Equipment Assistance GrantProvides background information, grant and application overview, scoring criteria, frequently asked questions, and contact information.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Equipment Assistance Grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by the California Department of Education (CDE). The intent of the grant funds is to allow School Food Authorities (SFA) to purchase food service equipment to serve healthier meals that meet the meal pattern requirements, replace outdated or worn equipment, improve procurement of goods, improve food safety, improve the lunchroom to be more appealing to the students, help support the maintenance of an existing kitchen or the establishment of a new school kitchen or School Nutrition Program.
For questions regarding the content of this web page, please contact the Equipment Grant team by email at email@example.com.
Since 2010, the USDA has allocated funding for the CDE to competitively award eligible SFAs Equipment Assistant Grants (EAG). The funding is not a guarantee, and the CDE will send notice to eligible SFAs each year the funding is made available. The grant funding is designed to help SFAs to purchase food service equipment to serve healthier meals that meet the meal pattern requirements, replace outdated or worn equipment, improve procurement of goods, improve food safety, improve the lunchroom to be more appealing to the students, help support the maintenance of an existing kitchen, serving line, or the establishment of a new school kitchen or School Nutrition Program.
Who Can Apply?
Public school districts, county offices of education, directly funded charter schools, private schools, and residential child care institutions that participate in the NSLP can apply for grant funding. Each SFA may apply for no more than five sites with up to $100,000 per SFA.
This grant is competitive. Detailed scoring criteria are available on the Scoring Criteria Tab.
SFAs should also keep the following criteria in mind when applying for the equipment grant:
- First time applicants—the CDE will give priority to SFA sites that have not received an EAG during the last four grant cycles. See Recipients tab for a complete list of awarded sites for the past four grant cycles.
- Effectiveness of equipment purchased—the CDE will give priority to SFAs that specifically document how the equipment they purchase will reflect the intent of the grant. SFAs must provide a narrative with specific emphasis on the focus areas detailed in the scoring criteria.
- SFAs must be in good standing in all Child Nutrition Programs in which they operate that are administered by the CDE.
Definition of Equipment
Equipment requests may include new or renovated equipment. For purposes of this grant, the CDE may award equipment with a per unit cost of $1,000 or more.
It is also permissible for SFAs to set their own lower capitalization threshold for equipment. In such cases, an SFA can purchase a piece of equipment at a lower cost that meets or exceeds that SFA's capitalization threshold. SFAs with a lower capitalization threshold must include in their application an official board or district policy granting the lower threshold. The CDE will assign the federal threshold of $1,000 to SFAs that do not submit an official policy of a lower capitalization threshold at the time of application.
The CDE must receive completed EAG applications before the deadline for each grant cycle. The CDE will only accept online applications. When the EAG is announced, the online application will be available on the EAG web page under the applications tab.
The CDE will provide EAGs as long as funds are available,distributing up to 90 percent of the grant at the time of the award and the remaining 10 percent upon approval of all invoices. The CDE will recover funds from SFAs that do not submit invoices for approved budget items by September of each grant cycle. There are no cost sharing or matching funds requirements.
In rare situations, if your SFA is purchasing unique equipment, obtaining three quotes may not be possible. The purchase might fall under the category of sole source, where a particular vendor or manufacturer is the only entity from which you can purchase a unique piece of equipment. In this unique situation, you must reach out to the Nutrition Services (NSD) EAG team prior to issuing a purchase order and receive written approval. You can contact the Equipment Grant Team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal procurement regulations located in Title 2,Code of Federal Regulations(CFR), Part 200, and 7CFR, Part 210.21, apply to this grant. The SFA is responsible for ensuring that their procurement and contracts comply with all applicable laws, regulations, program instructions, and guidance materials, which SFA officials should review carefully and understand. The SFA should consult with their own legal counsel regarding any proposed procurement methods or contract language.
The SFAs that are awarded and accept this grant award must comply with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Standard Terms and Conditions, which are included in the Request for Applications each grant cycle.
Applicants that wish to appeal a grant award decision must submit a letter of appeal to the CDE. Appeals are limited to the grounds that the NSD failed to correctly apply the criteria for reviewing the application as specified in the request for applications.
Once applicants are notified that the grant awards are posted, your agency will have 10 calendar days to contact the NSD to request information regarding the reason for your grant denial. For more information on grant appeals please review the CDE Grant Appeals Procedure web page.
The Request for Applications for the National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance Grant is typically announced in the fall each year.
The CDE must receive completed Equipment Assistance Grant (EAG) applications by the deadline of each grant cycle. The CDE will only accept online applications. The grant application package and instructions can be downloaded from the California Department of Education's Request for Applications web page.
