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Transforming lunch, building community with a USDA Planning Grant

NFSN Staff Wednesday, July 01, 2015

By Anna Mullen, Digital Media Associate

“I've seen the effect of farm to school activities in our school and in our community at large. Kids are eating better because the food is better, but the way the community has come together to support it and the various partnerships we've created since receiving the USDA Farm to School Planning Grant have been amazing." 
- Susi Jones, Executive Director for Julian Pathways, Julian, Calif.

Chef Jeremy Manely (left) and Julian Pathways students tour “Down the Road” Farm, where local produce is grown for school lunches. (Photos courtesy of Tricia Elisara

Farm to school at Julian Pathways started with an unused plot of asphalt. Parents were the first to suggest the asphalt be cleared and a school garden planted, and it didn’t take long for students and teachers to follow. The new garden at Julian Pathways became a living laboratory for students, and it sparked efforts to extend nutrition and agriculture education to the lunchroom. Six years later, farm to school at Julian Pathways has become a whole community affair. 

As Julian Pathways Executive Director Susi Jones explains, expanding farm to school beyond the garden and into the lunchroom was not an easy task. Without facilities to cook meals or room to build a kitchen, Julian Pathways had served frozen, pre-packaged lunches. “At the time, we felt it was the best option,” she said. “But we also felt our students were getting the bad end of the deal. It was not good food, and we were not nurturing our students.” 

Although students were learning about local, fresh food in the garden, they weren’t connecting with healthy eating in the cafeteria. So in 2012, the Julian Union Elementary School District applied for a USDA Farm to School Planning Grant to identify ways to secure local, fresh and delicious meals for their students. Julian Pathways, the student and family support program for the district, coordinates the farm to school program. Alumnus and local chef Jeremy Manley jumped at the opportunity to cater lunches at his alma mater. Jeremy’s on the Campus – a play on his restaurant Jeremy’s on the Hill – pays particular attention to sourcing its food locally and students are gobbling up the fresh fruit and vegetables options. 


 “January was broccoli month, and I over heard two four-year-old girls say, ‘There’s broccoli in the salad! I love my broccoli raw!’ What kind of four-year-olds talk like this without exposure in the garden?” –Susi Jones, Julian Pathways Executive Director
Students in Club Jaguar's afterschool garden class eat the Harvest of the Month – broccoli – that they planted and tended. (Photo courtesy of Tricia Elisara)
The USDA Farm to School Planning Grant enabled Julian Pathways to explore what farm to school activities best fit their community, and it helped build a creative partnership with a local chef that grew to include local farmers, small businesses and a vibrant sense of community. Their next goal is to plant a large heritage apple orchard that will provide local fruit for students, as well as serve the entire community with jobs, re-invigorating the town’s historic apple industry.  

Julian Pathways has done an incredible job supporting these innovative and burgeoning new partnerships, but more must be done to realize their full potential.  “We are such a small district, and there’s not a lot of money,” Jones explained. “Our reimbursements are small, and we really are reaching and scrounging for funding.” To grow the program’s infrastructure, Julian Pathways applied for a USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant. But because of such high demand across the country, Julian Pathways was not awarded these funds. Nationally, demand for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is five times higher than available federal funding. 

Julian Pathways’ story exemplifies the power of farm to school to support child nutrition, strengthen local economies and build vibrant communities. All across the country, people like Susi Jones and Jeremy Manley want the opportunity to experience the positive impacts of farm to school in their own communities. That’s why we are asking legislators to strengthen the highly successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program by fully incorporating the Farm to School Act of 2015 into the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization package this year

Will you join us? Show your support by adding your name to our citizen sign-on letter, and let’s keep farm to school programs like Julian Pathways’ growing strong! 

The National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.


This week in farm to school: 6/30/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 



Webinars & Events
1. Webinars: New Entry Sustainable Farming Project
Sustaining your Program after Community Food Projects Funding
Tuesday, July 14, 1:30pm EST
This webinar will discuss challenges and strategies for sustaining a program after your initial funding has finished. The presenters, Chris Brown of Agriculture and Land Based Training and Jennifer Hashley of New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, will each speak about experiences from their own organizations. They will address challenges they have faced with sustaining a program, and lessons they have learned from the process. Register here.

