Healthy Meals Incentives | Food and Nutrition Service

Amanda Gerla

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. 

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

In spring/summer 2023, FNS will offer competitive grants (up to $150,000 per grant) for small and/or rural SFAs that are experiencing challenges improving the nutritional quality of their school meals. Barriers include, but are not limited to staffing shortages, difficulty accessing training, increased food costs, lack of physical space, and outdated kitchen equipment. These grants are intended to help small and/or rural SFAs overcome these challenges, improve the nutrition of school meals, and meet Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Award criteria.

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School Food Systems Transformation Challenge 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.


Request for Applications: The Development and Implementation of Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Awards and Sub-Grants for School Food Authorities Cooperative Agreement.

  • FNS plans to enter into a cooperative agreement with a non-governmental entity that will develop and implement the Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Awards, Healthy Meals Incentives Grants for Small/Rural SFAs, and the planning and implementation of the Healthy Meals Summits.  
  • The RFA is open from Sept. 23, 2022 through Nov. 28, 2022 
  • Attend the informational webinar on Oct. 6, 2022 at 2:00 pm ET

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

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