U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the award of more than $9 million in USDA Farm to School Program grants that will increase the amount of healthy, local foods served in schools and create economic opportunities for nearby farmers.
This year marks an all-time high of funding and projects in the program, with grants supporting 126 selected projects across 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These projects are expected to serve more than 3.2 million students in over 5,400 schools.
“The farm to school grants announced today connect schools with the farmers, ranchers, and producers in their communities,” Secretary Perdue said. “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.”
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 healthy 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.
Farm to school activities strengthen local economies. 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.
“Our nation’s food supply depends on more young people entering the field of agriculture as farmers retire,” said Perdue. “Farm to school inspires young people to consider careers in agriculture and food systems.”
Since 2013, the USDA Farm to School Grant Program has offered annual grants to schools, school districts, nonprofits, state agencies, agricultural producers, and Indian tribal organizations to plan, implement, or provide training on farm to school activities. FNS is committed to working with schools and agricultural partners to ensure healthy habits take root in early childhood.