The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced $5.2 million in grant awards to bring nutritious, local foods into schools and create new economic opportunities for farmers. The grants, part of the USDA Farm to School Program, will impact over 6,000 schools and 2.8 million students nationwide.
“USDA is committed to helping our children build bright futures with good nutrition,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps. “These grants expose students to the local foods and the importance of agriculture, while supporting American farmers in both urban and rural economies.”
This year, FNS is awarding grants to 73 projects across 43 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. This brings the total USDA investment in Farm to School Grants to over $25 million across 350 farm to school projects since the program began in 2013.
The grants have been proven to produce positive outcomes for schools and communities alike. For example, the Oneida Indian Nation used its 2016 Farm to School grant to invest in an aquaponics system that enables the harvest of lettuce and tilapia, which will be used in school meals at Oneida Nation High School.
“From pre-K to high school, farm to school programs benefit everyone from students and teachers to parents and producers,” said Lipps. “Connecting people to their food builds stronger ties to community agriculture and an appreciation for those who care for our land.”
The Farm to School Grants are competitively available to eligible schools, state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers, and non-profit entities. Funds may be used for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, cultivating partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America’s nutrition safety net.