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Minnesota grants bring locally-grown foods to kids



Up to $374,000 in grant money is available for eligible institutions to increase the use of Minnesota-grown and raised foods.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting applications for the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Farm to School and Farm to Early Care and Education Grants. The MDA will award up to $374,000 to eligible institutions to increase the use of Minnesota grown and raised foods through planning and feasibility studies, or equipment purchases and physical improvements.

The department said in previous grant rounds, AGRI Farm to School Grants helped schools and early care and education organizations buy food processors, cooling and storage equipment, and specialized ovens to make it easier to serve Minnesota-grown produce, meat and dairy. Other recipients used the money to develop their Farm to School programs by connecting with farmers in their areas, determining how seasonal produce fits into menu cycles, and creating processes to use local foods in infant foods in early care settings.

The goal of the grants is to also benefit farmers by empowering schools to use locally grown and raised foods. Jackson County Central used their AGRI Farm to School Grant funds to purchase a Steam’n Hold Steamer. The equipment allowed them to purchase more locally raised vegetables from Minnesota farms like Brandt Gardens and Greenhouse.

Applications for Farm to School and Farm to Early Care and Education Grants are due 4 p.m. Nov. 7.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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