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.