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Leaders, Schools and Partners Gather at Farm to School and Childcare Grant Awards

On March 14, 2018, the Vermont State House Cafeteria will transform into a celebration of partnerships during the Vermont Farm to School and Childcare Grant Program Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) and the Vermont Farm to School Network.

VAAFM will invest $201,650 in 40 Vermont schools and childcare programs to develop a farm to school program that will help develop and sustain relationships with local producers, enrich the educational experience of children, improve the health of Vermont children, and enhance Vermont’s agricultural economy through a comprehensive team approach. 

The Vermont Farm to School and Childcare Grant Program, established with the passage of the 2006 Rozo McLaughlin Farm to School Act, aims to increase equitable access to fresh, nutritious foods, improve nutrition education and agricultural literacy, and expand markets for local producers. The 2018 grant round included childcare providers as eligible applicants, enabled by an update to the Rozo McLaughlin Farm to School Act in 2017. VAAFM will award a total of 15 grants to childcare providers, allowing our youngest Vermonters to benefit from food, farm, and nutrition integration in their programs.

This year’s investment will impact more than 6,000 children, and was made possible through legislative appropriation, the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council, and philanthropic funds.

Grantees will receive funding through one of three opportunities: The Vermont Farm to School and Child Nutrition Grant, the Milk Cooler Grant, or the Farm to Childcare Equipment Grant. The Farm to School Child Nutrition Grant is a $15,000 grant that comes with comprehensive coaching, technical assistance, and professional development to enhance the financial assistance provided to schools. Six schools/childcares will be awarded a Farm to School and Child Nutrition Grant. The Milk Cooler Grant opportunity offers $1,000 grants to K-12 schools to purchase new milk coolers, to better serve and promote Vermont dairy. VAAFM will award nine schools with Milk Cooler Grants. Finally, the Farm to Childcare Equipment Grants will go to 14 childcare providers, to purchase equipment that will improve their farm to early childhood education programs.

The six Farm to School and Child Nutrition grantees will receive individualized coaching, technical assistance, professional development, and $15,000 in financial assistance to help their farm to school/childcare program move forward in the development of a robust farm to school/childcare program. Funding awarded can be used by Vermont schools and registered or licensed childcare providers for a variety of purposes, including purchasing cafeteria & garden supplies, covering personnel costs, providing technical assistance, and procuring local foods.The additional technical assistance and professional development will address child nutrition program viability, local food procurement, school gardens, and food, farm, and nutrition education integration.

To welcome the 29 new grantees, VAAFM Secretary Anson Tebbetts will host a handful of guest speakers who will help make the ceremony special, including: Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe; Betsy Rosenbluth of Vermont FEED; Senator Jane Kitchel; and other State leaders, students and legislators.