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Applications available for Farm to School grants

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the release of a request for applications for the third round of USDA's Farm to School grants, including the addition of a new funding track. These grants help eligible schools improve the health and wellbeing of their students and connect with local agricultural producers.

Three different kinds of grants will be available, as well as a separate funding track to support trainings and events. Planning grants are intended for schools just getting started on farm to school activities. Implementation grants are available for schools seeking to augment or expand existing efforts. Additionally, eligible nonprofit entities, Indian tribal organizations, state and local agencies and agriculture producers or groups of producers may apply for support service grants in order to conduct trainings, create complementary curriculum, or further develop supply chains, among other activities. Proposals are due at 11:59 p.m. on April 30.

New in fiscal year 2015, USDA funds will be made available to support meetings, trainings and events intended to strengthen farm to school supply chains or provide technical assistance. The Training and Event funds range from $15,000 to $50,000. USDA expects to distribute about $500,000 in additional funds to support at least one statewide or regional meeting in all seven FNS regions and at least one national conference. Letters of intent are due at 11:59 p.m. on April 2.

To help eligible entities in preparing proposals, USDA will host a series of webinars related to the application process:

• March 11 at 1 p.m. - Planning grants.

• March 12 at 1 p.m. - Implementation grants.

• March 13 at 1 p.m. - Support service grants.

• March 14 at 1 p.m. - Training and event funding track.

For more information, contact Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist Danny Hawes at the USDA Service Center at 1105 S. Columbia Ave. or call (270) 465-8554 Ext. 3.