Grant helps Tempe Elementary students bite into healthier school lunches

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A young boy from Tempe Elementary school enjoys a nutritious snack. -Photo courtesy Tempe Elementary school district.

Move over, corn chips and candy. Hasta la vista, junk food. There’s something much more delicious—and nutritious in store for thousands of Tempe Elementary students.

That’s because a $180,000 grant funded by the Life Time Foundation in partnership with the Chef Ann Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation will help all students receive fresh, scratch-cooked, healthy meals at school by transforming school food operations in Tempe. The three-year grant, known as School Food Support Initiative (SFSI) program, provides the Tempe Elementary School District with direct support from Chefs Ann Cooper and Beth Collins, as well as fellow school food service experts, to ensure all ingredients offered on Tempe’s school menu are of the highest quality standards.

The SFSI program includes on-site assessment of the district’s current operations; a systems assistance grant for equipment or other school food program needs; technical assistance; and strategic planning to provide healthier school meals.

“We are thrilled to receive this much-needed grant as a means accelerate our initiatives to offer even more wholesome and healthier options for our students, said Tempe Elementary Nutrition Services Supervisor Emma Kitzman. “We are focused on reducing artificial and processed ingredients from our menu, adding salad bars to our elementary schools, and  preparing bulk produce in our central kitchen facility. This experience has far exceeded our expectations and we are confident that our students will benefit greatly.”

Tempe is one member of a cohort of seven districts throughout the United States working to innovate and improve their school food choices through SFSI. Cohort districts learn from their common experiences while working to eliminate artificial ingredients as they transition to cook-from-scratch school food operations.

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