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State subsidy for local and healthy school meals | News, Sports, Jobs

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture recently provided funding to schools for two new grants aimed at increasing the amount of healthy local foods in school lunches.

New Catholic schools in the Ulm region received a grant of $4,630 for the full baccalaureate, including $1,630 for equipment. These grants are for schools with farm-to-school procurement experience.

Other area school districts receiving grants were $2,500 for Immanuel Lutheran School in Gaylord.

Butterfield-Odin Public Schools received a $5,000 First Bite Grant for school districts with little or no local procurement experience in Farm to School funds.

Forty-six school districts received $741,619 to purchase Minnesota-grown and raised foods to use in school lunches.

The grants leverage an additional $624,619 in Minnesota-grown food purchases for a total investment of $1,366,239.

“We have expanded our investments in new markets that directly benefit farmers and children through our farm-to-school programs,” said MDA assistance commissioner Patrice Bailey. “This means more first-time schools are participating and long-time participants are developing healthy, nutritious, local foods for students.”

Applicants were also able to apply for funds to purchase equipment to support farm-to-school initiatives. Funding is available through the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) program.

Grant recipients can receive technical assistance to implement farm-to-school supply activities from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy with funding from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant.

Public or private schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and serve food to K-12 students are eligible to apply.

Projects eligible for First Bite Mini-Grants include Great Lakes Apple Crunch, Local Food Taste Tests, October Farm-to-School Meals with Local Dishes, Minnesota Thursdays, and Lunch with a Farmer .

There are no cash counterparts for the mini-grants. There is a 1:1 cash match required for full baccalaureate grants.

For more information, visit

(Fritz Busch can be emailed to

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