Two grants that aim to increase local purchasing in Minnesota Farm to School and Early Care programs are now open for applications through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).
Through this round of Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Farm to School and Early Care Grants, school districts and early childhood education (ECE) centers across Minnesota will receive a total of $935,000 to purchase Minnesota-grown and -raised foods for use in federal meal programs. This is the first year that this program is available to ECE centers, in addition to school districts.
“These grants have helped bring more fresh, local foods to Minnesota schools, and we’re excited to now be able to extend this same opportunity to our state’s early childhood education centers,” said MDA Commissioner Thom Petersen. “When schools and ECE centers buy locally grown and raised foods, our students, farmers, and communities all benefit.”
School districts and ECE centers may apply for one of two grants:
- Farm to School and Early Care First Bite Grant: Grants are intended for school districts and ECE centers that have little to no experience with local procurement as part of a Farm to School and Early Care program.
- Farm to School and Early Care Full Tray Grant: Grants are intended for school districts and ECE centers that have some Farm to School and Early Care procurement experience.
The First Bite Grant is intended to be an intentional learning process for the applicant. School districts and ECE centers may apply for a minimum of $2,500 and a maximum of $5,000. There is no match required.
The Full Tray Grant will be awarded to school districts and ECE centers that have experience purchasing Minnesota-grown and -raised products and want to expand their Farm to School and Early Care programs. Applicants may apply for up to $35,000 based on the number of meals served as a part of a federal meal program in October 2022. Grants require a 1:1 match.
In addition to funds for food, applicants for both grant programs may also apply for up to $25,000 for equipment purchases to support their Farm to School and Early Care programs. First Bite and Full Tray Grant applicants must match the equipment portion of their grant on a 1:1 basis. Schools and ECE centers may not apply only to fund equipment purchases.
Logan Schumacher, MDA Communications