The US Department of Agriculture will award more than $8 million in grants to help school nutrition professionals better prepare healthy meals for their students. Of the $8 million, approximately $2.6 million will support implementing new national professional standards for all school nutrition employees who manage and operate the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, and $5.6 million will help states expand and enhance food service training programs and provide nutrition education in school, child care, and summer meal settings, the USDA said.

“For the past three years, kids have eaten healthier breakfasts, lunches and snacks at school thanks to the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which made the first meaningful improvements to the nutrition of foods and beverages served in cafeterias and sold in vending machines in 30 years,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “Nearly all schools are successfully meeting the standards, and these grants are part of our ongoing commitment to give states and schools the additional resources they need. Parents, teachers, principals and school nutrition professionals want the best for their children. Together we can make sure we’re giving our kids the healthy start in life they deserve.”

The grants are one of many resources the USDA has set out to provide to help schools develop healthier food options that meet updated nutrition standards. The department also provides technical assistance, educational materials and additional reimbursements. According to the USDA, more than 95% of schools said they successfully are meeting nutrition standards.