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This week in farm to school: 5/26/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 26, 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 now accepting applications from eligible schools or 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 non-profit 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 now visit: www.farmtoschool.org/seedchange
2. USDA to Give Priority Funding for Regional Economic Development Projects
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA's plan to implement a Farm Bill provision that will have a major policy impact on the way the Department helps rural communities plan and finance regional economic development strategies. The new Regional Development Priority (RDP) policy will make it easier for rural communities to access resources to invest in long-term community development efforts by giving priority to applications for Rural Development programs that include regional partnerships and strategies. Under the RDP, communities with multi-jurisdictional economic development plans will be able to request funding priority when they apply for loans and grants in four key USDA programs. More information can be found in the full USDA press release, here

Research & Resources
1. The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics Releases 'Cooperatives in Your Community' Teaching Modules
The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics is pleased to release "Cooperatives in Your Community", a set of teaching modules for high school students about the economics of cooperatives. The teaching modules cover two themes in cooperatives education-consumer cooperatives and agricultural cooperatives. Both teaching modules are designed to take no more than 180 minutes of class time. Each can be adapted according to the use and needs of the instructor. The teaching modules are hosted on the Council for Economic Education's EconEdLink website. 
2. Submit your school obesity prevention programs to School Health Hub
Organizations with school obesity prevention programs are asked to map their location and promote themselves as a resource to schools on the newly launched School Health Hub. School Health Hub collects data on the many effective programs and resources available to fight childhood obesity in our nation’s K-12 schools. School administrators, policymakers, funders, educators and parents can access the interactive map to identify evidence-based programs in their communities, complete with contact information. Just as importantly, the map also serves to identify gaps in resources — helping to match funders and program providers with communities in need. There's no cost to participate - the goal is to get programs on the map so we all know where we are and to then promote the Hub to schools so they can take better advantage of these programs. Click here for more information. 

Policy & Action

1. Second Bi-Annual Farm to School Census 

The USDA Farm to School Census is a crucial tool for gathering information about the state of the farm to school movement. The first census was conducted in 2013, and USDA is now seeking updated information through the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. The Census questionnaire was distributed to school districts through state agencies the week of March 16. School district submissions must be received by May 29, 2015. Questions about the Census? Please contact matthew.benson@fns.usda.gov.

2. 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
3. Community Eligibility Provision Action: Reach out to key districts
By now, most states have published a list of schools that qualify to adopt community eligibility for the 2015-2016 school year. You can find your state's list by clicking on the link in CBPP's map. Here are some additional steps you can take to make sure districts with high-poverty schools are considering community eligibility:
  • Start the conversation by sending a letter to eligible districts in your state. This template (MS Word document) is a great place to start and we can help you tailor it.
  • Broaden your reach by asking your Member of Congress to send letters to superintendents (MS Word document) in your state.
  • Make the case for community eligibility by utilizing the resources in FRAC's implementation guide (pdf). Check out the modelpresentation (Powerpoint file), brief (pdf), and sample blog posts for inspiration.
Also, don't forget to register for FRAC's upcoming Community Eligibility Webinars with USDA: Successful Implementation Strategies, Jun 10, 2015, 1pm EST.

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Nutrition Research Coordinator, Boston Children’s Hospital 
The Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital is conducting a major clinical trial to investigate how diet composition affects metabolism and risk for obesity-related disease.The Center seeks a Nutrition Research Coordinator to provide advanced dietary and operations support for this controlled feeding study. The Nutrition Research Coordinator will support study participants, aiming to maximize participant engagement (one-on-one counseling, group presentations, telephone check-ins) and also support daily operations of the dietary intervention. More information & application instructions can be found here
2. Farm Fresh Specialist and Event Specialist, TX Dept of Agriculture
Farm Fresh Specialist: Plan, develop, implement and coordinate the Farm Fresh Initiative and related functions of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Food and Nutrition (F&N) Division. Farm Fresh includes Farm to School, Farm to Childcare and Farm to Summer Site activities. Provide highly complex consultative services and technical assistance to agency staff, producers, governmental agencies, community organizations and the general public. 