The CDE will not:
- Accept any applications received after the grant deadline
- Process incomplete or late applications
- Accept placeholder applications
- Accept faxed, mailed submissions, or submissions sent by email
|Actions to Complete
October 17, 2023
|Request for Application (RFA) is released
|4 p.m. on December 4, 2023
|Submit Progress Report
|Deadline to return unused funds
National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance Grant Application Scoring Criteria.
Summary of the 100 Point Scoring Criteria
Using the Equipment Assistance Grant (EAG) Application Scoring Worksheet, Nutrition Services Division staff will score applications from school food authorities (SFA) based on the areas identified by the United States Department of Agriculture. The CDE’s Request for Applications is reviewed and approved by the USDA to ensure fairness and accurate language as well as content.
(A) Points for description of the site/s need for the equipment grant (up to 30 points):
- Up to 30 points for SFAs that provide a strong justification for needing grant funds at their site(s). A strong justification will have specific data and information that supports the site(s) needs. Example of information that can be included could be: equipment has not been replaced in over 15 years; not enough storage space for food service operations and serve health meals, the school is in a low-income or underserved area where F/RP is X percent; the SFA is experiencing supply chain issues or disruptions; equipment is necessary to implement the Universal Meals program or make the lunchroom more enticing to students.
- Up to 20 points for SFAs that provide an average justification for grant need. An average justification lacks in specifics but is relevant to the application goals. An example would be equipment is old and outdated and food quality can be improved with new equipment; the equipment grant will allow the school to purchase necessary equipment to start serving breakfast to the students or the equipment is needed to serve universal meals. These statements are informative but lack specific details.
- Up to 10 points for SFAs that provide a weak justification for grant need. A weak justification lacks specifics and does not adequately describe the need for a grant. Very little to no detail.
(B) Points for description of equipment (up to 30 points):
Documentation in the form of a narrative of how funding will support specified efforts. SFAs will be awarded the most points for providing a strong justification, which includes documentation that the equipment is essential to achievement and how the SFA will sustain improvement in one or more of the following four focus areas:
- Serve healthier meals, improve quality, and meet meal patterns
- Implement strategies to adopt lunchroom changes that provide convenience and appeal to students to increase meal participation
- Purchase new or replace outdated and worn equipment; purchase food service equipment to increase the efficiency of SFA procurement, food storage, and distribution/service
- Support the establishment of a new school kitchen or School Nutrition Program
- Up to 30 points for SFAs that provide a strong justification that the equipment is necessary for achievement in one or more of the four focus areas. A strong justification must include numbers and percentages when identifying needs within the lunch program and how the equipment will help improve the program. A strong application will also emphasize the SFA’s intent to prepare more scratch made and freshly prepared foods. An example of things to include would be current equipment is X number of years old; equipment will allow for on-site preparation of fresh fruits and vegetables, which will increase consumption by 30 percent and reduce produce costs by 20 percent; equipment will expand refrigeration capacity, which will decrease delivery costs and help add in supply chain delays, and with X savings the SFA can buy more refrigeration for implementation of Universal Meals; equipment will allow the site to serve breakfast and expand breakfast participation by at least 90 percent. A strong justification will also define how the SFA will sustain improvement in the four focus areas in detail if awarded the requested equipment. To receive all 30 points, an SFA must specifically document how the equipment will help improve all four focus areas and include lots of details in their narrative.
- Up to 20 points for SFAs that provide an average justification for the equipment being necessary for making achievements in one or more of the four focus areas. An average justification will draw a strong correlation between the need and effect of equipment but may fail to identify specific numbers or percentages when identifying need and affect. An example would be equipment will allow staff to store foods needed to implement a breakfast program or equipment will allow the school to expand refrigeration capacity so that it can cut down on delivery costs. An average justification will also make mention of how the SFA plans to sustain improvement in the four focus areas, but provide little detail. These statements are informative but lack specific details.
- Up to 10 points for SFAs that provide a weak justification for why this equipment is necessary for achieving one or more of the four focus areas. A weak justification will lack specifics and does not describe a need for a grant or how the SFA will sustain improvement in the four focus areas. An example would be equipment will increase food safety but applicant fails to describe how; equipment will expand refrigeration capacity but applicant fails to describe how the increased capacity will have an effect on their food service program.
