Healthy Meals Incentives | Food and Nutrition Service

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) established the Healthy Meal Incentive Initiative to improve the nutritional quality of school meals through transforming food systems, recognizing school food authority and technical assistance, generating and sharing innovative ideas and tested practices, and grants.

Basic activities

Healthy Meal Incentive Appreciation Awards for School Food Authority

Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, the Food and Nutrition Program will offer Healthy Meal Incentive Recognition Awards to celebrate School Food Authorities (SFAs) that have made significant improvements in the nutritional quality of their school meals. Best practices from the winners will be shared and recognized.

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Granting healthy meal incentives to small school and/or rural food authorities

In the Spring/Summer 2023, FNS will provide competitive grants (up to $150,000 per grant) to small and/or rural financial facilities that are facing challenges in improving the nutritional quality of their school meals. Drawbacks include, but are not limited to, staff shortages, difficulty in accessing training, increased food costs, lack of physical space, and outdated kitchen equipment. These grants are intended to help small and/or rural funds overcome these challenges, improve school meal nutrition, and meet the criteria of the Healthy Meals Incentive Recognition Award.

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School Food Systems Transformation Challenge Scholarships

Beginning in the spring of 2023, FNS will support development and innovative solutions to transform food services from kindergarten through secondary education. Through partnerships between different entities, the goal is to create a flexible, equitable and nutritious school diet. As part of these grants, grant recipients will work with industry partners (agricultural producers, farmers, processors, etc.) to develop innovative solutions to provide nutritious foods for school meals.

Summits for healthy meals

FNS will host two Healthy Meals Summits for Healthy Meal Incentive Recognition Award recipients and School Food Systems Transformation Grants. During the summits, attendees will share best practices and strategies to maintain their achievements.

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The above healthy meal incentive activities are expected to increase the use, and therefore demand, of nutritious agricultural commodities, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits as well as food products that reflect different cultures. These efforts also aim to enhance the access of small and rural school food authorities to nutritious agricultural commodities through the transformation of food systems and grants to small and rural school food authorities.

Collect and share best practices regarding school food authorities’ use of nutritious agricultural commodities in school meals, as well as incentivizing practices such as nutrition education (including farm-to-school nutrition education), the use of local agricultural products in zero-cooking, and is also expected to benefit the development of List of culturally diverse school meals indirectly producers who supply food products to schools.


Request for Applications: Develop and implement Healthy Meal Incentive Recognition Awards and Sub-grants for the School Food Authority Cooperative Agreement.

  • FNS plans to enter into a cooperative agreement with a non-governmental entity that will develop and implement Healthy Meal Incentive Recognition Awards, grant Healthy Meal Incentives to small/rural enterprises, and plan and implement Healthy Meal Summits.
  • RFA is open from September 23, 2022 until November 28, 2022
  • View the taped webinar starting October 6, 2022 at 2:00 PM ET

Note: School Food Systems Transformation Grants will be supported by a separate cooperative agreement that is not part of this funding application.

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