The Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) is accepting applications for its Get Schools Cooking program. The grant is intended to help schools transition from a heat and serve operation to being able to serve scratch cooked meals made from whole foods.

The program, now in its fifth year, aims to increase knowledge around scratch cooking, assist with implementing operational changes to support scratch cooking, and support districts working towards a scratch cooked meal program centered around fresh, whole foods. The grant is US$250,000.

GSC grant applications are being accepted through September 30, 2022, and any school district in the U.S. can apply, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. The link to apply can be found here.

CAF will select school districts based on factors including a demonstrated commitment to scratch cooking and need for support, and past cohorts have included up to seven school districts. Grantees will be notified in November 2022.

CAF was founded as a nonprofit in 2009. Through its GSC program, they have reached 241 schools and 75,788 children through. “In general, there’s a perception that scratch cooking is impossible to implement,” Anneliese Tanner, Senior Director of Research & Assessment at CAF tells Food Tank. Tanner argues that it is possible but emphasizes “making this transition is not an overnight process.” Staff need to learn how to scale scratch cooking and produce hundreds of meals served within a 30-to-60-minute window, she explains.

The GSC upcoming cohort will focus on “[helping] districts overcome barriers that arose due to the pandemic, from staffing shortages, to supply chain issues,” Tanner shares. This grant cycle will explore how scratch cooking can have positive impacts through the supply chain and the shift towards more local ingredients.

“Each district is unique, whether it’s their size, or their location, or the food production model and the facilities that they have. And so we take all of their individual traits and situations into account and then focus on those upstream factors that strengthen school food operations,” Tanner tells Food Tank. The program helps guide schools towards becoming self-operated programs through five key areas: foods, finance, facilities, human resources, and marketing.

Read the full article about cooking grants by Amelia Keleher at Food Tank.