Whole Measures for Community Food Projects
Thursday, July 23, 1:00pm EST
This webinar will introduce Whole Measure for Community Food Systems (WM CFS), a values-based, community-oriented tool for planning and evaluation of Community Food Projects. We will talk about how CFP grantees can utilize the Whole Measures CFS frame for their annual Indicators of Success reporting, a collective impact report for all CFPs, as well as a tool for community organizing. This will be an introductory webinar geared towards existing CFP grantees, and prospective grantees. Register here

2. Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative Conference
H.E.A.L Our Food System Gathering, Sep 25-27, 2015, Chicago, IL 
The Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative (GFJI) 2015 Gathering will be held in Chicago, IL in partnership with Growing Power, Inc. This year’s theme is "H.E.A.L. Our Food System,” which will be explored with a variety of local community organizations and growers. The Gathering will build upon learning and sharing from our previous gatherings to move us toward a vision of “Community/ Unity/ Opportunity/ Equity/ Harmony.” The Growing Food and Justice for All (GFJI) is a comprehensive network that views dismantling racism as a core principle which brings together social change agents from diverse sectors who are working to bring about new, healthy, and impoverished communities throughout the world. Learn more and register here

Policy & Action 
1. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 
Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit farmtoschool.org/cnr2015

2. Farming is Public Service, National Young Farmers Coalition 
The National Young Farmers Coalition's (NYFC) new report, Farming Is Public Service: A Case for Adding Farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, says that student loan debt is one of the key barriers preventing more would-be farmers and ranchers from entering agriculture. The report contains data from a new survey of more than 700 young farmers as well as data compiled from the USDA Census of Agriculture. According to the report, 30% of survey respondents said their student loans are delaying or preventing them from farming while 48% say their loans are preventing them from growing their business or obtaining credit to invest in their farm. NYFC and a coalition of more than 100 other farming organizations are calling for Congress to add farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Jobs & Opportunities 
1. USDA Beginning Farmer Advisory Committee USDA is seeking up to 20 new members to serve on the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee. Organizations or individuals can nominate someone.  Nominations are due July 17.  More info can be found in the Federal Register Notice.  Please share with your networks. 

2. Chopped is casting The Food Network television show “Chopped” is seeking chefs located in New York, NY, Houston, TX, Asheville, NC, and San Francisco for casting. In addition to professional chefs, amateur cooks and teens are encourage to apply for special episodes. Applications accepted through August 2015. Apply at www.choppedcasting.com

Farm to school in the news
High hopes for Farm to School Act 2015 -  featuring Director of Programs, Helen Dombalis!  
After a successful first round of USDA grants under CNR 2010, advocates are hoping to leverage strong bipartisan support to triple funding to $15M. But as the Farm to School movement matures, the conversation is not just about new grants. It’s about institutionalizing the presence of local food in schools, and how else this year’s CNR can help that happen. (via Inside School Food

'Edible classroom' sprouts into success at school in Waconia, Minn. 
The garden, plus a half-acre orchard, produces nearly one-thousand pounds of fresh organically-grown food every year. The majority is distributed to the district's four schools. “It's really important for kids to be able to connect to their environment, connect to their town or their city, and I think this is is just a great way for them to do it.” (via Fox 9 - Twin Cities

'Eat your veggies' is a message best delivered to the young 
Under the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable plan, 151 New Jersey schools will provide produce for a minimum of two days each month from September to November and from April to June. The program also teach students about the food grown in the Garden State, and supports local farmers. (via NJ.com)

Read past editions of This Week  for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country.  


Healthy kids are common sense, not a trend

NFSN Staff Friday, June 26, 2015
By Anupama Joshi, Executive Director



Investing in the health of our children is common sense, and "when you put money into school nutrition programs, you know it's going straight into kids’ mouths." That’s according to Donna Martin, School Nutrition Director for Burke County Public Schools in Georgia, and it rings true across the country. 

