Good News for Local Protein in Schools — And How You Can Get Involved!

NFSN Staff
March 13, 2023

By Cassandra Bull, Policy Intern

Most people might think of fruits or vegetables when imagining farm to school, but in many communities, local proteins are on the menu too — or could be. The federal government recently announced several policies to support mid-size livestock producers. In late February, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a $59 million investment in independent processors under the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program. These awards were announced just weeks after the bipartisan Strengthening Local Processing Act of 2023 was introduced in the Senate. Both of these policies are part of an effort to reduce the negative consequences of concentrated power in our food system, which don’t just affect farmers and ranchers. Also in February, a meatpacking company was fined $1.5 million by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for illegally employing 100 children in eight states and exposing them to hazardous conditions. At first glance, these federal actions may not appear to connect with farm to school. However, supporting decentralized processing facilities for small- and mid-size meat and poultry farmers is actually a vital component to bolster farm to school and promote a more just food system. 

Schools are required to offer protein in every school lunch and breakfast, so it makes sense to include local meat and poultry as part of a farm to school program. According to the USDA Farm to School Census, 15% of School Food Authorities (SFAs) purchased local protein during the 2018-2019 school year. An additional 20% of SFAs expressed an intent to purchase these local products in the future. The USDA’s fact sheet on Local Meat in Schools outlines success stories, tips, and benefits when it comes to serving local proteins, which include nutritional benefits for students, defrayed meal costs, and increased market opportunities for local farmers and fishers. 

It is clear why local protein is being featured on the menu in cafeterias throughout the country. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that local protein, which often is delivered frozen to schools, has an extended shelf life and can be used throughout the school year. This is particularly useful for schools in northern climates, which have less availability of fresh fruits and vegetables during winter months.

Equally important is that local proteins can allow schools to serve more culturally relevant meals in the cafeteria. For example, salmon in Alaska, many varieties of seafood in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, and buffalo highlighted by the Intertribal Agriculture Council are just some examples of ways local protein can be tailored to local cultural values. In Montana, a state where there are more than twice as many cows as there are people, the Montana Beef to School Project has created extensive resources for schools on how to purchase, process, and serve local beef in the cafeteria. 

While there are important benefits to serving local proteins, there are also real barriers for schools to purchasing local protein — one of these barriers arises from the logistics of sourcing local protein. Schools may have a difficult time purchasing local protein, not because of a lack of producers, but because there simply aren’t many businesses open to independent farmers that can process live animals into packaged ingredients. For example, a school food service director may want to purchase grass-fed beef that was raised on a farm eight miles away from their school. If the rancher does not have frozen meat already in stock, they will have to send live cattle to a USDA-inspected processing facility.

Schools, restaurants, and grocery stores are required to purchase meat that has been processed at a facility with a USDA inspector present at all times during livestock slaughter. Ranchers typically try to get on a routine schedule at their closest processing facility (for example, they may make an appointment every six months to process a predetermined number of cows). However, without an appointment made months in advance, a rancher may have to be put on a waiting list just to get an appointment. After this waiting period to process to get an appointment, it is not uncommon for a rancher to travel more than 100 miles, or drive several hours with the live animals in tow, to be processed at the closest certified facility.

These barriers, among others, are just some of the reasons that the federal government has stepped in to support independent, local meat processing. Two recent examples of support include:

  • The Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program is a USDA initiative that provides funding for meat and poultry processors to expand their businesses, create jobs, and increase processing capacity. The grant program aims to support rural economies by providing financial assistance for the construction, renovation, or improvement of meat and poultry processing facilities. The funding can be used for equipment purchases, working capital, and other expenses related to expanding the processing capacity of the facility. In February 2023, the USDA announced an investment of $59 million to support the growth and modernization of six small and mid-sized meat and poultry processors in rural areas. This program is a part of the Biden-Harris Administration's action plan for a fairer, more competitive, and more resilient meat and poultry supply chain
  • The Strengthening Local Processing Act of 2023, sponsored by Sen. Thune [R-SD], aims to increase support for small meat and poultry processing plants in the US, in an effort to help farmers and ranchers access local markets and provide consumers with more options for locally-sourced meat. The Act proposes to provide funding for states to develop and implement meat and poultry processing programs, increase the federal cost-sharing of state-inspected meat and poultry programs, and establish a loan guarantee program to help small processors access capital. The Act also aims to improve food safety by providing grants for training and technical assistance to processors, and by allowing small processors to participate in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program. Overall, the Act seeks to strengthen the local food system and support small-scale producers and processors.

