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Update on the farm to school pilot incentive

Contributed by: Helen Schnoes, Minnesota Department of Agriculture 

Photo by Laurie Schneider of Rae at L&R Poultry & Produce
Thanks to the work of Farm to School supporters across Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) next round of AGRI Farm to School Grants will offer a new incentive for schools to grow their farm to school purchasing and support of Minnesota producers. Through a pilot competitive grant program, the MDA will reimburse selected schools for the purchase of local foods. The MDA anticipates launching the grant RFP in May 2020, and expects that funds will be available to awardees around the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

The parameters for this new pilot program are still in development. The MDA hopes that schools of varying sizes and experiences with Farm to School from across the state will apply. Unfortunately, the MDA cannot answer specific questions about the scope of the grant at this time.

So what can you do in the meantime?

  • Everyone: Sign up for updates! Interested schools, farmers, and community partners can visit the AGRI Farm to School webpage to sign up for updates about the grant program (signup form coming soon!) 
  • Farmers: Join the Minnesota Grown wholesale directory. Farmers interested in selling directly to schools are encouraged to join the Minnesota Grown Wholesale Directory. This will make a one-stop source for schools interested in connecting with local producers.
  • Schools: Start planning for your application. It’s never too early to think about what you might want to purchase from Minnesota producers, what farmers you could buy from, and how these foods can fit with your budget and menu. Ask your distributors what Minnesota products they will have available this fall. Start talking now with your colleagues and partners to be ready when the grant RFP comes.

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