On April 17, USDA released the request for applications (RFA) for the new Farm to School Grant Program. This year, $3.5 million in funding will be made available to help school districts implement farm to school programs that improves access to local foods. Grant funds are available for two different types of grants: planning and implementation grants. The deadline to submit a letter of intent is May 18. The final due date for proposals is June 15. USDA is also soliciting feedback from stakeholders and advocates on the implementation of the Farm to School Grant Program through July 15. See below for more important dates.
Learn more information about the grant process and download the RFA on the USDA Farm to School website.
The competitive Farm to School Grant program was created through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010, or the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization. In 2009 and 2010, CFSC, with the National Farm to School Network and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, worked tirelessly to win $40 million in mandatory funding for the new grants program. Beginning October 1, 2012, $5 million will be made available to USDA per year to fulfill the mandate of the HHFKA. USDA plans for the remaining $1.5 million this year are still under development.
Grant funds will be made available on a competitive basis for two types of grants:
- Planning grants are intended only for schools and school districts that are just starting farm to school activities to help them organize and structure their efforts. They are expected to range from $20,000 to $45,000 and represent approximately 25 percent of the total awards.
- Implementation grants are intended to further develop existing farm to school initiatives. They are expected to account for 75 percent of the total awards and range from $65,000 to $100,000. Schools and school districts, as well as a variety of other entities like state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers or groups of agricultural producers, and non-profit entities may use these awards to further develop existing Farm to School programs.
In keeping with the HHFKA, USDA will prioritize projects that serve schools and school districts with high free and reduced price meal enrollment. USDA also encourages eligible entities to submit “cluster” applications where, for example, one school district works together with several nearby school districts to benefit a greater geographic area.
- May 15, 1:00 EST: Implementation Grants Webinar
- May 17, 1:00 EST: Planning Grants Webinar
- May 18: (Suggested) Letter of Intent Deadline
- June 15: Proposals Due (www.grants.gov)
- July 15: Feedback on the RFA Due to USDA
- October 1, or shortly after: Awards Announced and Funds Available (pending availability)
For more information about USDA webinars and other updates, sign up for USDA’s Farm to School Listserve.
You can also contact USDA:
- Deborah Kane, National Director, Farm to School Program, Food & Nutrition Services (FNS), Deborah.Kane@fns.usda.gov or 503.326.2010
- Gregory Walton, Grants Management Specialist, FNS, Greg.Walton@fns.usda.gov or 703.305.1575
USDA is still collecting feedback from stakeholders on implementation of the Farm to School Grants. You can submit feedback through July 15, 2012 to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header: F2S Feedback.