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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2024: MA Farming Reinforces Education and Student Health (FRESH)

Fund Code: 710


The purpose of this state funded competitive grant program is to encourage National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and Child Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) sponsors to build new or expand current capacity to grow or procure locally grown and produced ingredients, educate students, staff, teachers and food service professionals about the food system and connect food system education to the availability of nutritious, locally sourced meals made from unprocessed or minimally processed ingredients and served at schools or early education meal programs.


Competitive priority will be given to schools and early education providers with high percentages of students eligible for free and reduced price lunch and shall aim to promote geographic equity.

Additional competitive priority will be given to districts and schools in chronically underperforming status and the Strategic Transformation Region


Eligible MA FRESH applicants include early childhood programs that offer meals through the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) and K–12 schools that offer meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Applicants should indicate if the application is to benefit a single school or early education program, or a district/regional program. If an organization would like to apply to become a sponsor of NSLP or CACFP email . MA FRESH applicants may or may not have received MA FRESH grant funding in the past.

Eligibility to receive MA FRESH funds is contingent on the applicant's good standing within the Office of Food and Nutrition Programs and impact of grant activities must be associated with a site where NSLP/CACFP meals are served. Information about these sites can be obtained from the Food Service Director, Program Operator, ESE Liaison or Business Manager.

Funding Type:

State Line Item 7010-1192


Approximately $570,000 is available for Sponsors of Child Nutrition Programs in good standing, operating NSLP or CACFP in Massachusetts. The funds are prioritized for sites who incorporate or have clear plans to incorporate unprocessed or minimally processed local foods into meal service, as well as those who have high percentages of students eligible for free and reduced lunch. Grant awards shall also aim to promote geographic equity. Grant proposal can be submitted in the follow funding brackets. Grants will be awarded at no more than $50,000.

  • New K–12 Farm to School Initiative Grants: Between $5,000 – $50,000.
  • New Early Education Farm to School Initiative Grants: Between $3,000 – $25,000.
  • Expanding Current K–12 Farm to School Initiative Grants: Between $5,000 – $50,000.
  • Expanding Current Early Education Farm to School Initiative Grants: $3,000 – $50,000.

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change. If more funding becomes available, it will be distributed under the same guidelines that appear in this RFP document.

Fund Use:

The program is designed to support K–12 and early education and care programs to start up or expand their local food procurement capacity, integration of unprocessed or minimally processed local foods into meal service, and food system education efforts. Applicants will be asked to indicate all categories of activities their MA FRESH application seeks to fund. Project activities may include but are not limited to:

  • Building a new school garden for students
  • Building a new indoor growing operation for students
  • Expanding educational programming to promote food literacy or nutrition education for students around growing/cooking/eating local foods
  • Student field trip(s) to local farm/food producers
  • Before/after school programming that supports food literacy, nutrition education or access to local foods for students and families
  • Professional development and training for educators to bring food literacy activities or curriculum to their students
  • Purchasing kitchen equipment for CACFP or NSLP meal programs that will expand a program's capacity to prepare and serve unprocessed or minimally processed local foods
  • Professional development and training for school food service professionals to enhance school meal offerings

Funds cannot be used to purchase food served as part of a reimbursable meal in Child Nutrition Programs or sold as a competitive food and beverage or fundraiser. Continuing existing activities, projects, or covering costs for existing labor will not be considered. Funds can only be used to fund new staff time or salaries as a result of new or expanded initiatives.

Project Duration:

Upon Approval – 6/30/2024. If Applicable, pending appropriation and the meeting of grant requirements, awarded grantees may be eligible for a continuation grant in Fiscal Year 2025.

Program Unit:

Office for Food and Nutrition Programs


Maggie Nowak

Date Due:

Friday, November 17, 2023*

Proposals must be received at the Department by 5:00 p.m. Eastern on the date due.
*All responses must be received by the due date listed above. Failure to do so will result in disqualification. Responses not submitted on time will not be reviewed. Applicants applying after the due date may be notified their application was received late and will not be reviewed. Applications must be submitted as directed in the Submissions Instructions below. Failure to do so may result in disqualification. If you need assistance with submitting your application, please reach out to the contact person listed on this funding opportunity.

Required Forms:
Additional Information:

Child Nutrition Program Sponsor awardees will adhere to all Federal, State, and Local procurement laws and standards, including, if applicable, as found in 7 CFR Part 210.21 and 2 CFR 200.317 through 2 CFR 200.326

All equipment competitively procured using these grant funds must be necessary, reasonable, and allocable.

State Contract User Guide

Questions and Answers — Applicants can find all the questions asked regarding this funding opportunity and DESE's response here.

Please use the provided original Word or Excel formats (e.g., not converted to another file type; with the exception of the signed Part I, which should be converted to PDF)

Submission Instructions:

Email a completed application with all required forms and supporting documents to Maggie Nowak . Within three business days of receipt, you will receive a confirmation email.

Recipients: Upon award, recipients will be required to enter the approved budget and Part I in EdGrants. Once selected, recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

Last Updated: October 13, 2023

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