Recent media coverage has questioned the importance of improving school meals as a strategy for supporting child health – one of the fundamentals influencing the work of the National Farm to School Network and our partners. Yet, thousands of communities across the country have experienced firsthand the significant impact farm to school initiatives have on creating a generation of healthy eaters. Here’s how we know that farm to school works:

Fruit and vegetable consumption is going up
“We're having a fruit and vegetable shortage because we've increased consumption so much," says Donna Martin of her schools in rural Georgia that feature local produce on the lunch menu. Studies show that farm to school activities improve early childhood and K-12 eating behaviors, including choosing healthier options in the cafeteria, consuming more fruits and vegetables at school and at home, consuming less unhealthy foods and sodas, and increasing physical activity. A study published just this month in the journal Childhood Obesity confirmed again that students are eating more healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables, and that plate waste is not increasing.

Obesity rates are going down
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation highlights cities, counties and states that have started to see their childhood obesity rates go down in recent years. They’ve observed that communities that take a comprehensive approach are making progress. Farm to school is a comprehensive approach. Not only are students exposed to healthy eating in school, but food education also travels home. Doreen Simonds, Food Services Director for Waterford School District in Ortonville, Mich., explains, “We hear back from kids and parents that they are trying new foods at home, going to farmers markets now, and using the Double Food Bucks too.” Through farm to school practices, we are laying the groundwork for reversing years of unhealthy lifestyles. 

Education is key to fostering healthy choices
Farm to school programs provide experiential education opportunities for kids to taste, try, and eventually like new foods – to make choices for themselves. Farm to school is about creating positive food experiences for kids, with farm tours, cooking demos, school gardens, and farmers in the classroom. As quoted in the Huffington Post, Dora Rivas with the Dallas Independent School District – the second-largest system in Texas and 14th-largest in the country – has seen their farm to school program change everything from what kids are eating to the way they are learning. "We feel like children remember and are more excited about trying new foods when they actually experience it," Rivas said. "School gardens are a great way to introduce them to new foods."

Education is key to facilitating behavior change, and change requires time and patience. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that 95 percent of schools are successfully meeting the updated nutrition standard requirements for school meals. More than 40,000 schools across the country have changed their approach to child health and food education by implementing farm to school activities. And farm to school continues to come up as a successful strategy to improve child nutrition again and again and again in Congressional hearings preparing for the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act this year. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: students who are properly introduced to new foods through farm to school are more likely to adopt healthy eating habits, participate in their school's meal plan and are less likely to waste food, which results in a better bottom line for schools and healthier kids. 

Creating change in the lunchroom – whether it be farm to school or the new nutrition standards – is never easy. But do we let our kids give up easily when they are trying something new? We don’t! We encourage them to keep trying, and teach them to be patient. 
It’s just common sense to support our kids to be healthy in the same way!  

This week in farm to school: 6/24/2015

NFSN Staff Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 



Funding & Grants 
1. USDA Seeks Applications for Loans and Grants to Create Jobs and Support Rural Economic Development
The USDA is accepting applications for loans and grants to support business expansion, create jobs and increase economic opportunities in rural communities. Funding is being provided through USDA's Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). RMAP provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) to help microentrepreneurs – very small businesses with 10 or fewer employees – access capital to start or grow businesses. MDOs use the funds to provide training and technical assistance to small businesses or to establish revolving loan funds that provide micro-loans, typically $5,000 to $50,000, to rural microentrepreneurs. The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized the program through 2018. For Fiscal Year 2015, more than $16 million is available in loans and grants. Details about how to apply for this are on page 35299 of the June 19 Federal Register. Application forms may be obtained from any USDA Rural Development State Office. More information can be found in this USDA press release

Webinars & Events 
1. Kansas City Schoolyard Garden Summit, July 14
Sign up today for an exclusive Kansas City Schoolyard Garden Summit event on July 14, 2015, featuring a keynote address from Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. This regional summit is intended to share best practices among schools and school districts, as well as provide provide fun, educational methods to use school gardens for healthy food options, curriculum and to involve community members. It will also give an overview of the schoolyard garden movement in Kansas City, and provide tips for starting and maintaining a school garden. The Summit will be held at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. More information & registration details can be found here.   
2. NESAWG 2015 Conference, November 13-14, Saratoga Springs, NY
Putting MOVE in the Movement
Civil rights, labor, women’s rights—the movements that transformed our world can give us insight on ways to accelerate food systems change.  What can we learn from leaders past and present?  How can we better organize our work, our networks, our message, our media? At this year’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference (Nov 13-14), learn and strategize with hundreds of attendees—from farmers to researchers to policymakers—as we work to build a movement and realize the change we want to see. Shirley Sherrod, a longtime civil rights activist and advocate for family farms and food justice, will deliver the keynote speech, addressing the conference theme: Putting Move in the Movement. Visit the conference website for more information. 

