Vegetable-Medley-GraphicStandardized recipes are critical to the success of school meals because they provide consistent results in quality, quantity, and nutrient contribution, while helping to reduce food waste and food costs. The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Division of Food and Nutrition is pleased to announce this grant opportunity to recruit schools to be involved in development of nutritious and tasty recipes that incorporate Pennsylvania agricultural products and appeal to students’ taste preferences. Successful applicants will be required to develop and test two recipes featuring specific items from the Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month program calendar. This funding is made available through a 2021 USDA Team Nutrition grant. USDA intends to share the recipes developed under this grant via the Team Nutrition website and the Institute of Child Nutrition’s online resource center known as the Child Nutrition Recipe Box ( Successful recipes will also be included on the Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month website (


Funding Available and Important Dates

The amount of funding available is up to $8,000 per school food authority. Awards will be made to ten school food authorities. Each school food authority may submit no more than one application. Please see Budget Guidelines (found at the upper left of this page under the heading "In this Section").

Completed applications are due by 5:00pm on April 30, 2021.

Funding announcements are expected to be made by mid-May, 2021.
The project timeframe is May 15, 2021 – February 28, 2023


Project Team

The recipe development process involves a series of steps required by USDA. Funded school food authorities will be guided through these steps by the project team. The Co-Project Directors (Audrey Hess, Pennsylvania Department of Education and Elaine McDonnell, Penn State University) will provide support to funded school food authorities throughout the recipe development process by directing them to appropriate resources to support project implementation and ensuring the accuracy of meal contribution and crediting information and completeness of recipes. Throughout implementation of the projects Chef Bill Scepansky (Smart Partner, LLC) will provide one-on-one consultation with each school food authority involved during the recipe identification, testing, and verification phases to assist in developing recipes that meet requirements and are acceptable to students. Chef Bill will also lead a culinary training session in the summer of 2022.


Project Requirements

Successful applicants will commit to do the following with the support and guidance of the Project Team:

  1. Enroll as a USDA Team Nutrition school if not already enrolled.
  2. Participate in an introductory webinar to provide an orientation to the project. (Late May/early June 2021)
  3. Complete a Recipe Standardization On-Line module by September 30, 2021. (To be made available on the School Nutrition Toolbox site.)
  4. Register your school/school district district as a “supplier” through Penn State’s Purchasing Department. (Instructions will be provided. This is necessary to receive grant payments.)
  5. Develop two recipes including a Pennsylvania agricultural product as a main ingredient (i.e., one of the top four ingredients by weight or volume.) Recipes should reflect cultural or regional preferences or preparation methods and not already exist as a USDA standardized recipe ( Targeted agricultural products are asparagus, beets, cabbage, mushrooms, and winter squash. While applicants’ preferences for the products with which they would like to work will be considered, they must agree to work with whichever agricultural product they are assigned, as well as recipe type (entrée or side dish) and the targeted grade level. Recipes must meet the following nutritional guidelines:
    1. Contains 200 mg or less of sodium/serving for side dishes; and, 450 mg or less of sodium/serving for entrees.
    2. Saturated fat must be less than 10% of total calories.
    3. Grains must meet USDA’s definition for whole-grain rich as defined at
  6. Prepare and refine recipes and provide input regarding the practicality of the recipe as part of ongoing school meal service operations using the “Informal Evaluation Checklist”  (found at the upper left of this page under the heading "In this Section"). A small group of students should be recruited to provide input during this phase.
  7. Conduct taste-tests for each recipe reaching a minimum of 50 students (from National School Lunch Program participating schools) per recipe using assigned assessment tools and methods. Based upon the taste-testing results, the recipe may be: 1) accepted as is; 2) adjusted and retested; or 3) rejected. Eighty-five percent of the taste testers must approve the recipe for it to be accepted. In order to progress through this process, any recipes that do not reach or exceed the acceptability threshold must be modified and retested.
  8. Prepare the recipes at least three times in the same kitchen to verify a consistent yield (i.e. number of servings) and adjust as necessary to provide the appropriate yields of 50 and 100 servings.
  9. Use the “Recipe Analysis Workbook” ( to determine the expected meal contribution and crediting information for each recipe.
  10. Ensure that the recipes contain all of the information that needs to be available for a standardized recipe (e.g. title and description, category, ingredients, weight/volume of each ingredient, preparation directions, cooking temperature, cooking time, preparation time, serving size, recipe yield, equipment and utensils needed, crediting information, nutrient analysis, marketing guide, and food safety guidelines.)
  11. Complete the recipe identification, testing, verification, and adjustment phases described above by May 31, 2022.
  12. Send up to three representatives to a one-day culinary training session expected to take place in the Harrisburg area in the summer of 2022. At this session participants will be trained to prepare the recipes developed by all of the funded school food authorities. Applicants may budget travel costs to attend this session.
  13. During the 2022-23 school year, prior to February 28, 2023, prepare up to two recipes featured at the culinary training session at least once in at least one school site during one meal service.
  14. Collect feedback from school nutrition professionals who participated in the meal service regarding the practicality of the recipes as part of ongoing meal service operations using the “Informal Evaluation Checklist” (found at the upper left of this page under the heading "In this Section").
  15. Evaluate student acceptance of the new foods offered during the meal service.
  16. Educate students about the local agricultural products included in the standardized recipes, connecting this nutrition education to school meal service. Use of Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month materials and the inclusion of local farmers and producers is highly encouraged as components of this nutrition education.
  17. Participate in monthly check-in calls from September 2021 through May of 2022 and up to two calls between September 2022 and February 2023 to assess progress.

Steps to Take to Apply

  1. Review the Project Requirements.
  2. Review the Budget Guidelines (found at the upper left of this page under the heading "In this Section").
  3. Download and complete the PA Harvest of the Month Recipe Standardization Grant Application Form (found at the upper left of this page under the heading "In this Section").
  4. Save the completed application form. In naming the file, please include your school food authority’s name and “PA HOM Recipe Grant.” Please submit the completed application form as an e-mail attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 5:00pm on April 30, 2021.