The Office of Food Systems Resilience (OFSR), in partnership with the Office of Grants Management (OGM), is soliciting grant applications for the County’s 2024 School-Based Food Assistance Program from food assistance provider organizations that are currently providing school-based food assistance services at Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) sites.
Donor Name: Office of Food Systems Resilience (OFSR)
County: Montgomery County (MD)
Type of Grant: Grant
Size of the Grant: $100,000 to $500,000
Grant Duration: Less than 1 Year
$480,000 in total grant funding is available for innovative programs to increase food security for students and their families through food assistance services co-located at an MCPS school site. Funding may be awarded to new initiatives, or expansion of existing programs at additional sites. All awarded programs through the FY24 School-Based Food Assistance Grant Program must:
- Demonstrate past experience with successful operation of school-based food assistance programs in partnership with MCPS;
- Describe a quickly actionable program model for services at new school(s); and
- Identify potential locations, capacity, resource needs, and format for expanded services.
One category within the recommendations is School and Childcare Adjacent Food Assistance approaches. School, pre-school, childcare, and daycare facilities can play a unique role in reaching food insecure children with nutritious food. For students and families that rely on school meals and/or face barriers to food access related to transportation or otherwise, an in-school pantry or at-school food distribution can help to address nutrition insecurity and provide convenient access to necessary resources. In the 2023-24 school year, there are food assistance programs operating at more than 50 MCPS sites. However, there are dozens of MCPS sites without any school-based food assistance programs despite elevated levels of food insecurity within the school community.
The goal of this program is to support projects that address critical gaps in healthy food access for children and families and/or that offer innovative approaches to co-locate food assistance at an MCPS school site. OFSR is partnering with MCPS representatives to identify the school sites that will be prioritized for support, based on the level of need within the school community and anticipated impact of new or expanded school-based food assistance programming.
The OFSR anticipates a large number of applications and total funding requests that will greatly exceed the amount of resources available for 2024 School-Based Food Assistance Grants. Priority in awarding funding will be given to proposals that:
- Demonstrate a strong track record of delivering food assistance services to schools in underserved communities in Montgomery County;
- Demonstrate a strong understanding of community food access needs;
- Describe a detailed program proposal including:
- Distribution process: The process by which food will be purchased/stored/packaged/distributed to school sites;
- Sourcing strategy; and
- Accurate budgets.
- Include budgets that are based upon robust research and/or previous experience with food procurement, and reflect the realistic cost of food purchases and operational costs (including infrastructure and staffing needs);
- Include data collection, analysis, and reporting strategy for compliance with grant requirements;
- Clearly identify the minimum and maximum number of schools/students/families that could be supported by the organization at an individual school, including details on the format of food assistance that would be provided; and
- Demonstrate administrative capability to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the assigned school partner(s) and to maintain communication with the school-based point(s) of contact to coordinate regular food distributions and/or deliveries.
The Office of Food Systems Resilience will also prioritize proposals that:
- Support the local food economy through purchasing partnerships with County farms, locally-owned retailers, and/or DMV-region businesses owned/operated by individuals representing historically underserved communities;
- Operate a “participant choice model” for food access, allowing participants to select what food they receive;
- Leverage additional resources to support this program, including in-kind contributions, direct organizational investment, non-county public dollars, and secured outside grant funds; and
- Align with the OFSR’s core values:
- Equity: all efforts should address social injustice and racial disparities to build equity and food sovereignty in our community.
- Systems-based: strategies should focus on identifying, maximizing, and addressing the interconnections of food issue areas, simultaneously contextualizing their benefits and their impacts on production, access, natural resources, education, and economy.
- Innovative: to transform the food system, novel approaches, creative ideas, and best practices models from other jurisdictions are critical.
- Data-driven: strategic policy and investment decisions require intentional and reliable data collection and analysis, and solutions with clearly defined success metrics and measurable impact.
The range of programming allowed under this grant is intentionally very flexible. Examples of project models that will be considered for funding include, but are not limited to:
- Family Market occurring at the school site twice a month, offering school community members a dignified shopping experience that allows choice and offers a variety of culturally relevant, healthy shelf-stable and fresh food items including fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and eggs;
- Choice Pantry located at the school site, which can be accessed by students and family members during school hours and is stocked with culturally relevant, healthy, shelf-stable items;
- Weekly pre-packed box/bag distribution for students that includes healthy, locally sourced produce options;
- Delivery of nutritious, medically and/or preference-tailored prepared meals to school families living in temporary housing; and
- Grocery Gift Cards distributed bi-weekly to school families that allow for flexible food purchasing and delivery options for families that experience transportation or other barriers to food access.
Applicants are not limited by the list above and are highly encouraged to incorporate datadriven recommendations into their proposals that demonstrate an understanding of community needs and that will have the greatest impact for the target population.
The minimum award that applicants may request is $20,000 and maximum award is $480,000. Final award amounts may be lower than $20,000. The performance period for these grant awards is anticipated to be on/about February 19, 2024 to on/about June 30, 2024.
The target populations for this grant program are Montgomery County children and households with at least one child attending MCPS that are in underserved communities1 and are currently experiencing or at risk of experiencing food insecurity.
Lead applicants may only submit one application, and must meet all of the following conditions:
- The organization must be a food assistance provider based in Montgomery County that is currently providing food assistance services in at least one MCPS site, as demonstrated through attached documentation (ie: email documentation, formal contract or Memorandum of Understanding, signed letter of support from an administrator at the school site);
- The organization must be currently registered and in Good Standing with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT);
- The organization’s principal place of business must be located in Montgomery County; if a national or regional organization, it must have a location in Montgomery County through which it provides related services;
- All activities and expenditures under this grant program must be provided in Montgomery County, and be exclusively for Montgomery County residents;
- Current Montgomery County contract or grant award winners must be current on all reporting obligations for other awards and those reports must reflect substantial progress towards the goals of their awards; and
- Proposed expenses must be for a new activity, expansion of existing activities, or a combination of both. Grant funding cannot be used for: any purchase which has already been made; purchases or activities unnecessary to accomplish grant purposes as determined by Montgomery County; prior obligations of and/or fines; debts and penalties imposed on the grantee; lobbying expenses; alcoholic beverages; or supplanting (replacing) other funds.
For more information, visit OFSR.