National Farm to School Network partners can get involved in these two initiatives right now. You can read more about the award recipients of the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program here. If any are in your area, you can contact these recipients to see if there is room for collaboration on how your organization can support school sourcing of local protein. For those looking to support the Strengthening Local Processing Act of 2023, our partner organization, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, has a webpage with boilerplate language for how to promote this bill to your elected officials. Addressing critical livestock and poultry supply chain issues will help bolster resilient food systems and allow our communities, kids, and farmers to win in the years to come. 

For more information or questions, contact Karen Spangler, NFSN’s Policy Director, at

Announcing the Racial Equity Learning Lab

NFSN Staff
March 6, 2023

The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is excited to announce a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to convene the Racial Equity Learning Lab (the “Lab”).

The purpose of the Lab is to advance racial equity within the farm to school movement, mobilizing partners in the movement towards a deeper understanding of how to apply racial equity in our collective work and providing the necessary tools and resources to do so.

In 2020, NFSN launched the pilot Lab and co-developed curriculum with a 13-person, cross-sector cohort from across the country. Now, in partnership with the USDA, NFSN will continue and build upon the program and further collaborate to deepen the understanding of how racial equity can be integrated with farm to school/early care education (ECE).

The Lab is meant to be replicable and tailored to fit the unique assets and needs of individual organizations and communities, and the curriculum will constantly evolve as new cohorts participate in the process.

To ensure the Lab is rooted in its intended values, NFSN formed an advisory council to help plan the curriculum. The Advisory Council consists of expert stakeholders who have been immersed in applying a racial equity lens in their work in the food systems and/or have long-established expertise in farm to school. Council members were selected with high regard for their collective ability to contribute towards resource development, literature review, as well as facilitation and participation framework design for the Lab. We are excited to announce the following Lab Advisory Council members:

  • Jamese Kwele
  • Joshua Yuen-Schat
  • Mark Becker
  • Tessa Thraves
  • Tina Wong
  • Yousef Buzayan

We are also excited to have an equity consultant, Alena Paisano, working together with us through the project’s end in summer 2025. For full bios, check out the full Racial Equity Learning Lab page.

The Lab supports NFSN’s collective Call to Action: 100% of communities will hold power in a racially just food system. NFSN’s approach is reflected here, building authentic relationships valuing connections over transactions.

To learn more and apply for the Racial Equity Learning Lab, click here. For questions, contact Trisha at

Celebrating Black History Month

NFSN Staff
February 21, 2023

By Jillian Muñoz, Communications Intern

February is Black History Month, a dedicated time to pay attention to the power and resilience of the Black community and to celebrate the many Black leaders on whose shoulders we stand. At National Farm to School Network, we envision a food system centered on justice, which we know we cannot achieve without racial justice. We recognize that racism, including anti-Black racism, persists in the farm to school movement. At NFSN, we have a responsibility and a commitment to correct this and to be an anti-racist organization. 

This month, we urge you to join us in learning about Black history and celebrating Black leaders, practitioners, and community members who drive forward the farm to school movement. Check out the following resources to learn more: 

Articles to Read

  • Farming While Black in America (Anti-Racism Daily) Black ranchers in Colorado have been the target of racial harassment after purchasing land in a predominately white region. As legislation to protect Black farmers remains stalled in the courts, it's especially disheartening to hear how discrimination further alienates them from the land they deserve. Read the full article to learn how you can support their story.
  • Black-led Food Co-ops Restore Justice, Hope, and Power (FoodTank) The United States has seen the opening of more than 167 food cooperatives since 2006, according to the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI). Within this movement, Black-led co-ops are tackling food access and racial justice, which can help to fulfill a community’s needs while addressing systemic inequalities to restore power to the people.
  • There Were Nearly a Million Black Farmers in 1920. Why Have They Disappeared? (Guardian). Today there are just 45,000 African American farmers. Learn more about how one man is fighting to save them.
  • Black US Farmers Dismayed as White Farmers’ Lawsuit Halts Relief Payments (Guardian) Funds were intended to address discriminatory policies – but ‘promises to Black farmers are always put on hold.'
  • These Chicago Urban Farmers are Growing Local Food in the Wake of Steel Industry Pollution (Civil Eats) Surrounded by the pollution resulting from decades of steel production, a community garden is providing relief to Chicagoland communities.

