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Farm to School Grant Program Frequently Asked Questions

EO Guidance Document #
FNS-GD-2012-0034
Resource type
FAQs/Q&As
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials

In order to ensure compliance with statutory requirements, USDA requires additional information regarding the targeted beneficiaries of the Farm to School Grant Program. All grants applicants must complete an additional form, the Supplemental Form: Free and Reduced Price Meal Participation. You can access the form online and on grants.gov. Note that this form is NOT referenced in the RFA but is still required. Your application will not be considered complete without this information.  

General

Q: What are the legislative authorities guiding this program?
Q: What is the purpose of the Farm to School Grant Program?
Q: How is “local” defined for the Farm to School Grant Program?
Q: What is the timeline of the Farm to School Grant Program?
Q: Is more than one type of grant offered?
Q: What percentage of awarded grants will be Implementation projects and how many will be Planning projects?
Q: Can I submit an application for both a Planning and an Implementation grant?
Q: How many projects can I participate in?
Q: The RFA indicates we need to travel to one face‐to‐face meeting. How should we budget for that in our proposal? 
Q: The RFA indicates USDA’s interest in making local and regional foods available on a daily basis. We don’t think we’ll be able to source local or regional foods every day. Should we still apply?
Q: I missed the webinars. Where can I access them?

Eligibility

Q: Who is eligible to apply?  
Q: Can you define non‐profit entities?  
Q: Are private schools eligible for farm to school funds?  
Q: We are applying now to participate in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program but don’t currently participate. Can we still apply for the grant program since we will be participating next year?
Q: Are state commodity commissions eligible?
Q: Are institutions of higher learning eligible to apply for a grant?
Q: Can a University Extension Service Program apply for a grant?
Q: Are community colleges eligible to apply?
Q: My institution of higher learning or extension program is considered a nonprofit 501.c.3; can I apply as a nonprofit?  
Q: My institution of higher learning or extension program is considered a State or local agency; can I apply as a State or local agency?  
Q: I don’t have my nonprofit status yet. I’ve applied and expect to get it soon. Can I still apply as a nonprofit?
Q: Can a fiscal agent apply on my behalf? 
Q: The RFA says funds are for K‐12 only. Can K‐5 or K‐8 schools apply?
Q: Are pre‐school or head start programs eligible for either the Planning or Implementation grants?
Q: Do you have to have a certain percentage of free and reduced price meal participation in order to apply?
Q: Are there additional eligibility requirements for Implementation grants?
Q: We have some agricultural and farming activities already in place at our school that we’d like to expand, but we do not call them farm to school, nor have we received farm to school funding before.   Am I eligible?

Planning Grants

Q: What groups are eligible to apply for Planning grants?
Q: What is the expected funding amount for Planning grants?
Q: What is the time period for execution of Planning grants?
Q: If we successfully complete the planning process, will we get an Implementation grant in the next round of funding?
Q: Do we have to use USDA’s planning protocols or can we use our own system?
Q: As a SFA can I apply with other schools in my area? submissions, every application received will be evaluated on its own merit.   
Q: How might I find others to partner or “cluster” with?

Implementation Grants: Both Types

Q: What groups are eligible to apply for Implementation grants?
Q: What is the expected funding amount for Implementation grants?
Q: What is the time period for execution of Implementation grants?
Q: Which should I submit for, a Planning grant or an Implementation grant?  

Implementation Grants: Schools

Q: As a school, can I partner with community groups for an Implementation grant?
Q: As a SFA can I apply with other schools in my area?
Q: How might I find others to partner or “cluster” with?
Q: If we apply for an implementation grant, could the non‐profits/farmers we work with also apply for an implementation grant of their own even though they are listed in our application as partners? 

Implementation Grants - All Others

Q: I’m confused by the number of letters of support I need to include. Is the letter from a school partner part of the required three letters, or in addition to the three?  
Q: Do cluster applications apply to “All Others”?
Q: Do I have to have a school or school district partner in order to apply?
Q: As a non‐profit applying, do I have to have an audited financial statement?  
Q: Can non‐profits and agricultural producers apply for implementation grants for the same SFA that is applying for a planning grant?   

Matching Funds

Q: Are matching funds required?
Q: What is an in‐kind contribution?
Q: What is a cash contribution?
Q: Do I need to note where the matching funds will come from in my application?
Q:  Do I need all the required matching resources secured prior to issuing the award or submission of application?
Q:  Can I use federal food service funds as a match for this grant program?
Q: I have cash in hand for my project right now. Can it count toward the match since I’ll be spending it on the same project I’m proposing to USDA?  
Q:  If I anticipate receiving funds from other sources in the future (i.e., weeks, months, year,) may I count them as anticipated matching costs?
Q: Does time spent cultivating relationships with growers, coordinating purchases and developing menu plans count towards an in‐kind match?  
Q: Can previous volunteer work hours count towards the in‐kind match?
Q: Are land or buildings an allowable source of matching funds?

Free/Reduced Price Calculations & Points

Q: How will high free and reduced‐price schools be scored?
Q: How will information on the free and reduced‐price percentage be collected?  
Q: We have three districts with three different rates; how will the percentage be calculated?  
Q: Our school has a free reduced rate of 27%. Should we even bother applying? Are the grants going to go primarily to those who earn the extra points because of their high free reduced rates?  
Q: Our proposed project will affect all the school districts in our state. (Or) Our proposed project will impact 75 school districts that work together in a buying cooperative. Should we list the free reduced rate for all of the school districts impacted by our program?

Budget

Q: What can I include in my budget?
Q: Are equipment and supplies allowable expenditures?
Q: Can I use Planning or Implementation grant funds to purchase food?
Q: What rate should I use for indirect costs?
Q: What should I include in the budget narrative?
Q: Do seeds/plants and livestock fall under the food purchases category?
Q: Are buildings allowable costs?

Application

Q: Will the USDA Farm to School Team review or edit my application/project narrative before I submit my (official) application?
Q: What do I need to include in my Planning grant application?
Q: I am a SFA, what do I need to include in my Implementation grant application?
Q: I am a part of a producer group, what do I need to include in my Implementation grant application?
Q: How will I know FNS received my application?
Q: What happens if I forget to include one of the documents in my Grants.gov application?
Q: Why do you need resumes or Vitae of senior personnel?
Q: Can I mail my application?
Q: What should I do after I submit my application via grants.gov?
Q: Is there an application checklist?

Letter of Intent

Q: Do I have to submit a Letter of Intent?
Q: What should I include in my letter of intent?
Q: To whom should I send my letter of intent?

Review of Application and Award

Q: What happens after I submit my application?
Q: When will I be notified of the status after I submit the application?
Q: How will my application be reviewed?
Q: How will applications be selected for funding?
Q: Will my application be funded at the amount requested?
Q: Will applications be reviewed on a regional level or will they be reviewed at a state level?

Grants.gov

Q: If I have problems with Grants.gov, will FNS staff help me submit or accept my application package after the deadline?
Q: Where can I get more help if I still have questions about the farm to school program or application?

Updated: 05/23/2012

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.