Eat REAL has been awarded a Farm to School Incubator Grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Office of Farm to Fork. Eat REAL is proud to be part of a select group of organizations and school districts to receive this highly competitive grant. The grant will allow Eat REAL to replicate and scale our Eat REAL Certification program in high need regions expanding access to real food for thousands of students and supporting California farmers in the process. Our model will significantly impact students’ health now and into the future while building stronger systems that support local, underrepresented farming communities focused on environmental health.
The inaugural Farm to School Incubator Grant program “will help support California farmers and expand healthy food access by providing grants to schools [and school regional partnerships] to establish programs that promote local and California grown food procurement and utilization in school meals.” The program holds equity at its core, prioritizing projects with the greatest potential for impact in high need school and farming communities. Its unique two-track funding approach leverages the reach of school districts and the power of collaboration with partner organizations.
Over the next 2 years, Eat REAL will deepen our work with Mt. Diablo Unified School District and Vacaville Unified School District and begin work with North Monterey County Unified School District. The project partners with these powerful school districts to represent a diverse set of communities, including participants at a range of stages within the Eat REAL Certification program. Learning together, we will strengthen our understanding of the Eat REAL Certification model as a supportive path to long-lasting improvements and integrated farm to school values within different districts.
Eat REAL Certification empowers school districts in redesigning their food programs to support local, small-midsize farms, prioritize whole, fresh foods, and integrate ongoing nutrition and farm to school education for staff and students. We assess the usage and nutrition of whole foods in each district’s meal programs and collaborate on customized action plans to shift school meals toward whole foods (among other changes). This improves student, school staff, and community engagement via farm-to-school activities and also increases collaboration and coordination between districts, regional agriculture partners, and the organization.
We’ll be documenting our progress at eatreal.org, and make sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox!
Read more in the official press release below: