NSAC's Blog

Request for Applications for Farm to School Grants

April 17, 2012

On April 17, USDA announced new funding that aims to provide fresh, healthy food for children in schools across America, and to bolster and sustain local farmers and ranchers.

The agency said today that $3.5 million in funding will be available to help local school districts organize and implement Farm to School programs.  These critical initiatives seek to educate children about where their food comes from and improve the quality of school meals.  At the same time, they also improve local and regional food systems and create new markets for local food producers.

The new competitive Farm to School Grants program was created in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, also known as the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization.  NSAC, together with the National Farm to School Network and Community Food Security Coalition, championed the inclusion of the Farm to School program in that legislation, working with many senators and representatives led by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ).  That Act makes $5 million a year available for Farm to School programs, beginning October 1, 2012.  USDA’s plan for the other $1.5 million is still under development.

Schools interested in seeking funding for the first round of Farm to School Grants can learn more from the USDA Request for Applications.  Proposals are due by June 15.

Grant Program Details

In accordance with the legislation, USDA said it will prioritize projects that serve school districts and schools that have high free and reduced price meal enrollment.  Additionally, the agency indicated it will be interested in innovative local and regional food procurement strategies.  USDA also said it encourages eligible entities to submit “cluster” applications where a USDA investment in, for example, one school district working in concert with several additional districts, might benefit a wider geographic area than funding to any one entity.

There will be two kinds of awards, planning and implementation.

  • Planning grants will range from $20,000 to $45,000 and comprise 25 percent of total awards.  These awards are intended to help school districts and schools organize and structure Farm to School activities. 
  • Implementation grants, accounting for 75 percent of total awards, will range from $65,000 to $100,000.  School districts, schools, state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers or groups of agricultural producers, and non-profit entities may use these awards to further develop existing Farm to School programs.

Grant applicants must provide at least 25 percent of the costs of the grant project from non-federal sources.

Key Dates

  • May 15, 3:00 EST: Implementation Grants Webinar
  • May 17, 1:00 EST: Planning Grants Webinar
  • May 18: (Suggested) Letter of Intent Deadline
  • June 15: Proposals Due (www.grants.gov)
  • July 15: Feedback on the RFA Due to USDA (details below)
  • October 1, or shortly after: Awards Announced and Funds Available (pending availability)

Additional Information

To learn more about the Farm to School Grants, register for USDA’s Farm to School Listserve.

You can also contact USDA:

Finally, since this is a new program, USDA is still collecting feedback from advocates and stakeholders on implementation of the Farm to School Grants.  You can submit feedback through July 15, 2012 to f2sfeedback@fns.usda.gov with the subject header: F2S Feedback.  NSAC submitted comments to USDA last year on how the program should be implemented and managed.

Categories: Food Safety, Grants and Programs, Local & Regional Food Systems, Nutrition & Food Access

One response to “Request for Applications for Farm to School Grants”

  1. Lonnie Avery says:

    Affordable Land for Farmers, Forever. Senator Leahy (D-VT) – This amendment will encourage land trusts to enter into new agreements that will make farms permanently affordable for full-time growers.

    Today the un-kept/not pruned Apple and Pear trees are Blossoming. Will the apples rot on the trees or be a snack for the deer or for a child?
    This amendment will encourage land trusts, New York Children in New York State will be a Win Win!