HARTFORD, Conn. — Earlier this week, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz visited Gaffney Elementary School in New Britain, CT, to announce the launch of the newly formed Connecticut Grown for Connecticut Kids Grant Program administered by Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) in collaboration with the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) and the Connecticut Farm to School Collaborative (FTSC). The pilot program will be funded for two years with a total of $500,000 through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
“Farm to School programming offers so many opportunities in Connecticut for producers, youth, educators, and the community,” said Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz. “Teaching students about nutrition and where their food comes from, connecting them with local farmers and embracing learning about different aspects of the agriculture sector will not only enhance their education, but will shape future generations with an interest in the field. I want to thank everyone who worked on the CT Grown for CT Kids Grants program and to Connecticut’s school food service and educators who work tirelessly every day to feed our youth.”
Established under P.A. 21-0002,S. 364, Connecticut Grown for Connecticut Kids Grant (CTG4CTK Grant) will be administered by Department of Agriculture through a combination of financial and technical assistance to help develop farm-to-school programs that will increase the availability of local foods in child nutrition programs, allow educators to use hands-on educational techniques to teach students about nutrition and farm-to-school connections, sustain relationships with local farmers and producers, enrich the educational experience of students, improve the health of children in the state and enhance the state’s economy.
“Connecticut Grown for Connecticut Kids Grant Program directly aligns with the priorities of our agency to increase market access for farmers and growers and educate our next generation on the importance of where their food comes from,” said Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “We are excited to administer this program and eager to see the positive impact the funded projects will have in the near and long-term.”
Eligible entities will be able to apply for up to $24,999 in funding with no match required for projects that fit within the four priority categories: Infrastructure, Experiential Learning Opportunities, Farm to School Planning and Pilot CT Grown Purchasing Programs.
“This important grant program will enable our school districts to continue cultivating the cafeteria as an integral part of the school ecosystem while supporting our local farms,” said State Department of Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker.
For interested parties, there will be a webinar and question and answer session on Tuesday, November 9, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. This will be recorded and posted on CTGrown.gov/grants. A video recording walking through how to submit your application via Salesforce will also be posted. The deadline for final submissions is December 20, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. Additional details can be found at the CT Grown for CT Kids Grant Program page.
“I am proud to have introduced this legislation,” said State Representative Bobby Gibson. “The pandemic exposed the true meaning of food insecurity, as evidenced by the many food drives and food donation efforts our state completed. The Farm to School program will go a long way towards creating a better educated generation of students when it comes to healthy living.”
“We are grateful for the leadership of the CT Department of Agriculture and CT Department of Education in this effort that will provide resources to connect students to local food and farms in the cafeteria, classroom, and in outdoor learning environments. We are especially excited to see new leaders in communities with high need receive funding to bring their innovative ideas and plans to life,” said Co-Action Team Leaders with the CT Farm to School Collaborative, Dawn Crayco of FoodCorps and Joey Listro of New Britain ROOTS.
Nationally, October is recognized as Farm to School Month to celebrate food education, school gardens, and lunch trays filled with healthy, local ingredients. The first week of October was also designated Connecticut Grown for Connecticut Kids Week. Started in 2006 as a joint effort between the CSDE and DoAg, it aims to support local agriculture, public education, and their community commitment to the importance of healthy, nutritious meals in schools.
–Connecticut Department of Agriculture