The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the 2023 recipients of its Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program. This year, the USDA awarded 103 grants, reaching an estimated 2,791 schools and more than 1.2 million students. The department also estimates that 71% of those children served are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.
Here’s a look at how six recipients plan to use the funding to boost their farm-to-school efforts.
Westland Charter School
The USDA has awarded Westland Charter School in Phoenix $22,396 to fund the construction of a greenhouse that will be used for classroom learning. Teachers and other faculty will be able to use the space to conduct science, math and social study courses for students. In addition, the greenhouse will provide increased access to local foods on the school lunch menu and allow high-schoolers to participate in job training by working with staff to maintain the space.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture will use its $499,809 in grant money to partner with six districts to purchase walk-in coolers and freezers that will store fresh, locally grown ingredients from each district's Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter and local farmers. The grant money will also go towards additional farm-to-school infrastructure, including hydroponic farms.
Berkshire Hills Regional School District
This district in Stockbridge, Mass., received $99,000 to begin a 24-month farm-to-school implementation project. Led by the superintendent, the district-wide project will allow students at all grade levels to get hands-on experience related to local foods and farming. The project will focus on four initiatives: education and training, partnerships and food, post-secondary pathways and success, and demonstration efforts. Its end goal is to integrate farm-to-school learning experiences into the district’s curriculum so they become ongoing.
Saint Louis Public Schools
Saint Louis Public Schools will use its $33,635 in grant funding to purchase hydroponic grow towers for two of its elementary schools. The towers will allow students to experience the full growth cycle of plants since Missouri’s peak growing season is during summer break. In addition, teachers will be able to utilize the towers for classroom education.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Using its $177,220 grant, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will spearhead the development of a unified Minnesota Farm to Kids vision, plan and network that will support local procurement and agriculture education in K-12 schools throughout the state.
The three focus areas of the project include:
- Developing a Minnesota Farm to Kids Strategic Plan to guide farm-to-school and farm to early care growth in the state for the next three to five years.
- Building strategic collaboration between state-level farm-to-school and farm-to-early care education leadership.
- Strengthening and expanding existing farm-to-school infrastructure to increase capacity and build participation in farm-to-school and early care education.
The department will work closely with the Minnesota Departments of Education and Health, University of Minnesota Extension, and members of Minnesota’s Farm to School Leadership Team and Farm to Early Care Advisory Team to bring the project to fruition.
Greater Albany Public School District 8J
Greater Albany Public Schools was awarded $100,000 to implement a new farm-to-school program in the district. The program will be put in place at eight of its 14 elementary schools and reach over 1,200 students in kindergarten through third grade, while high-schoolers will receive internship opportunities. In addition, families will get to participate in community activities, including garden lessons and tasting events held after school hours.