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Promoting Integrity through Improved Technology

Under Secretary Kevin Concannon with student

USDA’s new Child Nutrition Technology Innovation Grants apply to school meal programs, summer meal programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you already know that USDA is committed to continuously improving the integrity of their programs.  We strive to operate our programs effectively and efficiently.  We aim to provide program participants with the best service possible, while ensuring taxpayers get the biggest bang for their buck.

We go about this in a number of different ways.  In previous posts, we’ve shared how we’re streamlining the USDA organic certification process; highlighted our prize competition, which crowdsourced design ideas to minimize error in school meals applications; and featured ways we’re working to educate farmers on official grain standards, sampling and grading rules.

Recently, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced another way USDA is improving efficiency and integrity in its programs:  a new grant called the Child Nutrition Technology Innovation Grant. This grant opportunity is designed to encourage the state agencies that administer child nutrition programs to propose innovative technology solutions that will improve program accountability and efficiencies at both the state and local levels.  The grants apply to school meal programs, summer meal programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

These grants mark the first time technology grants have been available for CACFP.

State agencies administering these programs maintain automated systems at the state level that rely on operational data from the local levels, such as applications, certifications and program monitoring.  The grants are intended to improve that process, ensuring the states’ systems and the child nutrition program operators’ systems can communicate seamlessly.

It may sound a bit ‘in the weeds,’ but the point is this: These grants are a way for states and program operators to partner more efficiently and accurately. They encourage innovation that will eliminate duplicity and foster information-sharing.  And at the end of the day, they’ll enable states and program operators to save both time and money.

There is up to $4.4 million in grant funds available this year, which will be distributed through two types of awards:

  • CN Technology Innovation Planning Grants: up to $100,000 with a grant period of up to one year
  • CN Technology Innovation Implementation Grants: up to $2,000,000 with a grant period of one to three years

For more information or to submit an application, visit our website.  All state agencies that administer child nutrition programs are invited to apply now through January 25, 2017.

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