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News

The First 10 Months of 2019: A Farm to School Policy Perspective

NFSN Staff Wednesday, November 06, 2019

By Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist

Ten months in, 2019 has been full of exciting farm to school policy wins, challenges, and opportunities. Now that we’ve gone through another successful National Farm to School Month and have begun to look towards 2020, I want to pause, reflect and celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far this year, together.

In early 2019, while catching our breath from the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, we were jolted back into action by Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-KS) February announcement of his desire to write a child nutrition reauthorization (CNR). Advocates around the country, including us at the National Farm to School Network, quickly became ready to gear up for another journey towards a new CNR. Child nutrition bills have not been reauthorized (government speak for rewriting a package of bills) since 2010, when sweeping changes were made to school meals, including new comprehensive nutrition standards, adoption of the Community Eligibility Provision, and - a gold star on our list - the beginning of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program

Since February, we’ve made major strides and had some big wins in advocating for strong farm to school priorities in the next CNR: 

  • We hosted a series of listening sessions to hear from farm to school advocates about how CNR can better support their efforts. 
  • In partnership with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, we championed the introduction of two signature bills - the Farm to School Act of 2019 and the Kids Eat Local Act - that directly address the feedback and needs we’ve heard from farm to school stakeholders. As of today, the Farm to School Act has 17 cosponsors and the Kids Eat Local Act has 22 cosponsors. Both bills have strong bipartisan support, a beautiful example of how our advocacy can push Congress to work together for good.
  • In September, we hosted three farm to school advocates on Capitol Hill to educate lawmakers from Arkansas and Kansas about the importance of farm to school. Our fly-in was made possible with the generous support of the Johnson Family Foundation - thank you! 
  • We have deepened relationships with national partners including the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Food Corps, both of whom have led advocacy efforts alongside us and offered tremendous support. Additional thanks goes out to original endorsers of our farm to school bills, including American Heart Association, Union of Concerned Scientists, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Food Corps, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Education Association, and the National Farmers Union.
  • Our online petitions in support of our two bills have gathered more than 800 signatures from individuals and organizations. You can still sign on!
  • And, the US Senate passed a resolution declaring October 2019 National Farm to School Month! The US House did this in 2010, and we love bicameral support for a great cause! 
Can you believe we accomplished all that in less than ten months? If you haven’t thanked yourself for the hard work you’ve done, do it right now. Then turn to your neighbor (or your social media friends) and repeat after me: “Thank you for moving the movement.” Farm to school has worked because of YOUR work, and we thank you. 

Will you help us take it even further? The future of farm to school is in our hands, and everyday is an opportunity to transform our food system. While we wait to see a draft CNR bill, there’s work that can still be done: 

  • Add your name and/or your organization to our letters to Congress, then share with a friend (or many friends). 
  • Share your farm to school work on social media and tag us - @farmtoschool / #farmtoschool - and your members of Congress. Ask them to support the Farm to School Act and Kids Eat Local Act. 
  • Reach out to your members of Congress to urge their support for our bills (lobbying) or simply educate them on the state of farm to school in your community (not lobbying). 
Beyond CNR, there are many other opportunities to advocate for policy that advances farm to school that we’ve been working on at the National Farm to School Network. In 2019, we’ve been: centering equity in our policy advocacy; establishing an official policy platform; supporting the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill; building new federal agency relationships; sharing our new State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018 (co-authored by the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School); digging deeper into state and local policy opportunities; and, working to become a more active voice in organizing for food justice. 

The heart of our work at the National Farm to School Network is not policy or programs, it’s people - kids, farmers, communities, and everyone in between. What policy matters matter to you, and how can the National Farm to School Network support your interests? I want to know! Connect with me anytime at chloe@farmtoschool.org. The power of our network is in partners like you who are working for change. As we continue to organize and advocate for strong policy, let’s remember that we’re ultimately advocating for ourselves, for each other, for our children, and for our futures. Onward and upward, together! 

This Week in Farm to School: 11/05/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, November 05, 2019
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. 