Media to Watch and Listen To

  • High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America. In this 4-episode docuseries, Chef and writer Stephen Satterfield traces the delicious, moving throughlines from Africa to Texas. It examines the influence of racial disparity, classism, and labor relations on African American food culture and gives viewers a deeper understanding of “America's deep-rooted history of slavery, and the impact on American food as we know it today.” Watch this series on Netflix.
  • Leah Penniman Keynote at Moses Organic Farming Conference 2020. Leah Pennimman, author of “Farming While Black” and co-founder of Soul Fire Farm, gave an information-packed keynote speech at the 2020 Moses (renamed Marbleseed) Organic Farming Conference. Her talk covers the history of Black agriculture in the US and the importance of community and leadership in the fight for racial equity in labor, land ownership, agriculture, and society in general. Watch the entire keynote here.
  • Just Food Podcast - Episode 2 - Black Slow Food: A Local Food Story. In the second episode of Victoria Ginzburg’s Just Food Podcast, she invites Chef Isaiah Martinez to talk about his experience being an Afro-Caribbean man embracing slow food values while cooking up multicultural meals in the Pacific Northwest. He talks about not only his background, but also his business practices in his effort to be more sustainable and mindful. Listen to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or SoundCloud.
  • A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA - TEDTalk. Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys." Watch the TEDTalk here.
  • The Next Big Thing is Coming from the Bronx, Again - TEDTalk "The hood is good," says Jon Gray of the Bronx, New York-based creative collective Ghetto Gastro. Working at the intersection of food, design and art, Gray and his team honor the soul and history of their community while applying their unbridled creativity and expansive imagination to unexpected, otherworldly collaborations. Learn more about how they're creating and investing in their home borough — bringing the Bronx to the world and vice versa. Watch the TEDTalk here.

Books to Dive Into

We recommend purchasing books from Black-owned bookstores, such as the Reparations Book Club in Los Angeles—purchase from them online here or find a local Black-owned bookstore by state here.  

  • Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown. Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live.
  • Black Food Matters: Racial Justice in the Wake of Food Justice by Editors Ashanté M. Reese and Hanna Garth. For Black Americans, the food system is broken. When it comes to nutrition, Black consumers experience an unjust and inequitable distribution of resources. Black Food Matters examines these issues through in-depth essays that analyze how Blackness is contested through food, differing ideas of what makes our sustenance "healthy," and Black individuals' own beliefs about what their cuisine should be.
  • A Black Women's History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross. A vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are—and have always been—instrumental in shaping our country.
  • Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness byDa’Shaun L. Harrison. Da’Shaun Harrison–a fat, Black, disabled, and nonbinary trans writer–offers an incisive, fresh, and precise exploration of anti-fatness as anti-Blackness.

While there are just a few days left of Black History Month 2023, our commitment to listening to and lifting up Black voices and leadership in farm to school doesn't stop at the end of February. Every day is the right day for learning more, being honest about and addressing the racism and inequities in our work. You can read more about National Farm to School Network's commitment to centering our work in equity here, and read more about our Call to Action here.

Opinion: How Colorado’s Healthy School Meals for All Bill Supports Farmers and Students

NFSN Staff
January 20, 2023

By Roberto Meza, CEO of East Denver Food Hub

As a small farmer in Colorado, I'm so thrilled the voters supported the Healthy School Meals for All bill. It means schools will be able to source local ingredients from local farmers like us. It will also help strengthen Colorado's economy and our students' health.  

This bill was personal for me. As a farmer, it hits at the heart of one of the biggest issues I'm trying to solve. How can small scale farmers provide food in an accessible way? How can we do it in a way that people can afford without jeopardizing our own viability?

It is difficult for small farmers to compete with some of the larger agriculture corporations. Yet we know that we're providing the values we need to transform our food systems. We want to provide food that has a net benefit to people, to the planet, to animals. We also want to uplift equity and economic justice in our food system. It means  thinking about food in a different way beyond price. And It means a lot that voters supported that.