Resources 
1. New Edible Schoolyard Training Videos
The Edible Schoolyard recently debuted a new series of professional development videos with great tips for creating effective and inspiring learning environments – indoors and out. Watch the first three videos and stay tuned for more to come this summer!

Policy & Action 
1. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 
Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit farmtoschool.org/cnr2015

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Procurement Specialist, Community Alliance with Family Farmers
The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for California family farms and sustainable agriculture. CAFF is a farmer member organization that works statewide to increase the economic viability of California family farmers and to connect communities with their local producers. The Procurement Specialist will work on a variety of projects that provide technical assistance to farmers in selling their products to different markets, primarily institutions such as schools and hospitals. The ideal candidate will have a strong competency in sustainable procurement work, farm to institution, and regional food systems in California. This position will be located in either the Davis or Oakland office. Applications due by July 8. More information can be found on the CAFF website

Farm to school in the news
Fresh From Farms to Schools -- It Just Makes Sense
Nancy Brown - CEO, American Heart Association, recently spent a day at a Dallas school to learn more about how a USDA Farm to School Grant helped Dallas Independent School District bring locally-grown produce into cafeterias. She shares the steps the district is taking to ensure the next generation is a healthier one. (via Huffington Post)

Vermont institute helps schools grow farm-to-school programs
Presented by Vermont FEED, the Northeast Farm to School Institute will host 13 school from around the region when it kicks off on Wednesday at Shelburne Farms. The institute will focus on professional development in order to design a more integrated curriculum that includes food, farm and nutrition in all aspects of student learning. (via Washington Times)

Farm to School program gives students hands-on experience
With several classes each year for teachers, school nutrition staff members, the community and people from across the state, the Cherokee Farm to School program is a way to train gardeners who can go back to their communities and make an impact. (via Cherokee Tribune)

Read past editions of This Week  for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country.  


Farm to school shines at House CNR hearing

NFSN Staff Wednesday, June 17, 2015

By Natalie Talis, Policy Associate


A version of this blog also appeared on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website.

On Tuesday, June 16th the House Education and Workforce Committee held its third hearing in preparation for the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR). U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack was the sole witness addressing the question, “Child Nutrition Assistance: Are Federal Rules and Regulations Serving the Best Interests of Schools and Families?” 

As it did in the first hearing in April, farm to school continued to shine as a successful strategy for increasing healthy food consumption in schools and at home, while also supporting farmers and strengthening communities. 

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) – a champion of the Farm to School Act of 2015 – raised the importance of giving schools flexibility to include farm to school in preschool, summer food and afterschool programs. Secretary Vilsack responded that these additional venues for farm to school activities would not only supply children with the freshest products possible, but they would also provide farmers with a significant market opportunity and would keep school meal dollars in the community. If fully integrated into CNR, the Farm to School Act of 2015 will provide this flexibility and the support schools need to implement it.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) expressed concern that too few parents are involved in their children’s nutrition choices. In response, Secretary Vilsack noted that activities like school gardens – a core component of farm to school – get kids excited about fruits and vegetables, and kids bring that enthusiasm home to their families.

This is exactly what is happening in Burke County, Ga., where local grocery markets have asked School Nutrition Director Donna Martin to alert them to what local foods are being featured in the cafeteria and in lessons so they can stock up. Martin told legislative staff at a House briefing on the Farm to School Act of 2015 in April how grocery stores were selling out of local foods featured at school because kids are insisting that their parents purchase it at home too. The benefits of farm to school activities go far beyond the school cafeteria, and the Farm to School Act of 2015 can help ensure these benefits are extended to more communities across the country.

Join us in asking Congress to continue and expand upon the success of farm to school by fully incorporating the Farm to School Act of 2015 in CNR. Together we can make sure that the benefits of farm to school, highlighted in Tuesday’s hearing, are a key part of the conversation as this critical legislation is developed. 


