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Grants available to expand locally grown food in schools, early care organizations

Contributed by: Ashley Bress and Lisa Sawyer, Minnesota Department of Agriculture 

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is now taking applications for the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) ‘Farm to School’ and ‘Farm to Early Care and Education’ Grants. The MDA will award up to $377,500 to eligible institutions to increase the use of Minnesota grown foods through either planning and feasibility studies or equipment purchases and physical improvements.

“These grants serve two purposes: we are able to invest in schools and early care and education organizations and we can expand markets that support local farmers,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “Communities across Minnesota are better off thanks to these AGRI grants and the opportunities they create.”

In previous grant rounds, the highly competitive AGRI Farm to School Grants helped grantees purchase food processors, cooling and storage equipment, and specialized ovens to make it easier to serve Minnesota grown produce, meat, and dairy. Other recipients have utilized grant funds by connecting with farmers in their areas, determining how seasonal produce fits into menu cycles, and creating processes to use local foods for infant foods in early care settings.

AGRI ‘Farm to School’ and ‘Farm to Early Care and Education’ Grants benefit farmers by empowering schools to use locally grown foods. Jackson County Central used their AGRI Farm to School Grant funds to purchase a Steam’n Hold Steamer. The equipment allowed them to purchase more locally raised vegetables from Minnesota farms like ‘Brandt Gardens and Greenhouse’.

Applications for ‘Farm to School’ and ‘Farm to Early Care and Education Grants’ must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. CST on November 1, 2018. For more information and to apply, visit www.mda.state.mn.us/f2sgrant and www.mda.state.mn.us/f2ecegrant.
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  12. This year, candidates for both the First Bite and Full Tree funding may request up to $250,000 in equipment purchases in addition to food. Both First Byte and Full Tri-Grant applications must have exactly the same support equipment book formatting services component. Schools are not permitted to apply only for the purpose of purchasing equipment.

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