Event Specialist: Coordinate special events for the Food and Nutrition Division (F&N) of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). Responsible for contributing to the promotion of F&N programs through its public events and activities. 
3. Call For Papers: Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
Call for Papers on Labor in the Food System
From migrant laborers and apprentices in our fields, to cutters in meatpacking plants and line workers in restaurants and food service, the world's food system is balanced on the backs of an often exploited group of people. The food system may be the largest employer in the world, but there is a dearth of research on the subject of labor in the food system. Click here (then scroll down) for details. Submission deadline: Sept. 22, 2015, with papers to be published in the winter 2015–16 issue or spring 2016.
 
Call for Commentaries on Race and Ethnicity in Food Systems
Despite the best intentions of many, the food movement manifests levels of whiteness and privilege that tend to exclude significant parts of society, and thus does not address the needs of the excluded. JAFSCD invites commentaries (preferably 1,500–2,000 words) from activists, scholars, and other food systems development professional and practitioners on issues and strategies related to race and ethnicity in food systems. Click here for details. Submission deadline: June 15, 2015, for publication in the summer 2015 issue.

Farm to school in the news
Northwest Side students dig into dirt to fight obesity
Oriole Park Elementary School in Chicago is fighting child obesity by having its students plant a garden at the school. (via Chicago Tribune)
Teaching Kids How to Grow Their Own Food — With Fish
Since September students in Pennsylvania have been harvesting vegetables from their aquaponics system, which has provided a yearlong biology curriculum incorporating STEM education, as well as lessons in horticulture, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and more. (via State College.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. 

Grabbing their attention: Strategies for engaging students in the cafeteria

NFSN Staff Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Guest post by Beth Collins, Director of Operations for Chef Ann Foundation

Students in Oxford, Mississippi show off their stickers after trying new food. (Photo courtesy of Chef Ann Foundation)

When I first started cooking professionally, I was living in New York City. My love affair with food centered on the Union Square Market when I shopped for the restaurants where I worked. It was there that I connected the flavors to the farmer. I have carried that local connection with me as I moved from restaurants to schools—bringing local flavor to our school meals is one of the most rewarding aspects of school food change work that the Chef Ann Foundation supports.

If your district is cooking from scratch and using salad bars, the potential for transitioning significant amounts of procurement to local ingredients increases exponentially. Of course, student participation in meal programs is key to this whole process, especially for sustaining local food purchases, so marketing farm to school to the kids provides motivation and interest for them to eat school lunch.

School districts all over the country have their favorite marketing and education techniques to engage students and develop that lifelong passion for local food. I recently queried the The Lunch Box Advisory Board to see what their favorites were and these floated to the top.

Farmers…and Stickers!
Sunny Young is one of the National Farm to School Network state leads in Mississippi and queen of all things farm to school in the Oxford School District. Young led the establishment of Good Food for Oxford Schools, which has been working to improve cafeteria menus, connect kids to food through gardening, and bring farmers to the cafeteria when their food is served on the line. When students try new foods, they are rewarded with a sticker. It’s hard to resist a “tasting” when the person who grew the crop is there and a sticker will follow! 

Harvest of the Month (HOTM)
This idea is favored by districts all over the country, and many states have programs to match their region’s growing season and primary production—be it grains, dairy, meats or produce. Montana is piloting a state version this year based on Kalispell Public Schools HOTM. Kalispell Nutrition Director Jenny Montague creates posters featuring local foods, menu calendars with farm info and recipes, and includes surveys and classroom education as part of its HOTM program. HOTM is easy for kids to connect and provides a great educational platform for local food tastings with something new and different every month.