Action Opportunity
1. Get Counted! USDA Farm to School Census Still Open
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems' third Farm to School Census is currently open and wrapping up at the end of November. Be sure your school district is counted! The Farm to School Census is the only national survey that examines school districts’ farm to school activities. It's imperative that all School Food Authorities (SFAs) - whether or not they currently participate in farm to school activities - complete the Census in order to have the most accurate picture of the scope, reach and impact of farm to school nationwide. The Census has been sent directly to SFAs. Please check with your SFAs to ask if they've submitted the Census, and make sure your efforts are counted! Learn more about the Census here


Grants & Funding
1. USDA 2020 Farm to School Grant RFA Now Open
Deadline: December 13
The 2020 USDA Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. With additional funding made available through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) seeks to award approximately $10 million in FY 2020 funding. Grants ranging in size from $20,000 to $100,000 will be available to schools, nonprofits, State and local agencies, agricultural producers, and Indian tribal organizations to plan and implement farm to school activities. Applications are due Dec. 13, 2019. Learn more here.
 
2. NFSN Consultation Services to Support USDA Farm to School Grant Applicants
National Farm to School Network advocated for the establishment of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program and is committed to ensuring this funding reaches the communities that need it most. NFSN is available on a consultation basis to provide assistance during the application process (thought partnership, preparing the grant application, evaluation) and during grant implementation (needs assessment, evaluation, action plan, virtual coaching). Learn more here.  

3. USDA Regional Farm to School Institutes RFA
Deadline: December 27
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems is pleased to announce the new Regional Farm to School Institute Grant Request for Applications (RFA). This new grant for fiscal year 2020 will support the creation and dissemination of information on farm to school program development, and provide practitioner education and training, and ongoing school year coaching and technical assistance. The Food and Nutrition Service anticipates awarding at least two grants with a combined total of $150,000, to eligible 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations working regionally to promote farm to school activities and support practitioners. Learn more here.

4. Food System Vision Prize
Early Deadline: Dec. 5 / Final Deadline: Jan. 31
With a total of $2 million in prize money and a global network of partners, the Food System Vision Prize is an invitation for organizations, companies, governments, and other entities around the world to develop inspirational, concrete Visions for the food system of the future. The Prize, launched by The Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with SecondMuse and OpenIDEO, is driven by a central question: “How might we envision regenerative and nourishing food futures for 2050?” The Prize seeks systems-focused proposals that encourage people worldwide to take action and think collaboratively about the future. Submitted Visions should also reflect the Prize’s core beliefs that include diversity, resilience, equity, and the power of food to connect people. Learn more here.


Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Kids Win and Farms Win: What Do We Know About the Impacts of Farm to School
This Week! November 7 // 1 PM ET
Advocates claim that 'kids win, farmers win, and communities win' from policies, programming and initiatives that promote farm to school. However, what do we know about the extent to which this is true? Recent research funded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides interesting insights into the kids win and farms win impacts of farm to school efforts. This webinar, featuring researchers from Colorado State University and University of Illinois, will highlight recent and ongoing research and important areas for future farm to school work. Register here.

2. Webinar: Product Spotlight - Increasing Regionally Sourced Grains in Institutions
November 19 // 2 PM EST
Join FINE and the New England Farm & Sea to Campus Network (FSCN) for a one-hour webinar to learn more about regional grain production and how it can be a cost effective choice for your institution. Across the state of Maine, allies are working to transform the grain economy by increasing production and reducing procurement bottlenecks while serving and educating customers. Register here.

3. Farm to School 101: Free Farm to School Trainings
Nov. 6 & Nov. 21 // Massachusetts
Join ChicopeeFRESH for Farm to School 101, a training opportunity for K-12 food service operators and community partners who are looking to take the leap into farm to school. Each training will take place in a different region of Massachusetts, and will feature a field trip to a local farm. Farm to School 101 will cover the basics of launching a successful farm to school program, including building relationships with farmers and producers, planning affordable seasonal menus, and branding and marketing your program. The first two trainings will take place in November. Learn more here.

