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Test Kitchen: Austin Ed Fund Receives $550,000 Grant for AISD Food Services Pilot Kitchen, Distribution Center

St. David’s Foundation awarded the Austin Ed Fund $550,000 for a one-year project as part of its Nourishing Young Minds program. The grant will allow Austin ISD to pilot a small-scale, centralized kitchen and distribution center.

“We are so excited to be receiving this support from the St. David’s Foundation,” said Executive Director AISD Food Services and Warehouse Operations Anneliese Tanner. “This will change the way we are able to serve our students healthy meals throughout the district. This has been a priority for me since arriving at the district and I couldn’t be more thrilled to begin planning for a centralized kitchen and distribution center to serve Austin’s children.”

The grant will allow AISD’s Nutrition and Food Services staff to continue to prepare scratch-made, fresh meals, but from a centralized location. The pilot will inform the development of a master plan to create a large-scale production kitchen, storage and distribution center to serve AISD’s about 81,000 students—more than half of whom live in economically disadvantaged households and rely on their schools for up to three meals a day.

“AISD has distinguished itself as a national leader in healthy school food innovations that support community equity and sustainability,” said Elizabeth Krause, senior program officer at St. David’s Foundation. “St. David’s Foundation is delighted to partner with the district as they take their food services to the next level with this pilot project. Kids who partake of school meals at 47 AISD campuses during the upcoming school year will have fresh, healthy food to enjoy as the district plans for the future.”

The pilot kitchen, to begin this fall at McCallum High School, will allow Food Services to prepare, store and distribute fresh meals to after-school programs.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, “School-aged children have higher daily intake of fruits, vegetables, milk and key nutrients such as calcium, vitamin A and folate on days they eat after-school meals compared to days they do not.”

Trained culinary staff will be allocated to this school, along with new kitchen equipment and tools, expanding menu options and incorporation of scratch-made foods. Once established, this school could become a satellite distribution center for the centralized kitchen.

Based on the pilot, AISD will develop a master plan, including architectural design and renderings, to build a Central Production Kitchen to distribute fresh meals districtwide. AISD Food Services team will engage with a project manager and consulting experts to finalize details and timelines for the central facility. The grant will also allow Food Services to visit other school districts with successful centralized kitchen and distribution centers.

Austin Ed Fund is AISD’s education foundation and has helped secure millions of dollars in funding for district-wide initiatives such as Social and Emotional Learning and offers grant programs to fund teacher-led projects at schools across Austin. Please visit austinedfund.org to learn more.

For a full list of St. David's Foundation grants, please visit https://stdavidsfoundation.org/grantmaking/grants.