Where the Money’s Going: Pennsylvania Using Stimulus Funds to Buy School Cafeteria Appliances

By Susan Jones | June 19, 2009 | 8:52 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - More than 130 Pennsylvania schools plan to purchase new kitchen equipment --- ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers -- with $2.9 million in grants provided through the Democrats’ economic stimulus program.
In pushing Congress to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama said it would create millions of jobs and lay the groundwork for long-term growth “by fixing our schools, modernizing health care to lower costs; repairing our roads, bridges, levees, and other vital infrastructure; and moving us towards energy independence.”
The stimulus legislation included nearly $100 million for the purchase of school food service equipment.
Pennsylvania Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak said Pennsylvania’s $2.9-million share of that $100-million pot will be used in a way that meets Obama’s priorities:
First, Zahorchak said the money will increase student achievement by expanding access to school breakfast and to meals that meet high nutritional standards.
"Providing nutritious meals in our schools has a direct effect on learning," he said. "A student who benefits from a healthy diet and quality food is likely to be a more attentive learner who will excel academically."
In addition, Pennsylvania will “conserve energy and save taxpayer funds by replacing older, inefficient equipment with equipment that is Energy Star-rated.”
The state plans to makes its equipment purchases by Sept. 30, “so stimulus funding is injected into the economy as quickly as possible.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Education distributed the stimulus funds through a competitive grant process to schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Priority in awarding the funds was given to schools that have at least half of their student enrollment eligible for free- and reduced-price meals.
The funding will enable these schools to purchase 222 pieces of equipment in all, including nearly 100 pieces of cooking equipment, more than 60 refrigerators and/or freezers, 20 dishwashers and more than 40 serving lines, salad bars and cabinets.