Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Overview: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has entered into a $3.4 million cooperative agreement with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) to increase the purchase of local, healthy foods for school meals.
Population: 5.8 million
Food policy category: Nutrition
Program goals: To improve child nutrition and build new relationships between schools and local farmers.
How it works: The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS) uses funding from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation to help states manage supply-chain issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA is awarding up to $200 million to states in need of assistance to purchase local foods for school meals provided by the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will use the funding to increase the number of schools purchasing local foods as well as the amount of local food purchased by schools, and to establish partnerships between schools and underserved farmers and small businesses. USDA funding will also be redistributed to schools through a Farm to School grant program that will reimburse schools for local food purchases.
Progress to date: USDA began taking applications for LFS in March 2022. The cooperative agreement with Minnesota was established in August 2022, and funding will be supplied for the 2022-2023 school year.
Why it is important: COVID-19 has impacted the food industry by reducing demand, limiting finances, and closing production facilities. The LFS is part of USDA’s strategy to create a more resilient food system that focuses on local and regional production. The program will strengthen relationships between local food producers and schools and introduce students to healthy foods that are grown where they live.
Students who participate in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program benefit from nutritious meals that foster healthy habits early in life and support a healthy learning environment.
Program/Policy initiated: The agreement was signed on August 23, 2022.
Point of contact:
USDA Public Affairs
Phone: (202) 720-8998
Allen Sommerfeld, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Communications
Similar practices: Minnesota is the first state to enter a cooperative agreement through LFS. On September 7, the USDA announced that a second agreement had been signed with Minnesota through the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement.
Evaluation: Evaluation has not yet been conducted.
- America’s Farmers: Resilient Throughout the COVID Pandemic (United States Department of Agriculture)
- Child Nutrition Flexibilities for Summer 2022 and School Year 2022-23 (United States Department of Agriculture
- Farm to School Basics (Minnesota Department of Health)
- School Food (Healthy Schools Campaign)
- Eating Healthier at School (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- How Minnesota And The USDA Are Partnering To Improve School Lunches (Tasting Table)
- Impact of COVID-19 in Food Supply Chain: Disruptions and Recovery Strategy (Current Research in Behavioral Science)
- Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (United States Department of Agriculture)
- Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (United States Department of Agriculture)
- Minnesota Gets a Big Boost in USDA Funding for Farm to School (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)
- Minnesota to Increase Local Food in School Meals (National Center for Appropriate Technology)
- USDA Announces its Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement with Minnesota (Minnesota Department of Agriculture)
- USDA Announces its Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement with Minnesota (The Pilot Independent)
- USDA Expands Local Foods in School Meals through Cooperative Agreement with Minnesota (United States Department of Agriculture)
- USDA Now Accepting Applications for the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program, Providing Up To $200 Million to Purchase Local Food for Schools (United States Department of Agriculture)