Farm to School Grant Program | Living the Country Life

Farm to School Grant Program

Schools offer more fruits and vegetables to students
Photo courtesy of the USDA

Radio interview source: Deborah Kane, National Director, Farm to School Grant Program

Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below

When kids grow fruits and vegetables for themselves, they're more likely to eat them. The national Farm to School Grant Program provides opportunities for nutrition and agriculture education, and opens new markets for local food producers.

Deborah Kane is the national director of the program. She says schools apply for the grant funds, which can be used for many purposes. "The grants cover everything from the procurement side, which is all the partnerships and relationships that need to be formed with area suppliers, farmers and ranchers," Kane says. "The grant funds also cover all of the great hands-on learning that we want to encourage schools to offer to kids. School gardens, it covers field trips to local farms, science projects that incorporate food and agriculture, and nutrition education."

The funds are also intended to help communities. School food service directors shop at farmer's markets, learning what fruits and vegetables are seasonal in their area. They also work through their mainline distributors, telling them they want to see more local products on those trucks.

Kane says farmers are interested in learning how they can become involved with their school systems. "Pick up the phone and give a call to the local school. We highly recommend that so that the school knows who's in their area and what kinds of products they have," says Kane. "The other thing that producers are doing is increasingly working together to form co-ops because one of the issues that comes up frequently is schools are big users of these products, and so sometimes one farmer alone can't supply all the needs of an area school district."

$5 million is provided on an annual basis to support the grants and other costs related to the program.

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