The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the recipients of its 2022 farm-to-school grants. Over $10 million was awarded to 123 farm-to-school projects throughout the country. The grants will serve over 3 million students, and the USDA estimates that 62% of those students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school.
Here’s a look at some of the grant recipients and how they will be using their new funding.
1. Hardin County Schools
Hardin County Schools in Elizabethtown, Ky., received $48,071 to implement a School-Based Enterprise (SBE) and a dual-credit horticulture course that will help students prepare for a career in agriculture. As part of the SBE, students will oversee a hydroponic growing room that will provide fresh produce for the district’s nutrition program. Dual-credit students will create a mobile hydroponic lab that will provide educational opportunities for younger students and the community.
2. Mesabi East School ISD 2711
This district in Aurora, Minn., received $99,956 to expand its current farm-to-school program. The district plans to build a regional network to grow farm-to-school initiatives across Northeastern Minnesota schools, find and connect with local farmers and producers to expand local offerings in school cafeterias, work with students to choose new menu items that use local ingredients, incorporate farm-to-school into business and art classes, create a new curriculum within farm to school and culinary art classes and increase student-grown produce using hydroponic, greenhouse and garden systems.
3. Greenville County School District
Greenville County Schools in Greenville, S.C., was awarded $35,976 to add an edible garden at its Roper Mountain Science Center (RMSC). The garden will be used by special education students who are a part of the district’s career readiness program. Students will learn to grow, harvest and store produce from the garden. The produce will then be used in meal planning and preparation at the RMSC Connections Cafe.
4. Frontier Central School District
This district in Hamburg, N.Y., will use its $58,877 grant to launch a community garden program to increase the amount of local produce used in school lunches. Frontier will partner with local farmers, cooks and other growers to educate students about the role farming plays in the local economy.
5. Sola Gratia Farm
Located in Urbana, Ill., Sola Gratia Farm will use its $100,000 grant to partner with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) and Urbana School District 116 (USD116) to launch a farm-to-school action plan created by the USD116 F2S Steering Committee. The plan will provide food education access to students, advance local procurement, expand agricultural education opportunities and broaden opportunities for community partnerships. The grant funding will also go toward hiring a district-wide farm-to-school coordinator and school garden coordinators.
6. Cleveland Municipal School District
The USDA awarded Cleveland Municipal School District $49,598 to enhance access to local fruits and vegetables for students and bolster farm-to-school initiatives. The new initiatives include increasing taste testing of local foods in the cafeteria, creating benchmarks for fruit and vegetable consumption using data from the local community and the Department of Nutrition, and piloting a farm-to-school salad bar throughout all 84 school buildings. Members of the nutrition team will also work to create a farm-to-school action plan that will be implemented in the district’s Wellness Committee, which is made up of stakeholders with a wide influence in the district and local community.
7. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe located in Eagle Butte, S.D., will use its $91,554 grant to incorporate locally sourced beef and buffalo into five school lunch programs located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. The project will signal the start of the Cheyenne River Farm-to-School Action Plan, which is intended to build relationships with local producers and promote farm-to-school efforts.