USDA Awards First Grants to Increase Local Foods in Eligible Schools: 68 Projects Support Nearly 2 Million Students
WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2012 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced more than $4.5 million in grants for 68 projects, spanning 37 states and the District of Columbia, to connect school cafeterias with local agricultural producers.
“When schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities,” Merrigan said. “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 first-ever USDA Farm to School grants will help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers, distributors. Grants will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms, and cooking classes.
We heard last Friday that our district received one of these coveted grants in what we’re told was a very competitive grant cycle. (Thank you Susi!) This means, among other things, that I will be the Farm to School Grant Coordinator for the next year, starting December 1st. And you can be sure I’ll be sharing all that I learn here (and there, and everywhere). Here’s what I’ve learned so far: it’s very exciting to get a cutting edge federal grant in your little country school district.