The Potluck

Five Minnesota organizations receive USDA Farm to School grants

By: - July 16, 2021 12:45 pm

A customer shops at a farmers market. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Five Minnesota school districts and community organizations will plant gardens and expand nutrition education with grants totaling more than $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a USDA news release.

The USDA gave $12 million in Farm to School grants to more than 170 recipients this year, according to the release. The program aims to increase children’s access to fresh produce in school cafeterias and provide hands-on lessons about healthy foods.

In Minnesota, the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area, Roseville Area Schools, child care nutrition nonprofit Providers Choice Inc., Shakopee Public Schools and the nonprofit The Good Acre in Falcon Heights received grants. They’ll use them for programs ranging from hydroponics to culinary training.

The Bemidji Boys & Girls Club will use nearly $50,000 to establish an indoor vegetable garden, which will allow the program to offer gardening lessons year-round. Ten local schools will have access to healthy eating programs and fresh produce through the grant. 

Providers Choice Inc. received more than $47,000 to plant gardens at child care centers that serve low-income families of color in the Twin Cities. The nonprofit is hoping to give families better access to fresh produce, especially in food deserts where fresh foods are costly and difficult to find.

Farm to school programs have become more popular over the past three years, according to the USDA. More than 1,000 Minnesota schools offered local food and agriculture education in 2018, according to a USDA survey.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.