Taste Tests, Contests and Community Events
Bertrand Weber, the Director of Minneapolis Public Schools Culinary and Nutrition Services as well as an Advisor to the National Farm to School Network, uses a vibrant collection of farm to school marketing and education to inspire kids to try new foods, including taste tests with “new name contests” where students create the best title for a dish. MPS also hosts regular community events like BBQs bringing community partners, farmers, families and nutrition services staff together to celebrate good food. Everything about MPS’s program is featured on the farm to school landing page of their website as well as promoted in social media. MPS is media savvy and is a great model to check out when designing your plan.

Minneapolis Public Schools Culinary and Nutrition Services hosts events to bring together community partners, farmers, families and nutrition staff. (Photo courtesy of Chef Ann Foundation)

Meatless Mondays
Miguel Villarreal, Director of Novato Unified School District in Novato, Calif., and Advisor to the National Farm to School Network, has been a supporter of farm to school for many years. Novato, located in Marin County, is home to many organic farms that partner with Novato Unified to provide great produce. Villarreal features their product throughout his menus and on his salad bars where students have the opportunity to select and taste new foods every day. Villarreal introduced Meatless Mondays into his weekly menu design to promote locally produced vegetables and fruits while educating the students and community about the environmental impact of sustainable farming practices and the humane treatment of farm animals.

There are so many vibrant and effective marketing ideas happening around the country to share. Visit The Lunch Box to find a recipe for your Harvest of the Month product as well as many great How-To’s for marketing farm to school in your district.


This week in farm to school: 5/5/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 05, 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 now accepting applications from eligible schools or 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 non-profit schools and school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania are eligible to apply. An informational webinar on how to apply for the Seed Change mini grants will be held on Thursday, May 21 at 2pm EST. Deadline for applications is Monday, June 15 at midnight ET. For more information and to apply now visit: www.farmtoschool.org/seedchange 

Webinars & Events
Webinar: USDA Food and Nutrition Services, May 6, 3pm EST
Summer Meals: Make Your Program the Talk of the Town!
USDA Summer Meals Program experts, partners, and special speakers will provide resources, technical guidance examples, and best practices that can make your Summer Meals Program a total success! This webinar will cover: access strategies on how to promote and increase participation through fun activities; explore how to take advantage of resources such as your local newspaper and radio; engage your community using social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! Register here

2. Webinar: New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, June 2, 1pm EST
Community Food Projects: Planning & Community Engagement Strategies
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project will be hosting a webinar for organizations interested in learning more about how to prepare for the Community Food Projects grant program. Long-range planning and community engagement are two fundamental aspects of a successful proposal, so it's important to start thinking about it now. Presenters Aley Kent from the International Rescue Committee and Tes Thraves from the Center for Environmental Farming Systems will each speak about examples from their work. Register here

3. Webinar: USDA Food and Nutrition Services
Community Eligibility Provision Webinar Series
Join USDA Food and Nutrition Services to hear the USDA, the advocacy community, and state level official share success stories and best practices for implementing CEP. All webinars are from 1-2pm EST. 
  • May 20: State and Local Education Funding
  • May 27: Administrative Review
  • June 10: Successful Implementation Strategies

4. USDA Farm to School South Regional Workshops, October - November 2015
Registration is now open for various USDA Farm to School Regional Workshops, to be held in October and November 2015 in Arkansas. Teachers, school administrators, school nutrition staff, farmers and community partners from the South Region, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Tennessee are invited to attend. More information and registration can be found here


Policy & Action

1. Second Bi-Annual Farm to School Census 

The USDA Farm to School Census is a crucial tool for gathering information about the state of the farm to school movement. The first census was conducted in 2013, and USDA is now seeking updated information through the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. The Census questionnaire was distributed to school districts through state agencies the week of March 16. School district submissions must be received by May 29, 2015. Questions about the Census? Please contact matthew.benson@fns.usda.gov.


