Across the country, an increasing number of schools and districts have begun to source more foods locally and to provide complementary educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. This nationwide movement to enrich children's bodies and minds while supporting local economies is often referred to as "farm to school." The term encompasses efforts that bring local or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias; hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and the integration of food-related education into the regular, standards-based classroom curriculum.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) established a federal Farm to School Program in order to assist eligible entities, through grants and technical assistance, in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is charged with implementing the Farm to School program.

Amount Available

In this funding cycle, FNS anticipates awarding up to $5 million in grant funding to support efforts that improve access to local foods in eligible schools.

Three Types of Grants

Grant funds will be made available on a competitive basis, subject to availability of federal funds. In this funding round, USDA will solicit applications for three types of grants:

1. Planning Grants are for schools or school districts just getting started on farm to school activities and are intended to help these entities organize and structure their efforts for maximum impact by embedding known best practices into early design considerations.

Who can apply:
· K-12 School Food Authorities, nonprofit private schools, charter schools, Indian tribal schools, and others that participate in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs.

2. Implementation Grants are intended to help schools or school districts scale or further develop existing farm to school initiatives.

Who can apply:
· K-12 School Food Authorities, nonprofit private schools, charter schools, Indian tribal schools, and others that participate in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs,

3. Support Service Grants are intended for eligible entities working with schools or school districts to further develop and provide broad reaching support services to farm to school initiatives.

Who can apply:
· State and local agencies, nonprofit organizations, Indian tribal organizations, and agricultural producers or groups of agricultural producers.

Funding Amounts and Expected Distribution of Awards

Planning grants are expected to range from $20,000 - $45,000 and represent approximately 25 percent of the total awards. Implementation and Support Service grants are expected to range from $65,000 - $100,000 and represent approximately 75 percent of the total awards.

A Match is Required, Evaluation Too

For all three types of grants, the applicant must provide at least 25 percent of the total project cost as the federal share of costs for this grant cannot exceed 75 percent of the total cost of the project, as required by the HHFKA. Authorizing language also states that as a condition of receiving a farm to school grant, each grant recipient shall cooperate in an evaluation of the program carried out using grant funds.

Pick One, Then Think about Partnering

School applicants must choose between submitting a Planning grant or an Implementation grant. Only one application per eligible school is permitted. As appropriate, USDA encourages school districts to work together and submit multi-school applications where a USDA investment in, for example, one school district working with several districts, might benefit a wider geographic area than funding to any one district alone. Schools are encouraged to partner with eligible entities as part of a support service grant proposal.

How to Access the Request for Applications (RFA)

The RFA will be posted on USDA's Farm to School website and available at www.grants.gov

Important Dates:

February 6, 2013: Request for Applications Released
April 24, 2013 (Midnight EST): Proposals Due
October 2013: Awards Announced and Funds Available (Pending the Availability of Federal Funds)

Webinars to Learn More

Three webinars will be offered so that grant applicants can learn more about this grant opportunity. To receive additional information about webinars, please be sure to sign up for the Farm to School E-Letter.

March 5, 2013, 1:00 p.m. EST – Planning Grants
March 6, 2013, 1:00 p.m. EST – Implementation Grants
March 7, 2013, 1:00 p.m. EST – Support Service Grants

Don't Wait for a Webinar to Get Your Question Answered

You can get your question answered at any point in the process by contacting: Matthew Russell, Program Officer, Farm to School Grant Program at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 202.720.6765

Additional Information

For updates on the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, please visit the Farm to School website or subscribe to the Farm to School E-Letter.

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