Prepare for the FY 2018 Farm to School Grant RFA

We plan to release the USDA Farm to School Grant RFA soon, but there’s no need to wait to start preparing. Here are five ways to get a jump start:

  1. Explore the Local Food Compass Map.
  • On the site, you’ll find a map of all of USDA and other federal departments’ investments in local and regional food systems. You can search by state and type of project.
  • This is a great way to find out what is going on in your state and connect with potential partners.
  1. Check out the USDA Farm to School Census

In 2015, USDA conducted a nationwide Farm to School Census, surveying over 18,000 school districts to determine how many schools currently purchase local foods. The Farm to School Census establishes a national baseline of farm to school activities happening across the country.

In school year 2013-2014, school districts purchased nearly $800 MILLION in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. That’s a 105 percent increase over the $386 million of local food purchased in the 2011-2012 school year when the first Census was conducted. 46 percent of school districts report that they will buy even more local foods in future school years.

While there are many sources of community, health, and agricultural data that you can use to craft a compelling application, combining the Census with those sources can help you paint the picture of what farm to school looks like in your unique community.

  1. Read the FY 2017 Farm to School Grant Request for Applications.

While we have made some changes to the RFA for the FY 2018 cycle, the main goals and requirements will remain the same. Familiarize yourself with the FY 17 RFA, Frequently Asked Questions, and sample grants. Be sure to check out the project descriptions of past grantees too!

  1. Dig into the paperwork.

To submit a proposal, your organization must have several registrations. These registrations often become an issue when applicants wait to complete them. You can start the process on all of these systems NOW.

  • Obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number – There is no fee and the registration may take several days.
  • Register with System for Award Management (SAM) – There is no fee and verification can take 3-5 business days after your registration is submitted.
  • Create a grants.gov account – There is no fee and registration takes between 3-5 business days.
  1. Build your team.

Reach out to potential partners and start having conversations now about how you might collaborate on a grant proposal.

  • Do you have your school nutrition director on board?
  • Do you have buy-in from the school administration and/or teachers?
  • Are there non-profits in the community that can support a project?
  • Who will do your evaluation? 

If you have completed some of this prep work, you’ll be ready to dive into proposal writing. Running through these steps will set you up for success when the FY 2018 Request for Applications goes live.

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