2018 Farm to School Grant RFA Now Available!

united stated department of agriculture logo

Volume 3, Issue 25, October 5, 2017

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
National Farm to School Month

2018 Farm to School Grant RFA is Now Available!

October is here and it is time to celebrate everything we love and know about Farm to School! From taste test to farm visits, to buying local foods and training farmers and producers, farm to school supports our local communities.

This October, the Office of Community Food Systems is excited to release the FY 2018 Farm to School Request for Applications (RFA).

The purpose of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is to assist eligible entities in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 tasked USDA with supporting farm to school efforts through grants, training, technical assistance, and research. For FY 2018, we offer the following grants:

  • Implementation grants are intended to help schools, school districts, state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, small- and medium-sized agricultural producers or groups of small- and medium-sized agricultural producers, and non-profit entities working with schools or school districts to scale or further develop existing farm to school initiatives. Implementation awards range from $50,000 - $100,000.

  • Planning grants are for schools or school districts, state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, small- and medium-sized agricultural producers or groups of small- and medium-sized agricultural producers, and non-profit entities working with schools or school districts that are just getting started on farm to school activities. These funds are intended to help these entities organize and structure their efforts for maximum impact by embedding known best practices into early design considerations. Planning awards range from $20,000 - $50,000.

  • Training grants are intended for state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, small- and medium-sized agricultural producers or groups of small- and medium-sized agricultural producers, and non-profit entities to support trainings that strengthen farm to school supply chains, or trainings that provide technical assistance in the area of local procurement, food safety, culinary education, and/or integration of agriculture‐based curriculum. Training awards range from $20,000 - $50,000.

Interested in applying? Complete applications must be submitted on grants.gov by 11:59pm ET on December 8, 2017. Check out our resources for applicants and see a list of awardees since the release of our first RFA in 2013!

How are you celebrating National Farm to School Month?

Using social media to share your Farm to School Month activities? If so, use #farmtoschool and #F2SMonth. We want Farm to School to trend this October!

Webinars and Resources

National Farm to School Network Logo

Webinar: Economic Impacts of Farm to School

Date: October 11 from 12:00pm - 1:00pm ET

This webinar is part of a wider effort to promote the release of the associated report “Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools” (a collaborative project of the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University). Panelists will discuss findings of the new report, highlight the use of two key resources for conducting economic impact studies of food system initiatives and their application to farm to school economic impact assessment, and discuss continuing work to better understand the impacts of farm to school activities. 

Tomatoes on the Vine

Value Added Producer Resource Grants

The Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Applicants may receive priority if they are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain.

Partnering for More Successful Summers: Bringing together summer meals, SNAP-Ed, and local farmers to better serve communities 

Summer meals may be over for 2017; however, fall is the perfect time to start planning for next year’s success.  This webinar discusses best practices and strategies for collaborating with SNAP-educators and farmers markets to enhance your meal program with local foods and engaging activities. 

National Farm to School Month Spotlight!

Boy eats school lunch

Whitsons at York Suburban School District Supports Farm-to-School with Fun Activities for Students!

Earlier this year, York Suburban School District received a farm-to-school grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education Division of Food and Nutrition. The purpose of the grant is to provide students with access to fresh, healthy food sourced locally, and to implement farm to school activities such as: student taste-test of local products, farm-related field trips, school garden activities, and efforts to incorporate local products in school meals.

Helen Heidler, Food Service Director for Whitsons Culinary Group at York Suburban School District, explains that the grant was written to support three local vegetable tasting events that took place last school year.

These events included:

Where have you Bean? - Featured different types of beans.
Lettuce Entertain You! - Focused on a variety of leafy greens in a chef-created lettuce wrap.
We are Rooting for You! - Introduced students to different types of root vegetables. 

Who is your farmer poster

Once students tried the food samples, they were given a sticker and were encouraged to place it on the “I tried it” board to indicate if they liked it, loved it, or it’s not for me. Students enjoyed this activity because it allowed them to try foods that they may not have tried or even seen before.

Local area farmers from Flinchbaugh’s Orchard, Miller Plant Farm, and Brouge Hydroponics were invited to attend the events and provide information about their farms along with nutritional details, which were on display in the cafeteria for students to review.

This year, plans are underway to partner with Brown’s Orchard, a local family orchard that has a pit master. The pit master will bring his smoker to York’s secondary schools and prepare fresh pressed apple cider infused pork, prepared on smoked apple wood from the orchard. Several fresh apple varieties, as well as some garden fresh grilled and roasted veggies will also be served.

Helen and her team partner with York County Buy Fresh Buy Local and the York County Food Alliance each year to plan amazing events for National Farm to School Month!