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Missouri Ag News Headlines
USDA Awards Record-Breaking Farm to School Grants in Pennsylvania
Missouri Ag Connection - 07/22/2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $12 million in Farm to School Grants this year, announcing awards to 176 grantees, the most projects funded since the program began in 2013. The department is also releasing new data demonstrating the recent growth of farm to school efforts nationwide. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of school districts and/or local entities responsible for school meals participated in farm to school activities during school year 2018-2019, more than half (57%) of which began within the past three years.

"Helping schools expand access to healthy, locally grown produce through these grants is just one of the many ways USDA is transforming America's food system," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Not only will this give children more nutritious food options in school, it supports local agriculture economies, while connecting them to the farms and farmers that grow the food we all depend on."

"The record-breaking Farm to School Grants and new data release today both reflect USDA's commitment to supporting farm to school efforts as a win-win for all involved," said Stacy Dean, USDA's deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. "We're excited about the growth in farm to school activity across the country and look forward to seeing the impact of this latest round of grants on children, schools, farmers, and the economy alike."

This year's Farm to School Grants will help expand the access to fresh, local foods and hands-on agricultural learning for children across 45 states and the District of Columbia. The awarded projects will serve more than 1.4 million students at more than 6,800 schools. Grantees include schools, state agencies, non-profits, tribal nations, agricultural producers and groups, and -- for the first time ever -- institutions participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program.

The latest data -- available at farmtoschoolcensus.fns.usda.gov/ -- from the 2019 Farm to School Census highlight the impact of farm to school efforts on local communities. In school year 2018-19, school districts purchased nearly $1.3 billion in local fruits, vegetables, and other foods, totaling approximately 20% of all school food purchases. The newly updated Farm to School Census website features state and local breakdowns of participation and spending.

Farm to school efforts introduce more locally grown produce into school cafeterias and expose children to agriculture and nutrition education through hands-on learning. They also provide reliable revenue for American farmers, directly boosting the local economy.

Missouri recipients are:

- Cornerstones of Care, Kansas City - $97,201.10 - Cornerstones of Care's Build Trybe program will increase the amount of locally sourced produce served in school cafeterias. It will improve farm infrastructure to increase production and engage students, K-12, in a comprehensive farm program. Programming will include collaborating with local small farms to procure local produce and coordinating grow plans with menu planning. The goal is that 2/3 of all fruits and vegetables procured will come from local producers including two Cornerstones of Care farm sites and five farm partners.

- West Central Missouri Community Action Agency, Appleton City - $91,408 - This two-year project will enhance and continue current farm to school work and momentum in West Central's nine-county region by building on the agricultural strengths of the region and a growing rural network of food system partners and projects. Specifically, it will focus on expanding the amount of local produce in the Nevada (Vernon County Missouri) and neighboring El Dorado Springs (Cedar County, Missouri) school districts, both located within the Interstate-49 corridor, a central transportation route. This will be done through the following objectives: 1. Increase number of schools purchasing local food; 2. Raise the visibility of farm to school in the region; and 3. Business plan research for pre-processing foods.


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