08 Apr Funding Alert! Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS)
United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service
Calling all states, schools, and local food producers! This great opportunity from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeks to strengthen local and regional food systems by supplying schools with local, fresh and nutritious food. The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS) will establish cooperative agreements with state governments for the purpose of supporting local, regional, small, and socially disadvantaged farmers and producers through food purchasing. Applications for this program are due June 17, 2022.
Who is eligible to apply?
Eligible applicants include state agencies, commissions, or departments that are responsible for agriculture, procurement, food distribution, emergency response, administration of the National School Lunch Program, or similar activities within the state. This opportunity is non-competitive, with the USDA awarding one award per state or territory. While the state government must lead the application, local agencies are encouraged to partner with them.
Eligible partners include private or public, for-profit, or non-profit entities showing evidence of existing community or industry support and engagement
What are the program goals?
The purpose of the LFS program is to increase purchasing of local and regional foods for distribution to schools through the following goals:
- Provide an opportunity for states to strengthen their local and regional food system;
- Help to support local, small, and socially disadvantaged farmers/producers through building and expanding economic opportunities; and
- Establish and broaden partnerships with farmers/producers and schools to ensure the distribution of fresh and nutritious foods.
Cooperative agreements will allow for states to procure local, domestic foods that are unique to their geographic area and meet the needs of their schools. In addition to increasing local food consumption, awards are expected to help build and expand economic opportunities for local, small, and socially disadvantaged farmers and producers. The expectation is that all awarded funds will be spent on food purchases or related storage and distribution expenses; program development or administrative costs are not allowable.
The funder expects to award 50 grants with a funding pool of up to $200 million. Each state’s eligible award amount is based on a formula derived from the enrollment and earnings of schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Review the full RFA for specific amounts. Projects must be complete within 12 months of award; early completion is acceptable.
What makes a project a good fit?
As a non-competitive opportunity, the USDA encourages applications from each state or territory. While the state must be the project lead, applicants are encouraged to include partnerships and collaborators and may award subcontracts accordingly. States seeking to create or with currently established local cooperative agreements with farmers and producers are a good fit for the program.
What if I am ready to apply? To move your project forward, take the following action steps as soon as possible:
- Review the full RFSP request for application (RFA) additional details and review criteria;
- Explore the USDA’s frequently asked questions and resources document;
- Though not required, applicants may check with local state USDA offices to determine if there are additional local requirements or priorities;
- Explore this list of USDA reports, articles, and presentations specific to food value chains and food hubs;
- Make sure your System for Award Management (SAM) registration is active and be sure you have a Grants.gov profile. You can check your SAM status here: https://sam.gov/content/status-tracker; and,
- Confirm your organization’s unique entity identifier (UEI). The federal government recently transitioned to a new system for applicants utilizing a UEI instead of requiring DUNS numbers. All agencies with existing SAM registration have been automatically assigned a UEI. New applicants will request a UEI as part of the SAM registration process. You can find more information about the UEI transition here.
What if I need help with this application?
Contact Assel Grant Services (AGS) today! Our team can help with all aspects of preparing the application and managing the grant if you are awarded. If you would like to discuss this possibility, please contact AGS as soon as possible. Rosie Brennan, Community Engagement Specialist, will be happy to talk with you about this opportunity and provide you a quote for grant services.
What if I am not ready to apply this year?
Start preparing for next year! The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service office also has a variety of other programs and funding opportunities available that might be a good fit. The office’s website has ample resources and descriptions of available or upcoming opportunities.
How do I learn more about federal grant proposal writing, so my application is more likely to be successful?
AGS is excited to offer a Federal Grants Training Series in 2022! The series is designed to support nonprofit leaders before and during the application process. AGS also offers several on demand webinars on a variety of topics to support the full grant cycle. Check out our website to learn more and sign up for our training newsletter.
AGS blogs, funding alerts, and trainings are aligned with the Grant Professional Certification Institute’s Competencies and Skills
Competency #1: Knowledge of how to research, identify, and match funding resources to meet specific needs
Skill 1.2: Identify major trends in public funding and public policy
Skill 1.6: Identify fundable programs and projects for specific organization
Skill 1.7: Determine best matches between funders and specific programs