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New COVID-19 Rapid Response Farm to School funding Available from Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Contributed by: Helen Schnoes, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

In response to the impact of COVID-19 on both schools and farmers selling to institutional markets, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) created two Rapid Response Farm to School Mini grants. The MDA anticipates awarding up to $124,000 to respond to the disruptions caused in traditional Farm to School markets.
Funding will be awarded in two grants:
L&R Poultry & Produce.
 Photo credit: Laurie Scheinder Photography

1. AGRI Farm to School Rapid Response for Schools – Grants are intended for school districts to begin, diversify, and expand purchasing from Minnesota producers during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily during the summer and fall 2020. School districts may apply for $1,000 to $5,000 and there is no match required.

2. AGRI Farm to School Rapid Response for Food Vendors – Grants are intended to support equipment purchases for food vendors that will help them to meet the product needs of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Agricultural producers (farmers, ranchers, agricultural cooperatives), restaurants, processors, food hubs, food distributors, and food service management companies are eligible to apply. Food vendors may apply for $1,000 to $5,000 and there is a 1:1 match requirement.

Applications for both AGRI Rapid Response Farm to School Mini Grants will be reviewed twice monthly through August 12, or until funds run out. Funding will be prioritized to support Minnesota’s Emerging Farmers, including Black, Indigenous, Farmers of Color, beginning farmers, women, and veterans. 

The MDA anticipates launching a larger-scale Farm to School Reimbursement Grant Incentive Pilot in the fall. Watch this quarterly newsletter to stay in the loop about this exciting opportunity! This funding will replace the MDA’s Equipment and Planning grants that have been awarded over the last several years.

Questions about the MDA’s Farm to School grants can be directed to Lisa Sawyer (schools grant) and Courtney VanderMey (food vendor grant) or answered by calling the grants line at 651-201-6500. For additional support in the application process and thinking about farm to school connections in your community, reach out at Sami Burington at the Minnesota Department of Education.

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