April 26, 2018

USDA Awards Grants in Farm to School Project

The USDA announced today it is awarding more than $4.5 million in grants to connect school cafeterias with local agricultural producers. The “Farm to School” grants will help schools purchase locally sourced foods and will support eduction efforts such as field trips to farms, cooking classes, and school gardens.

The 68 projects are in 37 states and the Districgt of Columbia. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said, “when schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities. Evidence also suggests that when kids understand more about where food comes from and how it is produced, they are more likely to make healthy eating choices.”

The grants serve more than 3,200 schools and 1.75 million students. One of the projects, at the Des Moines Municipal schools in New Mexico, will use the funding to increase the types of produce and meat it buys from local vendors. Thirty-one of the programs will use food hubs, working with local distributors to help schools source products. Forty-seven projects will develop partnerships with farmers and ranchers who are new to the school food markets. More than 50 projects will support hands-on learning activities such as field trips to farms.

The Farm to School program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The grants are administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. Farm to School is also part of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which creates new opportunities for farmers, ranchers, consumers, and rural communities.

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