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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

USDA Farm to School Grants announced today!

Congratulations to Detroit Public Schools and Waterford School District for their USDA Farm to School Grant awards!!


A USDA press release regarding Midwest Region Farm to School grant awards follows and is attached.


Colleen Matts

Farm to Institution Specialist | Michigan Lead for National Farm to School Network

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd | Rm 303 Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517.432.0310 |




Chicago, IL, Dec. 2, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced grants for 82 projects spanning 42 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands that support the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School Program. Of the 82 awards, fourteen awards are being given in the Mid-West region valued at $1,079,112.


“Community partners are coming together to ensure a bright and healthy future for students, and local farmers and ranchers,” said Vilsack. “These inspiring collaborations create long-term benefits for students, as they develop a meaningful understanding of where food comes from, and support our farmers and ranchers by expanding market opportunities for local and regional foods.”

Selected projects will serve school districts in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Michigan awards are:


·         Detroit Public Schools, School District of the City of Detroit

Detroit Public Schools Office of School Nutrition proposes a training program to develop members in high-tunnel farming, general farm management, and distribution and logistics of fresh produce. Ultimately, this program is designed to grow and distribute more local products to all 90 schools and create a model for other urban areas. High tunnel growing is a specialty method of growing that requires a different production processes than outdoor growing. Proper ventilation and soil management are key to the success in high tunnel growing and different from conventional farming. High tunnel growing can be beneficial in a farm to school program because it includes better heat gain, season extension, control of foliar diseases and an overall more controlled growing environment.


·         Waterford School District

This project will institutionalize farm to school throughout the Waterford School District and the community. This will be accomplished by scaling up several initiatives already in place to varying degrees throughout the district, such as purchasing locally sourced, minimally processed foods; increasing the amount of locally sourced foods that are actually consumed by students; curricular integration of farm to school concepts; and experiential, hands-on learning in nutrition education and agriculture concepts.


The Farm to School Grants help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers, and distributors. Grants will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms, and cooking classes.

USDA's Farm to School Program is made possible by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which authorized USDA to provide grants and technical assistance to help schools gain better access to local foods. It is also a core element of the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the department's work on local food systems.

USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food.

·         America's students now have healthier and more nutritious school meals due to improved nutrition standards implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

·         USDA's MyPlate symbol and the resources at provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.

·         USDA awarded $5.2 million in grants to provide training and technical assistance for child nutrition foodservice professionals and support stronger school nutrition education programs.

·         Since 2009, USDA has provided $160 million in kitchen equipment funding to states and schools. The President's fiscal year 2015 budget requests an additional $35 million for kitchen equipment grants. These grants are one of several ways that USDA is supporting schools as the implement the updated nutrition standards.

·         USDA recently launched a pilot project, called Team Up for School Nutrition Success, which is working with schools to identify challenges, provide free, customized training, and match schools with mentors who have successfully addressed similar challenges. 

Collectively these policies and actions are helping to combat child hunger and obesity, while improving the health and nutrition of the nation's children. For more information on USDA’s Farm to School Program, please visit


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).






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