4. Food Solutions Forum
November 5 // Durham, NH
On November 5th, the Food Solutions Forum will bring together presidential candidates, farmers, fishermen, small business owners, workers, advocates, scientists, and the general public, to celebrate the future that is possible with food at the center of our national conversations. The Food Solutions New England network is one of more than a dozen partners helping to organize and promote this free event. The forum will be livestreamed. Learn more here


Research & Resources
1. Article: Farm to School Education Grants Encourage Children to Learn About Fruits and Vegetables
Journal of Translational Behavioral Medicine
Oregon established its Farm to School Education Grant Program to increase knowledge of and preference for fruits and vegetables among children in low-income school districts. This evaluation found that the program reached the targeted low-income students, encouraged districts to implement educational activities, and allowed low-income children to learn about produce. Read more here

2. EQUITY Updated Racial Equity Tool Glossary
Racial Equity Tools is designed to support individuals and groups working to achieve racial equity. This site offers tools, research, tips, curricula and ideas for people who want to increase their own understanding and to help those working toward justice at every level – in systems, organizations, communities and the culture at large. An updated set of key terms for racial equity is now available. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
Florida students are seeing which plants are edible in space
Last year, a student participating in a Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden program that is testing which edible plants can grow in space had an idea. What would happen if you grew short and tall plants together in one planter, utilizing limited space on the International Space Station and giving astronauts a variety of plant-based foods to eat? (Miami Herald)

Massachusetts students grow greens, learn life skills with indoor garden
Growing season is over around New England, but for a group of Milton High School students, it’s only just beginning. Special education students are getting the chance to grow their own garden right in the classroom. (CBS Boston)

New Jersey school officials cut ribbon on farm-to-table learning concept
Students across all grade levels in the Wildwood School District will get a farm-to-table learning experience as the district unveiled a new outdoor classroom this week. (The Press of Atlantic City


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.

Senate Adopts National Farm to School Month Resolution

NFSN Staff Friday, November 01, 2019
 
On October 31, the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution (S. Res 403) – sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and David Perdue (R-GA) – designating October 2019 as “National Farm to School Month.” The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and National Farm to School Network (NFSN) jointly praised the effort to highlight the important relationship between farmers, schools, and our nation’s children. The organizations, which work closely together to advance federal policies that further farm to school connections and the socioeconomic benefits that those relationships confer, also underscored the opportunity for Senators to further support these efforts by including the Farm to School Act of 2019 (S. 2026) and the Kids Eat Local Act (S. 1817) in the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR).

“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition welcomes this strong showing of support from the Senate for national farm to school efforts,” said Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist at NSAC. “Farm to school partnerships are important opportunities for our youth to learn about food, agriculture, and how to respect and care for the land. That’s not where the benefits stop, however. Farm to school programs also allow our nation’s family farmers – many of whom are struggling due to lagging markets and unstable trade partnerships – to form lucrative business relationships with schools and school districts. These relationships are a win-win-win, providing crucial business opportunities to family farmers, fresh foods to public schools, and healthy meals and hands-on educational opportunities for students. We hope that this resolution signals that Senators are also ready and willing to support the Kids Eat Local Act in the upcoming CNR. The Act was introduced with bipartisan support earlier this year, and would help make it easier for schools to source healthy food from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen.”

“Farm to school activities - including kids eating, growing, and learning about local and just food - happen 365 days a year across more than 42,000 schools. “National Farm to School Month” is a well-deserved time to celebrate the successes of these efforts and to raise awareness of the opportunity and need for more,” said Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist at the National Farm to School Network. “We applaud the Senate for recognizing the positive impacts that farm to school has in improving child nutrition, supporting family farmers and local economies, and building vibrant, more equitable communities. We urge the Senate to continue to invest in the well being of our nation’s kids, farmers, and communities in the next CNR by strengthening the USDA Farm to School Grant Program with the Farm to School Act of 2019, which was introduced with bipartisan support earlier this year. In addition, we also urge support for child nutrition programs that ensure every child has sufficient access to nutritious meals, including expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and maintaining strong nutrition standards within these programs.”

Learn more about our farm to school priorities for the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization here.

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

Local Lunches, Apple Crunches & Proclamations: How We Celebrated National Farm to School Month 2019

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 31, 2019


By Anna Mullen, Communications Manager 

For 31 days every October, millions of students, farmers, educators, and communities across the country celebrate the movement that’s connecting kids to local and just food and supporting family farmers and local economies. Over 42,000 schools and early care and education sites across the country put farm to school into action every day, and National Farm to School Month is a time to recognize those efforts, the people who make them happen, and to energize more people in our communities to join in!

