Washington, DC, 25 July 2022 The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that it will award more than $10 million in farm-to-school grants to 123 projects across the country. Additionally, for the first time, the administration is empowering states with $60 million in noncompetitive grants to develop stronger, sustainable farm-to-school programs over the next four years. Both measures will help more children across the country eat healthy, local foods.
Farm to School increases the amount of locally produced foods served through child nutrition programs, while also educating children about how foods are harvested and made. Many child nutrition operators can participate in farm to school, from states and tribal states to schools and community organizations.
“Expansion from farm to school is more important than ever for our children,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “When schools and local producers work together, children benefit from high-quality foods on their plates and program operators have consistent sources of the products they need.” Adding a farm to the school is an investment in the next generation and one of the many ways the department is promoting food security – consistent and equitable access to affordable, healthy foods that promote well-being.
The 123 competitive grant-funded projects for fiscal year 2022 will serve more than 3 million children in more than 5,000 schools in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Furthermore, the USDA acknowledges that many people have historically been underserved and marginalized through unfair diets. The projects selected by the department reflect its commitment to transforming food systems to be more equitable from farm to school:
- It is estimated that 62% of students served by these projects are eligible for free and reduced price school meals.
- 40% of projects serve rural or economically disadvantaged areas.
- Roughly 30% of organizations are led by black, Indigenous, and people of color, with projects serving those same communities.
- Seven projects are tribal nations serving Native American communities.
Since starting the USDA Farm to School program in 2013, the administration has awarded nearly $75 million in farm-to-school grants, and funded more than 1,000 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico. These projects have reached more than 25 million students in nearly 60,000 schools. For more information on how your community can participate in Farm to School activities, please visit the FNS website.
Additionally, as announced last month, the department’s $60 million non-competitive grants will allow states to better help program operators purchase and use more local foods in children’s meals between fiscal years 2023-2026. The resources will also expand agricultural education for children. More information on the distribution of funds soon.
“States and school districts with robust farm-to-school programs have been more resilient to recent supply chain disruptions, compared to operators that lack relationships with local producers,” said Stacey Dean, deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. “Farm-to-School deserves to be at the forefront of long-term solutions that operators can rely on to ensure that nutritious local produce is always within reach.”
When schools provide foods locally, they support American farmers and strengthen the economy. The USDA surveyed school food authorities nationwide in the 2019 farm-to-school census. According to the findings, in the 2018-2019 school year, school districts purchased nearly $1.3 billion in local fruits, vegetables, and other foods, nearly 20% of all school food purchases.
The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy, nutritious food in all communities, and building new markets and income sources for farmers and producers using the climate. Smart food and forest practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and a commitment to equity across management by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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