2. 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

3. Extension of Comment Period: Child and Adult Care Food Program: Meal Pattern Revisions Related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
USDA Food and Nutrition Service invites interested persons to submit comments on a proposed rule change to the meal pattern requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to better align the meal patterns with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). If you are interested in using NFSN’s submitted comments as a template, please contact our Policy team. All comments can be submitted online here. To be assured of consideration, comments must be postmarked on or before May 27, 2015.

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Culinary Farmer, SAS Institute Inc., Cary, North Carolina
This individual will be responsible for hands-on involvement of all aspects of gardening, farming, instruction and product demonstration for SAS and/or other SAS related business. Responsibilities include creating a clean, organized and efficient garden/farm. Applicants should have an associate’s degree in Horticulture or two years of related farming experience. Full job description and application can be found here

2. Call for breakout proposals, Southern Obesity Summit
The Southern Obesity Summit Planning Committee invites proposals for breakout sessions for the 9th Annual Southern Obesity Summit. The breakout sessions at the Summit will help attendees develop strategies and provide resources and tools to use in their work to reverse the obesity epidemic through working together with other southern states. These workshops should showcase effective strategies that are scalable, evidence-based or promising practices that have application across a broader population base. The Summit will be held November 15-17 in Jackson, Miss. For more information, click here

Farm to school in the news
The farm-to-school movement finds fertile ground in Colorado
Late last month, USDA Farm to School program grantees gathered in Denver to discuss strategies for improving and strengthening farm-to-school efforts. Here are some of their success stories. (via Westword)

Planting seeds: Young students in Brooklyn learn to grow and sell foods in school gardens 
Brooklyn’s farms may be long gone, but one school is giving students a chance to delve into the city’s agricultural roots. Kids at Public School 216 in Gravesend learn to grow, cook and even sell fruits, vegetables and herbs in a half-acre garden oasis in the school’s backyard. (via NY Daily News)

Seed to Table program lets Sisters students grow, eat local
Sisters Middle School in Oregon takes its sixth graders on a field trip to a local farm to teach nutrition science by growing and eating local. (via The Bulletin)

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. 

Sharing stories of success on Capitol Hill

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 30, 2015
By Helen Dombalis, NFSN Policy Director, and Eugene Kim, NSAC Policy Specialist  

“Thank you to everyone who participated in the National Farm to School Network’s first D.C. fly-in. Policy is all about storytelling, and your stories and your experiences are why we come to work every day. You are the face of farm to school.” 
-Helen Dombalis, Policy Director



Left: Senator McConnell (KY) with Bill Jackson of Jackson's Orchard and Tina Garland, NFSN State Lead and Kentucky Dept of Agriculture; Top Right: Jason Grimm, founder of Iowa Valley Food Co-op and family farmer, pictured with Senator Grassley (IA); Lower Right: Senator Thune (SD) with Jim Stone, Executive Director of the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council and NSAC Senior Policy Specialist Juli Obudzinski. (Photo credit: NSAC)

This week, 24 farmers, school nutrition directors, extension agents, tribal representatives and farm to school advocates from 17 states across the country descended on Capitol Hill to share their farm to school experiences with their members of Congress. We met with 35 Congressional offices from both sides of the aisle, including Congressional leadership, the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. And what we heard was resounding acknowledgement that farm to school programs are working to improve healthy eating in schools and create opportunities for farmers. 

