USDA Gives Out $12.1 Million in Largest-Ever Farm to School Grant Awards
Washington, DC, June 29, 2020 – The Trump Administration broke records today for the second year in a row by awarding $12.1 million in Farm to School Grants – the most awarded since the grant program’s inception ‒ to 159 grantees – the most projects funded to date. These awards, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will help bring fresh, local foods into schools and foster economic opportunity for America’s farmers over the next school year.
“USDA’s Farm to School Program is a win-win,” said Brandon Lipps, USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “The grants announced today will help build bright futures for our children by connecting them to where their food comes from, while also nourishing the local economy and supporting American agriculture.”
This year, the annual Farm to School Grant Program included a new track specifically for state agencies seeking to engrain the use of local foods in child nutrition programs across their state, not just in the school meals programs but also in childcare centers and at summer meals sites. More than half of all states (27) applied for and were awarded this grant. For example, the Connecticut Department of Public Health will work with the University of Connecticut’s Extension to improve access to local foods for some of the state’s youngest residents by expanding their Farm to Early Care and Education Program, which supports local procurement and agricultural education efforts at child care sites.
In all, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) awarded grants of between $20,000 and $100,000 to projects in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. Grantees represent the wide diversity of partners involved in farm to school efforts, including agricultural producers, tribal nations, non-profits, state agencies, and schools spanning both rural and urban areas. To help target funds to high-impact projects, FNS awarded bonus points to applications serving schools with a high population of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals; submitted by or serving tribal nations; and located in or targeting an Opportunity Zone, a census tract designation for low-income communities. In all, the projects will serve more than 7,610 schools and 2.5 million students, more than half of whom are eligible for free or reduced priced meals.
Farm to School Grants support a wide range of activities that increase the amount of local foods served in child nutrition programs and teach children about food and agriculture. Examples of grant projects funded by the 2020 Farm to School Grants include:
- Urban Ventures in Minnesota plans to collaborate with the University of Minnesota’s School of Horticulture Science & Agriculture to operate a mobile farmers market for kids at two urban elementary schools where 94% of students receive free or reduced-price meals. The market will allow kids to sample new foods, participate in cooking classes, and take part in hands on education.
- Bishop Paiute Tribe in California will be scaling-up current farm-to-school activities and further strengthening existing collaborations between the Bishop Paiute Tribe Food Sovereignty Program (FSP) and Bishop Indian Head Start (BIHS) by implementing a food safety plan, developing an afterschool summer garden program, and integrating more traditional and culturally appropriate foods in both school gardens and on school menus.
- West Virginia Department of Agriculture plans to institutionalize farm to school programming across West Virginia through a variety of activities, including hiring a state farm to school coordinator and developing a marketing campaign to build relationships between producers and school representatives.
Visit the FNS website for more information about this year’s grantees and projects.
Since the Farm to School Grant Program’s inception in 2013, USDA has awarded over $52 million to support 719 projects across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico. These projects are reaching nearly 21 million students in 47,000 schools.
In addition to the Farm to School Grants, FNS awarded a brand-new grant in 2020 – the Regional Farm to School Institute Grants – to two grantees earlier this year. Grants of approximately $100,000 each were awarded to First Nations Development Institute, serving tribal communities in the Midwest, and Shelburne Farms, serving school districts in the Northeast. Funds are being used to develop and deliver farm to school training, create and disseminate information on developing farm to school programs, and provide ongoing coaching and technical assistance.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide -based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.
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