November 19, 2013
In his third communication in as many days on the importance of local and regional food systems and marketing for America’s farmers and rural communities, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Fiscal Year 2014 awardees of the national Farm to School Grant Program.
USDA awarded $5.2 million in grants to 71 funded projects, located in 42 states plus the District of Columbia, which will serve more than 13,000 schools and 2.8 million students, nearly 45 percent of whom live in rural communities.
Since last year, the Farm to School Grant Program has provided competitive grants to schools, nonprofits, state and local agencies, agricultural producers, and Indian tribal organizations to increase local food procurement for school meal programs and to expand educational activities on agriculture and food. These grants can be used for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs.
In 2009, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), in partnership with the National Farm to School Network and other organizations, won a total of $40 million in mandatory funding for the Farm to School Grant Program in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
NSAC congratulates all the awardees and looks forward to tracking their progress in bringing healthy local food from local farmers into school meal programs. We also applaud USDA’s work on implementing the program.
In particular, we congratulate two NSAC member groups who received awards today:
Other awardees and projects of note include:
This latest round of USDA Farm to School Grant Program awards is another sign of how popular farm to school activities have become – which was also recently highlighted in the USDA Farm to School Census. USDA received a total of 345 proposals requesting a total of nearly $27 million, of which it was able to award only 71 for a total of $5.2 million. In November 2012, during its inaugural round of awards, the USDA Farm to School Program gave a total of $4.5 million in grants to 68 projects in 37 States and the District of Columbia.
House and Senate conferees currently finalizing a joint version of the new five-year federal farm bill are negotiating the differences between each chamber’s version on issues like farm to school. Specifically, these differences include:
NSAC strongly urges the conferees to adopt all three House Farm Bill provisions dealing with farm to school procurement. NSAC also encourages Congress to enhance funding for the Farm to School Grant Program when it takes up the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill again in 2015.