September 16, 2016
Farm to school programs are a win for kids, farmers, and communities. They empower our children and their families by informing them about their food system and giving them the tools and confidence to make healthy choices. At the same time they support local farmers financially by connecting them to new market opportunities.
In March, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the results of their 2015 Farm to School Census. The census shows definitively that farm to school programs result in increased market opportunities for local farmers. According to the census local food purchasing from these school districts translated into nearly $800 million spent on local food during the 2013-2014 school year.
The growth in farm to school programs and the increased market opportunities for farmers has been aided by the small but powerful USDA Farm to School Grant program.
On September 13, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Office of Community Food Systems released a request for applications (RFA) for up to $5 million in grant funds.
Since 2012, the Farm to School Grant Program, administered by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), has provided $5 million in grants each year on a competitive basis 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.
This year’s announcement invites proposals for the funding available for fiscal year 2017. Four different types of grant categories are available for this latest round of F2S funding available:
Planning grants range from $20,000 – $45,000, implementation grants and support service grants from $65,000 – $100,000, and training grants from $15,000 – $25,000 (state-focused) or from $25,00 – $50,000 (regional or national). All four grant types require matching funds in the form of 25 percent of the total project cost.
To help prospective applicants, On September 29, 2016; USDA will host a webinar at 1:00 pm EST to review the RFA. Click here to register.
Complete grant applications must be uploaded to www.grants.gov by 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time (EST), on December 8, 2016.
More information about the program including access to the RFA, a frequently asked questions document and additional application tools can be found here.