Washington D.C.– The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $12 million in Farm to School Grants this year, announcing awards to 176 grantees, the most projects funded since the program began in 2013. The department is also releasing new data demonstrating the recent growth of farm to school efforts nationwide.

Out of the 176 grants awarded, two Missouri schools received grants to implement programs to continue current farm to school work and increase the amount of locally sourced produce served in school cafeterias.

Cornerstones of Care – $97,201.10Kansas City, Missouri Grant Type: Implementation: Cornerstones of Care’s Build Trybe program will increase the amount of locally sourced produce served in school cafeterias. It will improve farm infrastructure to increase production and engage students, K-12, in a comprehensive farm program. Programming will include collaborating with local small farms to procure local produce and coordinating grow plans with menu planning. The goal is that 2/3 of all fruits and vegetables procured will come from local producers including two Cornerstones of Care farm sites and five farm partners.

West Central Missouri Community Action Agency – $91,408Appleton City, Missouri Grant Type: Implementation: This two-year project will enhance and continue current farm to school work and momentum in West Central’s nine-county region by building on the agricultural strengths of the region and a growing rural network of food system partners and projects. Specifically, it will focus on expanding the amount of local produce in the Nevada (Vernon County Missouri) and neighboring El Dorado Springs (Cedar County, Missouri) school districts, both located within the Interstate-49 corridor, a central transportation route. This will be done through the following objectives: 1. Increase number of schools purchasing local food; 2. Raise the visibility of farm to school in the region; and 3. Business plan research for pre-processing foods.

“The record-breaking Farm to School Grants and new data release today both reflect USDA’s commitment to supporting farm to school efforts as a win-win for all involved,” said Stacy Dean, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. “We’re excited about the growth in farm to school activity across the country and look forward to seeing the impact of this latest round of grants on children, schools, farmers, and the economy alike.”

Farm to school efforts introduce more locally grown produce into school cafeterias and expose children to agriculture and nutrition education through hands-on learning. They also provide reliable revenue for American farmers, directly boosting the local economy.