Funding for School Programs to Access Locally Grown Food

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released their request for applications for the Fiscal Year 2021 Farm to School Grant Program. There is an estimated $10 million in funds available with a maximum award amount of $100,000 per grant project. Applications are due January 8, 2021.
What is the purpose of USDA’s Farm to School Grant Program?
The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) established a Farm to School Program in order to assist eligible entities, through grants and technical assistance, in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools.
Who is eligible to apply?
Eligible applicants for this program include:
  • Institutions, including schools, school districts, and non-school based sites, that operate the National School Lunch and-or Breakfast Program(s), CACFP, and/or SFSP;
  • State agencies that administer or work in partnership with the agency that administers the Federal Child Nutrition Programs;
  • Local agencies;
  • Indian tribal organizations including Indian tribes, bands, or groups recognized by the Department of the Interior (DOI) or an intertribal council or group which is an authorized representative of such tribes, bands, or groups recognized but the DOI and has contracted with them to administer a Federal Child Nutrition Program (FCNP) in an eligible school;
  • Agricultural producers or groups of agricultural producers; and
  • Non-profit entities.
Please note, schools, school districts, Indian Tribal Organizations, producers, and non-profit organizations that have received Implementation, or were formerly awarded training grants through the Farm to School Grant Program in the last three funding cycles (FY 2018, FY 2019, or FY 2020) are not eligible to apply for an Implementation Grant in FY 2021.
What are the allowable costs?
Expenditures and purchases need to contribute to a sustainable program or activity. Among other costs, budgets may include expenses related to:
  • Personnel and Contractors
  • Equipment and Supplies
    • Equipment must have a useful life of more than one year and a cost of $5,000 or more. Examples include walk-in freezers, coolers, processing equipment, hoop houses, and ovens.
    • Examples of supplies include knives, cutting boards, gardening or farming supplies, and food processors.
    • Salad bars are also an allowable expense.
  • Meeting expenses
  • Travel, i.e. reimbursement for local travel and hotel costs for school nutrition managers to attend workshops and training.
  • Trainings
Funds may also be used to:
  • Support costs associated with evaluation activities.
  • Purchase promotional items directly related to the grant proposal’s objective.
  • Hire a substitute food service staff person while school food service managers attend workshops and training.
  • Pay for food if it is part of a specific grant/training activity, i.e. taste testing or demonstrating preparation techniques during training. Funds may NOT be used to purchase food for meals.
Examples of successful projects:
  • Indian Tribal Organization - The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin developed an aquaponics system capable of producing fish and fresh produce year-round. The system will serve as an educational tool and provide nutritious food for students.
  • State Agency - The Washington State Department of Agriculture conducted regional “mobile tours” in which agricultural producers and school food service directors toured the State together, learning about agricultural specialties, identifying opportunities for partnership, and solidifying regional networks.
  • School District:
    • Chicago Public Schools in Chicago, Illinois, implemented a school garden food safety program.
    • The Lawrence County School District in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, worked with other districts to pool their food dollars and aggregate buying power to attract new local producers to the school food service market.
  • Nonprofit Organization - The New York Botanical Garden in New York, New York tested a holistic school gardening model that integrated gardening activities with hands-on workshops. The project, benefitting 12 charter schools, also piloted and evaluated efforts to bring more local foods into school cafeterias.
What are other project requirements?
All grant recipients must:
  • Participate in orientation calls and onboarding webinars.
  • Complete standardized evaluation activities as determined by USDA.
  • Include acknowledgement of USDA Food and Nutrition Service support on any publications written or published with grant support.
What are the funding priorities for this program?
  • Applications that serve a high proportion of children (at least 40 percent or more) who are eligible for free or reduced price meals.
  • Applications from Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) and entities serving tribal communities.
  • Applications from small- to medium-sized agricultural producers or groups of small- to medium-sized agricultural producers.
  • Projects located in or targeting Opportunity Zones.
What are the funding levels for this program?
  • Awards for Action Planning, Edible Garden, and Agricultural Education Curriculum projects may be awarded up to $50,000 with no minimum award amount.
  • Producer Training projects may be awarded up to $25,000 with no minimum award amount.
  • Implementation and State Agency grants will range from $50,000-$100,000.
Is there a match a match requirement or cost sharing?
For all grant types, Federal funds should constitute no more than 75 percent of the total project budget. Applicants may not use any federal funds as the source of any part of their match. The grant recipient must show evidence of matching support of at least 25 percent of the total budget in the form of cash or in-kind contributions, including facilities, equipment, or services provided by State and local governments, non-profit organizations, and private sources.
When are applications due?
Applications are due January 8, 2021.
The Request For Applications can be found here.
For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764.


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