The Richard B.
Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) (42 U.S.C.
1751 et seq.) establishes 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 USDA Food and
Nutrition (FNS) Child Nutrition Programs, including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).Each year $5 million is provided to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support grants, technical assistance, and other activities related to USDA’s Farm to School Program.
Additional funding for the Farm to School Program was made available from the FY 2018 through FY 2021 agriculture appropriations acts and, as a result, USDA expects to award approximately $12 million under this solicitation.
The USDA Farm to School Grant Program is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS).Authorizing language in Section 18(g) of the NSLA (42 U.S.C 1769(g)) directs the Secretary of Agriculture to award competitive grants, designed to improve access to local foods in eligible schools, for activities such as:• Training;• Supporting operations;• Planning;• Purchasing equipment;• Developing school gardens;• Developing partnerships; and,• Implementing farm to school programs.The NSLA also directs the Secretary to ensure geographical diversity and equitable treatment of urban, rural, and tribal communities in the distribution of grant awards, as well as give the highest priority to funding projects that, as determined by the Secretary:• Make local food products available on the menu of the eligible school;• Serve a high proportion of children who are eligible for free or reduced price lunches;• Incorporate experiential nutrition education activities in curriculum planning that encourage the participation of school children in farm and garden-based agricultural education activities;• Demonstrate collaboration between eligible schools, nongovernmental and community- based organizations, agricultural producer groups, and other community partners;• Include adequate and participatory evaluation plans;• Demonstrate the potential for long-term program sustainability; and,• Meet any other criteria that the Secretary determines appropriate.