December 2, 2014
December 2, 2014, Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced more than $5 million in grants for 82 projects in 42 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands through the USDA Farm to School Grant program, which promotes healthy kids through nutritious school meals and snacks incorporating food products from local and regional producers, and food and agricultural literacy among K-12 students. The program also helps boost economic opportunities for local and regional farmers and spur economic and community development.
Since 2012, the USDA Farm to School Grant Program has successfully helped expand marketing opportunities for local and regional producers and increase students’ access to nutritious, local food through the awarding of $15.1 million in grants to 221 farm to school projects in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Mandatory funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program was first secured in the 2010 Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR), also known as the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, through a campaign of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), the National Farm to School Network (NFSN), and other partners. The campaign resulted in $40 million in mandatory funding to get the Farm to School Grant Program up and running.
Among the tasks for the incoming Congress in 2015 is passage of a new CNR, an omnibus bill authorizing all federal school meal and child nutrition programs, thus helping to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious food year-round.
Comments of Eugene Kim, NSAC Policy Specialist, on today’s USDA announcement:
“With the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 set to expire in September 2015, Congress needs to ensure that a strong new reauthorization is passed in 2015. A strong bill will include strengthening the highly successful Farm to School Grant program, which is currently only able to fund one in five applications.”
“As the most recent round of Farm to School program demonstrates, the appetite to support programs benefiting kids, farmers, and schools, remains high. We need a revised Child Nutrition Act that will expand children’s access to nutritious meals and snacks using food from local and regional producers, increase student learning in nutrition, food, and agriculture, and improve marketing opportunities for our nation’s local producers and their families. The upcoming reauthorization process is a prime opportunity for the new Congress to support effective programs that simultaneously help improve public health, foster economic growth, and create new markets and farming opportunities.”
NSAC is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to support the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.