Monday, September 14, 2015

USDA report touts success of Farm to School Grant Program; helped 12,300 schools from 2013-15

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm to School Grant Program, funded through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, helped 6.9 million students in 12,300 schools during fiscal years 2013 to 2015, states a USDA report released on Friday. A total of $15.1 million in grants was given to schools in 49 states and Washington, D.C., and 78 percent of awards went to support schools of districts with free or reduced meals eligibility rates above 50 percent. Grants are used to buy local foods, train staff, purchase equipment, provide hands-on education for students, develop community partnerships and complete project evaluations.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement: "Farm to school partnerships have a proven track record of encouraging kids to eat more healthy foods and creating new market opportunities for the farmers that grow them. Congress should act quickly to reauthorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to build on the success of farm to school and the healthier school meals and continue our momentum towards a healthier next generation of Americans."

Overall, "more than 40,300 schools have farm to school programs that impact 23.5 million children," states a USDA press release. "According to USDA's first-ever Farm to School Census, released in 2014, school districts participating in farm to school programs purchased and served over $385 million in local food in school year 2011-2012, with more than half of participating schools planning to increase their purchases of local food in the future." (Read more) (USDA map)

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