Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the USDA will establish a $1 million People's Garden School Pilot Program to develop and run community gardens at eligible high-poverty schools; to teach students involved in the gardens about cultivation, diet, and nutrition; and to evaluate the learning outcomes. A cooperative agreement will be awarded to implement a program in up to five states. To be eligible as project sites, schools must have 50 percent or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals.
"Grass-roots community gardens and agriculture programs have great promise for teaching our kids about food production and nutrition at the local level," said Vilsack. "Learning where food comes from and what fresh foods taste like, and the pride of growing and serving vegetables and fruits that grew through your own effort, are life-changing experiences. All of us at USDA are proud to make this possible."
Part of a broad USDA effort to provide children with access to a nutritious and safe diet, this initiative also aims to influence healthier choices for all American households. Produce raised in the gardens can be used in the schools' meals and by the students' families, local food banks or senior-center nutrition programs.
Through this pilot program, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service seeks to identify models of successful school garden initiatives which then can be marketed to the K–12 community for inspiration, ideas and replication.
The grant is available to public and not-for-profit organizations. Grant applications may be submitted by e-mail to FY2010Prop_PeoplesGarden@fns.usda.gov or through www.grants.gov. The Request for Applications is available on-line at http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/outreach/grants/garden.htm. The deadline for applications is November 8, 2010.