Funding for Farm to School

Funding for F2S

Funding your farm to school program can help your school district accomplish great things, even with just a small grant! From gardens that support the community to cafeteria local food taste tests, funding can be a key factor in bringing your program’s goals to fruition. These grants vary in focus from kitchen and prep equipment, salad bars, training for staff, school gardens, farm to school program planning and program implantation and physical activity grants.

Are you considering writing a grant to fund your project? Illinois Farm to School Network can provide training on multiple farm to school related topics for school food service and teaching staff.  If you are interested in adding training or technical assistance to build or grow your program, contact us to discover how we can be added to your grant proposal!


Look for funding opportunities and partnerships in your community!

There are multiple ways to connect to organizations and agencies within your community to develop partnerships and achieve additional funding sources. Search for the following in your community:

  • Non-profit hospitals share federal funds through a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). Farm to School can be a perfect fit for this program. You can review the National Farm to School information sheet on CHNA funds here. Search for your local non-profit hospital here.
  • Are you looking for a free source of nutrition educators and a garden or local food experts? Illinois Extension provides nutrition educators, Master Gardeners and local food experts to interested schools and sites across the state. Look for Illinois Extension partners in your county here.
  • Heath Agencies offer education opportunities and can provide possible partnerships on health based grants in your community. Connect to your area health agency here.

Basic steps to writing a grant:

Generate and develop an idea – Build a sound proposal by involving key stakeholders and partners in the process. Determine what potential grant partners have to offer, and what expertise they can provide that will prove beneficial for your project. The Illinois Farm to School Network, based at the nonprofit organization Seven Generations Ahead, is a partnership option. By partnering with us and providing funding through a grant, we would be able to come to your school and give you hands-on support and technical assistance.

Identify potential funding: Once your project for funding has been established, research grant funding possibilities. Find funders with a record of supporting schools. A funder who shares similar goals as your project is more likely to fund you. Make sure to read through the guidelines and requirements. Funders who have previously supported community health initiatives, sustainability or garden projects, or want to see kids eating more healthy food, are ideal.

Write the application: Your application should reflect your organization’s project focus and design, while fitting in with the guidelines given by the funder.

Address available resources needed for the project, develop the goals and objectives for the proposal and suggest strategies for meeting those goals. You should also develop a tentative budget of expected income and expenses. Here is a sample budget that you can use!

Submit the application: Once the application is completed, it must be submitted on time and in compliance with the grant requirements.

Click here to download the notes from this presentation.

USDA Farm to School Grant


The USDA Farm to School grant is the main funding stream for farm to school programs, and this grant has provided the infrastructure for farm to school across the country. In September 2015, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the release of a new report that shows that USDA’s Farm to School Grant Program, established and funded through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, has helped 12,300 schools improve nutritious meal options made with local ingredients for 6.9 million students, while expanding market opportunities for family farmers and ranchers in their communities. Through its Farm to School Grant Program, USDA has awarded 221 grants in 49 States, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands over the past three years. Fifty percent of funded projects included expanding healthy menu options offered in the cafeteria; 46 percent included training for food service staff about menu planning, meal preparation, and cooking with local and regional foods; and 65 percent included nutrition education activities. Read the full report here.

You can find more information about how to apply for the grant and previously granted projects here.

USDA Community Food Project Grant Program

The  USDA Community Food Projects Grant Program Request for Applications is typically released in March, with millions in grant funding available. Community Food Projects are designed to increase food security in communities by bringing the whole food system together to assess strengths, establish linkages, and create systems that improve the self-reliance of community members over their food needs. Eligible grant applicants include food program service providers, tribal organizations, or private nonprofit entities, including gleaners.The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project  provides free one-on-one technical assistance and resources to organizations interested in applying for the Community Food Projects Grant Program through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information and to apply for technical assistance, please visit the Community Food Projects’ website. Applications are typically due in June.

