The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded St. Stephen’s Community House a $96,460 grant as part of the USDA’s commitment to investing $12 million in Farm to School Grants this year to 176 grantees.
The implementation grant will allow St. Stephen’s Community House Urban Farm and Columbus City School District to cooperatively develop a shared use model that leverages community-based agriculture assets to support a continuum of STEM-based farm to school experiences and learning activities for children ECE/pre-K through grade 12 in the Linden community of Columbus, Ohio.
“This project will result in sustainable, replicable practices that will increase students’ awareness of the importance of consuming nutritious locally produced food while increasing students’ interest in agricultural careers and food science,” Marilyn Mehaffie, Chief Executive Officer of St. Stephen’s Community House said. “After remaining dormant for a little over 2 years, we are excited to open the farm once again with a renewed focus.”
The USDA is also releasing new data demonstrating the recent growth of farm to school efforts nationwide. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of school districts and/or local entities responsible for school meals participated in farm to school activities during school year 2018-2019, more than half (57%) of which began within the past three years.
“The record-breaking Farm to School Grants and new data release today both reflect USDA’s commitment to supporting farm to school efforts as a win-win for all involved,” said Stacy Dean, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. “We’re excited about the growth in farm to school activity across the country and look forward to seeing the impact of this latest round of grants on children, schools, farmers, and the economy alike.”
This year’s Farm to School Grants will help expand the access to fresh, local foods and hands-on agricultural learning for children across 45 states and the District of Columbia. The awarded projects will serve more than 1.4 million students at more than 6,800 schools. Grantees include schools, state agencies, non-profits, tribal nations, agricultural producers and groups, and – for the first time ever – institutions participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program.
About St. Stephen’s Community House
Founded in 1919, St. Stephen’s Community House serves the Linden neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio and 11 surrounding zip codes. St. Stephen’s Community House commits to strengthening families and empowering the community by serving over 24,000 individuals annually through five core service areas, Early Learning, Family Services, Senior Services, Youth Services, and Neighborhood Services. For additional information, please visit saintstephensch.org.
About The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.