Common Threads Receives $100,000 Farm To School Grant from USDA

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Common Threads, a nonprofit organization that provides hands-on, cooking and nutrition education to children, parents and educators in under-resourced communities, was just awarded a two-year Farm to School Grant Award for $100,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Farm to School grant will allow Common Threads to develop the programmatic infrastructure needed to begin sourcing fresh food from community-based urban farms for its school-based cooking and nutrition education programs in Chicago. The funding will allow the nonprofit to enhance its curriculum with greater emphasis on seasonality and local food systems, while also increasing awareness of local and agricultural education resources for the community.

Chef instructor working with elementary school children

Common Threads offers hands-on cooking and nutrition programs through schools and nonprofit partners across the country.

“I’ve seen firsthand the inspiring work Common Threads is doing to promote healthy eating and foster an interest in cooking. I’m pleased this federal funding will allow them to continue and expand their mission to improve access to local foods in Chicago Public Schools,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

Common Threads, a nonprofit organization that provides hands-on, cooking and nutrition education to children, parents and educators in under-resourced communities, was just awarded a two-year Farm to School Grant Award for $100,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Farm to School grant will allow Common Threads to develop the programmatic infrastructure needed to begin sourcing fresh food from community-based urban farms for its school-based cooking and nutrition education programs in Chicago. The funding will allow the nonprofit to enhance its curriculum with greater emphasis on seasonality and local food systems, while also increasing awareness of local and agricultural education resources for the community.

“The Farm to School grant will be transformational for our organization,” said Linda Novick O’Keefe, Common Threads co-founder and CEO. “Too many Chicago families have limited access to nutritious food, and urban farms present a unique way to solve this challenge. We’re thrilled to deepen our collaboration with Chicago Public Schools, while also having the opportunity to explore urban farms as a food access solution in our other markets.”

Over the next two years, Common Threads will implement the Farm to School program with three schools from Chicago Public Schools, each matched with a nearby urban farm location such as Windy City Harvest.

“I’ve seen firsthand the inspiring work Common Threads is doing to promote healthy eating and foster an interest in cooking. I’m pleased this federal funding will allow them to continue and expand their mission to improve access to local foods in Chicago Public Schools,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who visited a Common Threads Cooking Skills & World Cuisine class in February at Jungman Elementary.

Since Common Threads was founded in Chicago in 2003 by Chef Art Smith, Jesus Salgueiro and Novick O’Keefe, the organization has reached nearly 180,000 children, parents and educators throughout Chicago, and more than 580,000 people nationwide in its 12 markets. The organization is currently receiving USDA funding through its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education program (SNAP-Ed) in Texas, New York and Pennsylvania.

ABOUT COMMON THREADS
Common Threads is a national nonprofit that provides children and families cooking and nutrition education to encourage healthy habits that contribute to wellness. We equip under-resourced communities with information to make affordable, nutritious and appealing food choices wherever they live, work, learn and play. We know that food is rooted in culture and tradition, so we promote diversity in our lessons and recipes, encouraging our participants to celebrate the world around them.

Common Threads was founded in 2003 and currently operates in 12 major cities including Austin, Texas; Chicago; Dallas-Ft. Worth; El Paso, Texas; Erie, Pa.; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; Pittsburgh, Pa.; San Antonio, and Washington D.C. To learn more, visit http://www.commonthreads.org or on social media, @CThreads on Facebook and @Common__Threads on Instagram and Twitter.

About the USDA Farm to School Grant Program
Since 2013, the USDA Farm to School Grant Program has offered annual grants to schools, school districts, nonprofits, state agencies, agricultural producers, and Indian Tribal Organizations to plan, implement, or provide training on farm to school activities. FNS is committed to working with schools and agricultural partners to ensure healthy habits take root in early childhood.

For more information, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/cfs/grant-awards.

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