Everyone can be part of National Farm to School Month, and this year we saw lots of inspiring celebrations - from state-wide crunch events and local food days, to legislators in the lunchroom and proclamations. Here are some of the ways our farm to school friends like you celebrated this October:

Apple Crunches: Did you hear that CRUNCH? Millions of students across the country participated in state and region-wide crunch events this October. Many places crunched with locally sourced apples, including Alabama, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia. The Mountain Plaines region (Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming) held its first regional Apple Crunch Off. The Great Lakes Region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin) continued its annual Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch with more than 1.8 million (wow!) crunchers. Louisiana had the Great Louisiana Satsuma Peel. And in states like California, Florida and Hawai’i, schools picked from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to crunch and munch on local food.

Proclamations: While the federal government first recognized National Farm to School Month in 2010 (House Resolution 1655), numerous state governments recognize this annual celebration with proclamations and declarations of their own. This year, governors including Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made proclamations related to Farm to School Month and kids eating local food in schools.

Local Food Days & Weeks: Statewide local food days and weeks encourage schools and communities to be part of their local food systems. Here are few states that had campaigns to put local on kids plates: Iowa Local Food Day, the Mississippi Farm to School Challenge, New Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, Pennsylvania Preferred Day, New Mexico Grown Week, Make Your Plate South Carolina Grown Week, the Texas Farm Fresh Challenge, and Virginia Farm to School Week.


Legislators in the Lunch Room: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue kicked off National Farm to School Month at Sugar Creek Elementary School in Wisconsin. Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy visited St. Albans Town Education Center. Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry crunched into local apples with students at Clinton Elementary School. Connecticut Rep. Joe Courtney took a tour of school gardens and cafeterias at Groton public School. California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross visited several farm to school sites. Idaho First Lady Teresa Little and Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam ate with kids in school cafeterias. And Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring visited Lynchburg City Schools to see their bulk milk machines carrying single-source, local milk.

And more! Georgia schools planted, tasted, cooked with and learned about squash with the “Oh My Squash” celebration. Indiana Grown and the Indiana State Department of Health unveiled their new local food buyer's guide. Massachusetts had a farm to school awareness day and awarded its 2019 Kale Blazer Award. And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new funding to support schools purchasing locally grown food.

At the National Farm to School Network, we’ve been leading National Farm to School Month celebrations by sharing farm to school inspiration and stories from partner organizations including Farm to Cafeteria Canada, National Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, CoBank, Hawthorne Gardening Company, and Farm Credit. And on social media, we celebrated by encouraging people to share their ideas and help spread awareness for the farm to school movement using #F2SMonth and #farmtoschool. Over 6,500 social media posts celebrated farm to school this month, showcasing hundreds of activities and events. We were so inspired by the excitement for farm to school that we saw!

Farm to school is a grassroots movement powered by people like you who are working every day to ensure the health of our nation's children and to support local farmers in our communities. There are 334 days to continue growing and strengthening the movement before the 10th annual National Farm to School Month in October 2020! Help us keep the momentum going by joining our network and stay up-to-date on the latest stories, new resources, policy actions, learning opportunities – like the upcoming 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, April 21-23, 2020 in Albuquerque, NM. Healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities are worth taking action for every day!

Thank you to this year’s National Farm to School Month sponsors - CoBank and the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council - as well as Outreach Partner organizations that helped us spread the word about farm to school far and wide throughout October. And, thanks to YOU for being a farm to school champion in your community!

Welcome, Krystal Oriadha!

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 30, 2019
National Farm to School Network is excited to welcome Krystal Oriadha to our team as Senior Director of Programs and Policy! Krystal brings a wealth of experience in policy advocacy, project management, and social justice activism to the National Farm to School Network. In her new role, she’ll be leading National Farm to School Network’s overall programming and policy activities.

Krystal has over 10 years of experience working for government agencies, nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Human Resources Achievement Program, and Hewlett Packard. Most recently, she served as Policy Director for Prince George’s County (Maryland) Council Member Thomas Dernoga.

Krystal is a recognized leader and activist for justice in Prince George’s County and the wider community. She currently serves as Vice President of Make Smart Cool, Co-Chair of Prince George’s County Education Roundtable, and co-founder of the LGBTQ Dignity Project. She’s previously held leadership roles with Prince George’s Mass Liberation Team, Progressive Maryland, and served as a Fellow for both Hilary Clinton’s 2016 and President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaigns. In 2019, Krystal was named one of Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund's Forty Under 40 Honorees and selected to serve on the Clinton Foundation’s 20|30 Leadership Council.

