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USDA’s First Ever Farm to School Grant Connects Schools to Local Agriculture

USDA’s First Ever Farm to School Grant Connects Schools to Local Agriculture

Written by Sara Novak

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced a $4.5 million grant for the USDA’s first ever Farm to School Grant, designed to cultivate a larger connection between school cafeterias and local farms. The program includes 68 projects in 37 states under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. The projects will serve 3,700 schools and 1.75 million students, half from rural areas.

“When schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities,” Merrigan said in a statement reported on Obama Foodorama. “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 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act

The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act provided the first non-inflationary increase to school lunch spending since 1973. The bill allocates $4.5 billion for school lunches, an increase of about 6 cents per child. It also takes some other crucial steps in the right direction including pushing the Department of Agriculture to establish science-based nutrition standards that are inline with the Dietary Guidelines for all Americans.

This new grant is one component of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative launched in 2009. It’s the USDA’s commitment to building local food systems.

The projects are diverse but the theme is the same, serving more foods created closer to home.

Obama Foodorama reports:

Weld County School District 6 in Greeley, Colo., will expand kitchen facilities to serve local products year-round through processing and freezing techniques. Also, Des Moines Municipal Schools in New Mexico will receive grant funding to increase the types of products it buys from local vendors. Local cattle farmers already supply the school district with 100 percent locally produced beef; USDA grant funds will be used to develop relationships with local fruit and vegetable producers to serve a full meal using locally sourced products.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


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Photo: USDAgov/flickr

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6:14AM PST on Dec 18, 2012

Thank you TreeHugger, for Sharing this!

5:12AM PST on Dec 9, 2012

They have been doing this in the Quilcene, Washington School, for a few years now and it works Great!

5:11AM PST on Dec 9, 2012

Thank you TreeHugger, for Sharing this!

5:12AM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Great idea but I'm sure the USDA will find a way to screw it up.

2:59PM PST on Dec 7, 2012


12:52PM PST on Dec 4, 2012

good for everyone involved.

3:55AM PST on Dec 4, 2012


2:08AM PST on Dec 4, 2012

Good news.

2:02PM PST on Dec 3, 2012


7:58AM PST on Dec 3, 2012

This is awesome. Hopefully it will help break the tight hold that Big Food has on public school cafeterias and vending machines. There is so much benefit from kids understanding that local healthy food provides nutrition for the body and mind, and also for the environmental and financial health of their local community.

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