Funding Available for Farm to School Projects
February 6th, 2013
On February 6, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced the release of the Request for Applications (RFA) for its Fiscal Year 2014 Farm to School Grant Program. There will be $5 million in federal funding available in this 2014 funding round to help school districts plan for and implement Farm to School programs.
Farm to School programs help school districts source fresh, local food and provide complementary hands-on educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, gardening, and nutrition.
In 2009 and 2010 during the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, NSAC worked with the National Farm to School Network and other partners to create and win a total of $40 million in mandatory funding for a new USDA Farm to School Grant program.
New Grant Type this Year
Farm to School planning grants and Farm to School implementation grants remain available options, as they were in the 2013 grant round. An important change to this year’s RFA is the addition of a third grant category for Support Services.
The Support Services Grants are intended for eligible entities working with schools or school districts to further develop and provide broad reaching support services to Farm to School initiatives. According to the RFA, eligible activities for this new grant category include “training and technical assistance, supply-chain development, evaluation activities, curriculum development, creation of promotional materials or campaigns, and formation of networks or coalitions.”
Grant Types and Who Can Apply
Grant funds will be made available on a competitive basis, subject to availability of federal funds. In this funding round, USDA will solicit applications for three types of grants:
- Planning grants are for schools or school districts just getting started on Farm to School activities and are intended to help these entities organize and structure their efforts for maximum impact by embedding known best practices into early design considerations. Who can apply: K-12 School Food Authorities, nonprofit private schools, charter schools, Indian tribal schools, and others that participate in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs.
- Implementation grants are intended to help schools or school districts scale up or further develop existing Farm to School initiatives. Who can apply: K-12 School Food Authorities, nonprofit private schools, charter schools, Indian tribal schools, and others that participate in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs.
- Support Service grants are intended for eligible entities working with schools or school districts to further develop and provide broad reaching support services to Farm to School initiatives. Who can apply: State and local agencies, nonprofit organizations, Indian tribal organizations, and agricultural producers or groups of agricultural producers.
Planning grants are expected to range from $20,000 – $45,000 and represent approximately 25 percent of the total awards. Implementation and Support Service grants are expected to range from $65,000 – $100,000 and represent approximately 75 percent of the total awards.
Required Match and Evaluation
For all three types of grants, the applicant must provide at least 25 percent of the total project cost as the federal share of costs for this grant cannot exceed 75 percent of the total cost of the project, as required by law. As a condition of receiving a Farm to School Grant, each grant recipient shall cooperate in an evaluation of the program carried out using grant funds.
School applicants must choose between submitting a Planning grant or an Implementation grant. Only one application per eligible school is permitted. As appropriate, USDA encourages school districts to work together and submit multi-school applications where a USDA investment in, for example, one school district working with several other districts, might benefit a wider geographic area than funding to any one district alone.
Schools are encouraged to partner with eligible entities as part of a Support Service grant proposal.
Interested applicants can learn more from the USDA Request for Applications. Proposals are due by April 24, 2013. Due to the technical nature of grant submissions, we urge applicants to not wait until the last minute to submit proposals.
- February 6, 2013: Request for Applications released
- April 24, 2013 (Midnight EST): Proposals due
- October 2013: Awards announced and funds available (pending the availability of federal funds)
Webinars to Learn More
Three webinars will be offered so that grant applicants can learn more about this grant opportunity. To receive additional information about webinars, please be sure to sign up for the USDA Farm to School E-Letter.
- March 5, 2013, 1:00 p.m. EST – Planning grants
- March 6, 2013, 1:00 p.m. EST – Implementation grants
- March 7, 2013, 1:00 p.m. EST – Support Service grants
Don’t Wait for a Webinar to Get Your Question Answered
You can get your question answered at any point in the process by contacting: Matthew Russell, Program Officer, Farm to School Grant Program, Matthew.Russell@ams.usda.gov or (202) 720-6765.