Iowa Recipients of USDA Farm to School Grant Funding

The USDA Farm to School Grant Program is designed to increase the availability of local foods in schools. Funds can help farm to school programs get started or expand existing efforts. The program supports a wide range of activities, including:

  • training
  • planning
  • developing partnerships
  • creating new menu items
  • establishing supply chains
  • offering taste tests to children
  • purchasing equipment
  • planting school gardens
  • organizing field trips to agricultural operations, and more.

Grantees include schools and districts (large and small, rural and urban), Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers or groups of agricultural producers, non-profit entities, and state and local agencies.

The request for proposals comes out each fall.

Here is a historical listing of Iowa grantees.


CAL Community School District (Latimer) – $80,920 | Grant Type: Implementation

A regional farm to school collaboration consisting of CAL Community School District, Hampton‐ Dumont Community School District, West Fork Community School District and Mason City Community School District, along with local partners, will work together to execute the action plan developed through the previous Farm to School (F2S) Planning Grant. Expansion of local food procurement and agricultural education in the classroom are the core priorities of this collaboration. Activities include regional F2S team meetings, classroom visits by local producers, cafeteria taste tests, school clubs and integration of F2S curriculum across grade levels.

Iowa Department of Education (Des Moines) – $99,989 | Grant Type: State agency

The Iowa Department of Education will build on the success of past initiatives and trainings implemented by the Iowa Farm to School Coalition by improving access to local foods in child nutrition programs through comprehensive programming that includes local food procurement and agricultural education efforts. A “Choose Iowa Food of the Month” campaign will be developed. The goals of the campaign are to increase children’s access to local food, educate children on food systems and nutrition of food, and, train on local procurement practices, and support local producers by increasing connections to child nutrition programs. Sub‐grants will be awarded to support local level implementation in National School Lunch Program schools, Child and Adult Care Food Program centers, and Summer Food Service Programs.

Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District (Vinton) – $99,929 | Grant Type: Implementation

Vinton‐Shellsburg Community School District made significant changes in the school lunch program after receiving a USDA Farm to School Planning Grant in 2018 and meeting goals in less than 18 months due to district-wide and community support. The implementation project will continue to build momentum in the region to expand the farm to school programs in two other school districts—Union Community School District and Waverly‐Shell Rock Community School District—including local procurement and agricultural education efforts. Vinton‐Shellsburg Community School District is working with the University of Northern Iowa Local Food Program and each district to expand their farm to school programs. The districts combined reach five counties in Iowa and have the opportunity to serve 4,750 students a homemade meal using local ingredients that help support local farmers and the local economy.

Central Decatur Community School District (Leon) – $86,962 | Grant type: Implementation

Staff and students at Central Decatur and Lamoni Community School Districts, both located in Decatur County, Iowa, will implement education opportunities highlighting the importance and benefits of healthy, local food. Projects include high school student-led education for elementary students, expanded access to fresh fruits and vegetables for elementary students, on-site traditional and aquaponics gardens for growing and harvesting opportunities for pre-K-12 students, family meal education for students and families, and a mobile sow farrowing learning experience for students and the community.

Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children (Des Moines) – $28,084 | Grant type: Training

Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will lead the Iowa Farm to School Network in planning and execution of the 2020 Iowa Farm to School Conference.

Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development (Amana) – $94,586 | Grant type: Implementation

Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development will collaborate with Field to Family and four area school districts to cultivate interest in the initiative and increase capacity for farm to school success. This project will build capacity for four area school districts, two local food hubs, and eight farms.

Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District (Vinton) – $48,130 | Grant type: Planning

Vinton-Shellsburg Schools will partner with the local Farm-to-School Chapter to address childhood obesity, food insecurity, and nutrition concerns by integrating more locally produced, fresh ingredients in the school meal program. The Farm-to-School Chapter offers food samples, education, and training to students and staff. Vinton-Shellsburg Schools will develop a comprehensive plan to build the capacity of staff, students, and families and identify local farmers who can provide fresh produce. The plan will include training and mentorship opportunities for nutrition staff to learn about scratch-cooking techniques, recipe development, and menu design.

Waukee Community School District (Waukee) – $46,927 | Grant type: Planning

Waukee Community School District will work with community stakeholders to develop farm to school policies, procedures, and an action plan that encompasses local food procurement and curriculum integration.

West Fork Community School District (Sheffield) – $49,995 | Grant type: Planning

West Fork Community School District will serve as the lead school district for a consortium of school districts and community-based organization in north Iowa. The Consortium will develop a comprehensive Farm to School Action Plan which will include implementation goals to increase local food in school meals and expand school garden programs and farms that include crop, animal, and beehive production.

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (Des Moines) – $100,000 | Grant type: Support service

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will create a state-wide celebration, “Iowa Local Food Day.” Unifying the state in a local food project will (1) provide a strong support network, (2) aid food service directors in making local procurements, (3) engage more farmers in growing and selling produce to schools, (4) help growers ramp up school sales by working on a smaller scale with Summer Food Service Programs, (5) allow farm to school activities to expand beyond fruits and vegetable, and (6)raise awareness of farm to school across the state.

Atlantic Community School District (Atlantic) – $45,000 | Grant type: Planning

The Atlantic Community School District will partner with other school districts in Cass County to engage local partners and stakeholders in a comprehensive assessment of current resources and a feasibility study of options for increasing access to local foods among students in Cass County. The project will identify sustainable opportunities to integrate farm to school activities into school food service and educational opportunities for students in the classroom and garden.

Des Moines Independent Community School District (Des Moines) – $45,000 | Grant type: Planning

Des Moines Independent Community School District will conduct a needs assessment of schools and stakeholders to develop important policies and procedures to ensure a strategic farm to school plan for the district. This strategic plan will encompass local food procurement, school gardens, curriculum integration goals, and collaboration with snack and summer food service stakeholders.

No Iowa winners.
Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative c/o Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (Decorah) – $95,600 | Grant type: Support service

The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative and its partners will build on the momentum of five years of successful farm to school programs in a six‐county region. With this project, Food and Fitness Initiative aims to meet two goals: collaborate with farmers and a new food hub poised to scale‐up production and investment in aggregation infrastructure to meet school needs; and, work with four rural school districts with demonstrated readiness to expand their farm to school programming and to increase their local food purchases by 200%. A coordinator at the food hub will help partner districts determine and implement strategies that will increase the amount of regionally grown foods in the meals of over 4,000 rural students. We will work with each partnering district to develop a school wellness action plan, which includes a plan of work for farm to school. We will also provide an AmeriCorps service member to visit each school several times a week to assist with food prep, taste tests, technical assistance, farm to school marketing, and student visits to farms. The schools will serve as models to the larger region, and the lessons learned by the intervention schools will be easily translated to others.

Pathfinders Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. (Fairfield) – $100,000 | Grant type: Implementation (all others)

Hometown Harvest has been working to get more local food into school systems since Buy Fresh Buy Local arrived in 2005. Our mission is to cultivate a sustainable healthy food network by bringing together local producers and consumers in southeast Iowa. We have worked to educate our communities and expand the network of local food production through our region; launching school gardens and encouraging local food aggregation to school cafeterias. Our proposal is a result of many creative projects accomplished and many lessons learned. This year we will work in three main areas. We plan to expand our network of local food committees to 12 counties. We will begin processing local produce at two schools. The certified kitchen is available all summer and on weekends during the school year, and a certified cook is willing to come in for a day of processing with parents/volunteers. Finally, we will enlist time and energy from a few students (and their teacher) to put together a food production/demonstration garden for our region to visit and learn from.