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Issue Date: Vol. 49, No.4, April 2009, Posted On: 4/9/2009

Star Food’s School Meals Vender Meets Criteria For USDA Aid Grant

Emily Jed
Vending, Vending Machine, Automatic Retailing, Coin-op, Star Food, Joe Gilbert, USDA, Grants, Equipment Assistance Grants for School Food Authorities, National School Lunch Program, Foodservice, Reimbursable Meals, Schools

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL -- The USDA has published the requirements for "2009 Equipment Assistance Grants for School Food Authorities" authorized by Public Law 111-5. The grants will be made from a one-time appropriation of $100 million for equipment assistance to school food authorities participating in the National School Lunch Program.

According to the USDA, the intent of this grant is to infuse the funds quickly into the economy. Schools must apply by June 8, 2009.

Joe Gilbert, vice-president and general manager of Star Food, explained that USDA's Food and Nutrition Service recognizes that specially designed and equipped reimbursable meal machines will play an expanding role in the operation of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program.

Personnel policies, labor costs, pressure on lunchroom space, class schedules and limited time all contribute to the need to explore more efficient and effective methods of delivering important nutritional benefits to students and maintaining schools' revenue streams.

Star Food offers a reimbursable-meal vender designed specifically for school foodservice. It can deliver meals that contain all the components required under the School Lunch Program, and its payment system's cashless capability allows these meals to be delivered at the full or reduced price, or free.

The vender qualifies as equipment eligible for the new grants, Gilbert reported. "This grant means schools will now have the money to buy the 21st-Century technology tools that will help them feed far more kids on the reimbursable meal program," he explained.

Gilbert, who also maintains a website for the school foodservice profession at reimbursablemeals.com, noted that automation has a crucial role to play in meeting childhood nutrition needs.

"On a national average only about 38% of the population of a high school can be served within the short time allotted for lunch, so schools are missing many of their students," he reported. "Students can typically wait in line for up to 20 minutes to be served lunch, leaving them with a very short amount of time to eat."

The USDA grants, coupled with the Star Food reimbursable meal machine, represent a solution to the problem. "From what we are already hearing, school nutritionists are elated that the pieces are coming together so they can feed more kids," Gilbert observed.

Information may be had at the website, or from Star Food at (877) 857-FOOD.

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