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.
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.
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.