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3.5 million in new Farm to School funding from MDA might mean more schools seeking local products soon

Through a Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and with the support of the Cargill Foundation, the MDA anticipates awarding nearly $3.5 million to reimburse school districts for purchasing Minnesota grown and raised foods used in school meal programs.

Who can apply for these funds? 

Schools can apply for the First Bite Grant (up to $10,000) or Full Tray Grant (up to $100,000) to purchase Minnesota-grown and - raised foods. Equipment Funds (up to $35,000, 1:1 match required) are also available to help schools purchase kitchen equipment that will support Farm to School initiatives. 

Public or private schools or school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and serve food to K-12 students are eligible to apply, and the MDA encourages school districts serving sovereign tribal nations to apply.

Schools may apply for $2,500 – $100,000. There is no cash match requirement. The grant period is approximately January 2023 – January 2024.

Grant applications are due no later than 4:00 pm Central Time on Thursday, November 17, 2022.

Learn more about the grant here

Eligible projects

Projects must enhance and expand existing procurement and consumption of Minnesota grown and raised foods. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Trialing new Minnesota grown products on the menu through taste tests
  • Diversifying the products sourced from a Minnesota farm
  • Increasing the number of times a Minnesota item or meal repeats on the menu
  • Adding Minnesota Thursday as monthly feature to the menu
  • Expanding the number of featured items or meals during Farm to School Month
  • Introducing local sourcing into the School Breakfast Program (SBP)

What does this mean for farmers?

  • If you are interested in selling to local schools, consider listing your farm on the MN Grown Wholesale Directory, which is a list that many schools use to find local products. Or, go to your local school district and ask if they are interested in purchasing your product. 
  • For more information about best practices when selling to school markets (including food safety plans, pricing, packing etc) and what they are looking for, and how to make the market work for your farm, see this website from UMN Extension , or IATP Farm to School Program 

  • See the blog post from UMN Extension Educator Natalie Hoidal about new programs that are being developed for farmers seeking to sell into wholesale markets. 

  • Tell schools that you work with about this grant opportunity. You can direct them to learn more at or by contacting the Grants Team at 651-201-6500 or

  • Interested schools can also learn more at an informational webinar hosted by IATP and the MDA: Wednesday, November 2, 3:00-4:00pm (register here).


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