(NORCROSS, GA)—HealthMPowers today announced $90,497 in grant funding support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to train over 150 Georgia K-12 schools, early care and out of school time centers on comprehensive farm to school programming. Grant funds will be used to increase the number of learning environments that implement farm to school activities and make sustainable policy, systems and environmental changes.
“At HealthMPowers, we have a long history of engagement in farm to school programming,” said Jennifer L. Owens, President, HealthMPowers. “We are grateful to the USDA for this game-changing opportunity that allows us to expand our reach and contribute to the growing farm to school movement. Farm to school programs increase student’s exposure to fresh and nutritious locally sourced foods in line with our vision to ensure all children are nourished and active. Moreover, this is the first time in our 20-year history to receive funding like this, so we are honored to be entrusted with such an exciting investment!”
Working alongside HealthMPowers, 34 schools and centers will receive on-site garden infrastructure, Georgia Harvest of the Month classroom taste test resources and specialized farm to school technical assistance. An on-demand virtual farm to school resource library will enable training and long-term sustainability of all sites. At schools and centers statewide, access to local foods will be improved through enhanced agricultural education and support of seasonal menus and local procurement.
Awarded annually, USDA’s Farm to School Grant supports planning, developing and implementing farm to school programs. Grants are awarded to schools, districts and non-profit organizations for building comprehensive farm to school programs, a critical stepping stone in institutionalizing sustainable farm to school efforts. HealthMPowers is one of only four Georgia organizations awarded, alongside Georgia Organics, Quality Care for Children and the Hand, Heart and Soul Project, Inc.
Currently, HealthMPowers partners with hundreds of early care centers, K-12 schools, out of school time and community programs in 137 Georgia communities to provide nutrition and physical activity programming, including ongoing farm to school initiatives. The students served by the program average a 90 percent FRL rate. HealthMPowers’ evidence-based framework places an emphasis on policy, systems and environmental changes as a core strategy to ensure long-term sustainability of programs and services to positively and permanently transform the environments where children live, learn and play. HealthMPowers has a long track record of partnering with decision-makers, centering youth voices and using evidence to inform impactful initiatives in learning environments throughout Georgia.
HealthMPowers promotes healthy habits to build a better future for children. By integrating nutrition education and physical activity into schools, early care centers, and out of school time sites, the settings where children spend their time, we create a culture that supports lifelong healthy lifestyle choices for children, families and communities.