Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan Wednesday announced USDA's application process for the latest round of Farm to School grants is now open. These grants help eligible schools improve the health and wellbeing of their students and connect with local agricultural producers.
"USDA's Farm to School grants connect schools with their local farmers, ranchers and food businesses, providing new economic opportunities to food producers and bringing healthy, local offerings into school cafeterias," Merrigan said. "Investing in farm to school programs is yet another important opportunity to encourage our nation's kids to make lifelong healthy eating choices."
This year, three different kinds of grants will be available. Planning grants are intended for schools just getting started on farm to school activities, while implementation grants are available for schools seeking to augment or expand existing efforts.
Additionally, eligible non-profit entities, Indian tribal organizations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers or groups of producers may apply for support service grants in order to conduct trainings, create complementary curriculum, or further develop supply chains, among other activities.
To assist eligible entities in preparing proposals, USDA will host a series of webinars related to the application process: March 5, 2013, 1:00 EST – Planning Grants; March 6, 2013, 1:00 EST – Implementation Grants; and March 7, 2013, 1:00 EST – Support Service Grants.
Proposals are due at midnight EST, April 24, 2013.
The Farm to School Grant Program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which authorized and funded USDA to assist eligible entities, through grants and technical assistance, in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools.
The Act provides $5 million annually to support grants, technical assistance, and the federal administrative costs related to USDA's Farm to School Program. In this funding cycle, USDA anticipates awarding up to $5 million in grants.
Farm to School is also one component of USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, launched in 2009 to coordinate the Department's work on local and regional food systems and create new opportunities for farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural communities.
For more information on the Farm to School grant program, click here.