Since 1946, the National School Lunch Program has provided nutritionally balanced, low-cost or no-cost lunches in schools to improve the health and wellbeing of America’s children. Research shows school meals may be the healthiest food children receive in a day, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
USDA Supports Farmers’ Diversity with Funding Increase
The USDA backs farming diversity with the announcement of a $550 million funding increase on August 24th, 2022, to “support projects that enable underserved producers to access land, capital, and markets, and train the next, diverse generation of agricultural professionals.” With only about 9% of US farmers belonging to minority groups, this is a great step towards attracting more people to the farming industry.
While the agriculture industry has lagged in diversity compared to other industries, it has certainly made giant leaps of improvement in the last few years to become as diverse as the nation it feeds. Being a diverse industry has massive benefits in today’s world. Recent marketing research shows that “31% of U.S. consumers said they purchased more from minority-owned businesses in the past 12 months.”
Because of this fact, it is important to make sure we diversify all our industries, for the benefit of everyone. USDA Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, said “these funding opportunities are historic and part of USDA’s unwavering commitment to advancing equity for all, including people who have been underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. When we address longstanding inequities, our entire country benefits.” Vilsack stressed the importance of diversifying the agricultural industry by stating “land access, heirs’ property, affordable credit and access to reliable markets — along with consistent access to help from well-trained experts — are essential to strengthening our communities. USDA is equally committed to partnering with minority-serving institutions to establish exciting and fulfilling pathways for Next Generation leaders to have careers in agriculture, nutrition, food, development, and in the federal government.”
The latest USDA initiative includes …
- Up to $300 million for “Increasing Land, Capital and Market Access” Projects Aimed at Helping Underserved Producers.
- $250 million for the “From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals” program to Create Career Development Opportunities for Next Gen Scholars at Minority-Serving Institutions.
With National Farmers’ Month right around the corner, this is a great initiative to support American farmers as we gear up to celebrate them in the month of October.