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Turnip the Beet Award Program

Information about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Turnip the Beet Award Program for summer meal program operators, including an overview of the program, how to apply, past awardees, and contact information.

Overview

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the Turnip the Beet award program; the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD) reviews the submissions and nominations for the California program operators. This national award recognizes outstanding summer meal program operators who:

  • Offer high quality meals that are appetizing, appealing, and nutritious during the summer months,
  • Offer nutrition education at their summer sites, and
  • Use innovative marketing strategies to market their meals

The Turnip the Beet award program was created to showcase program operators who are going above and beyond to ensure that children are receiving high-quality meals that are both nutritious and appetizing in the summer months. Summer meals are critical in the lives of millions of our nation’s youth, whose risk for food insecurity increases during the summer months when they no longer have access to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program. Summer meal programs, including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO), present the opportunity to help alleviate summertime food insecurity and positively impact children’s growth and development by offering nutritious meals and encouraging children to develop healthy habits at a young age. High quality summer meals provide daily energy, and help make sure children are healthy and ready to learn when they return to school in the fall.

Apply

Who Can Apply?

All California Summer Meal Program operators in good standing, [Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO)] can apply for the award or be nominated by another party. Examples of another party are community members, parents, and other school food authorities.

When to Apply?

The USDA nomination forms are typically available late summer each year. The CDE NSD will notify Summer Meal Program operators of the availability of the award by listserv.

For listservs posted regarding this award, visit the CDE Nutrition What's New web page and select the Recognition tab.

How to Apply?

Each year, the USDA provides nomination forms. To download the nomination forms, visit the USDA’s Turnip the Beet! High Quality Summer Meals Award Program web page External link opens in new window or tab. , scroll down to Award Overview, and select the Program Nomination Form (for the appropriate school year). Please submit one nomination per Summer Meal Program operator.

How Often to Apply?

Program operators can self-nominate or be nominated by another party for the Turnip the Beet award every year.

Application Submittal

A completed Nomination form including all the required information must be submitted by email to the state agency Summer Nutrition Programs and Grants Unit at sfsp@cde.ca.gov prior to the posted California deadline.

Please note:

  • The CDE will not consider hard copy, faxed, or mailed nomination forms as a submission.
  • The CDE will not consider nomination forms past the specified CA application due date.
  • One nomination per Summer Meal Program operator.
  • Program operators or nominators, must submit a nomination form that contains all of the requested information to be considered.

Once the application is submitted, the CDE will provide a confirmation email to all of the contacts included in the email.

Awardees

All awardees will receive the following:

  • Recognition by listserv announcement from the NSD
  • CDE Turnip the Beet! Certificate provided to the awarded school district
  • Spotlight recognition during an NSD Town hall meeting and social media
  • Recognition posting on this CDE Turnip the Beet! Award Awardees web page, and
  • Recognition posting on the USDA’s Turnip the Beet! High Quality Summer Meals Award Program web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Recognition

The following Summer Meal Program operators were recognized for going above and beyond in their Summer Meal Programs by:

  1. offering nutrition education at their summer sites
  2. providing nutritious meals based on local tastes and local foods, and for
  3. using innovative marketing strategies to market their meals.

This impressive administration of the Summer Meal Programs is nationally evaluated and awarded based on a wide range of nutrition and meal quality criteria in three levels: gold, silver, and bronze.

Note: The Turnip the Beet awards were not offered during 2019-2020 school year. The USDA temporarily discontinued the award at that time.

2022

Gold

  • Ontario-Montclair School District Food and Nutrition Services
  • Nutrition Services Hesperia Unified School District
  • Rialto Unified School District

 

Silver

  • Santa Cruz City Schools Food Services
  • Yuba City Unified School District
2021

Gold

  • Rialto Unified School District
2019 and 2020

The Turnip the Beet awards were not offered in 2019 or 2020. The USDA temporarily discontinued the award at that time.

2018

Gold

  • Redlands Unified School District
  • Victor Valley Union High School District School District
  • South Bay Union School District

 

Silver

  • San Jacinto Unified School District
  • Natomas Unified School District
  • Rialto Unified School District

Bronze

  • San Leandro Unified School District
2017

Gold

  • Hesperia Unified School District

 

Silver

  • Lakeside Union School District
  • United Way California Capital Region
2016

Gold

  • Lakeside Union School District

 

Silver

  • Manteca Unified School District
  • West Contra Unified School District
  • Natomas Unified School District

Contacts

California Department of Education Contact

For questions about the California Turnip the Beet Award Program, contact the Summer Nutrition Programs and Grants Unit by email at sfsp@cde.ca.gov.

Questions:   Summer Meals Unit | sfsp@cde.ca.gov | 916-324-6153
Last Reviewed: Monday, December 11, 2023
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