USDA offer farm-to-school grant

$5 million in assistance to be offered each year to implement programs.

April 20—The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm to School Grant Program enables the organization to assist schools implementing farm-to-school programs through grants and technical assistance. The grant program is authorized and funded through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The program will assist schools in procuring food from local producers, as well as other initiatives including nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms and cooking classes.

Effective Oct. 1, $5 million will be provided to the USDA on an annual basis to support these grants, technical assistance and the federal administrative costs related to the USDA's farm-to-school program. The money will be administered through the USDA's Food and Nutrition Services, which anticipated awarding up to $3.5 million in grants during the program's first year.

"School cafeterias are great places to champion U.S. agriculture and to teach students where their food comes from," Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said in a press release. "More and more, schools are connecting with their local farmers, ranchers and food businesses each day and these programs are a great way to bring more local offerings into school cafeterias and support U.S. producers as well. As we struggle with obesity and associated diet related diseases, farm to school programs give us one important tool to help our kids make lifelong healthy eating choices."

To apply for a grant, letters of intent are suggested, but not required, by May 18. Proposals are due June 15. To learn more about the program visit the USDA's Farm to School website.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
elderly old hands

A family’s request for at-home meal support for a patient at Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Fla., led System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Larry Altier to uncover a gap in care. He saw that only 1% of patients had been coded (diagnosed and labeled for billing purposes) as malnourished, while more than 60% of all Lee Memorial patients are over 65 years or older, a population that experiences the issue at a higher rate.

His discovery helped more rigorously identify malnutrition, but it also strengthened Lee Memorial’s community connection. The hospital launched a delivery...

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

Managing Your Business
studient orientation

When an alma mater and an employer are one in the same, it can be a win-win for both the employee and the school. Here’s how two students’ experiences with campus dining—one positive and the other negative—led them on a path to their current jobs.

A Feast to Remember

NC State University’s main campus in Raleigh, N.C. was built on farmland given to the state by Richard Stanhope Pullen; every spring, students gather to celebrate those agricultural roots through Farm Feast, an outdoor celebration with food and music. Design major Christin King remembers her first Farm Feast vividly: “...

Ideas and Innovation
nutrition facts label

Despite operators’ attempts to communicate nutrition information to guests via cards and labels on the food line, many guests still feel they have no clue what’s in their food. University of Illinois food economist Brenna Ellison shares a few guesses as to why consumers ignore these signs following a recent study on their placement in dining halls.

Q: Who is most likely to read the cards?

A: Students who were already exhibiting more healthy behaviors. So those were the students who track their intake using an app or a food diary. After the first week, we found the rates of people...

FSD Resources