The Inside Scoop on Project Produce
Your Guide to the Project Produce Grant Application
Have you heard about Project Produce? Launched by Chef Ann Foundation and superfoods company Healthy Skoop in 2014, this nationwide grant helps schools establish vibrant and healthy meal programs through fun and engaging nutrition education projects. We are always looking for new applicants for this grant and want to make it easy for you to apply.
Read on to find out what Project Produce is all about, and get the inside scoop on the most frequently asked questions so that your grant application has everything we need.
What Exactly is Project Produce?
USDA school food standards require a serving of fruit or vegetables on every school lunch tray, but what happens when students won’t eat it? Lunchroom education that includes samplings of fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to expand kids’ palates and help ensure foods like broccoli, beets or black beans end up in their bellies, not the trash.
Project Produce is a $2,500 grant that provides the funds to support the food cost of lunchroom activities that you design especially for your students. The goal of these educational activities is to:
- Expose students to a diversity of fresh fruits and vegetables that they might otherwise not have access to anywhere else.
- Expand kids’ palates.
- Encourage increased consumption of fresh produce either in a dish, cooked, or raw.
The way we see it, if kids can have fun tasting the goodness of fresh fruits and vegetables while learning about the goodness that healthy foods provide their bodies, they are well on their way to developing healthy eating habits to last a lifetime.
Is my school eligible to apply?
Your school district must be operating under the USDA National School Lunch Program (NSLP) to qualify. Whether your school is public, private, or independent, you must participate in the NSLP to be eligible to receive Project Produce funding.
Who should fill out the application?
Although this is a school-based grant, your district’s food services director needs to be the one to submit the application. If you are a teacher, wellness coordinator, or principal and want to bring Project Produce programming to your school please work with your district’s food service director to apply for the grant.
What if we don't have a district food services director?
Exceptions will be made if your district or school:
- Uses a contract management company
- Is a charter or independent private school district
- Is not part of a larger district
In these cases, whoever is in charge of food service (whether that be the principal, operations manager, outside consultant, head cook, etc.) should be the person applying for the grant.
What is needed to complete and application?
Take a look at our sample application to see what kind of information you’ll need to provide. You’ll notice that many of the questions require short answers and request details about your proposed project, including project title, description, timeline, and budget. We also want to know who will manage the activities, if volunteers are needed, and how you will evaluate the success of your programming.
What should I include in my Program Description?
This is the place in the application to give us the details about your planned Project Produce activity. The more specific you can get with your project plan the better. We are looking for schools that have a compelling and achievable project. Tell us how you will engage the students and tell the parents and community about your project. Tell us who will assist in the activity to ensure its success and how you will measure success. Tell us why you’re choosing the particular activity you are proposing. How will it engage the students? What will they learn? Be sure to include specifics about how your project will be offered to all students at the school and how it will support food and nutrition education.
We want schools to get creative with the activities they offer, so here are some ideas to get your creativity flowing:
- Seasonal vegetable and fruit tastings
- Vegetable recipe contests
- Local farmers' harvest paired with tastings or Rainbow Day salad bar events
Also, be sure to include any information on successes that you’ve had in the past with this type of programming. Do you want to bring farmers to the cafeteria to speak about their produce being sampled that day? Great! Let us know if you have existing relationships with farmers who want to participate in this way. Or maybe you want to host a chef demo in your cafeteria. Tell us what equipment you have to make this possible and who on your staff will be doing the demo. The more details, the better!
How to Use the Funds
How do I formulate my budget?
Your answer to the budget question really shows us how thoroughly you have thought through your proposed project. We are looking for applicants who have a detailed understanding of the cost per serving, how many total servings you will need, and how many events you plan on holding. You can use our downloadable budget sheet to help you nail down the specifics.
Can you use the produce in cooked items?
Absolutely! Some of our best project proposals have been plans that incorporate the produce in both raw and cooked form.
Can you use the money to print posters or buy sampling cups?
No, the $2,500 can only be used to purchase the fresh produce. It may not be used for staff hours, transportation, collateral materials, or other programming costs.
Can I use the grant funds to stock my salad bar?
No, unless you are using the salad bar in conjunction with an activity, like a Rainbow Day, where the produce is being offered to every student—whether or not they are participating in the lunch program that day.
If I'm awarded the grant, how will the money be dispersed?
If awarded the grant you will receive an initial installment of $1,250. You will receive the remainder of the grant money after completion of your progress report and submission of your project documentation. NOTE: The maximum length of time to complete your grant project, progress report and documentation is 12 months.
Ready to Apply!
I'm ready to apply, where do I go?
Now that you’ve carefully read through the grant page and these FAQs, and have determined that you meet the criteria, you are ready to apply for a Project Produce grant! You can access the grant application by creating a profile.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to receiving your application.
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