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Get Schools Cooking (GSC) Program

Grants and Technical Support to USA School
Districts to Create Healthier School Food Programs

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Chef Ann Foundation (CAF)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:



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Grants of up to $35,000 and technical support to USA school districts to develop and implement healthier school food programs. This three-year program helps schools transition from food that is highly processed to healthier and more nutritional options that are prepared from scratch. The grant provides school districts with the operational foundation necessary to transition their Food & Nutrition Service Departments from a heat and serve or processed model to one that is rooted in scratch cooking using real ingredients.

Get Schools Cooking requires a high level of engagement and wants to identify districts that are ready for or are already supporting change in their districts to provide healthier and scratch cook meal options, as well as nutrition learning opportunities for their students. Top candidates for this program will be able to demonstrate that the district leadership and community are supportive of food service improvement and program development and show a need and interest in having an assessment of their program. 


  • To provide school districts with individualized, technical support to assist them in sustainably moving from a highly processed to cook from scratch operation. 
  • To assess barriers and identify recommended actions in five key areas of school food service: Food, Finance, Facilities, Human Resources and Marketing. 
  • To support districts in developing action plans that create the structured framework to achieve their strategic objectives. 
  • To provide system improvement grants and training that support the implementation of recommended actions and next steps.

Following acceptance to the program, districts will go through the following process:  

  • Workshop: Districts attend a two-day workshop in Boulder, CO, home to one of the best examples of school food service innovation in the country. Sessions review the foundational strategies for successful school food reform and include visits to Boulder Valley School District kitchens and cafeterias to see transformation first-hand. 
  • On-site Assessment and Report: School food experts observe every aspect of the current operations in action and identify opportunities for improvement in day-to-day activities. Experts spend time at the district completing a fiscal review, examining the program’s operations, visiting each school site and exploring community and stakeholder engagement. Food service leadership for the district is expected to support the assessment process through facilitation of meetings, data collection prior to the assessment and time spent with school food experts diving into the details of their meal program. 
  • On-site Strategic Planning: Chef Ann Cooper and Chef Beth Collins lead key district leadership and food service team members through a strategy session to review the actions needed to achieve the desired changes based on the result of the on-site assessment. 
  • Action Planning: Chef Ann Foundation’s team works with the districts to develop a focused action plan that guide districts' operations and evaluative goals. 
  • Additional On-site Training and Off-site Technical Assistance: Districts are provided additional support to help them address recommendations from their assessment and meet their goals. This will include staff participation in Whole Kid Foundation's Healthy Food Service program that serves as an engaging and interactive training that brings food service staff along for the journey of cooking healthier food, being proud of their work and improving their own wellbeing.
  • Districts are given the opportunity to apply for funding.

Previous Program Participants Have:  

  • Introduced new scratch-cooked recipes
  • Installed salad bars
  • Added new vendors to procure local products
  • Eliminated highly processed chicken nuggets and patties
  • Gained significant community support
  • Introduced whole muscle chicken

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 164984

Estimated Size of Grant:

Districts are given the opportunity to apply for a one-time $35,000 systems assistance grant that is designed to support the identified needs and goals of their program.

Term of Contract:

This is a three-year program.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

To apply school districts must meet the following criteria:
- Be firmly committed to working towards a scratch-cooked and fresh whole foods approach to their meal programs.
- Demonstrate support for improvement from district leadership.
- Participate in the National School Lunch Program.
- Have a minimum district enrollment of 3000 students and serve between four and thirty schools.
- Run a self-operated food service program.

Get Schools Cooking does not provide on-site staff training during the on-site assessment. If assessment findings indicate a need for specific staff training, funds from the Systems Assistance grant can be used for training purposes.

Pre-proposal Conference:

There will be an informational webinar on Thursday, September 12, 2019, at 2 pm MST (4 pm EST).

Register here:

Pre-Application Information:

The 2019 application period will open August 19, 2019. Applications are due October 28, 2019.

- Application Closes: October 28, 2019
- District Interviews to Assess Readiness of Potential Districts: November 18 – December 6, 2019. Districts will be notified via email if selected for a virtual interview. If selected, the district Food Service Director and their Supervisor are expected to attend.
- Districts Notified Whether Selected: December 31, 2019
- Workshop in Boulder, CO: February 26-28, 2020
- On-Site District Assessments: March 2020 – April 2021. Individual assessments are expected to take place within this timeframe and will be scheduled based on the availability of the assessment team and the district’s calendar.
- On-site Debrief and Strategic Planning: May 2020 – July 2021. The assessment debrief and the strategic planning session is scheduled 3 weeks to a month after the district receives their assessment report.
- Systems Assistance Grant Funds Awarded: Fall 2020 – Fall 2021. Each district will be required to complete a short application outlining their plans for use of grant funds that align with their assessment and strategic planning.
- Additional On-site Training and Off-site Technical Assistance: Fall 2020 – Spring 2022
- Year One Evaluation: Spring 2022
- Year Two Evaluation: Spring 2023

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online:

Emily Gallivan, CAF Director of Programs

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming