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Grant Applications to Improve School Meals through Local, Regional Partnerships Now Open

Applications are now open for the School Food Systems Transformation Challenge Sub-Grants, which is part of USDA’s Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative.

These grants will transform the K-12 school food marketplace by increasing collaboration between school districts, food producers, suppliers, distributors, and/or community partners. Students can expect to see improvements in the quality of food on their plates, thanks to these new efforts.

FNS encourages all eligible applicants to consider applying for one or both grant opportunities:

  • Supporting Community Agriculture and Local Education Systems (Project SCALES): Led by the Center for School and Community Partnerships at Boise State University, these projects will increase the procurement of locally sourced foods by developing innovative partnerships between schools and producers; growers; and processors. In addition, schools will be supported in the preparation of the foods and promoting them to students. Project SCALES was awarded $16.1 million and will provide two cohorts with sub-grants of up to $150,000 each (70 total). Two informational webinars on this grant opportunity will be held on Dec. 6, 2023 (English) and Dec. 13, 2023 (Spanish). Applications for the first cohort will close on Jan. 26, 2024. Applications for the second cohort will open in 2025.
  • Partnerships for Local Agriculture & Nutrition Transformation in Schools (PLANTS): Led by Chef Ann Foundation, these projects will support regional efforts to expand scratch-cooked meal programs, increase equity, foster a resilient supply chain, and create scalable and sustainable change for school districts across the country. Chef Ann Foundation’s PLANTS was awarded $7.8 million and will provide sub-grants of $500,000-$600,000 to each of eight awardees. These grants will increase opportunities for regional small- and mid-scale producers, aggregators, and processors to become part of the K-12 school food market. An informational webinar on this grant opportunity will be held on Nov. 29, 2023. Applications close on Jan. 22, 2024.

Applications for sub-grants managed by two other organizations – Full Plates Full Potential and Illinois Public Health Institute – will open in early 2024. Collectively, the four organizations were awarded $50 million by USDA to administer these sub-grants.

Eligible organizations are encouraged to check the USDA’s Healthy Meals Incentives website to learn more about the School Food Systems Transformation Challenge Sub-Grants. For updates, sign up for the bi-monthly newsletter at the bottom right of the USDA Team Nutrition website.

Page updated: December 18, 2023