The bill was the brainchild of Denver-based nonprofit, Hunger Free Colorado. Earlier, they worked on a bill to fund food pantries to buy Colorado-grown products in the Food Pantry Assistance Grant. Regional food coordinators like me were contracted to connect farmers to those food pantries. We created a value chain that orients the food supply chain around values such as equity, dignity, and food justice. It addresses the viability of local farmers and food insecurity at the same time. Throughout the COVID pandemic, that bill helped many farmers keep operating. Then this year, I played a key role informing the language on the Healthy School Meals for All ballot initiative.

Students deserve Internet access and books and water. It's about time we put healthy food in the same category. We also know that the public food dollar can circulate more times in local Colorado economies. It shouldn't disappear into corporate coffers.

We're talking about a radical paradigm shift in our food and farming ecosystem. Access to fresh healthy food is a basic human right. Now, we can look at farmers as stewards offering a public service. We're not just a farm enterprise operation. It's what we need if we're ever going to solve bigger issues. I mean things like climate change, inflation, and the spike in food insecurity, not to mention supply issues. This bill is an innovative solution that helps us mitigate hunger within a highly precarious US economy.

Aside from being a farmer, I also connect farms to community markets as cofounder of the East Denver Food Hub, an organization that addresses food resilience by offering the services of aggregation and distribution of local food. We began by focusing on building procurement contracts with community organizations such as food pantries and with anchor institutions such as hospitals and schools. A big moment was when we contracted with 29 schools to supply microgreens. For the schools, it was a small contract, almost an afterthought. For us, it made a huge difference in our bottom line. We realized the possible impact we could have on local farmers if school districts could do more. For all 29 schools, it came to about $1,800 a week. But a contract worth close to $100,000 a year can transform the life of local farmers as well as feed our students.

The bottom line is that as farmers, we see the impact of a food system that doesn't value land, people, or animals. We see the impact of a food system that doesn't value community. We see it expressed in climate change. Our orchards are dying off because of erratic temperature shifts. We're seeing the disappearance of arable land. Droughts and fires pose huge risks to agricultural producers here. These are the unintended consequences of an industrialized food system. Now we're coming to terms with those consequences.

We don't have a lot of time. We need to shift how the food system works. Future generations are going to inherit the impact of our decisions right now. And I definitely don't want to wake up one day and have those generations hold me accountable.

Let's do our work now to shift power. Let's shift the trends and the decisions and the food system. We need to create innovative solutions that can have a huge benefit now and in the long run. Initiatives such as Healthy Meals for All are one step forward in the right direction.

The measure in Colorado leads the way for the rest of the country. Networks of other groups in the National Farm to School Network are working on it. And I'd encourage others across the country to follow suit.

—Roberto Meza is a first-generation farmer, artist, and local food advocate. Originally from Mexico, Roberto is the Cofounder of Emerald Gardens, a year-round greenhouse farm in Bennett, CO addressing land access and climate resilience in agriculture, and CEO of East Denver Food Hub, a local food distributor based in Denver. His work lies at the intersection of policy, regenerative food systems, and environmental stewardship. He is President of the Board of the National Young Farmers Coalition, and a board member of Zero Food Print. He is a recent Governor-appointed member of the Colorado Agricultural Commission, and served on the White House Food Task Force.

Farm to ECE: A Year in Review

NFSN Staff
December 16, 2022

We’ve gathered all of the farm to ECE resources developed in 2022 by the National Farm to School Network in one place. If you’ve developed farm to ECE resources this year and would like to share them with the farm to ECE community, please send them to

Enhancing Children’s Access to Local Foods and Farm to ECE: Federal Funding Opportunities (Guide)  

This guide provides functional descriptions of actionable and timely funding streams, including an overview of the funding eligibility requirements, allowed uses, timeline, flow of funds, and strategies for action. The guide also highlights case examples of how entities across the country are creatively leveraging funding streams for farm to ECE. The purpose of this guide is to prepare and position farm to ECE partners to effectively apply for funding.

Farm to Early Care and Education Shared Metrics: Outcomes, Indicators, and Measures for Farm to ECE Evaluation (Toolkit & Guide) 

National Farm to School Network (NFSN) and The Policy Equity Group's (PEG) Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) Shared Metrics resource is intended for farm to ECE practitioners and evaluators to guide planning, implementation, research, evaluation, and reporting efforts. The resource consists of a resource guide, a library of metrics specific to farm to ECE, and an orientation video. With a focus on metrics related to equity, this resource can move our collective farm to ECE work forward under shared priorities and language. This alignment of priorities can also guide and improve decision-making for policymakers and funders who will be able to make better-informed decisions on the growth and direction of the farm to ECE movement.

