By Jiyoon Chon, NFSN Communications Manager

Are you currently working to increase local procurement in school meals, expand scratch cooking, or build relationships with community stakeholders? If so, and you’ve been looking for additional funding to support your project, you may be eligible for one of the USDA Healthy Meals Incentives: School Food System Transformation Challenge Grants

The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is honored to directly support three of these grants: PLANTS, Project SCALES, and the Innovation Hub!

Out of these three grants, two are currently accepting applications, with deadlines coming up in about six weeks. Here’s a quick summary of the two active grant opportunities, which are open nationally: 

Partnerships for Local Agriculture & Nutrition Transformation in Schools (PLANTS)

  • Administered by the Chef Ann Foundation 
  • Deadline: January 22, 2024
  • 8 projects will be awarded grants between $500,000 - $600,000. No Matching requirement.
  • Funds collaborative projects administered by a group of 3-5 local partners, one of which must be a School Food Authority (SFA).
  • Projects must aim to transform school food supply chains and/or build relationships among community-based food system stakeholders and SFAs. For example, this can look like expanding local procurement or scratch cooking in schools. 
  • Visit the PLANTS grant webpage here to learn more and apply. 

Supporting Community Agriculture & Local Education Systems (SCALES)

  • Administered by Boise State University 
  • Deadline: January 26, 2024 
  • Up to 35 rural SFAs will be awarded up to $150,000 grants, along with technical assistance.
  • Only rural School Food Authorities are eligible to apply during this round of applications.
  • SFAs must be engaging in projects to increase local procurement.
  • Visit the SCALES grant webpage here to learn more and apply. 

If these two grant opportunities are not a good match for you, a third grant opportunity is opening up on February 1, 2024. These grants are specifically for those in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. 

The Lake Michigan School Food System Innovation Hub Grants: Spark Awards and Innovation Collaborative Awards 

  • Administered by the Institute for Public Health Innovation, Illinois 
  • Launches February 1, 2024, closes on April 30, 2024 
  • Spark Awards fund projects that need a short-term infusion of funds for school food system and marketplace improvements, such as capacity-building, planning, and product testing projects. One year grant cycle, with $10,000 - $75,000 award range. 
  • Innovation Collaborative Awards fund projects that promote systems-level change of the school food system and marketplace, such as scaling up of programs, regional partnerships, or new program or product development and integration. Two and a half years grant cycle, with $250,000 awards. 
  • Visit the Innovation Hub page here to learn more and stay updated about the upcoming launch. En español

And finally, Full Plates Full Potential is administering the fourth USDA Transformation Grant—you can learn more about the organization here. They will be opening their grant soon, so stay tuned!

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