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USDA Farm to School Grant Program

School NutritionSchool garden

The USDA is accepting applications for Farm to School Grants. The USDA is expected to award $3.5 million to schools to plan and implement farm to school programs. The first deadline is May 18, so time is already running out.

The Farm to School initiative is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It’s intended to increase the availability of fresh, healthy food in school cafeterias, while at the same time, provide a boost to local economies.

Two types of grants are being offered: a planning grant and an implementation grant. A school can apply for only one.

The planning grant is for schools that have decided to start a farm to school program, but don’t know what to do. With the grant, a school will be able to assess their readiness, determine reasonable menu items for the farm to school program, buy necessary equipment, and develop an implementation plan. Planning grants will range from $20,000 to $45,000. The school must provide at least 25% of the funds for the program.

An implementation grant is meant to assist schools that already have farm to school programs running and want to expand the program. Possibilities for expansion include, but are not limited to, starting school gardens, forming buying groups with other farm to school participants, training food service employees, and developing curriculum focusing on nutrition. Implementation grants will range from $65,000 to $100,000.

A more detailed description of the grants is available in pdf format.Β  The pdf includes instructions on applying.

The first deadline is May 18, 2012. Letters of intent must be received by the USDA by then.

By June 15, proposals are due. The money will be sent to the chosen grant recipients starting in October.Β  Good luck!

School garden photo via Shutterstock