January 2024

The Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program is committed to providing equitable and just programming, resources, funding, and technical assistance to schools, farmers, and partners in the local food system. 

Enrollment Opens for Arkansas Farm to School Institute

Enrollment for the Arkansas Farm to School Institute is open! The Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program is looking for 15 schools ready to embark on a year-long journey embracing farm to school excellence. If you're passionate about elevating your school's nutrition by integrating locally sourced, fresh produce into your cafeteria, enhancing agriculture in the classroom, and fostering engagement with the local community, seize this opportunity! The deadline to apply is March 1, 2024.

Selected schools are also eligible to participate in the Arkansas School Garden Program, an incentive program where up to five teachers per participating school can complete a professional development course. Upon completion of the course, each teacher will receive a $1,000 grant to improve their school garden. 

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Interested in Becoming a Coach for the Arkansas Farm to School Institute?

The Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program is looking for 15 individuals experienced in group participation to serve as coaches for the Arkansas Farm to School Institute. This compensated opportunity entails leading engaging meetings, providing advice, creating training sessions, and supporting teams across a year-long journey focused on farm to school excellence.

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Winners of 2023 Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant Program Announced

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2024 Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant Program. Through the program, the Department will provide $41,250 in grants to 11 public and private K-12 schools, early childhood education facilities, and alternative learning environments. These funds will directly impact 3,993 students in 11 counties across the state.

The winners are:

  • Batesville High School, Independence County
  • Good Morning Sunshine Preschool, Yell County
  • Gurdon Public Schools, Clark County
  • Jean Tyson Child Development Study Center, Washington County
  • Marshall High School, Searcy County
  • Mountain View School District, Stone County
  • Mrs. Krystal’s Preschool, Sharp County
  • Rivercrest School District, Mississippi County
  • Salem High School, Fulton County
  • Shirley School District, Van Buren County
  • University District Development Corporation/Oak Forest Community Garden, Pulaski County

“Farm to school is most impactful when schools are able to connect all three pillars – school gardens, education, and local procurement,” said Arkansas Farm to School Coordinator Jessica Chapman. “We are pleased to administer the new Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant Program to provide an opportunity for schools to start or expand on local procurement efforts in their school cafeterias.”

The Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant was initiated in 2023 to increase schools’ capacity to process and serve more specialty crops to students through school cafeterias and other school feeding programs. Selected schools receive grants of up to $5,000 to purchase equipment, improve school meal quality, and increase student consumption of specialty crops.

Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo Scheduled for January 2024

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture will partner with several Arkansas agricultural associations and organizations to host the second Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo on January 25-27, 2024, at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo is open to all parties interested in the Arkansas agriculture industry and will focus on farmers and producers who produce for the local food system. In January 2023, the Department hosted the first Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo with over 450 attendees and 70 vendors.

The three-day event will consist of workshops, speakers, an off-site farm tour, networking opportunities, and a vendor trade show.

Partner organizations include the Arkansas State Horticulture Society, Arkansas Farmers Market Association, Arkansas Blackberry Growers Association, Arkansas Agritourism Association, Arkansas Association of Grape Growers, Arkansas Pecan Growers Association, Mid America Strawberry Growers Association, and the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

Registration includes access to general sessions, workshops, and entrance to the expo. Opportunities for sponsorship and vendor booths are available. For more information, contact Beth Moore at [email protected].

Learn More and Register

2023 Annual Reports

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture recently submitted the 2023 Arkansas Farm to School Annual Report and 2023 Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act (LFFJA) Annual Report to Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development, and the Arkansas Legislative Council. We are pleased to share them with the public and greatly appreciate our partners who supported the creation of both reports.

View the 2023 Farm to School Annual Report
View the 2023 LFFJA Annual Report


Partnerships for Local Agriculture & Nutrition Transformation in Schools Grant Program

Deadline: January 22, 2024

The Chef Ann Foundation’s newest grant program, Partnerships for Local Agriculture & Nutrition Transformation in Schools (PLANTS), is seeking proposals for projects led by groups of local partners with systemic and equity-driven approaches to transforming school food supply chains.

Projects should seek to build and strengthen relationships among community-based food system stakeholders and school food authorities (SFAs).

Grant awards will be between $500,000 and $600,000 and will not require grantees to match funding. Entities eligible to apply include SFAs, food producers, food distributors and aggregators, nonprofits, and local government agencies.

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Outdoor Classroom Garden Mini-Grant Program

Deadline: February 1, 2024

The Outdoor Classroom Garden Mini-Grant from Arkansas Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom is designed to show that agriculture is an integral part of our everyday environment. Farms, wildlife, forestry, people, and cities are all interrelated with agriculture. Garden projects can demonstrate the connection between agriculture, food, fiber, conservation wildlife, and the urban environment.

Any questions regarding the program should be directed to Arkansas Farm Bureau at (501) 228-1306.

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Salad Bars to Schools Grant

The Salad Bars to Schools (SB2S) Program is a partnership between the Chef Ann Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation. Any district or independent school participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is eligible to apply. To qualify for a SB2S grant, you must offer the salad bar as part of the reimbursable meal served in your district. The food services director for your district is the required contact person for the application.

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Blue & You Foundation Mini-Grant

Blue & You Foundation offers mini-grants ranging from $1,000-$2,000 that focus on food security, emergency response equipment, and health initiatives that will positively impact a school, college, or university. Applicants are only able to apply for one category. The 2024 application is open and will be evaluated on a rolling basis. The applications will be approved based on the need and quality of the requests.

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Farm to School Opportunities

Arkansas Future Ag Leaders Tour

May 13-17, 2024

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is seeking participants for the Arkansas Future Ag Leaders Tour. The tour will be held May 13-17, 2024. This five-day professional development opportunity is for undergraduate juniors and seniors enrolled in colleges of agriculture, or are pursuing agriculture related majors across the state of Arkansas. Agriculture and agriculture related professions are the number one employer in the state. This one-week experience will enhance students’ leadership and employability skills, provide firsthand networking opportunities with potential employers, and highlight the vast resources, services, and careers available through Arkansas’s agriculture industry.

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The Arkansas Department of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.