In a House briefing on Monday, speakers testified to the benefits for farmers, impact on students, increased job satisfaction in school nutrition services, community connection and how a USDA Farm to School grant would help their work:
  • “The farmers have been so thrilled with the program that they have been calling to see what else they can grow for us.  What they like most is that they know they can sell large quantities and they don’t have to go very far to deliver it. … We are applying for a USDA Farm to School implementation grant for equipment so that all the farmers in the area could use it to cut up fruit and vegetables so they can sell to not only our district, but surrounding districts as well.” –Donna Martin, Burke County, Ga., School Nutrition Director
  • “I think the largest benefit [of farm to school] is the community pride and social capital that is created. I can’t believe the amount of support and encouragement I get from my community by selling to my old school where I grew up. … Statewide, groups in Iowa have submitted 11 applications for USDA Farm to School grants but only two have been awarded funding. We need larger pots of farm to school funds to build the foundation. These types of long term changes take multiple years to build and implement.” –Jason Grimm, Iowa Valley Food Co-op Founder and Grimm Family Farm
  • “Farm to school matters. It is a win for all involved. Students do recognize the importance of what is being done. They are starting to see that cafeterias are a place to learn as well. Farm to school helps us to educate where the food comes from, encourages students to try different foods and empowers students to learn to make food choices that help their bodies feel good.” –Karra Hartog, Elementary Cook Manager at Gideon Pond Elementary, Burnsville, Minn.
  • “Buffalo is a cultural icon for tribes, and we're using it to break the path for other traditional foods in school lunch programs. … The purpose of the support services grant is to help figure out the capacity for schools to accept local food, transport it, etc. We work in 19 states, but our grant is specific to South Dakota. Only nine out of my 60 tribes are being supported [by this grant]." –Jim Stone, Inter Tribal Buffalo Council Executive Director

Donna Martin, Jason Grimm, Karra Hartog, and Jim Stone testifying at Monday's House briefing on the Farm to School Act of 2015. (Photo credit: NSAC)

These speakers and their peers walked the halls of Congress Tuesday to tell stories of how their school can’t order enough fruit and vegetables because student consumption is up so much; how the local grocery store runs out of products that are featured in school that week; how farm to school inspires creativity in school kitchens; how farm to school involves farmers, fishers and ranchers; the challenges of navigating procurement regulations across different types of schools, especially in tribal communities; how schools are a great market for number two products that can’t be sold to grocery stores; how the need for intermediary food processing is creating new jobs; and more examples of how farm to school is a win for kids, a win for farmers and a win for communities. 

Thank you to all of the Representatives and Senators and their staff members who welcomed our farm to school crew to Washington, D.C., and listened with interest to how the bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2015 could transform their communities and bridge some of the challenges facing school nutrition in the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization (CNR). We hope to secure broad support as both the House Education Committee and Senate Ag Committee prepare to take up CNR in the coming months. 

Have you already added joined our citizen and organizational sign-on letters, and you want to do more? Contact the National Farm to School Network Policy team, and we’ll walk you through making a phone call to your elected officials to get their support. 


Clockwise: Bob Bell with the Northeast Arkansas Education Cooperative meets with Senator Boozman (AR); Rep. Guthrie (KY) with Tina Garland and Bill Jackson; April Nujean, a community educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension, with Rep. Gibson (NY); Lindsey Scalera of Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy, Rep. David Trott (MI), and Doreen Simonds, Waterford School District Food Services Director (Photo credits: office of Rep. Trott & NSAC)

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

This week in farm to school: 4/28/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 28, 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. Webinar: Slow Food USA, May 7, 2pm EST
May School Garden Webinar: The Edible Schoolyard
The Edible Schoolyard Network is an online community for educators and advocates working to transform how children eat and learn. This session will highlight how to use the Edible Schoolyard Network as a tool to map your program, connect with peers around the world, and contribute to an edible education curriculum for grades preK through 12. Join from your computer, tablet or smartphone at 
Research & Resources

1. Study finds healthier school lunches offered

More elementary schools are offering healthier meals and less high-fat pizza, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has said in a three-page brief released this month. Read the “Improvements in School Lunches Results in Healthier Options for Millions of U.S. Children” brief here


2. Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement

Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement, a report by the Illinois Public Health Institute and Crossroads Resource Center, highlights practical, effective strategies for communities to add locally sourced food to their institutional food systems; recommends ways to conceptualize and measure economic and health impacts; suggests effective funding strategies; and includes Critical Analysis of Economic Impact Methodologies, which discusses the literature on the economic impact of local foods. Read the report here

Policy & Action

1. Second Bi-Annual Farm to School Census 

The USDA Farm to School Census is a crucial tool for gathering information about the state of the farm to school movement. The first census was conducted in 2013, and USDA is now seeking updated information through the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. The Census questionnaire was distributed to school districts through state agencies the week of March 16. School district submissions must be received by May 29, 2015. Questions about the Census? Please contact matthew.benson@fns.usda.gov.


