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USDA Announces $4.5 Million for Farm to School Grants

The Department of Agriculture announced $4.5 million for Farm to School grants recently, a new program established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that helps school districts buy locally-grown food for school meals and provide nutrition education to students. The grants were awarded to 68 projects in 37 states and Washington, D.C., reaching a total of 3,200 schools and 1.75 million students. South Carolina is one of those funded states. Funded projects include the hiring of farm to school coordinators, educating farmers and ranchers new to the school food market, and hands-on learning activities such as the creation of school gardens and field trips to local farms.

SCDA is responsible for administering grants to new schools in eight districts across SC in the 2012‐2013 school year to implement the four components of farm to school.  Selected school districts outlined their plan for serving at least 2 South Carolina‐ grown produce items per month as a part of the school meal, promoting South Carolina‐grown produce in the school cafeteria, integrating nutrition and agriculture education activities in‐and‐out of class, and establishing school vegetable gardens.  The proposed project will span two years and enable the SCDA to expand the capacity of South Carolina farmers and distributors to supply locally grown produce to  schools in an additional 8 school districts, provide networking and educational opportunities for schools, farmers and food distributors interested in increasing the amount of fresh South Carolina produce served in institutions, and test the feasibility of Farm to School “Protein Plus” Pilot Program in a sample of participating schools. As the lead agency committed to implementing farm to school in South Carolina, SCDA recognizes the importance of ensuring that South Carolina farm to school participants have access to technical support, local products, and trainings to successfully implement farm to school.