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Agriculture

Minnesota grants bring locally-grown foods to kids

Kaitlyn Riley

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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.