CUSD Receives Agriculture Grant

2018 Clovis East Crop Science class. (Clovis Roundup Photo)

Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) was the recipient of a nearly $273,000 grant from California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) on Thursday, April 15.

The CDFA-F2F awarded the district with the 2021 California Farm to School Incubator Grant that provides funding to two district projects, Campus Catering (CC) and Clovis East High School’s McFarlane-Coffman Ag Center.

Funding will go toward training, equipment and materials needed for both projects. 

The district’s goal is for CC and the McFarlane-Coffman Ag Center to join together and serve students-grown foods in CC meals.

“We’re thrilled for our kids having ‘farm to school’ foods to eat. You can’t get much fresher than this,” CC Director Robert Schram said. “We might get fruit picked in the morning from the ag farm that’s served for lunchtime that very same day.”

The district plans to have CC purchase student-grown produce, dried fruit, and nut snacks from Clovis East. CUSD will also develop a master procurement calendar and yearly farming schedule for CC-purchased produce.

Steve Gambril, an ag teacher at Clovis East, identifies the grant as a way to continue enhancing his young farmers’ education. 

“The whole purpose of the Ag Center is to teach everyone where our food comes from,” Gambril said. “This grant will allow our ag students the opportunity to see the final step in the process, where our food goes. We’re really excited.”

The grant will also allow the Ag Center to pursue a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification and safe food handlers’ certification for staff and students.

A rebuild of the academic plant science pathway is also planned. It will allow the Ag Center to facilitate student production and packaging of produce, as well as purchase accompanying food production and packaging equipment.

Additionally, Clovis East will develop a new course in plant science and food safety, and the district plans to educate students about plant science, food safety and healthy eating through farm tours and Agriculture Fairs at the Ag Center.

CUSD’s farm-to-school project was 1 of 60 in the state awarded with a grant from CDFA-F2F, with the program totaling  $8.5 million in grants.

“We’re happy to report that so many projects are being funded in our inaugural year of the California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The excitement to participate demonstrates how much the program goals resonate with school meal providers, educators and regional food system partners.”

Anthony De Leon is a journalist who started his career in 2017, covering sports for the Fresno City College Rampage, earning his Associate Degree in the process. He then moved on to Fresno State, working for The Collegian serving as Sports Editor, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in print journalism. In August, he will begin attending Reynold’s School of Journalism Master’s program at the University of Nevada, Reno.