As the Copperas Cove Independent School District faces a $12 million budget cut in heavy impact aid over the next two years, every dollar makes a difference.
CCISD’s child nutrition program has been rewarded several grants from both the state and federal levels. CCISD Director of Child Nutrition Melissa Bryan was the recipient of a 2016 Hunger Free Texans Keeping Our Communities Healthy Conference Travel Grant.
Bryan, who is already involved with local farms and using their produce in CCISD schools, said the conference explored how to use local produce in schools and held classes on how to have the local food banks and school district work together to utilize any food that might not be sold or consumed during the school day.
“As new guidance is issued in how child nutrition departments can now donate some of these items to local food banks, I felt it was important for me to gather all the information that I could so a game plan could be worked on to start up this type of program next year,” Bryant said.
The Texas Department of Agriculture paid for Bryan to attend the conference in Houston.
Bryan applied for a second grant — the 2016 Team Up for School Nutrition Grant Success Workshop Travel Grant Award, which works in the same way.
The grant covers travel expenses for child nutrition professionals to attend a conference and glean valuable knowledge and skills to create and maintain healthy school environments and encourage and improve student meal program participation.
Scheduled in late July, conference attendees will share experiences using peer-to-peer mentoring to learn how to identify problems or obstacles and develop action plans and goals in order to reach desired outcomes.
“They awarded many of these grants but then they limited the conference to only 150 participants,” Bryan said. “So, I had to apply to be one of the participants. I was chosen to attend as only one of 11 selected in Region 12.”
CCISD’s nutrition program garnered a third grant — the 2016 National School Lunch Program Training Assistance Grant, which is used for the specific objective of implementing meal patterns and ways to enhance the meal appeal in the National School Lunch Program.
“CCISD will be sending many staff to the TASN summer conference where they will attend classes that also meet their USDA Professional Standards requirement and then they will bring the information they learn in these classes and teach and share with all nutrition staff during back-to- school training for the 2016 school year,” Bryan said.
The $5,000 grant also funds the attendance of every nutrition staff member to the Region ESC 12 summer workshop Aug. 2 to meet their USDA Professional Standard requirements.
A fourth grant the CCISD Child Nutrition Department garnered is the 2015 National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance Grant to purchase new equipment.
The grant, valued at $64,443.52, will provide updated equipment on campuses throughout the district including a combination oven at Hettie Halstead Elementary School and new serving lines at Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy and Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary.
The new serving lines are custom-made and will be shaped to look like a school bus with the extra customization at Mae Stevens to accommodate smaller children.
“Any time that you can be awarded a grant and use this money for equipment, it saves the child nutrition department funds which can be utilized for other areas to enhance the program,” Bryan said.