Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is awarding more than $10 million in Farm to School Grants to 123 projects across the country. Additionally, for the first time, the department is empowering states with $60 million in non-competitive grants to develop stronger and sustainable Farm to School programs over the next four years. Both actions will help more students nationwide eat healthy, homegrown foods.
Farm to School increases the amount of locally produced foods served through child nutrition programs, while also educating children about how their foods are harvested and made.
A $48,592 planning grant will allow the Cheatham County School District to assess current assets and needs in its schools, connect with area farmers, and create a marketing plan to educate school district personnel and the public at large about Farm to School benefits.
The project will develop an informed, workable action plan that lays out the process of developing a thriving Farm to School initiative in Cheatham County.
What the district plans to do this year with the grant:
• We will create a committee, which will help the district create a sustainable Farm to School initiative. The committee will include district personnel, teachers, farmers, and representatives from the UT & TSU Cheatham County Extension Office and Economic and Community Development Office. • Train and involve School Nutrition staff in Farm to School menu and school product development. We will bring in a Farm to School chef in September to work with our School Nutrition staff to prepare taste-testing samples for students. • In October during Farm to School Month, we will offer taste-testing menu events in each school. The menu items will feature locally-grown or seasonal foods from local farmers. We will also host a Farm to School event in October so our stakeholders can taste test these menu items as well. • Build a network of community stakeholders and build school-wide awareness of Farm to School initiatives. • Work with our local school administrators and teachers to develop lessons and experiential opportunities which focus on farm to school, planting and growing, nutrition, and other sustainable practices. After the one-year planning grant is complete, we will then be able to apply for a USDA Farm to School implementation grant. If awarded that grant, it will allow us to incorporate a successful Farm to School program in the district.