(C) Points for indicating the four focus areas will be addressed by selecting specific bullet points (up to 40 points):
- 10 points for improving nutritional quality, serving healthier meals, and meeting nutritional standards
- Equipment will help provide more fruits and vegetables at lunch or breakfast
- Increases storage space to store more fresh food
- Enables scratch cooking and freshly prepared foods
- Purchase equipment to prepare foods in a healthy manner such as steaming, baking, or grilling
- 10 points for implement strategies to adopt lunchroom changes that provide convenience and appeal to students to increase meal participation
- Implement strategies to adopt a more appealing lunchroom
- Implement changes to the lunchroom to make it more convenient to serve meals
- Implement a way to increase participation
- Replace or purchase new equipment that will help improve food appearance
- 10 points for replacing outdated and worn equipment; purchase food service equipment to increase the efficiency of SFA procurement, food storage, and distribution/service
- Increases energy efficiency with updates equipment
- Purchase equipment that will increase storage and distribution/ services of meals
- 10 points for supporting the establishment of a new school kitchen or School Nutrition Program; or for supporting SFAs that did not receive existing state funding for equipment purchases
- SFA is a new sponsor of the National School Lunch Program/School Breakfast Program or added a new school nutrition program this school year (i.e., did not participate in the NSLP or SBP last school year)
- SFA did not receive infrastructure funds from the 2021 or 2022 Kitchen Infrastructure and Training (KIT) allocation.
Any type of kitchen items, point of sale systems, storage, or equipment (including delivery) to help improve the lunch program is allowable if it can support at least one of the four United States Department of Agriculture focus areas and meets or exceeds the $1,000 capitalization threshold amount, unless your agency has been approved for a lower capitalization threshold. Prior to purchasing the equipment, we recommend that you consider the site’s existing space, equipment compatibility, delivery timeframes, and equipment budget.
The following links include current and previous school year program grant recipients for the National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance Grant:
1) Are sixth grade science camps eligible for the equipment grants?
No. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) determined that, based on the nature of camps, they do not meet the intent of the Equipment Assistance Grant (EAG) and are ineligible to apply.
2) Can a central kitchen apply for an EAG?
Yes, a central kitchen can apply for the EAG.
3) Last year we applied for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant and didn’t make the cut because our district’s National School Lunch Program (NSLP) count was 49 percent. Will this disqualify us for the equipment grant?
No. The equipment grant is not requesting a district percentage. It is requesting a school percentage. You will not be disqualified; however, the California Department of Education (CDE) gives preference to sites with a high percentage of free and reduced-priced eligible students.
1) How does a district determine the dollar amount or budget to request for the equipment assistance grant?
Grants will be awarded at the school level. The CDE limits funding for each school food authority (SFA) to $100,000. We encourage SFAs to consider requesting equipment(s) that meet their school’s critical needs and to obtain vendor bids before applying for the equipment grant.
2) Do I treat the warehouse like a central kitchen in the grant application? If so, the warehouse does not have a Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) number since it does not prepare or serve meals. Do I leave the CNIPS number blank?
Yes, treat the warehouse like a central kitchen, naming the site as a central warehouse, and leave the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System site number field blank. Provide the requested data for all schools in the district that benefit from this warehouse. If the warehouse equipment is used by the district for other purposes, the cost of the equipment in the application must reflect only that portion of use by food services, for example 50 percent for food service and fifty percent for other district use.
3) What does “Capitalization Threshold” for equipment mean? Can a piece of equipment be lower than the Capitalization Threshold?
Title 2,Code of Federal Regulations(2CFR), Section 200.33 defines equipment as “tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost that equals or exceeds the federal Capitalization Threshold of $1,000.” Therefore, the cost of the equipment must equal the minimum Capitalization Threshold of $1,000. Cost of equipment also includes tax, shipping and handling, and installation of the equipment.
If your district would like to request equipment that is below the Capitalization Threshold, for example $500, you will need to obtain your board’s approval for the lower threshold amount and submit this document with your application. Unless your district has established a Capitalization Threshold lower than $1,000, the piece of equipment will not be allowable under the grant guidelines.
4) My agency participates in Provision 2 or the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). What eligibility data do we use for the EAG application?
For sites participating in Provision 2, use the enrollment and eligibility data from the most current base year. For sites participating in CEP, use your identified student percentage (ISP) data.
1) We need walk-in freezers. Does the grant only cover the actual equipment or does it allow for site preparation (cement pad, electrical, etc.)?
While the cost of the freezer is allowable, the site preparation expenses related to the walk-in freezer may or may not be allowable grant expenses. You will need to contact the EAG team to discuss the site preparation items that would be allowable under the grant. The site preparation expenses can be covered using other funds.
For guidance on allowable and unallowable expenditures from school food services cafeteria funds/accounts, please see the CDE Management Bulletin on the CDE Cafeteria Funds—Allowable Uses web page.
2) What types of equipment can be purchased?
