AGRI grants bring locally grown food to schools

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is looking for proposals for two Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) grants that aim to increase local purchasing in Farm to School programs.

School districts across Minnesota could receive a total of $748,000 for purchasing Minnesota-grown and -raised foods used in school meal programs, through the MDA’s next round of AGRI Farm to School grants. School districts may apply for one of two grants:

“We’re happy the Legislature expanded funding for these important programs to help get kids fresh, local, healthy food,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “In addition to helping them buy fresh food, these grants can now help increase schools’ capacity to store and prepare them.”

This year, applicants for both the First Bite and Full Tray grants may also apply for up to $25,000 for equipment purchases, in addition to funds for food. Both First Bite and Full Tray Grant applicants must match the equipment portion of their grant on a 1:1 basis. Schools may not apply only to fund equipment purchases.

The First Bite grant is intended to be an intentional learning process for the applicant. Recipients in FY2022 will not be eligible for the First Bite grant in subsequent funding rounds. School districts may apply for a minimum of $2,500 and a maximum of $5,000. There is no match required.

The Full Tray grants will be awarded to school districts that have experience purchasing Minnesota-grown and -raised products but want to expand their Farm to School programs. Applicants may apply for up to $35,000 based on the district size. Grants require a 1:1 match.

Applications for AGRI Farm to School First Bite and Full Tray Grants must be submitted by 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.

Funding for this program is made available through the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) program, which administers grants to farmers, agribusinesses, schools, and more throughout the state of Minnesota. The AGRI Program exists to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy sectors.

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