SOS is honored to announce that we have been awarded the USDA’s prestigious 2022-2023 Farm to School Grant! These federal funds will allow SOS to expand our interactive nutrition education program within Monroe County public schools and childcare centers.
With Farm to School funding, SOS will lead a 16-week, structured nutrition education curriculum with approximately 180 5th grade students in eight classrooms throughout the Keys during the 2022-2023 school year. The nutrition education program will include taste-testing events, field trips to local farms, and a school-wide assembly that will highlight agriculture and aquaculture professionals in the Florida Keys. During the summer, we will engage 100 children at summer childcare camps at either end of the county with a shortened, 10-week curriculum, a field trip, and guest speakers. All weekly snacks and taste-testing events will feature locally grown produce from South Florida, and each classroom will be designated an aeroponic Tower Garden for hands-on agricultural education. SOS will also increase purchasing of local food for the Summer Food Service Program and encourage other buyers to do the same through a Local Food Access Committee.
According to the Farm to School Program’s newsletter, The Dirt, “Farm to School Grants are awarded annually to help fund projects that increase the amount of local food served through child nutrition programs, teach children about food and agriculture through garden and classroom education, and develop schools’ and farmers’ capacities to buy and sell local foods.” In total, the USDA awarded 123 grants this year– eight of which went to organizations and schools in Florida. This federal investment is an important step towards equitable hunger-relief and nutrition security for all children in the U.S.
If you are interested in getting involved with these efforts, SOS is looking for nutrition education volunteers, guest speakers, and more! The Farm to School grant will help SOS ensure children in Monroe County have access to nutrition and agriculture education, and we are so grateful for this meaningful opportunity to work with our Keys kids.