Farm to School opens opportunities for students to learn about nutrition and agriculture through hands-on experiences, such as planting, watering, and harvesting fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
While many of the awardees for the Farm to School grants receive funding for school gardens, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has gotten $667,700 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service for an innovative food service project that involves high school FFA chapters.
“This project is the next step for growth in our Farm to School Program,” Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles said. “It gives us the ability to provide education and procurement training opportunities to our young future farmers as well as school food service professionals.”
A federal grant of $499,809 is being combined with a cost share of $167,891 over two years, ending on June 30, 2025. KDA will award six sub-grants to school districts whose teams will consist of the districts’ FFA chapters, food service professionals, and University of Kentucky Extension agents, including those with the university’s Nutrition Education Program. The sub-grants will be awarded through a competitive process. School districts will receive application information in the coming weeks.
The funds will allow school districts to purchase much-needed walk-in coolers and freezers to store locally-grown Farm to School products. It will also allow FFA chapters to buy equipment needed to introduce or build upon the districts’ hydroponic systems, plasticulture, and traditional agricultural practices.
The KDA project is one of 103 nationwide awarded a combined $10.7 million by the Food and Nutrition Service under the Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program. These investments help 1.2 million students from nearly 3,000 schools in 40 states and the territory of Guam eat more tasty, nutritious foods while supporting farmers and producers in their local and regional communities.
Since the grant program’s inception in 2013, the USDA has awarded $75 million through Farm to School Grants in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico, which have reached more than 25 million students in more than 59,000 schools.
The fiscal year 2024 Farm to School grant program request for applications will be available later this year here.