2. 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. Nutrition Policy Associate, Center for Science in the Public Interest
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on nutrition and food safety. The Nutrition Policy Associate advocates for improved nutrition and health policies with local, state and federal policy makers and engages health professionals, academics and concerned citizens in supporting nutrition policies. For more information or to apply, visit CSPI’s website
2. Farm Aid hiring Farm Advocate and Program Manager positions
Farm Aid is a national nonprofit working to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. They are hiring for two full-time positions in their office in Cambridge, Mass. The Farm Advocate will serve as Farm Aid’s primary direct service provider, working one-on-one with farmers across the country to address their unique resource needs through quality referrals and emotional support. The Program Manager works to strengthen family farm and rural service organizations nationally and the resources and opportunities available for family farmers through strategic management, implementation, promotion and evaluation of Farm Aid’s grant program and the Farm Aid Resource Network website. Applications are due by May 3. See links for full job details. 
3. Executive Director, Food and Child Nutrition Services, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Under the direction of the Chief Operating Officer, this position will oversee all aspects of the district’s Child Nutrition Program (CNP) operation. The job functions include administrating, planning, directing, assessing, implementing and evaluating the program in order to meet the nutritional needs of CMSD students, as they relate to the CNP. The Executive Director shall partner with others in the CMSD and community to support a sound nutrition food program and nutrition education program while following federal, state, and local guidelines. The CNP is to provide an environment that supports healthy food habits while maintaining program integrity and customer satisfaction. Position is open until filled. Cleveland is an active farm to school district and currently part of the School Food FOCUS Upper Midwest Learning Lab. Click here for more information.

Farm to school in the news
Search for antibiotic-free chicken a struggle for schools
Two businesses and two Oregon school districts are teaming up, all in the name of chicken. They want to serve healthier chicken that’s raised without antibiotics, bought at a fair cost, and locally grown in Oregon. KGW
Farmers are banding together to form food hubs and compete against the big players
A movement toward more fresh produce has spawned food hubs that buy from local growers and sell to schools, hospitals and restaurants. The result in Minnesota has been Sprout, which by last year was supplying five area school districts, three hospitals, an assisted-living facility and several restaurants with more than 100,000 pounds of produce from 47 growers. Star Tribune
Voice for Education, Prof. Olivia Thompson
An interview with College of Charleston professor Olivia Thompson, who heads up a farm to school initiative in South Carolina that creates school-based gardens that provide learning opportunities, along with fresh and nutritious food, for students. Voices for Education: South Carolina School Boards Associate

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. 

The Farmer Perspective: Championing the Farm to School Act of 2015

NFSN Staff Monday, April 27, 2015

By Alexandra Beresford, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

“Farm to school is great for a community because it builds social capital around health and wellness and makes the connection between the farming community and local schools.” —Jason Grimm, Farmer, Iowa Valley Food Co-op (North English, IA)

Jason and Hannah Grimm display black beans grown on their Iowa farm. 

When most people think of the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR), they think of children. However, federal nutrition programs affect many stakeholders, including those who grow and produce the food that kids eats. That’s why the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is partnering with the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) to champion the Farm to School Act of 2015 – because farm to school programs can be just as much a win for farmers as they are for kids.  

NSAC supports policy reform to advance sustainable agriculture, food systems, and rural communities. Farm to school helps us achieve that goal by providing significant economic opportunities for farmers, fishers, and ranchers through an institutional market worth billions of dollars. As the farm to school movement has grown over the past decade, so has its impact on local farmers – in the 2011-2012 school year, a whopping $385 million was spent on local food.

