On March 17, USDA opened applications for the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS). The program will make $200 million available to state governments to purchase local food for school meal programs. The program has three overarching goals:
- Provide opportunities for states to strengthen their local and regional food system,
- Support socially disadvantaged farmers/producers and small businesses, and
- Establish and broaden relationships between schools and fresh, nutritious food.
With LFS funding, state agencies will procure domestic, local, unprocessed or minimally processed foods from local farmers and ranchers. Purchases should target socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as well as small businesses. State agencies will then distribute food to schools in their state that participate in the National School Lunch Program and/or the School Breakfast program. In addition to purchasing food, funds may also be used to cover storage and transportation costs.
Eligible applicants for LFS are state agencies or departments responsible for agriculture, procurement, food distribution, emergency response, administration of the National School Lunch Program, or similar activities within the state. Only one award per state/territory is available, so agencies within the same state wanting to implement this program should coordinate with one another. The applicant may partner or collaborate with non-profit, for-profit, public, and/or private entities. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis but the final deadline is June 17, 2022, at 11:59 p.m.
Funding background and complementary opportunities:
The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement is part of a larger package of money from the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation intended to help school food authorities cope with increased food costs and supply chain issues. Other recent funding from USDA through the Local Agriculture Markets Program (LAMP) Farm to Institution tracks offers complementary opportunities for increasing infrastructure, coordination, and technical assistance to facilitate farm to institution purchasing (see our recent blog post here for more details). Additionally, the Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement (LFPA) infuses an additional $400 million in funding for state agencies to purchase and distribute food from small and “socially disadvantaged producers” to increase equity in market opportunities. While these models each have their own constraints, it is gratifying for federal support to recognize the crucial role of building more resilient food systems that begin to shift opportunities for producers and communities. Pursuing and learning from these first-of-a-kind opportunities will offer important lessons to build on as we advance our call to action to shift power toward a racially just food system.
To read the LFS Request for Application and learn more about the program, visit the USDA’s website: https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/lfs
Share this announcement with relevant state agencies in your area. Review the RFA to determine if your organization would like to be a partner or collaborator on this cooperative agreement.
Advocate to your state agency for the involvement of socially disadvantaged farmers/producers and small businesses in the creation of the application.
See other open federal funding opportunities relevant to NFSN partners by following this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/145zNQ4W-ZfI2HQpZo-g87uzmIU1xJqKc62kTtFvUZdw/edit?usp=sharing