Aligning Farm to Early Care and Education with Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (Fact Sheet) 

Integrating farm to early care and education (ECE) into Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) standards can help expand the reach of and reduce barriers to farm to ECE programming. Farm to ECE strategies align with a variety of QRIS domains, such as professional development, family engagement and community partnerships, and learning environment. This fact sheet explores strategies states can take to integrate farm to ECE into their QRIS, including case studies and sample language. 

2021 National Farm to Early Care and Education Survey (Research Briefs & Fact sheet) 

In 2021, the National Farm to School Network and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems surveyed early care and education (ECE) providers across the country to better understand current initiatives, motivations and challenges in applying farm to ECE activities in early care and education settings. More than 2,900 providers in 26 states and Washington, D.C. responded and shared the benefits and challenges of connecting young children to healthy, local foods, gardening, and food and agriculture education through farm to ECE.

Blog Post: How Hawai‘i is Improving Its Farm to Early Care and Education Landscape with Its First Farm to ECE Coordinator (Blog Post) 

Learn about how Hawai’i advocated for their first Farm to ECE Coordinator and his goals for Hawai’i’s farm to ECE movement. 

Farm to Early Care and Education State Resource Directory

We have compiled farm to ECE resources developed by state partners across the country. We hope this directory will help the larger farm to ECE community and celebrate the amazing resources available to us. 

Opinion: Student Leader Applauds California's Free School Meals for All

NFSN Staff
December 6, 2022

By Kristie To

Kristie To is a high school student in Orange County. She serves in Student Government, her local Youth Advisory Council, and is on the Board of Directors and Executive Branch of the California Association of Student Councils.

"This school year, California’s new “School Meals for All” program began. As a student leader serving my school, the city of Irvine, and the California Association of Student Councils, I applaud California for being the first state to provide every K–12 student in our public schools with free breakfast and lunch.

My peers and I rely on school breakfast and lunch every day. Many of my closest friends do not have the time and are not in the financial situation to provide themselves with meals to fuel their school day and concentrate in class. My parents and older sister have full-time jobs, and I struggle to prepare meals for myself with my busy schedule. This new program has alleviated the stress of buying and preparing meals that previously strained students and families."

View the full op-ed here.

“Who’s At the Table” Campaign will Bring More Awareness to Values-Aligned Universal Meals

NFSN Staff
November 14, 2022

Media contact:

David Hutabarat, Communications Director, NFSN

(Washington, D.C., November 14, 2022)—The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) and allied and partner organizations across the United States are launching a “Who’s at The Table” campaign to raise public awareness about the importance of values-aligned universal meals.

The campaign follows important, innovative bills on the issue in states like California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Colorado, to ensure all students benefit from free school meals over the coming years.

NFSN was invited to attend the White House’s recent Hunger, Nutrition and Health Conference, the first of its kind in 50 years. In the wake of this historic event, the campaign aims to encourage broader engagement in such policies from policy makers, school principals, cafeteria managers, students, parents, produce suppliers, farmers, and farm workers.

“We must continue to build on the momentum to make free school meals for all a permanent reality so that millions of children across the country have access to the healthy food they need to keep hunger at bay and to thrive in and out of the classroom,” said Luis Guardia, President of Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), an advisor in the development of the campaign.

A new website and social media influencing campaign will offer tools to understand and communicate the benefits of healthy, equitably produced school meals. Parents, farmers, educators can all ensure this issue is at the top of the policy agenda. NFSN also held listening sessions in the runup to the White House summit to communicate this perspective.

Experts agree that with universal school meals, kids learn better, stay in school longer, and pay closer attention in class. Fresh, farm-to-school meals for all help level the playing field on child hunger. Many child nutrition providers, parents and students agree. Now it’s time to act.

Karen Spangler, Policy Director at NFSN said: “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, school nutrition professionals have worked tirelessly to feed kids under emergency conditions with limited resources and breakdowns in the supply chain. Policies that allow school nutrition professionals to feed all kids are a necessity, one that lets them focus on nourishing kids instead of checking paperwork for each and every student for free or reduced-price meals. At the same time, shortages in key ingredients highlighted the weaknesses in a consolidated, inequitably produced food supply. We can address this and improve our food system for everyone through strategic investments like values-aligned healthy school meals for all kids.”