Funding for Farmers

The USDA has a strong infrastructure of grants for small farmers who might be interested in farm to school. As a part of the Know Your Farmer initiative, USDA created a chart that outlines the different funding streams depending on the type of grant you need. Look at the chart here: USDA programs in the Local Food Supply Chain.


Farm Credit

The National Farm to School Network partnered with Farm Credit, an organization over 100 years old with a long history of supporting farmers and rural America, to create paths to funding farmer farm to school projects. They created a fact sheet with ideas and examples of how Farm Credit and affiliated programs have funded Farm to School efforts across the country. Download the factsheet here.

Funding for Site Gardens

These sections will be updated periodically. For the most up to date grant information, please join the network to subscribe to our newsletter. This will keep you informed about the most current grants.

National Gardening Association Youth Garden Grant Program

Created and awarded by the National Gardening Association, the Youth Garden Grant awards packages that are valued at over $500 to schools, non-profits, and youth programs. Programs must have a minimum of 15 students ages 3-18 to be eligible to apply.

Carton2Garden Contest

The Carton2Garden contest is supported by and presented by Evergreen Packaging. The contest is rewarding up to $5,000. Only schools are eligible to enter the contest. Adult sponsors 18 years old or greater may submit applications by the April 13th deadline.

Grants for Food Garden Projects with Seed Money

Seed Money is giving away 125 grants of $400 to food garden projects. Seed Money is a crowdfunding and grant platform for food garden projects. To apply for a grant, start a project by November 12.

Bonnie Plants’ Third Grade Cabbage Program

Each year, more than one million free cabbage plants are distributed to third-grade classrooms across the country. As part of the program, Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each state for sending in a photo of a unique-looking cabbage. Schools K-12 are eligible.

Annie’s Homegrown Garden Grants

Annie’s mission is, “A garden in every school.” The Annie’s Homegrown website has many resources to help start and sustain a school garden. There are two application cycles a year. Annie’s also offers a Garden Funder, which is a platform for schools to use to fund their own garden projects.

Chef Ann Foundation

The mission of the Chef Ann Foundation is to provide tools that help schools serve children healthy and delicious scratch-cooked meals made with fresh, whole food. Through their grants, they are able to award equipment funding to schools that are committed to making real, positive changes to their food programs.

Nature Works Everywhere

The Nature Works Everywhere grant will award between $1,000-$2,000 to schools starting or maintaining a school garden program. Preference is given to projects that include aspects of natural infrastructure. Get creative with habitat gardens, rain conservation or pollinators.

National Head Start Association

The new Garden Grants initiative seeks to bring the life-enhancing benefits of gardens to more Head Start children and families, increasing healthy food access and fostering a lifelong love of gardening. All Head Start programs are welcome to apply. Grant recipients will receive $5,000, plus a garden kit, to create or expand a garden in their community. Application deadline for the 2018/2019 program year is November 15, 2018.

Safer® School Garden Grant

Providing a chance for a healthier future is exactly why Safer® Brand is giving away a $500 school garden grant. Check out the Safer® School Garden Grant page for more information on why school gardens matter, how to build one and to apply for the Safer® School Garden Grant. Send your submission in between September 1 to December 1.

Katie’s Krops

Starting a Katie’s Krops Garden is so much more than just receiving funding to grow a garden. Youth selected as Katie’s Krops Growers are empowered to grow a healthy end to hunger in their community and positively impacting the health of their cities and towns.Once each year, Katie’s Krops offers youth the opportunity to apply to become a Katie’s Krops Grower. The annual application period is from October 1st through December 31st. This timeframe is the only time of the year youth can apply to start a Katie’s Krops Garden. Winners are notified in February.

Captain Planet Project Learning Garden

The Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden Program encourages educators to consider the school garden as an extension of the traditional classroom rather than an extracurricular activity. Gardens can provide a context for multidisciplinary learning, ranging from nutrition and science to social, studies, math and language arts. Students benefit by expanding their palates, taste-testing healthy foods, and learning about food origins; engaging in authentic science field investigations; manipulating the environment to understand math, and so much more!

