Stimulus money to help Texas schools buy food equipment

FORT WORTH, Texas &mash; School nutrition directors in Fort Worth and Arlington have some shopping to do this summer, thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Campuses in both districts will share in more than $11 million in nutrition equipment grants funded statewide by the federal stimulus package, the Texas Agriculture Department announced recently.

Fort Worth will get $563,000 to buy food processors, freezers, ovens and steamers while Arlington will get $111,000 for similar equipment.

The purchases will help cafeteria officials present healthier food options and run operations more efficiently, officials said.

The highly competitive grant program drew applications from more than 3,000 Texas schools. Only 381 of them received money. The requests totaled $135 million.

"We actually anticipated a pretty big response, and that’s because the last time there was a federal program for equipment assistance was in the early 1980s," said Veronica Obregon, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department. "Since the program ended, it’s been up to the districts to replace their own equipment with their own revenue or general funds."

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