Join the Challenge: Grant Opportunities Now Open
An opportunity to transform the school food system to support local and regional food systems.
CHICAGO., Feb. 1, 2024 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Midwest Region announced today two new grant opportunities available through the School Food System Transformation Challenge Sub-Grants, which is part of USDA’s Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative.
A total of four grant opportunities are available regionally and locally from the Illinois Public Health Institute’s Lake Michigan School Food System Innovation Hub (Innovation Hub) and Full Plates Full Potential. The Innovation Hub will provide funding for innovative projects in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Full Plates Full Potential will fund collaborative projects in Maine.
“These grants continue the work of USDA to transform the school food system to support local and regional food systems, expand school food procurement pathways, and engage supporting organizations.” said USDA, Food and Nutrition Service Midwest Region Administrator Dr. Vista Suarez Fletcher.
Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply for these grant opportunities:
Spark Awards and Innovation Collaborative Awards: The Illinois Public Health Institute’s Lake Michigan School Food System Innovation Hub, has two funding opportunities available. The Spark Awards will support one-year projects for school food system and marketplace improvements, while the Innovation Collaborative Awards will support two-and-a-half year projects that promote systems-level change for the school food system and marketplace.
Overall, these projects will work to connect partnerships and resources for farmers, food producers, food suppliers, food distributors, schools and school districts, and community organizations. Spark Awards will provide funding ranging from $10,000 to $75,000 each, and the Innovation Collaborative Awards will provide funding of up to $100,000 per year, totaling up to $250,000 per award. The request for applications for both awards open on February 1, 2024. An informational webinar on this grant opportunity will be held on February 14, 2024. Applications close on April 30, 2024.
The Supporting Culinary Innovation & Healthy Meals by Offering Our Local Food (SCHOOL Food) Grant and the School Food System Innovation Grant: Full Plates Full Potential (Full Plates) will provide $7.4 million in funding to collaborative food system partners to increase the use of local ingredients in Maine school meals. The SCHOOL Food Grant supports Maine school food authorities (SFA) and local partners in planning and piloting innovative and collaborative projects to address challenges in sourcing and serving local, scratch-cooked, and culturally relevant foods.
The School Food System Innovation Grant supports innovative and collaborative pilot projects that may be regional or statewide in scale, addressing unique barriers faced by schools in increasing their use of local items in school meal programs.
The total funding available for the SCHOOL Food Grant $3,500,000 and $3,900,000 for the School Food System Innovation Grant. A sneak peek webinar for potential applicants will be held on February 13, 2024. An informational webinar for the School Food System Innovation Grant will be held on March 5, 2024, and for the SCHOOL Food Grant on March 7, 2024. The applications for both grant opportunities open on Feb. 26, 2024, and close on May 1, 2024, with grant awards announced in June 2024.
To learn more about the Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative and the School Food System Transformation Challenge Grants, visit the School Food System Transformation Challenge webpage.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) leverages its 15 nutrition assistance programs to ensure that children, low-income individuals, and families have opportunities for a better future through equitable access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food, while building a more resilient food system. Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, FNS is fighting to end food and nutrition insecurity for all through programs such as SNAP, school meals, and WIC. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more, visit www.fns.usda.gov.
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