Special Edition: Congratulations to the 2017 Farm to School Grantees!

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Volume 3, Issue 16, June 13, 2017

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Magdalena group photo
Students from Magdalena School District, a 2017 Farm to School grantee along with Erin Healy, Director of the Office of Community Food Systems, Farm to School Regional Lead, Rachel Spencer, and Southwest Regional Director for School Nurition Programs, Eddie Longoria

Congratulations 2017 Farm to School Grantees!

$5 Million in Grants Will Create Healthier School Meals and Support Local Farmers in 42 States and Puerto Rico

The Office of Community Food Systems congratulates all of the 2017 Farm to School Grant recipients! USDA’s Farm to School Grants fund school districts, state and local agencies, Indian Tribal Organizations, agricultural producers, and non-profit organizations in their efforts to increase local foods served through child nutrition programs, teach children about food and agriculture through garden and classroom education, and develop schools’ and farmers’ capacities to participate in farm to school. Awards ranging from $14,500 to $100,000 are distributed in four different grant categories: Planning, Implementation, Support Service, and Training.

For the 2017 - 2018 school year, 65 grants will serve more than 5,500 schools and 2 million students, nearly 54 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Funded projects include:

  • Indian River Central School District, in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, is implementing a comprehensive farm to school plan to provide fresh, local, nutritious food that benefits the community and local farmers. The farm to school plan will include district-wide curricular elements, a primary school garden, and taste-tests.

  • The Good Acre, a non-profit food hub is partnering with four local school districts to increase the amount of local food available to schools in the great Twin Cities Region. The Good Acre will also develop replicable farm to school tools and models, establish food processing capacity to supply local produce ingredients to schools beyond the typical growing season, and provide tailored training and resources to schools.

  • Nebraska Department of Education will offer resources and online opportunities to promote and support "Nebraska Thursdays", a school program that serves one meal per month with food that is sourced as much as possible from within Nebraska.

  • Georgia Organics' project will develop and disseminate two essential trainings: the 2017 Farm to School Summit and the Farm to School track at the 2018 Georgia Organics Conference. As two of the most comprehensive farm to school trainings offered in Georgia, these meet a timely need to prepare stakeholders to meet Georgia's 202 Vision for School Nutrition (released in December 2015) which includes ambitious local food procurement goals.

  • Karuk Tribe will enhance K-12 students' understanding of the connections between and the direct experience with traditional foods, physical health and diet-related disease prevention. They will expand and implement culturally relevant “Native Health” lesson plans; facilitate field activities for experiential learning about conventional and Native foods, fibers, and medicinal plants; enhance school and Native plant gardens; conduct Native plant processing, traditional crafts, provide locally sourced foods; and facilitate conventional and Native food cooking classes for a “hands on” approach to our local food systems.

For a complete list of 2017 recipients, please see the 2017 Farm to School List of Awardees.  

Farm to school works to help revitalize rural economies. According to the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census, in school year 2013 - 2014 alone, schools purchased more than $789 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. Nearly half (47 percent) of these districts plan to purchase even more local foods in future school years.

Farm to school helps healthy habits take root early. Early childhood is the ideal time to establish healthy eating habits. Farm to preschool works to connect early child care and education settings to local food producers with the objectives of serving locally-grown, healthy foods to young children, providing related nutrition education, and improving child nutrition.

In 2010, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) formally established the Farm to School Program within USDA to improve access to local foods in schools. To fulfill the farm to school mandate in the HHFKA, effective October 1, 2012, $5 million will be provided to the USDA on an annual basis to support grants, technical assistance, and the Federal administrative costs related to USDA's farm to school program.

Since the grant program's inception in FY 2013, USDA has invested over $25 million in farm to school grant funds. Projects have been funded in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.