More than $9 million in USDA Farm to School Program grants to support 126 projects in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been announced.
“The farm to school grants announced today connect schools with the farmers, ranchers, and producers in their communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Everybody wins with Farm to School. USDA is proud to help the next generation better understand where its food comes from, while strengthening local economies.”
The funded projects are expected to serve more than 3.2 million students in more than 5,400 schools.
This record-breaking year for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program was made possible by increased funding from Congress for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, which enabled USDA to award 52 more grants than the previous highest year of 2016 when 74 were granted. Grants range from $20,000 to $100,000 and fund equipment purchases and experiential learning activities, including planting school gardens, offering taste tests to children, and organizing field trips to local farms and food producers.
Among the organizations that will receive Farm to School Grants are:
- The Louisiana Department of Education, which intends to bolster existing Louisiana Farm to School (LaF2S) activities and develop Seeds to Success! This will guide schools in curriculum planning and promoting lifetime involvement in agriculture.
- The Parma City School District (Ohio), which will build and implement farm to table programming throughout the community through collaboration with all district programs, such as Career Technical Education, Special Education, and Nutrition Services.
- Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, which will develop a partnership with Miami Public Schools to facilitate planning the introduction and regular consumption of locally raised bison meat into the student lunch program.
- In addition, two agricultural producers, Green City Growers, LLC (Somerville, Mass.) and the North Country Farmers’ Cooperative (Colebrook, N.H.) were also awarded grants.
USDA’s 2015 Farm to School Census found that in the 2013-2014 school year alone, schools purchased more than $789 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. Schools provide producers stable markets and long-term revenues, and the program introduces students to agricultural career paths.