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USDA Awards Record-Breaking Farm to School Grants
Kentucky Ag Connection - 07/21/2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $12 million in Farm to School Grants this year, announcing awards to 176 grantees, the most projects funded since the program began in 2013. The department is also releasing new data demonstrating the recent growth of farm to school efforts nationwide. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of school districts and/or local entities responsible for school meals participated in farm to school activities during school year 2018-2019, more than half (57%) of which began within the past three years.

"Helping schools expand access to healthy, locally grown produce through these grants is just one of the many ways USDA is transforming America's food system," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Not only will this give children more nutritious food options in school, it supports local agriculture economies, while connecting them to the farms and farmers that grow the food we all depend on."

"The record-breaking Farm to School Grants and new data release today both reflect USDA's commitment to supporting farm to school efforts as a win-win for all involved," said Stacy Dean, USDA's deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. "We're excited about the growth in farm to school activity across the country and look forward to seeing the impact of this latest round of grants on children, schools, farmers, and the economy alike."

This year's Farm to School Grants will help expand the access to fresh, local foods and hands-on agricultural learning for children across 45 states and the District of Columbia. The awarded projects will serve more than 1.4 million students at more than 6,800 schools. Grantees include schools, state agencies, non-profits, tribal nations, agricultural producers and groups, and -- for the first time ever -- institutions participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program.

The latest data -- available at -- from the 2019 Farm to School Census highlight the impact of farm to school efforts on local communities. In school year 2018-19, school districts purchased nearly $1.3 billion in local fruits, vegetables, and other foods, totaling approximately 20% of all school food purchases. The newly updated Farm to School Census website features state and local breakdowns of participation and spending.

Farm to school efforts introduce more locally grown produce into school cafeterias and expose children to agriculture and nutrition education through hands-on learning. They also provide reliable revenue for American farmers, directly boosting the local economy.

In Kentucky and serving state residents are:

- Metcalfe County Board of Education, Edmonton - $81,894 - The Metcalfe County Farm to School project will improve access to local foods for all of its students and their families through comprehensive programming that includes local procurement and agricultural education efforts. The district will expand and strengthen its already thriving program on school grounds by producing more fruits and vegetables in its revamped greenhouses, new gardens, new orchard, on-campus cornfield, three school chicken coops, and a newly fenced pasture. The district is partnering with Metcalfe County Schools Food Services department, local farmers, and the local extension office to buy and sell these locally grown products. The food will be served in all school cafeterias and at many school-related events. In addition, teachers within the district are excited to add new agricultural educational activities into their current curriculum by putting students in charge of greenhouse upkeep, chicken coop maintenance, gardening, livestock tending, and culinary classes.

- Need More Acres Farm LLC (NMAF), Scottsville - $93,929 - NMAF is committed to ensuring that its farm to school efforts carry long term benefits and habit changes for the students they serve. Together with two Kentucky school systems and multiple community partners, NMAF will develop the "Farming, Culinary Arts, and Community Organizing Co-op for High Schoolers" in order to build on established Farm to School procurement and educational opportunities.

- Green Umbrella, Cincinnati -$96,524 - Green Umbrella's Food Policy Council (FPC) will lead development of the region's existing farm to school programs into a collaborative network for mutually accelerating everyone's successes. Leveraging the success of Cuyahoga County's Feed our Future model (FOF), the FPC will convene a Greater Cincinnati Regional FOF Advisory Board, enlist nine key community partners for two years to use FOF branded materials and visual components in partnership with participating schools, conduct a FOF Local Menu Takeover Mini Grant Program for eligible schools, establish a Regional Farm to School Curriculum Coordinator, launch a training program for cohorts of teachers to develop more advanced farm to school educational expertise, and coordinate connecting community education content and programs to the FOF Framework. The project will impact students and producers across the 10 counties served by Green Umbrella in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.

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