Krystal attended Howard University for her BBA in International Business. At Howard, she joined The International Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi, lota Rho Chapter and studied abroad in Tanzania at the University of Dar es Salaam. Krystal received her MBA from Amberton University.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with the National Farm to School Network because I believe in the mission of this organization, and my experience in understanding how to apply an equity lens to the work will help move the organization forward,” said Krystal. “I have worked for years as a justice advocate, and food justice is an area that has always been important to me. I have worked to end food deserts and food swamps in communities of color by expanding access to healthy options, and I see how the National Farm to School Network plays a significant role in bringing healthy food options to marginalized communities through the education system.”

During our interviews with Krystal, we were energized by her passion for food justice and commitment to ensuring that every voice is welcome at the farm to school table. She’s a big-picture systems thinker who’s diverse experiences and commitment to justice put her in a prime position to widen the touchpoints of our farm to school efforts and support the advancement of equity through out work.

As Senior Director of Programs and Policy, Krystal will lead the strategic direction of programming and policy advocacy of the National Farm to School Network, aimed at strengthening farm to school efforts in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories. Some of Krystal's first projects include finalizing the program lineup for the 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference (save the date! April 21-23, 2020 in Albuquerque, NM) and launching our new equity learning lab, aimed at training farm to school leaders to maximize their impact towards addressing inequities and injustices in our food system.

Krystal is based in our Washington, D.C. office. Connect with Krystal and say hello at krystal@farmtoschool.org. Welcome, Krystal!

Hydroponic garden extends growing season & nutrition opportunities at San Pedro Elementary

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Photo Credit: Sanzuma
With a goal of connecting more students across the country to indoor gardening opportunities, Hawthorne Gardening Company and National Farm to School Network have launched a pilot project to integrate hydroponic growing systems into classrooms and science curricula this school year. This is the story of how one partner school–San Pedro Elementary in San Rafael, CA–is using the hydroponic garden to give students a year-round learning experience of bringing food seed-to-table.

Guest blog written by Lori Davis, Executive Director, Sanzuma

San Pedro Elementary School, located in San Rafael, California, has 572 students. Approximately 97 percent of our student population is Latino, with cultural groups predominantly originating from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico. Sanzuma is San Pedro’s nonprofit partner that focuses on improving wellness in Marin County’s low-income schools by helping turn school gardens into productive farms that produce organic food for school meal programs. 

On behalf of Sanzuma (where I serve as Executive Director) and San Pedro Elementary School, we are thrilled to be a part of National Farm to School Network and Hawthorne Gardening Company’s hydroponic pilot project and to bring the benefits of indoor gardens to our students. The hydroponic garden is an exciting addition to the educational learning environment at San Pedro, where staff are dedicated to meeting the needs of the school's many English language learners and helping all students achieve high academic goals. We believe that understanding nutrition and where food comes from are important parts of every student’s education. We’ve selected one classroom that Sanzuma will work with to care for the new hydroponic garden. The newly developed curriculum that was designed for this pilot project will be used with students to incorporate their garden experiences into science and STEM lessons. 

One of the most exciting aspects of the new hydroponic growing system is that it will allow students to grow food that ordinarily would be out of season. Normally, we can grow tomatoes only during the summer months when the majority of students are on summer break. With the season extension offered by the indoor hydroponic system, we can grow nutrient-rich food throughout the school year–allowing students to be part of that growing process and giving more students access to this food in the cafeteria.

With the new ability to extend our growing season, we’ll also gain ample time to introduce new vegetables to students before they stop by the salad bar at lunch. We will do this by including the crops we grow hydroponically in taste tests. 

Through this project, we hope students will develop a deep understanding of the value and importance of growing food, the importance of eating healthy, and how hydroponics can be an alternative growing method to traditional gardening. This pilot program will give our students a hands-on, project-based opportunity to understand the full circle of growing food from seed to table. 

More About Sanzuma 
Founded in 2012, Sanzuma calls our program “farm to student” because we emphasize nutrition education, taste tests, healthy cooking, and enhancing the lunchroom atmosphere with nutritional messaging. We also focus on school wellness policy work at the state and local level and staff wellness at the schools where our garden programs are run. The food we grow on our school farm is purchased by the San Rafael City School District and included in their salad bars. We have taught thousands of taste tests, nutrition classes, farm to table cooking classes and staff wellness workshops. We teach students (and families) from a very young age how and why to eat healthy, maintain a healthy lifestyle and always have access to healthy food. Learn more about Saunzum and our work at www.sanzuma.org


This blog is part of a series that focuses on National Farm to School Network and Hawthorne Gardening Company’s work to bring more indoor gardens to more schools. Learn more about the Gro More Good Hydroponics Pilot Project and read more blogs in this series here

This Week in Farm to School: 10/29/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 29, 2019
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. 

