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Equipment Grant Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently asked questions and answers regarding the Equipment Assistance Grant (EAG).


  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 and are ineligible to apply.

  2. If a school site is also a central kitchen for other sites, and the site has greater than 50 percent free and reduced but the satellite sites do not, will that be a problem for obtaining equipment at the central site?

    In this situation, the central kitchen is given priority for this grant. The free and reduced-price percentages for all school sites that the central kitchen serves will be factored in.

  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 with priority to schools that have 50 percent or greater free and reduced-price eligible students. 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. I have a central warehouse that needs some electrical pallet jacks and lifters to streamline operations. These equipment expenditures will generate additional revenue by reducing operating costs, increasing food safety, improving employee safety, minimizing the number of weekly deliveries, and cutting fuel expenses and greenhouse emissions thereby freeing up operating funds in order to improve menu offerings at the sites. 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 CNIPS 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 (2 CFR), 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 $5,000.” Therefore, the cost of the equipment must equal the minimum Capitalization Threshold of $5,000. 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 $2,000, 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 of $2,000, the piece of equipment will not be allowable under the grant guidelines.

  4. My agency participates in Provision 2 and our base year was 2006-07. We do not have enrollment and eligibility data for October 31, 2008, so what do we use?

    Use the enrollment and eligibility data for October 31 of your base year.


  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 $5,000 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
    • Yogurt Machine
    • Conveyor Pizza Oven
    • Horizontal Wrapper
    • Refrigerated Truck
    • Mobile Food Services Golf Cart
    • Salad Bar
    • Merchandising Kiosk
    • Speed Line-Cold and Hot
    • Gran 'n' Go Refrigerator
    • Dough Divider
    • Vending Machines

    If your school district would like to communicate with other districts that have been successful in applying for and purchasing under this grant, see the list of SFAs below that you may contact:

    • Mt. Diablo Unified School District (purchased mobile food carts)—Suzanne Bernhards at

    • San Rafael City Elementary School District (purchased rethermalization oven)—Rita Kesler at

  3. Does "equipment" refer exclusively to "kitchen equipment" for purposes of this grant? Or could "equipment" also refer to technology such as computerized point-of-purchase card readers, or upgrades to servers and systems that help automate (improve efficiency of) moving the students through the food lines with quick and easy payment and processing?

    Use the four focus areas to help determine if the equipment meets one or more of them. If at least one focus area is met, the equipment qualifies. Since point of purchase card readers shorten the time it takes students to get through the lunch line, they likely also help to increase participation. The additional revenue could help improve food quality as well. Remember that each piece of equipment must cost either $5,000 or your Capitalization Threshold, whichever is lower. Additionally, the cost of any equipment that will be utilized by other programs outside of food service must be prorated among all user programs. If you are planning to purchase a server that will benefit the whole agency and not just food service, then the cost of the server must be prorated according to usage.

  4. I am a small school district in need of a point of sale (POS) system. The cost of the system is $3,500, which is below both our capitalization threshold and the $5,000 definition of equipment. How can we purchase a POS system for our district?

    Your district has a couple of options. The first option is to reduce your Capitalization Threshold to the point that the equipment would be allowable. Another option is to ensure that you have included everything necessary to make the POS usable. The unit cost of equipment can include the cost of the unit, plus tax, shipping and handling, installation, hardware, software, training, and costs associated with removal and disposal of old equipment. 

    Also note that you are not allowed to group multiple items together to meet the Capitalization Threshold. For example, you cannot buy two POS units at $2,500 each in order to meet the $5,000 Capitalization Threshold. Each POS unit must cost at least $5,000.

  5. 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. 

  6. 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?

    No. The district must purchase the approved equipment type. The EAG team recommends purchasing a similar equipment that will meet the installation requirement.

  7. We have submitted our application and have found out that another type of equipment will serve our school needs better. Can we change our equipment?

    No, once you submit your application, the equipment approved on your application is what you must purchase under the grant.  If you cannot use the grant, please notify the EAG team to allow the CDE to reallocate the funds.


  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

  2. When we begin getting quotes, I understand there is a $5,000 minimum. Is there a per site maximum?

    There is no per site maximum. The $5,000 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 Suspension, Debarment, and Lobbying 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 detailed information and guidance on the procurement documents to submit to the EAG team, view the YouTube National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance Grant Procurement Webinar External link opens in new window or tab. (21:42).

Questions:   Equipment Grant Team |
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, May 17, 2017
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