SAINT PAUL, MN — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has recently awarded schools across Minnesota with two new grants on June 17.
The new grants, with a total of $294,907, will be used to increase the amount of healthy local foods in school meals through its Farm to School programs. All schools receiving the grants will purchase Minnesota-grown and-raised foods to be used in the programs.
This funding will raise an additional $239,007 in purchases of food grown and raised in Minnesota, for a total investment of nearly $534,000.
Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said building new markets that directly benefit farmers and children is the core goal of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). At the same time, he also expressed his excitement due to schools' participation across Minnesota in those new grant programs.
“We’re thrilled to see schools across the state participate in these new grant programs, and we look forward to their success and building on this initial investment," he said.
Two school districts receiving one of the two grants are as follows:
1. Farm to School Full Tray Grant
Intended for school districts that have some Farm to School procurement experience.
2. Farm to School First Bite Mini-Grant
Intended for school districts that have little to no experience with local procurement as part of a Farm to School programming.
Administering grants to agribusinesses, farmers, schools and more throughout the state of Minnesota, the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) program has made funding for this program available.
The purpose of the AGRI program is to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy sectors.
Thanks to funding from USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant, all schools receiving the grant might receive technical assistance to implement their farm-to-school procurement activities. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy will provide technical assistance.
Meanwhile, the University of Minnesota Extension’s Center of Community Vitality will evaluate the economic impact of the investment.