Grants & Funding
1. USDA 2020 Farm to School Grant RFA Now Open
Deadline: December 13
The 2020 USDA Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. With additional funding made available through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) seeks to award approximately $10 million in FY 2020 funding. Grants ranging in size from $20,000 to $100,000 will be available to schools, nonprofits, State and local agencies, agricultural producers, and Indian tribal organizations to plan and implement farm to school activities. Applications are due Dec. 13, 2019. Learn more and apply here.

2. NFSN Consultation Services to Support USDA Farm to School Grant Applicants
National Farm to School Network advocated for the establishment of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program and is committed to ensuring this funding reaches the communities that need it most. NFSN is available on a consultation basis to provide assistance during the application process (thought partnership, preparing the grant application, evaluation) and during grant implementation (needs assessment, evaluation, action plan, virtual coaching). Learn more here.

3. USDA RFA: Regional Farm to School Institutes
Deadline: December 27
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems is pleased to announce the new Regional Farm to School Institute Grant Request for Applications (RFA). This new grant for fiscal year 2020 will support the creation and dissemination of information on farm to school program development, and provide practitioner education and training, and ongoing school year coaching and technical assistance. The Food and Nutrition Service anticipates awarding at least two grants with a combined total of $150,000, to eligible 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations working regionally to promote farm to school activities and support practitioners. Learn more here.


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Project Waste Not: A tool for improving traceability and transparency
October 29 // 2 PM ET
Project Waste Not is building access to product, price, and availability data. Attend this webinar to learn more about this open food and beverage commerce network and how it can help simplify the process to get quick, real time data while increasing your institution's local and sustainable purchasing goals. This webinar is hosted by Farm to Institution New England (FINE) and the New England Farm & Sea to Campus Network (FSCN). Learn more here

2. Webinar: The Power of Contracts for Institutional Procurement of Local Food
October 30 // 2 PM ET
One strategy to increase institutional access to local and sustainable foods is to ensure your desire for these items is integrated into any contracts with food service vendors. This approach sets clear expectations and enables vendors to function as partners with institutions in meeting their food procurement goals. This webinar, hosted by the Chesapeake Foodshed Network, will include examples of contract language used with food service management companies and other vendors. Register here.

3. Webinar: Strategies to Help Implement a Successful Farm to School Program
October 31 // 3 PM ET
More than two-thirds of school districts that engaged in Farm to School activities reported positive impacts, including increased support from parents and community members. Schools also reported that Farm to School helped lower school meal program costs. This webinar (hosted by the Institute of Child Nutrition) explores strategies and best practices on how to implement a local Farm to School program. It will highlight success stories from individuals on ways to start and sustain a lasting Farm to School program in your community. A continuing education certificate will be available after completion of the webinar. Register here.

4. NFSN WEBINAR Kids Win and Farms Win: What Do We Know About the Impacts of Farm to School
November 7 // 1 PM ET
Advocates claim that 'kids win, farmers win, and communities win' from policies, programming and initiatives that promote farm to school. However, what do we know about the extent to which this is true? Recent research funded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides interesting insights into the kids win and farms win impacts of farm to school efforts. This webinar, featuring researchers from Colorado State University and University of Illinois, will highlight recent and ongoing research and important areas for future farm to school work. Register here.

5. NFSN EVENT Scholarships Open - 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Deadline: November 1
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Albuquerque, NM, April 21-23, 2020! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene nearly 1,000 diverse stakeholders who are working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. The scholarship application is open through Nov. 1. Learn more at farmtoschool.org/conference.

6. Food Solutions Forum
November 5, 2019 // Durham, NH
On November 5th, the Food Solutions Forum will bring together presidential candidates, farmers, fishermen, small business owners, workers, advocates, scientists, and the general public, to celebrate the future that is possible with food at the center of our national conversations. The Food Solutions New England network is one of more than a dozen partners helping to organize and promote this free event. Learn more here.