The National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms. 

This week in farm to school: 6/16/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 



Funding & Grants 
1. Find your community of supporters with Barnraiser
The National Farm to School Network is partnering with Barnraiser, a crowdfunding platform dedicated to good food and farming projects, to elevate farm to school activities across the country. From school gardens in North Carolina to community cooking education in California, these projects are being funded by people who believe in the power of farm to school activities to support vibrant communities and to empower children and families to make healthy food choices. NFSN will be a featured partner on the site with a page that aggregates farm to school crowdfunding campaigns from across the country. If you would like help initiating a crowdfunding campaign for your farm to school initiative, check out the Barnraiser Campaign Guide and/or contact Marie Sayles, Projects & Partnerships Director, at marie@barnraiser.us. Don't forget to let us know when your project is live! 

Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, July 14, 1:30pm EST 
Sustaining your Program after Community Food Projects Funding
This webinar with New Entry Sustainable Farming Project will discuss challenges and strategies for sustaining a program after your initial funding has finished. The presenters, Chris Brown of Agriculture and Land Based Training and Jennifer Hashley of New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, will each speak about experiences from their own organizations. They will address challenges they have faced with sustaining a program, and lessons they have learned from the process.

Policy & Action 
1. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 
Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit farmtoschool.org/cnr2015

2. Child Nutrition Reauthorization National Call-in Day, Tuesday, June 23
Nearly 16 million children in America face hunger. As parents, educators, doctors and nutritionists, religious and business leaders, and anti-hunger advocates we believe that every child should have access to the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and thrive.  The federal child nutrition programs are critical supports for low-income children in need. Tell Congress to invest in our children and take action on a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Make your voice heard on June 23!
  1. Call the toll-free hotline at 888-398-8702
  2. Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.
  3. State that you are a constituent and give your name and your hometown.
  4. Let them know you are calling about the child nutrition programs and deliver this important message:
    • “On September 30, the child nutrition bill will expire, and it’s time Congress got to work. As your constituent, I ask you to pass a strong child nutrition bill that invests in and improves child nutrition programs so that our nation’s kids have the fuel they need to grow up healthy and succeed.”
  5. Dial back in to make sure you speak with both of your Senators and your Representative
You can also visit www.feedingamerica.org/CNRAction to call Congress directly.

Jobs & Opportunities
1. NFSN is hiring a Farm to Preschool Associate
Join our team! National Farm to School Network is now accepting applications for a full time Farm to Preschool Associate. The Farm to Preschool Associate will be responsible for managing the implementation of a comprehensive farm to preschool growth plan for NFSN, with a focus on seamless integration of farm to preschool within all priority areas of NFSN including information/resource services, networking/partnership building and policy/advocacy. This position will report directly to the Director of Programs of NFSN. Projected start date: early July 2015. For a full position description and application instructions, click here. Please share this listing with anyone you think is interested and qualified. The deadline to apply is June 18, 2015.

Farm to school in the news 
Lafayette school lunch contest encourages kids to eat what they grow
The contest featured teams of three to four students with a teacher, community leader and a local chef using vegetables the kids grew at their schools. The Advocate

Farm to School Institute expands
Vermont FEED is expanding its pioneering Farm to School Institute to school teams from across New England and New York. Thirteen teams have recently been selected to participate, thanks to funding from a USDA Farm to School grant. Morning Ag Clips

Lettuce alone in Swampscott
Swampscott High School held its second annual Salad Day, offering students fresh veggies, a cooking demonstration and a lesson in local food. “A lot of people think eating fresh is more expensive,” Brandy Wilbur told the students. “But you can keep it simple, local and a lot more fresh … and cheaper.” The Daily Item

Read past editions of This Week  for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country.  

Dream big, find your crowd of supporters

NFSN Staff Wednesday, June 10, 2015
by Marie Sayles, Projects and Partnerships Director for Barnraiser

The National Farm to School Network is partnering with Barnraiser, a crowdfunding platform dedicated to good food and farming projects, to elevate farm to school projects across the country. Visit our page at Barnraiser.us to learn more. 