Maleeka Manurasada, National Organizer at the HEAL Food Alliance, an advisor in the development of the campaign, said: "Over 42 million people nationwide struggle every day to get a meal, let alone one that will truly nourish them. Values-Aligned Universal Meals is a powerful and critical program that will not only truly nourish our children, but also nourish our communities and our environment. Our food and farm system needs radical transformation to one that values health, workers, animals, and the planet, and school meals are a critical place to begin that shift."

About NFSN

National Farm to School Network has a vision of a strong and just food system for all, and we seek deep transformation toward this vision through farm to school – the way kids eat, grow, and learn about food in schools and early care and education settings.

Applications now open for USDA Farm to School Grants

NFSN Staff
November 1, 2022

Schools, farmers, state and tribal governments, and other organizations that help produce or serve meals to kids through USDA’s child nutrition programs can apply now for a USDA Farm to School Grant (deadline: 01/06/2023). Administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Community Food Systems Division (CFSD), the USDA Farm to School Grant is an annual, competitive grant that supports the planning, development, and implementation of farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) programs. Since 2013, USDA's Farm to School grants have helped state, regional, and local organizations as they initiate, expand, and institutionalize their farm to school and farm to ECE efforts. This round will award $12 million in grants organized into Turnkey, Implementation, and State Agency tracks. USDA will again prioritize racial equity, providing bonus points to projects operated by and serving communities that are underserved, marginalized, or adversely affected by poverty and inequality. We applaud USDA’s continued support of racial equity, which aligns with our Call to Action and with the long-term changes that we would like to see through the Farm to School Act. See below for more information on the achievements of the grant since it began, the kinds of projects that Farm to School Grants can support, who is eligible, and resources to apply.

Farm to School Grant Achievements and Projects

  • In 2010, the National Farm to School Network and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition - along with our network of supporters from across the country - successfully advocated for the creation of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, as well as subsequent funding increases through the Farm to School Act.  
  • Nationally, the Farm to School Grant Program has awarded nearly $75 million in farm to school grants since 2013, funding more than 1,000 projects that have reached over 25 million students in nearly 60,000 schools. This program has grown over time, with more than $10 million to support 123 projects in 2022 alone
  • Policymakers on both sides of the aisle, including farm to school champion and retiring Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), have sponsored multiple, bipartisan bills that promote farm to school, including the Farm to School Act to expand and improve the Farm to School Grant Program.
  • Farm to School grant projects include local procurement, agricultural education, edible gardening, and farm to school action planning objectives that improve access to local foods. Check out these links to learn more about the specific projects awarded to past grantees: 

2023 Grant Details

Release Date: October 6, 2022 

Application Due Date: 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time (EST), January 6, 2023 

Anticipated Award Date: July 2023 

Anticipated number of awards: 150 

Estimated Total Program Funding: $12,000,000

Award Ceiling: $100,000/$500,000* 

Award Floor: $10,000

*The USDA notes in the Request for Applications (RFA) that in anticipation of authority to provide grants of up to $500,000 in the FY 2023 agriculture appropriations, USDA will consider proposals of up to $500,000 from State agencies or other eligible organizations proposing projects that are multi-state or national in scope. Other selected grantees are limited to $100,000.

Eligible Applicants:

  • Eligible schools, including nonprofit private and charter schools, which operate the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and/or School Breakfast Program; 
  • Eligible Child Care Institutions, including non-school based institutions that have an agreement with the State agency to operate the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP); 
  • Eligible Summer Institutions, including non-school based institutions that have an agreement with the State agency to operate the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP); 
  • State agencies; 
  • Local agencies; 
  • Indian Tribal organizations (ITOs) 
  • Agricultural producer 

Resources and Next steps‍ 

To learn more about the USDA F2S grants, review the RFA, see Frequently Asked Questions, read about previous awardees, and more, please visit the below links. 

For more information on USDA’s many farm to school initiatives, or to access resources associated with farm to school, please visit USDA’s Farm to School Program webpage.

Be sure to share these opportunities and resources with school, producers, community organizations, and institutions in your network!