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.

NEW! The Lake Michigan School Food System Innovation Hub fosters collaborations that nourish students, connect schools with local farms and businesses, and celebrate our region’s cultures and communities. In February 2024, we’ll open applications for two new funding opportunities: the Spark Awards and the Innovation Collaborative Awards. Additional grant cycles will continue through 2028.

Spark Awards fund projects that need a short-term infusion of funds for school food system and marketplace improvements, such as capacity-building, planning, and product testing projects.

Award Range: $10,000 – $75,000

Grant Cycle: One year, with optional 4-month extension period

Project Timeline: August 1, 2024 – July 31, 2025

Pre-Screening Application Deadline: March 30, 2024

Final Application Deadline: April 30, 2024

Innovation Collaborative Awards fund projects that promote systems-level change of the school food system and marketplace, such as scaling up of programs, regional partnerships, or new program or product development and integration.

Award: $250,000

Grant Cycle: 2.5 years

Project Timeline: August 1, 2024 – December 31, 2026

Pre-Screening Application Deadline: March 30, 2024

Final Application Deadline: April 30, 2024

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.