Any type of kitchen equipment is allowable if it can support at least one of the four USDA focus areas and also meets or exceeds the $1,000 Capitalization Threshold amount, unless your district has been approved for a lower Capitalization Threshold. Prior to purchasing the equipment, we recommend that you consider the site’s existing space, equipment compatibility, delivery timeframes, and equipment budget.
Below is a list of suggested types of equipment that can be purchased:
- Food Cart
- Blast Chiller
- Digital Metered Water Filler
- Serving Lines (hot and cold)
- Delivery Van
- Cashier's Stand
- Outdoor Walk in Freezer
- Mobile Food Trailer
- Food Truck
- Portable Steam Table
- Refrigerated Truck
- Mobile Food Services Golf Cart
- Salad Bar
- Merchandising Kiosk
- Grab 'n' Go Refrigerator
- Vending Machines
3) Can the extra savings from one approved equipment purchase be used to fund other equipment?
You will need to contact the EAG team and receive approval before allocating funds to another piece of approved equipment.
4) Can a district forgo purchasing the approved equipment due to installation restraint and use the grant funds to fix the installation issue at the school site?
This might be a possibility. The EAG team recommends purchasing a similar piece of equipment that might also meet a similar need as the original grant request. Approval from the EAG team is required for any equipment changes.
1) How do I properly account for purchases through the equipment assistance grant?
In accordance with federal regulations, records must adequately identify the source and application of funds for all federally-funded activities and supported by source documentation. SFAs using the standardized account code structure (SACS) must code each transaction through Resource Code 5314 in combination with either Fund Codes 1, 13, or 61. For additional information on the SACS, please refer to Section 300 of the California School Accounting Manual or contact the School Fiscal Services Division at email@example.com.
2) When we begin getting quotes, I understand there is a $1,000 minimum. Is there a per site maximum?
There is no per site maximum. The $1,000 minimum applies to individual items of equipment and can be lower if the district has a lower capitalization threshold.
3) Does the debarment and suspension certificate need to be signed by each vendor giving a quote or only by the vendors that are awarded the quote?
If the total purchase price of the equipment is $25,000 or more, then all vendors submitting quotes must complete and submit the debarment and suspension certification. You will need to keep this document for your own records.
For more information on certifications, please see the CDE Procurement in Child Nutrition Programs web page.
4) Do we write up bid specifications for the equipment we need, or can we use the specifications for a specific brand, or do we use the brand’s specifications without using the brand?
You must write your own specifications and your specifications cannot be brand specific. You may not use vendor-developed specifications, and if you do, you may not purchase from that vendor.
5) What is a competitive bid? Is it the lowest bid amount for all equipment purchased from one vendor or the lowest bid amount per piece of equipment?
A competitive bid is the lowest bid amount for all pieces of equipment from the one vendor. If the SFA must purchase different pieces of equipment from multiple vendors then SFAs must request approval from the EAG team for the purchase.
6) Do we have to go out to bid? If so, do we contact companies to bid on the equipment? On the other hand, can we go to at least three different vendors to give us prices?
Yes, everything must be competitively procured by following either a formal or informal bid process. If you use an informal bid process, you must obtain price quotes from a minimum of three companies, and you must provide your written specifications to each company you contact so that they are all bidding on the same items.
7) Can a sponsor use vendor specifications to write up requested equipment?
The district must write equipment specifications and cannot be vendor specific.
8) How are rebates factored into the equipment grant?
Any rebate, discount, or credit for the equipment purchase must be subtracted from the total cost. For example, if the equipment originally cost $6,000 and later the vendor offered a $100 off rebate amount for purchase of the equipment, resulting in an actual cost of $5,900, the SFA may only use $5,900 of the equipment grant funds not the $6,000 originally approved by the CDE. The SFA would need to return the unspent funds, due to the vendor rebate, to the CDE. SFAs should work with vendors while obtaining the initial quotes to determine whether there are any rebates, discounts or credits prior to purchasing the equipment.
9) Is equipment purchased outside of the award period allowed?
Equipment needs to be purchased within the grant award period. If purchased prior to the grant award period the following options are available:
- The SFA can move the new equipment purchased outside the award period to another site in need, and then the SFA may repurchase a new piece of equipment within the award period.
- The SFA can return the new equipment purchased outside the award period to the vendor and repurchase the new equipment within the award period.
10) Is the bid threshold per year or per transaction?
Bid threshold applies per transaction or procurement.
11) What documents do we submit to the CDE after we have made our equipment purchases?
Equipment purchases made with the grant must comply with all federal and state procurement requirements. For more information, please contact the EAG team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any specific questions.