Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded over $12 million in farm-to-school grants to a record-breaking 176 grantees. Here’s how six of the grant recipients will be using their new funds to create or expand their farm-to-school programs.
1. West Contra Costa Unified School District
Located in Richmond, Calif., West Contra Costa Unified was awarded $50,000 to continue its farm-to-school efforts with local nonprofit Conscious Kitchen. The funding will go towards expanding the school’s efforts to serve scratch-made meals to students made with local, organic ingredients. It will also help support supply chain and process recommendations as well as menu ideation, school officials say.
2. Penasco Independent School District
This district in Penasco, N.M., received just under $50,000 to plant a 1.5-acre garden at one of its schools. The garden will grow vegetables and grains native to the area that were originally cultivated by Picuris Pueblo and Spanish settlers. Penasco will source seeds for the garden from local farms, and students will be able to work in the garden and learn about the Picuris Pueblo and Spanish settlers as part of the school curriculum. Once the produce is ready for harvest, the district will host cooking lessons using hornos (adobe ovens). Food made during the classes will then be given to students and families.
3. Daleville Community Schools
The Daleville, Ind., district will use its $50,000 grant to hire a part-time garden educator and coordinator who will be responsible for implementing hands-on educational experiences for students throughout the year. This hire will also work with teachers, the school nutrition team and local famers to increase the amount of local food used in the school nutrition program.
The grant will also go towards the district’s 4-acre outdoor learning lab and its garden plots. Produce from the lab and gardens will be used for school meals as well as for student sampling and cooking demonstrations. The funding will also allow the district to start a project called “KinderGarden,” where kindergarten students will grow carrots for the district’s nutrition program.
4. ISD 623 Roseville Area Schools
ISD 623 Roseville Area Schools in Roseville, Minn., is using its $47,095 USDA grant to hire a project manager who will be responsible for organizing outreach and coordination among area districts. It will also help tap into other community resources to create a farm-to-school program that streamlines procurement of local ingredients while also creating opportunities for smaller districts in the area that are unable to meet minimum quantities or price points for orders without group purchasing.
5. Buffalo City School District
The Buffalo, N.Y., district will use its $96,290 grant to partner with minority and socially disadvantaged farmers in the area to source crops that are used in the traditional diets of the district’s diverse student body. The district’s foodservice department will also partner with Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Providence Farm Collective and the Buffalo School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, as well as local adult and youth leaders to create new culturally appropriate recipes that will be piloted at eight schools in the district.
6. Snohomish Conservation District
Snohomish Conservation District’s $97,822 USDA grant will allow the Lake Stevens, Wash., district to partner with five local child and adult care food program preschool sites to boost the amount of locally grown produce used in school meals. The district will use recently expanded on-site gardens to provide some of the produce and will source the rest from local farmers. Some of the grant money will also be used by the district and the Washington State University SNAP-Ed program to host lessons and cooking demonstrations at the schools that are open to the community.