Research & Resources
1. EQUITY Article: Reconciliation and Resurgence Through Food
Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
The Indigenous Food Circle in Northwestern Ontario demonstrates ways that food can be used as a tool for reconciliation and resurgence. It was built on the idea that Indigenous peoples should have control of their food systems and is rooted in the theory and practice of food sovereignty—emphasizing self-determination and a reconnection to land-based food systems. Read more in this new JAFSCD article, The Indigenous Food Circle: Reconciliation and Resurgence through Food in Northwestern Ontario.

2. Call for Submission: 2020 Harkin on Wellness Report
Deadline: Nov. 1
The goal of the Harkin Institute is to facilitate collaborative, high-quality, nonpartisan, multi-disciplinary public policy research and analysis in the area of wellness and nutrition. As part of this goal, the Institute is in the process of creating its annual Harkin on Wellness Report that highlights various wellness and nutrition initiatives and programs throughout the country. Programs and organizations are encouraged to submit their work focused on promoting better health through food and nutrition, improving sustainable agriculture practices, increasing economic vitality, creating health equity, and/or supporting sustainable development. Applications will be selected through a competitive internal and external review process. All designees will be invited to attend and present at the Harkin On Wellness Symposium in Spring 2020. The Harkin Institute will cover travel costs to Des Moines, IA and give each designee at $500 honorarium and plaque recognizing your organization. Learn more here


Policy Opportunities
1. USDA Reopens Public Comment Period for Categorical Eligibility in SNAP
In recent months, the United States Department of Agriculture has proposed a change in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also formerly known as “food stamps”). This rule would amend the categorical eligibility provision that allow families whose income would typically be too high to receive SNAP benefits to qualify based on their participation in other federal benefits programs. For example, a family that qualifies for TANF would automatically qualify for SNAP (if the state chooses to use categorical eligibility). Supporters of the rule change call this a “loophole” that takes resources from needy families. National Farm to School Network views the rule change as ultimately harmful to families in need of these benefits. The rule change would take vital food assistance away from nearly 3 million people. Given that many children’s free and reduced-priced meal eligibility is tied to their SNAP eligibility, this also puts children at risk of losing access to school meals. USDA recently released a report showing that nearly 1 million children could lose access to school meals as a result of this rule change. NFSN strongly opposes the rule change because farm to school can’t happen when families can’t eat.

How you can advocate: USDA has reopened the comment period to allow people to utilize this new data to make a decision. Submit a comment opposing the rule before the new deadline of November 1. The Food Research and Action Center has great resources on how to prepare and submit comments that you can access here.


National Farm to School Month Highlights
October is National Farm to School Month! Schools, ECE sites, farms and communities across the country are celebrating the connections between students and local food this month. See highlights of how states are celebrating below. National Farm to School Network has free resources, a calendar of events, planning materials and activity ideas for ways you can get involved in October. Visit farmtoschool.org/month to find more and join us!

  • Florida Crunch!” gets kids to try fresh farm to table fruits and vegetables.
  • An Arkansas school hosted its 9th annual Local Harvest Lunch at Mcnair Middle School Friday.
  • Sierra Harvest’s Tasting Days continues celebration at Nevada schools.
  • Hartford Public Schools have been celebrating Farm to School Month in Connecticut.
  • To close out National Farm to School Month, Indiana Grown and the Indiana State Department of Health will be unveiling a local food buyer's guide.
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy announces USDA grants and celebrates farm to school month in Vermont.
  • New York school celebrates Farm to School Month with smoothies for students.

Send your Farm to School Month highlights to anna@farmtoschool.org to be included in our next edition of This Week in Farm to School!


Farm to School in the News
Nevada students hold farmers market to sell their school-grown produce More than 600 Las Vegas valley students sold veggies, fruits and herbs Wednesday morning that were grown at their schools. It took place at the largest student-run farmers market in the country. (KLAS)

Hands-on approach to nutrition education flourishes in Georgia schools
Giving the students that component can help the importance of good nutrition sink in, and it benefits them in the long run.“One way to combat chronic illness is to eat green, leafy vegetables and we grow those in our gardens,” Allen said. “We can provide a healthy lunch that meets USDA regulations.” (Albany Herald)

Missouri middle school gets first taste of local beef for ‘walking tacos’
The students at Missoula’s Washington Middle School were the first in Montana, and perhaps in the entire nation, to chow down on tacos made with beef that was locally grown, slaughtered and processed by its own local school district. (News Talk KGVO)


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.

