The Schenectady City School District has been awarded a $100,000 Farm to School Implementation Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The funding will be used to continue expansion of the district's Farm to School Program, including training food service staff, providing additional education in classrooms and cafeterias, increasing the volume and variety of local specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables, herbs and grains used in school lunches, providing hands-on curriculum tied to core subject areas, and expanding and improving school gardens and related programming.
The district is grateful to the many community partners who continue to support the district's Farm to School Programming, including SiCM Urban Farms, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the Schenectady County Farm Bureau.
The USDA made the announcement of awards on July 25, 2022. Schenectady was one of many projects awarded funding in this grant cycle. More than $10 million Farm to School Grants are being awarded to 123 projects across the country. Additionally, for the first time, the department is empowering states with $60 million in non-competitive grants to develop strong and sustainable Farm to School Programs over the next four years. Farm to School increases the amount of locally produced foods served through child nutrition programs while educating children about how foods are harvested and made.
"When schools and local producers work together, children benefit from higher quality foods on their plates and program operators have stable sources for the products they need," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The USDA acknowledges that many people have been historically underserved and marginalized through unfair food systems. The projects selected by the USDA reflect its commitment to transforming food systems to be more equitable through Farm to School. The 123 projects funded by 2022 competitive grants will serve more than 3 million children at more than 5,000 schools in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
"States and school districts with strong Farm to School Programs have been more resilient in the face of recent supply chain disruptions, compared to operators lacking relationships with local producers," said Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. "The Farm to School Program deserves to be at the forefront of long-term solutions that operators can lean on to ensure that nutritious, local products are always within reach."
To learn more about the USDA's efforts to transform America's food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production and ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities visit www.usda.gov