Do you have a big dream of starting or expanding an amazing school garden, food or farm project? So did Chef Hollie Greene, when she teamed up with Lu Sutton Elementary School to improve the health of an entire school community – children, parents, teachers and their families – by teaching basic cooking skills focused on vegetables and fruits first. 

But school budgets are limited in how they can support food, farm or garden programs; even when the benefits of teaching children to eat well, grow their own food and connect with their local farms are now more apparent than ever. Traditional methods of raising money for extracurriculars can fall short, and while parent volunteers will come and go, building a community of supporters around a project is one way to secure dedicated funding and increase a project’s longevity. 

Teaming up with Barnraiser
Together, Chef Hollie and Miguel Villareal, the District’s Director of Food & Nutrition and National Farm to School Network Advisory Board Member, worked with Lu Sutton Elementary to find their community of supporters on Barnraiser, a crowdfunding platform dedicated to good food and farming projects. They launched the Joyful 12 School Project with a hefty goal of raising $20,000 to bring to life their vision to teach an entire elementary school to cook and eat more vegetables together. And they did it
Farm to school project ideas as small as $2,000 can be incredibly impactful for students, farmers and communities. What does your program need? To build a garden greenhouse, pay the nutrition education coordinator’s salary, design a new health and wellness curriculum, or get a farm to cafeteria collaboration off the ground? Crowdfunding could turn this idea into reality.
How to make the most of crowdfunding? 
  • Define your farm to school project: Your project can be anything from a new greenhouse to after school cooking classes.
  • Find your CROWD: Make a list of EVERYONE who would be interested in seeing this come to life. This is your crowd! 
  • Tell your story: Create a campaign page with photos, project description, simple budget and video. 
  • Offer rewards: Pull together a great selection of rewards. Think school auction here! Gift certificates from local businesses, handmade thank you cards, classes or workshops, a box of fresh garden produce, a party or event tickets.
  • Spread the word: Invite your crowd to support the campaign by sending out emails, flyers, posting on Facebook, etc., and don’t be afraid to ask, ask, ask your extended community to support your efforts. 
  • Expand your reach: Keep promoting until you reach your goal, then keep going! There is no limit to what you can raise if the campaign builds enough momentum.
Crowdfunding platforms are a great way to reach your local school community and a wider online audience that shares your desire to connect students to good food and local farmers to new market opportunities. Look for a platform that helps you find your crowd and offers support in promoting your campaign. 
Chef Hollie Greene and Miguel Villareal serve healthy food samples at Lu Sutton Elementary School. 
(Photo courtesy of JoyFondly)      
Why Barnraiser?
Raising money takes work and the team at Barnraiser is here to help! As your advisors, consultants and cheerleaders, we will review your project and give feedback before the campaign, then offer encouragement and suggestions as you work your way toward your goal. Our staff is comprised of professionals from the front line of the good food movement, including trained chefs, organic farmers, school gardeners and more. 
We are committed to your success because we believe that your work is what is going to change our food system for the better. Our 70% project success rate doubles that of other crowdfunding platforms and our growing Barnraiser audience is ready to support your project, too. Discover successful Barnraiser campaigns including Lettuce Learns and Yountville Community Garden. Remember, when the community comes together and one farmer gets a new barn, the whole community gets better food. Let’s raise some barns!
Marie Sayles, Projects and Partnerships Director for Barnraiser, can be reached at marie@barnraiser.us. Learn more and launch your campaign at Barnraiser.us


This week in farm to school: 6/9/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 



Funding & Grants
1. Grow your farm to school program with a Seed Change mini grant! (KY, LA, PA ONLY)
The National Farm to School Network is accepting applications from eligible schools and school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania for  $5,000 mini grants to help jump start new farm to school activities or ramp up existing programs. Grants can be used for local food for tastings, new processing equipment, hosting events, building school gardens and more. All nonprofit schools and school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania are eligible to apply. Deadline for applications is Monday, June 15 at midnight ET. For more information and to apply, visit farmtoschool.org/seedchange
2. Find your community of supporters with Barnraiser
The National Farm to School Network is partnering with Barnraiser, a crowdfunding platform dedicated to good food and farming projects, to elevate farm to school activities across the country. From school gardens in North Carolina to community cooking education in California, these projects are being funded by people who believe in the power of farm to school activities to support vibrant communities and to empower children and families to make healthy food choices. NFSN will be a featured partner on the site with a page that aggregates farm to school crowdfunding campaigns from across the country. If you would like help initiating a crowdfunding campaign for your farm to school initiative, check out the Barnraiser Campaign Guide and/or contact Marie Sayles, Projects & Partnerships Director, at marie@barnraiser.us. Don't forget to let us know when your project is live! 

