(Daily Caller News Foundation) — President Joe Biden’s Department of Agriculture (USDA) will dish out up to $2 million to an academic or research institution to probe whether government food programs for needy children are sufficiently “equitable,” according to a grant listing reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“FNS [Food and Nutrition Service] is committed to ensuring equitable access to all CN programs by identifying and addressing barriers to participation and service delivery in these programs,” the grant listing states, explaining “equity” is “the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment” of minorities, LGBTQ-identifying people, people with disabilities, people living in rural areas and those facing “inequality” and poverty.
USDA’s grant was listed on July 8 and is connected to the agency’s Child Nutrition (CN) initiative, which delivers free and low-cost meals to kids through the National School Lunch Program and other programs. Kids who participate in federal food stamps programs or are homeless, in foster care, or have a household income below a certain threshold — among other factors — may qualify for CN programs.
North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx, the Republican leader of the Education and Labor Committee, told the DCNF that the Biden administration’s nutrition grant seems overly political.
“Throwing out buzzwords like ‘equity’ when it comes to child nutrition programs shows that this administration will politicize anything just to score a few points with its allies,” said Foxx.
The taxpayer-funded research will aim to identify alleged barriers for adults and kids in “underserved communities” in operating or accessing a CN program, the listing says, and identify how programs can promote “equitable access.”
Whoever is awarded the grant money is expected to deliver a sub-grant to a public or private group for equity research, USDA says. Sub-grantees that represent “underserved communities” should receive “priority” by the grantee, USDA says, and have “past experience working with CN programs or other nutrition assistance efforts.”
The USDA lists nearly a dozen possible research areas for sub-grantees. This includes an exploration of how certain foods “typically eaten in underserved communities” are not included in school meals and also “barriers” at school for students from their perspective.
Equity has remained an outsized priority of the Biden administration. Biden directed all federal agencies to conduct “equity assessments” on his first day in office and also revoked a Trump-era order prohibiting federal contractors from hosting diversity trainings and programs.
Biden’s January order, called Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, is the first footnote cited in the USDA’s nutrition grant. Biden also signed an order in June 2021 that required the Office of Personnel Management to ensure “pay equity” in wage regulations and federal agencies to mandate diversity trainings.
The USDA collaborates with local and state governments through its programs and operates them in roughly 100,000 public, private and residential childcare institutions, according to its grant listing. An average of more than 22.6 million kids participated in the National School Lunch Program each day in 2020 and the program’s expenditures reached $10.4 billion, according to the USDA.
The CN grant posting comes after the USDA listed a separate grant on June 24 that will funnel $6 million to state agencies so they can advance “racial equity” in initiatives that train food stamp program participants, the DCNF reported.
Groups must apply to the CN grant by Sept. 12, and Nov. 12 is the anticipated award date. The USDA did not respond to a request for comment.