals and improve program quality. Current funding opportunities are listed below:
USDA Equipment Grant
The School Nutrition Unit competitively awards U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Equipment Assistance Grants to eligible school food authorities participating in the National School Lunch Program. These funds allow SFAs to:
- Serve healthier school meals that meet the meal patterns with emphasis on more fruits and vegetables.
- Improve food safety.
- Support the establishment, maintenance, or expansion of the School Breakfast Program.
Please see the Request for Applications doc for details on the grant. Grant applications must be submitted in GAINS no later than Thurs., Dec. 14, 2023, by 4 pm. To learn more about the grant and the application process, please view these trainings:
- The Equipment Assistance Grant training covers grant guidelines, application information, and the award process.
- The GAINS training shows how to complete the equipment grant application in GAINS.
For questions, contact Diane Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org at 720-595-8042.
Local Food Program (LFP)
Approximately $500,000 was awarded to 31 School Food Authorities participating in the final pilot year of the Local Food Program for the purchase of Colorado grown, raised, processed, and value-added products. This program helps bolster farm to school activities, fosters nutrition education, and supports Colorado producers, farmers, and ranchers by encouraging SFAs to procure local products.
- HB-1132 Final Bill (PDF)
- HB-1300 Technical Changes Bill (PDF)
- 2022 Local Food Program Legislative Report (PDF)
- Local Food Program Estimator Tool. All eligible sponsors participating in the Healthy School Meals for All program can receive LFP funding in School Year 2024-25. Sponsors can use the estimator tool to see anticipated award amounts in SY 2024-25.
Wages and Stipends
Through the Healthy School Meals for All Program, eligible SFAs have the option to receive a minimum of $3,000 or $0.12 per school lunch served in previous school year to provide wage increases or stipends to employees that directly prepare and serve SBP/NSLP meals. Sponsors can use the Wages & Stipends Estimator Tool to see anticipated award amounts in SY 2024-25.
Supply Chain Assistance Funds
Supply chain assistance funds are distributed to school food authorities to purchase unprocessed or minimally processed domestic food products (also referred to as commodities) to help SFAs deal with challenges, such as unanticipated cancellation of food and supply contracts, reduced availability of certain foods, unexpected substitution of certain products, unpredictable increases in food and supply prices, and other obstacles related to pricing and/or availability.
Local Food for Schools Cooperative Grant (LFS)
The CDE School Nutrition Unit received funding through the USDA Local Food for Schools Cooperative Grant. These funds will be sub-awarded to districts in the form of reimbursements for local food purchases of unprocessed or minimally processed food that is grown, raised, produced, aggregated, stored or distributed within Colorado or 400 miles from production to destination. This funding will allow school food authorities to increase the quality and nutrition of school meals, and support local and regional food systems, further benefiting student health and educational outcomes.
To participate in this program and fund local food purchases, follow these steps:
- Complete the opt-in form
- View the webinar recording for more information about the grant
- Complete the tracker for all purchases throughout the life cycle of the grant (sponsors will receive the tracker after you submit the opt-in form)
- Purchase from socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and small businesses whenever possible
- Submit a completed tracker by the 15th of the month following the end of the quarter. CDE will submit for reimbursement on your behalf
Districts that received a grant award letter for the Colorado Local Food Purchasing Program (HB-1132) for School Year 2022-23, must expend those funds first before the Local Food for School Cooperative Grant funds can be requested.
Sponsors are encouraged to apply for grant funding to support program innovation, expand access to meals and improve program quality. Recurring funding opportunities and grant writing resources are listed below.
School Nutrition Unit Grants Received
Blueprint Implementation Grant
In 2020, the School Nutrition Unit was awarded a three year implementation grant from The Colorado Health Foundation in collaboration with the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger. This grant allows School Nutrition to support SFA's and sponsors to maximize participation in child nutrition programs in new and innovative ways. This includes:
- providing in-person 1:1 technical assistance across the state
- expanding on existing meal quality work through new hands-on culinary trainings
- improving data utilization in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
- and much more
The award came after a year of detailed planning and gathering SFA & Sponsor input from across the state. The needs assessment included both the statewide survey and key informant interviews to gain greater insight of the opportunities & barriers to increasing participation in, and access to, federal child nutrition programs.