The Farm to School Act of 2017 will continue and expand upon the successes of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program by:
- Increasing annual mandatory funding from $5 million to $15 million: An increase in funding is essential to build on the USDA Farm to School Grant Program’s success. Demand for the program is nearly five times higher than current available funding. In the first five years of the program, USDA received more than 1,600 applications requesting over $120 million, and was able to make only 365 awards from the $25 million available. Funding the program at $15 million annually will better support the high demand of this important program.
- Improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers: By providing technical assistance and research to a broad range of potential applicants, the grant program will encourage increased awareness of and participation in farm to school activities among all agricultural producers.
- Fully including early care and education sites, summer food service program sites, and after school programs in the program: The scope of the grant program must include early care and education settings. The first years of life are formative for developing healthy eating habits, and farm to school starts kids on the right path. The program’s scope must also include summer food service program sites and afterschool programs. These provide meals to millions of children in low-income areas, ensuring access to nutritious meals after school lets out.
- Increasing access among tribal schools to farm-fresh and traditional foods, especially from tribal producers: Native American communities face disproportionately high rates of overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Encouraging farm to school partnerships between tribal schools and tribal producers will increase consumption of nutritious traditional foods while also supporting Native farmers and ranchers.