The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the projects selected to receive the USDA’s annual farm to school grants designed to increase the amount of local foods served in schools. Sixty-five projects were chosen nationwide.
- $100,000: The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries will use grant funds to assist farmers with GAP certification, revise the Alabama farm to school website, develop a state-wide promotional campaign, and support school garden curriculum development. The Druid City Garden Project will utilize funds to facilitate building mobile cooking units for schools to engage students in cooking demonstrations with produce grown in school gardens.
- $100,000: The Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Agriculture will assist communities in tailoring their farm to school efforts to their strengths, resources, and interests by creating a regional model of farm to school stakeholder engagement. The project team believes this will help bring ownership for farm to school activities, increase community buy-in, and develop project sustainability.
- $31,381: The Arkansas Agriculture Department will build cross-sector farm to school leadership by training growers,valuing chain partners, state agency personnel and policy makers in Arkansas and surrounding states.
- $99,966: The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Office of Farm to Fork will transition the California Farm to School Network (CFSN) to the Office and strengthen the already robust statewide organization with a five-pronged approach, which will result in an increase in fresh California foods offered at school meals across the state and an increase in sales for California farmers.
- $100,000: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will create a state-wide celebration, "Iowa Local Food Day." Unifying the state in a local food project will (1) provide a strong support network, (2) aid food service directors in making local procurements, (3) engage more farmers in growing and selling produce to schools, (4) help growers ramp up school sales by working on a smaller scale with Summer
Food Service Programs, (5) allow farm to school activities to expand beyond fruits and vegetable , and (6) raise awareness of farm to school across the state.
- $97,662: The Maryland Department of Agriculture in partnership with Maryland State Department of Education will engage all of Maryland’s 24 school systems to expand the amount of locally-grown foods procured in the Summer Meals program and increase enrichment programming activities. Statewide activities will include a local food market feasibility study of supply chain partners in Summer Meals, Harvest of the Month summer campaign, technical assistance training, a rural culinary school vegetable processing pilot, and agriculture and nutrition-based activities with a focus on farmers markets and on-site gardens.
- $90,945: The New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Food and Nutrition, will provide funding to FoodCorps service sites for taste tests and school garden start up or expansion at approximately thirty schools. The State Agency will host the Second Annual Farm to School Summit - a statewide summit to bring farmers, produce distributors/brokers, food service management companies, self-op programs, vendors, school business officials, administrators, educators and school boards together for networking and sharing on the benefits and best practices of farm to school, farm to summer and farm to pre-school.
- $17,764: “OKC Students Learn to Eat Local” involves increasing students' knowledge and understanding of where local food comes and how to make better food choices when it comes to their health with in-class education, farmer’s market field trips, interactions with local growers, and hands-on learningexperiences at the farm.
- $96,625: Washington State Department of Agriculture will establish a statewide Washington Farm to School Network to provide a framework for communication and coordination among farm to school programs across the state. The Network will support new and existing farm to school programs by increasing access to support and collaboration as well as identify existing gaps in current resources and services.
“Increasing the amount of local foods in America’s schools is a win-win for everyone,” said Cindy Long, Deputy Administrator for Child Nutrition Programs at USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which administers the Department’s school meals programs. “Farm to school projects foster healthy eating habits among America’s school-age children, and local economies are nourished, as well, when schools buy the food they provide from local producers.”
According to the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census, schools with strong farm to school programs report higher school meal participation, reduced food waste, and increased willingness of the students to try new foods, such as fruits and vegetables. In addition, in school year 2013-2014 alone, schools purchased more than $789 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. Nearly half (47 percent) of these districts plan to purchase even more local foods in future school years.
Grants range from $14,500 to $100,000, awarding a total of $5 million to schools, state agencies, tribal groups, and nonprofit organizations for farm to school planning, implementation, or training. Projects selected are located in urban, suburban and rural areas in 42 states and Puerto Rico, and they are estimated to serve more than 5,500 schools and 2 million students. View the full press statement here.