National Farmers Union is Celebrating National Farm to School Month

NFSN Staff Monday, October 28, 2019
Guest blog by the National Farmers Union - Aaron Shier, NFU Government Relations Representative and Josie Krogh, NFU Intern


John Peterson, Owner and General Manager of Ferndale Market, raises pastured turkeys in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Ferndale turkey is featured on school food menus throughout Minnesota.

This blog is cross-posted on the National Farmers Union website - read it here.

October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate connections happening all over the country between schools, food, and local farmers, ranchers, and fishers!

Over the past decade, the farm to school movement has boomed across the United States, reaching millions of students in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. Farm to school – which includes kids eating, growing, and learning about local foods in schools – is an important tool in the fight against childhood obesity and food insecurity. In addition to improving student health, farm to school presents an important financial opportunity for farmers by connecting them to a profitable institutional market. According to the USDA Farm to School Census, schools reported spending $789 million on food from local farmers, ranchers, fishers and food processors during the 2013-14 school year. 

Many National Farmers Union members are involved in farm to school efforts. And National Farm to School Month seemed like the perfect time to highlight some of their great work. 

Minnesota Farmers Union member John Peterson is a third-generation turkey farmer who has been selling his free-range, antibiotic-free turkey to local school districts for over a decade. Their family farm Ferndale Market started off selling turkey to a few school districts that were able to handle and cook raw turkey, but when Minneapolis Public Schools decided to bring locally produced foods into all their cafeterias, the school district became a major buyer of Ferndale turkey.

Peterson said there has been a lot to learn about what products schools are able to work with. “Some districts handle raw protein, but certainly not all. Many schools don’t have traditional cooking facilities. So working with processors has been crucial.” Most of what Ferndale Market sells to schools are value-added, ready to cook products like turkey hotdogs and fully-cooked burgers.

Working with Minneapolis Public Schools has benefited their business by allowing them to utilize all parts of the turkey and by stabilizing demand. “The world of turkey suffers from a seasonality problem, especially because of Thanksgiving through retail outlets,” said John. “So, farm to school programs provide good year-round stability for us by helping smooth out demand.” 

Aside from being good for business, Peterson said he takes pride in knowing they’re providing clean, healthy products to nourish students in their community. Ferndale often does events at schools where their turkey is served, which helps students get a better understanding of where and how their food is raised. “It’s common sense on so many levels,” he said. “It’s one of those things where everyone involved benefits. Farmers, students, the local economy. A win-win-win.


Anthony Wagner (far right) pictured during a farm to school group tour on his farm and orchard in Corrales, New Mexico.

Another farm to school success story can be found in New Mexico, where dedicated farmers such as Danny Farrar of Rancho La Jolla Farm and Orchard and Anthony Wagner of Wagner Farms (who are also Farmers Union members), have been major champions of farm to school efforts in the state. Danny and Anthony, in addition to growing fruits and vegetables for schools, have participated in legislative hearings, advocated for a statewide farm to school program, and have provided numerous farm tour opportunities for school food service directors.

Danny and Anthony are also board members of the organization Farm to Table in New Mexico, a Core Partner of the National Farm to School Network (NFSN). Farm to Table has focused on farm to school issues for more than twenty years and in partnership with Farmers Union and other national, regional, and local organizations, has been pivotal in advancing policy and capacity building around farm to school. For example, Farm to Table and its partners helped pave the way for the establishment of the USDA Farm to School Grant program. And subsequently, in part thanks to USDA grants and the leadership of the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, they were able to establish a state farm to school program as well.

Pam Roy is the Executive Director and Co-founder of Farm to Table and the Government Relations Director in New Mexico for Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (which covers the states of Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming). Pam explained that “Farm to Table and its partners recently helped establish the New Mexico Farm to School Program in the Public Education Department and secured permanent funding of $510,000 per year for the program.” This program helps schools purchase New Mexico-grown produce. “We are so glad to report that the program helped generate more than $879,000 in locally grown fruit and vegetable purchases by New Mexico Public Schools during the 2017-18 school year, not including grant funding,” said Pam.

Farm to school enriches the connections communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing education and food purchasing practices at schools. By encouraging school districts to purchase food from within their local community, farm to school increases farmer incomes and strengthens rural economies.

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