The Farm to School Act of 2015 will continue to strengthen this economic opportunity for farmers by improving the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The program has increased the use of and improves access to local foods in schools, boosting farmer incomes and local economies. It has also brought farmers and food service directors together in new ways, building relationships that are critical for laying the groundwork of robust local food economies. Thanks to farm to school programs, farmers are expanding their markets, building positive community relationships and increasing their incomes.

Today, NSAC and NFSN are headed to the Capitol with farm to school advocates – including farmers – from across the country to tell Congress why the Farm to School Act of 2015 is a critical component of the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Here’s what farmers are saying:

  • “Farm to school creates a local economic stimulus: I’m hiring people who spend money locally, I invest in equipment, I buy local inputs to grow the produce. Not only are kids improving their diet, with access to higher levels of nutrition in the fresh produce, but school kitchens are reducing waste. Personally, [farm to school] has given me a steady outlet to sell large volumes of product – my goal is to expand to additional schools in the Kansas City area.” —Mark Jirak, Farmer, Jirak Family Produce (Atchison, Kansas)

  • “I definitely see farm to school as an important opportunity for growth for farmers. As a farmer, I’m glad to sell to schools. I know fresh, local produce provides a healthier meal – and a better tasting one.” —Cliff Pilson, Farmer, CV Pilson Farm (Cameron, NC)

  • “Farm to school helps me plan what I grow. I work with school food directors, communicating with them about what they want and when, versus going to a farmers market with irregular sales and a diversified supply. Farm to school allows me to specialize – I plant what they order and have a secure sale.” —Jason Grimm, Farmer, Iowa Valley Food Co-op (North English, IA)

In our current agriculture system, farmers and ranchers receive only 16 cents of every dollar spent on food, down significantly from 31 cents in 1980.  Rural poverty and jobless rates are consistently higher than urban poverty rates, posing significant threats to rural communities and the economy as a whole. With these challenges facing America’s farmers, programs like farm to school have the power to revitalize local economies by connecting communities to local food producers. Farm to school not only provides healthy, local food options for our kids, but offers exciting new economic opportunities for our farmers. 


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

Tree to School: Planting Heritage Fruit Orchards in Colorado

NFSN Staff Friday, April 24, 2015
By Anna Mullen, Communications Intern


Photo courtesy of Montezuma School to Farm Project
Happy Arbor Day! In celebration of the trees that help us breathe, we’re spotlighting a project in Colorado where students are embracing farm to school by planting fruit trees. The Montezuma School to Farm Project works with students across the high desert country of Southwest Colorado to plant heritage fruit tree orchards on school grounds that not only bring local fruits into the cafeteria, but are also helping revitalize the region’s unique fruit tree history.

Last fall, students at Cortez Middle School began planting an exact replica of a dying historic orchard in their region with 50 apple trees grafted from nearly 100-year-old stock. After receiving a USDA Farm to School Grant, an additional 25 trees were added to the orchard this spring, including nectarines, peaches, plums, pears, pluots (cross between plum and apricot) and pluerries (cross between plum and cherry). USDA Farm to School Grant funds are also being used to add cane fruits – including raspberries, blackberries, table grapes and strawberries – to the 2+ acres of production space on school grounds. 

When finished, the 75-tree orchard will increase annual production to more than 37,500 pounds of heirloom fruit for students to enjoy! And it also serves as a hands-on curriculum tool for the classroom: 
  • Science lessons cover the functions of fruit trees, grafting, water conservation and soil health
  • Math skills are learned by mapping out and installing drip irrigations systems
  • Students expand their business and entrepreneurial learning by projecting wholesale and retail sales of fruit at various markets, including their own Youth Farmers Market
  • Navajo language classes use the orchard to teach new vocabulary
Students are also learning local history in the orchard, like how Montezuma County once had a booming apple economy that delivered apples across the country via railroad. Revitalizing that history in schools has been a collaborative project between Montezuma School to Farm Project and the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project (MORP), which works to save dying varieties of heritage fruit trees only grown in the Montezuma Valley region. Along with MORP, students in Montezuma County are a playing key role in the development of local food systems and in rebuilding the historical lineage of heirloom food crops that will feed their community. 