The Sow It Forward School Garden Grant

Sow It Forward is the grants and partnership program of Kitchen Gardeners International. The grant is for nonprofit causes or organizations (schools, 501c3s, food banks, community gardens, colleges, libraries, prisons, senior programs, etc.) interested in starting or expanding food garden projects that are of general benefit to their community. Past grantees include school gardens, community gardens, food bank gardens, library gardens, senior gardens, prison gardens and homeless shelter gardens among others.

Community and Miscellaneous School Grants

The Lunchbox School Food Service Grants

Grants with a focus on improving school lunch menus and expanding your student’s palates include the School Food Support Initiative and the Project Produce Fruit and Veggie Grants.

Solid Waste Management Grant Program

The purpose of this grant program is to fund organizations that work to reduce or eliminate water and solid waste pollution in rural areas. Eligibility requires a Private, 501(c)3 status for organizations, government agencies, federally-recognized Native American tribes, academic institutions. The funding is $4 million total and the deadline is December 31.

Fuel Up to Play 60

Every year, the National Dairy Council, National Football League, and the USDA provide grants up to $4,000 to K-12 schools with programs that encourage youth to eat healthily (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and exercise for at least 60 minutes daily. One of this year’s Healthy Eating Plays focuses on Farm to School. Eligibility requires that K-12 schools that follow one Healthy Eating Play and Physical Activity Play. Funding is up to $4,000 per year per school with a deadline in early November.

Micro-Grants/Karma for Cara Foundation

The purpose is to fund service projects in communities, with ideas including rebuilding a playground or turning a vacant lot into a community garden. Children 18 and under are eligible. Funding is between $250 and $1,000 with a rolling deadline. Applications are online and must be submitted to

Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools

This partnership between United Fresh, the White House, the Center for Disease Control, and others, helps provide resources for schools to install salad bars.

Information and a toolkit for parents can be found here.

Shopko Community Grants

Promote healthy lifestyles and educational opportunities within your community with this grant.

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grants

Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) has helped more than 8,000 schools across the country create reading gardens, build playgrounds and implement other improvement projects that help strengthen their schools and their communities.

Life Time Foundation Grants

These grants for schools are focused on eliminating harmful ingredients from school food, and support schools who want to start cooking from scratch.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) offers a number of different grant opportunities in all of its regions. Grant proposals should focus on research and education. In the North Central region, for example, there is a grant of up to $2,000 awarded to Youth Educators. Check out your region to get a better idea of which grants your school garden could apply for.

Science Made Fun Grant List

Science Made Fun Blog Site contains multiple grants focussed on education, excursions, environmental projects, to creating orchards! This list is updated every year. If you don’t see the current year listed, search for the current year’s grant listing in the search bar!

Walmart Giving Grants

Together, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation generally provide more than $1 billion in cash and in-kind to support programs that align with our philanthropic priorities. We work closely with our grantees to address large scale environmental and social challenges in three priority areas: Creating economic opportunity, Enhancing sustainability in supply chains, Strengthening community

Illinois State Board of Education Equipment Grant Fund

More than $1.3 million is available for the Illinois State Board of Education to award fiscal year 2020 Equipment Assistance Grants to School Food Authorities (SFAs) participating in the National School Lunch Program. ISBE is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for SFAs to apply on behalf of their schools for grant funding. SFAs can request funds to replace, renovate, or purchase new kitchen equipment needed to serve healthier school meals, improve food safety, and expand access to school meals. ISBE is required to competitively award the NSLP Equipment Assistance Grants to eligible SFAs. Higher priority must be given to high-need schools where 50 percent or more of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and to schools that have not received a previous NSLP Equipment Assistance Grant. This is a rolling deadline each fall September through November. Grant announcements are released in September. The Notice of Funding Opportunity and information on how to apply are available on the NSLP Equipment Assistance Grant webpage at