UPDATED: Congratulations to the 2018 Farm to School Grantees!

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Volume 4, Issue 13, June 21, 2018

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Kids holding produce bags

Congratulations 2018 Farm to School Grantees!

$5.2 Million in Grants Will Support Local Food in Child Nutrition Programs in 43 States, D.C., and Guam

The Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) congratulates all of the 2018 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.

For the 2018 - 2019 school year, 73 grants will serve more than 6,006 schools and 2.8 million students, nearly 66 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Funded projects include:

  • Guam Department of Education aims to encourage students to consume locally grown fruits and vegetables by working with schools to sustain school garden projects, integrate agriculture and nutrition education into existing curriculum, and implement innovative student learning activities such as taste tests and culinary contests.

  • Mississippi Association of Cooperatives (Association) will train farmers and cooperatives to increase their farm to school procurement knowledge. In addition to the training opportunities, the Association will (1) develop an edible school garden in two school districts, (2) promote healthier food choices, and (3) conduct two farm to school reality tours in which the farmer visits the school and the school visits the farm.

  • Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB) will develop students’ ability to make connections between the natural world, their community, and themselves. Their program goals are to (1) increase student access to local foods, (2) advance educational opportunities, and (3) improve classroom concepts through agricultural innovation. Staff will accomplish this goal through their 3-acre education farm which includes, one acre of production, a riparian buffer, a raised bed garden, a small greenhouse/workspace, a sensory garden, and a youth garden business.
  • District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) will build upon a strong partnership that already exists between DCPS and non-profit partners to implement an innovative approach of using farm to school objectives to transform the cafeteria experience for DCPS elementary students. Key components of the project include (1) adopting the Good Food Purchasing Policy, (2) offering scratch-cooked recipes students are familiar with through FRESHFARM FoodPrints classes, (3) providing coaching for cafeteria staff and students from a Wellness in the Schools Chef, and (4) infusing the physical environment of school cafeterias with photographs of students harvesting and preparing the same recipes in their FoodPrints school gardens and teaching kitchens.

For a complete list of 2018 recipients, please see the FY 2018 Farm to School List of Awardees.  

Farm to school gives schools and school districts local control and flexibility to offer seasonally-available, regionally-produced foods on their menu, often sourced directly from local farmers.

Farm to school benefits everyone from students, to teachers, parents, and producers. Connecting communities to their local farmers, ranchers, and fishers builds stronger ties to the community and a culture of appreciation for those who care for our land.  

Farm to school introduces students to agricultural career paths. As America’s farmers retire, our nation’s food supply depends on more young people entering the field of agriculture. Farm to school inspires young people to consider careers in agriculture and food systems.

USDA has invested over $30 million in 437 farm to school projects since the program began in 2013. The projects span all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Farm to School Grant Program Announcement

Kids eating school lunch

OCFS received additional funding appropriated through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill for the Farm to School Grant Program. Over the next two grant cycles, OCFS will release an additional $5 million in farm to school grant funds to support farm to school activities across the nation. This means that there will be at least $7 million in available farm to school funds in fiscal years 2019 and 2020! Additional funding will help reach more communities seeking to incorporate local products into the school meals program, integrate agricultural education in the classroom, and cultivate and expand school gardens. The FY 2019 Farm to School Grant Request for Applications (RFA) will be released in fall 2018! Keep reading The Dirt for the latest updates regarding the next Farm to School Grant RFA!