Webinars & Events
1. Register for the Food Day Apple Crunch on Oct. 22, 2015
On and around Food Day 2015 (Oct. 24, 2015), millions of people around the country will crunch into an apple in a unifying action to raise awareness about eating better diets for our health and the environment, access and affordability of fruits and vegetables, and supporting local farmers. Hundreds of thousands of school students will crunch into an apple at lunch time, joined by Americans at public Food Day events, in corporate cafeterias and at home. Because Food Day falls on a Saturday this year, most schools will be participating in the Apple Crunch on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Start planning now to join the Food Day Apple Crunch and register your event at the link below.
2. Slow Food USA & American Heart Assoc. Garden Twitter Chat, June 10, 1pm EST
In honor of National Garden Week, Slow Food USA is teaming up with the American Heart Association for a garden-themed Twitter Chat. Do you have a home, community or school garden? Use #lifeiswhy and #SlowFoodUSA to add your voice. This chat will last from 1-2 PM EST and the topic will be gardening and healthy living. Follow @SlowFoodUSA for more information. 

Policy & Actions
1. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 
Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit farmtoschool.org/cnr2015

Jobs & Opportunities
1. NFSN is hiring a Farm to Preschool Associate
Join our team! National Farm to School Network is now accepting applications for a full time Farm to Preschool Associate. The Farm to Preschool Associate will be responsible for managing the implementation of a comprehensive farm to preschool growth plan for NFSN, with a focus on seamless integration of farm to preschool within all priority areas of NFSN including information/resource services, networking/partnership building and policy/advocacy. This position will report directly to the Director of Programs of NFSN. Projected Start Date: June 30, 2015. For a full position description and application instructions, click here. Please share this listing with anyone you think is interested and qualified. The deadline to apply is June 18, 2015.
2. REAP Food Group
REAP Food Group is a nonprofit organization in Madison Wisconsin that nourishes links between land and table to grow a healthful, just and sustainable local food system. REAP Food Group is currently hiring for several positions: 
Farm to School Program Coordinator: This person will provide management and training support to four half-time AmeriCorps Farm to School educators. Additionally, the Farm to School Program Coordinator will work directly with school staff, area chefs and community organizations to carry out chef in the classroom programming, manage farm to school volunteers, plan educational farm to school events and provide general program support. More info here

Communications Director: This person will develop and implement the overall communications strategy for the organization, including promotion of REAP’s mission and events, public relations, member and donor communications, website management, design of printed materials, and social media outreach. The Communications Director will be involved in event planning and represent REAP at media events and before audiences at other outreach events. More info here

AmeriCorps Farm to School Educators: REAP Food Group is seeking candidates to fill four half time AmeriCorps positions with the REAP Farm to School program. This is a one-year appointment with a 900 hour commitment (average 20 hours/wk). Members will work with elementary, middle and high school students; as well as teachers, farmers, food service personnel, parents and a wide range of community partners on Farm to School program implementation within the Madison Metropolitan School District. More info here

Farm to school in the news
Roosevelt serves up home grown food for lunch program
Kindergarten students help maintain a school garden, and serve up spinach, lettuce and radishes to their classmates for lunch. (via Gazette Extra)
Students receive fresh, local produce through N.C. Farm to School program
Schools receive North Carolina peaches, Asian pears, watermelon, sweet potatoes, collards, apples, cabbage, carrots and more. “We try to really introduce different things to everyone.” (via Salisbury Post)
Fifth Graders Learn Lessons on Gardening, Healthy Lifestyles
Fifth graders in Minnesota are teaching each other the best way to plant potatoes."A garden is a living laboratory. When kids can be out learning how to do it, doing the research and applying it with their hands, the knowledge that they have, it really sticks and stays with them for a lifetime." (via  Fox 21)

Read past editions of This Week  for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country. 

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