The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) amended Section 18 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) to establish a 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. To fulfill the farm to school mandate in the HHFKA, $5 million is provided to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on an annual basis to support grants, technical assistance, and the Federal administrative costs related to USDA’s Farm to School Program.
The USDA Farm to School Program is housed within the Food and Nutrition Services’ (FNS) Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS). This request for applications (RFA) provides additional details regarding the grants component of the USDA Farm to School Program. Authorizing language in the HHFKA directed the Secretary of Agriculture to award competitive grants for: (i) Training; (ii) Supporting operations; (iii) Planning; (iv) Purchasing equipment; (v) Developing school gardens; (vi) Developing partnerships; and, (vii) Implementing farm to school programs.
The Secretary of Agriculture was also directed through the HHFKA to ensure geographical diversity and equitable treatment of urban, rural, and tribal communities, as well as give the highest priority to funding projects that, as determined by the Secretary – (a) Make local food products available on the menu of the eligible school; (b) Serve a high proportion of children who are eligible for free or reduced price lunches; (c) Incorporate experiential nutrition education activities in curriculum planning that encourage the participation of school children in farm and garden-based activities; (d) Demonstrate collaboration between eligible schools, nongovernmental and community-based organizations, agricultural producer groups, and other community partners; (e) Include adequate and participatory evaluation plans; (f) Demonstrate the potential for long-term program sustainability; and, (g) Meet any other criteria that the Secretary determines appropriate. Authorizing language also states that as a condition of receiving a USDA Farm to School Program Grant, each grant recipient shall provide matching support in the form of cash or in-kind contributions, and agree to cooperate in an evaluation of the program carried out using grant funds.
Grant Tracks: Grant funds will be made available on a competitive basis, subject to availability of Federal funds, using four grants tracks:
1. 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.
2. Implementation grants are intended to help schools or school districts scale or further develop existing farm to school initiatives.
3. 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.
4. Training grants are intended for eligible entities to support trainings that strengthen farm to school supply chains, or trainings that provide technical assistance in the area of local procurement, food safety, culinary education, and/or integration of agriculture‐based curriculum.
Awarded Amount per Grant Track/-Award Amounts: Support Service- $65,000 – $100,000 Implementation- $65,000 – $100,000 Planning – $20,000 – $45,000 Training Grants State- $15,000 – $25,000 Training Grants – Regional / National -$25,000 – $50,000