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December 2019
CDE, including the School Nutrition Unit, will be closed Thursday, Dec. 24, and Friday, Dec. 25, in observance of the Christmas holiday; and Wednesday, Jan. 1, in observance of New Year’s Day. January’s edition of The DISH will be sent on Thursday, Jan. 9.


School Nutrition awarded three-year implementation grant

The Colorado Health Foundation awarded CDE's School Nutrition Unit a three-year implementation grant to support School Food Authorities (SFAs) and sponsors in maximizing participation in child nutrition programs using new and innovative methods. Support will include: providing in-person, one-on-one technical assistance across the state; expanding on existing meal quality work through new hands-on culinary training sessions; improving data utilization in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and much more. 

This award comes after a year of detailed planning and SFA and sponsor surveying across the state, culminating in a final report based on the needs assessment from School Nutrition. The needs assessment included both the statewide survey and key informant interviews to gain greater insight into the opportunities and barriers to increasing participation in and access to federal child nutrition programs. 

The work of the three-year implementation grant, along with continued collaboration with the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger, provides the groundwork to ensure these critical feeding programs reach all of Colorado’s students and families.

For questions, contact Carrie Thielen at or 303-866-6759. 


Advanced Placement Grant Programs and Eligibility Disclosure 

The Accelerated College Opportunity Exam Fee Grant Program now includes Advanced Placement exam fees and/or International Baccalaureate exam fees to be waived/reduced for eligible students. 

Students who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals are eligible for this program. The release of student eligibility information for the Accelerated College Opportunity Exam Fee Grant Program does not require parental consent. This change is reflected in the Release of Eligibility for Federal and State Programs resource on the School Meal Eligibility webpage

For questions, contact Rachael Burnham at or 303-866-6450.

Apply for the USDA Equipment Assistance Grant in January 2020

Colorado received over $340,000 of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Equipment Assistance Grant funds to distribute through the 2019 fiscal year. Accordingly, SFAs may apply for one piece of equipment on behalf of one high-need school to support the quality of school meals, food safety of meals, overall energy efficiency and increase in access and participation of school meals. The application will be released in January 2020. 

An informational webinar will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan.14. The webinar link will be shared in The Dish and posted on the Grants and Awards webpage with the application. Intent to Apply forms are due on Wednesday, Jan. 15, and grant applications are due on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

For questions, contact Megan Johnson at or 303-866-5983. 


Local Wellness Policy Triennial

School Food Authorities are required to complete their first local wellness policy (LWP) triennial assessments by Tuesday, June 30, 2020. These policies are monitored through the Administrative Review. The School Nutrition Unit recommends two resources that are compliant with the assessment requirement:

  • WellSAT is a quantitative assessment tool to help score and improve LWP and is available year-round.

  • SmartSource is administered at the state level to assess best practices in school health. Smart Source is offered in the fall of odd-numbered school years.

For questions, contact Kristi Rolfsen at or 303-866-5985.


Update on meal service during unanticipated school closures 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a memo, SP 04-2020, that provides updated guidance on child nutrition program flexibilities available during unanticipated school closures. Sponsors experiencing an unanticipated closure are encouraged to contact McKenna Pullen to identify options to ensure kids continue to have access to healthy meals. 

For questions, contact McKenna Pullen at or 720-644-7259.



Open nominations for Produce Safety University training

The School Nutrition Unit is seeking nominations for SFAs to attend the 2020 Produce Safety University (PSU) training course. For more information about the training, please visit this website and review the nomination form; nominations are due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec.12. When reviewing applicants and selecting nominees, the School Nutrition Unit prioritizes nominees from a variety of district sizes and those that have not attended PSU in the past.

For questions, contact Alicia Grove at or 720-795-2038.

Apply for the 2020 Environmental Education Grants Program

Do you have a creative idea for reducing food waste or teaching students about environmental issues affecting agriculture at school? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking for innovative, locally-focused environmental education projects to fund through the 2020 Environmental Education Grant Program. “This funding will support projects aimed at educating and inspiring the next generation of Americans to tackle pressing environmental challenges like marine litter and food waste,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. Read more about the grant here and view the request for application (RFA) here. Applications are due Monday, Jan. 6. 

For questions, contact Alicia Grove at or 720-795-2038.


Moving to a Zero Waste Cafeteria webinar series 

The Center for Green Schools recently hosted two webinars providing information on moving to a zero-waste cafeteria. The November webinar focused on shifting the culture of the cafeteria to reduce waste and the December webinar covered how to implement robust food reuse and recovery programs. To listen to the webinar recordings, visit this webpage and scroll to the bottom of the page.

For questions, contact Alicia Grove at or 720-795-2038.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program resources available 

For new ideas on nutrition education for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, check out the posters, infographics and printable handouts created by MyPlate and Team Nutrition. For example, the Food Fact Cards for watermelons, strawberries, bell peppers and tomatoes are colorful, informative cards with fun facts and tips about each produce item. Additional infographics and print materials to help educators are available as well. 

For questions, contact Erica Boyd at or 303-866-6306. 

Reimbursement claim due dates posted

Reimbursement claim due dates are posted on the School Nutrition website. Please note, October 2019 claims are due Monday, Dec. 30. A reminder to staff taking time during the holidays to finalize and submit claims before leaving for break. For more information, visit the How to Claim webpage. 

For questions, contact Brittany Shores at or 303-866-6911.


National Child Nutrition Conference scholarships available

The National Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Sponsors Association is awarding over $20,000 in scholarships for Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors to attend the National Child Nutrition Conference. Apply by Thursday, Jan.16, 2020 for the opportunity to join over 1,700 attendees at the premier training and networking event for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), SFSP and Afterschool Meals community. The conference will be held on April 14-16, at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Apply now for a scholarship.

For questions, contact Ashley Moen at or 303-866-6653.

CDE School Nutrition wishes everyone a happy holiday season!
Copyright © 2019 Colorado Department of Education, All rights reserved.

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