Delta County School District 50J is the recipient of a USDA Farm to School planning grant for the 2018-19 funding cycle. USDA's Farm to School grants fund school districts, state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers, and non-profit organizations in their efforts to increase local foods served through child nutrition programs, teach children about food and agriculture through garden and classroom education, and develop schools' and farmers' capacities to participate in farm to school.
Hundreds of applicants across the country competed for a limited amount of funding. The overwhelming interest in this round of USDA Farm to School grants was exciting but also made the selection process extremely difficult. Delta County's application stood out because it demonstrated strong experience and readiness to conduct farm to school initiatives; showed that DCSD is thinking critically about opportunities and challenges; outlined goals that are closely aligned with goals for the program; proposed a reasonable scope and budget; and gave the USDA confidence that the school district's farm to school program will be implemented with or without continued federal support.
Delta County School District will develop a network to sustain farm to school efforts that support local growers, students and communities. Through partnerships with Valley Food Partnership, ENGAGE, and Technical College of the Rockies, it plans to encourage learners to participate in the agricultural learning that is locally available to them. This multi-level approach will 1) give access to locally raised foods to students; 2) support local growers in their efforts to provide for and sustain their regional market; 3) boost a pipeline of industry-driven graduates; 4) develop information and resource support for farmers, ranchers, and aspiring agriculture students; 5) upgrade, renovate, and utilize farming and greenhouse space to create hands-on learning labs; and 6) partner with business associates and industry professionals to create hands-on learning and professional development opportunities.