Photo courtesy of Montezuma School to Farm Project
On Monday, the National Farm to School Network and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are heading to Washington, D.C., to tell Congress that programs like the Montezuma school heritage orchards are building more resilient communities, connecting the next generation with our agricultural history and providing teachers hands-on learning environments to inspire their students. We’re 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

Show your support by adding your name to our citizen sign-on letter, and check back next week for more farm to school success stories here on our blog! 

We’re headed to Washington, D.C.

NFSN Staff Wednesday, April 22, 2015

By Stacey Malstrom, Public Relations & Outreach Manager

“Farm to school is about feeding them more than just food, it’s about feeding passions. We are working to change our menus and influencing families to make healthier choices at home too.” - Doreen Simonds, Food Services Director, Waterford School District (Ortonville, Mich.)


Next week, Congress will hear from school nutrition directors, farmers and farm to school advocates from across the country when we travel to Washington, D.C., in support of the Farm to School Act of 2015. We’ll meet with legislators from Maine to California to tell them how farm to school is an opportunity to empower more children to make healthy food choices; support more farmers, fishers and ranchers; and contribute to more vibrant communities. 

The Farm to School Act of 2015 was introduced in Congress earlier this year by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH). The bill is a bipartisan approach to child nutrition being considered as part of the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, and it has the potential to be a significant economic driver for local communities -- in the 2011-12 school year, U.S. schools spent $385 million on local food purchases. 

Not only that, farm to school is helping school districts meet science-based nutrition standards and reduce cafeteria food waste. See how Doreen Simonds describes the positive impacts of farm to school at Waterford School District in Ortonville, Mich., where she is the Food Services Director: 

  • Local food tastes better: “Food waste was the common thread of what principals, lunchroom parent volunteers, teachers and custodians were worried about. Since we started implementing farm to school activities, the staff is noticing that the kids are more willing to eat fruits and veggies. We used to waste so many apples - they had no flavor. And now that we are buying them locally, the kids are eating them like crazy.”
  • Taste tests break through negative assumptions: “Farm to school activities definitely helped us meet the new nutrition standards. We needed the taste tests because the kids were programmed to think this wasn’t going to taste good, and we had to show them that it does. Now when they see a sign for local products, they know it’s going to taste good.”
  • Food education travels home: “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. One mom said to me, ‘I would have never thought to go to the farmers market. We don’t buy fresh fruits and veggies at the store because we can’t afford them, and it doesn’t stay fresh.’ We’re passing out recipes to the parents, so they are trying that at home, too.”
  • Farm to school helps promote farms: “The Oakland Farmers’ Market is a lot busier now. When we talk to the market manager, he’s sure we have an impact because we are sharing so much information. We’re in the newspaper all the time because we take the kids there. The kids take home food from the market at the end of the trip, and we buy food there, too.”
Waterford School District leveraged a USDA Farm to School Planning Grant to extend its farm to school program beyond taste tests, building new relationships with local farmers, adding a successful salad bar and providing in-depth training for kitchen staff. Doreen and her team continue to expand farm to school initiatives this school year with the USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant, which provided resources needed to develop new educational programming for students and staff, purchase large capacity produce washers and add open-air merchandizers to highlight local food for sale in the cafeteria.
Doreen Simonds will join fellow farm to school supporters in D.C. next week to share these insights and more with lawmakers considering strengthening the USDA Farm to School Grant Program this year so that more districts like Waterford can benefit from these activities. 
How can you help champion farm to school priorities in the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act?

The National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2015 reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act (CNR 2015), with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms. Learn more at farmtoschool.org/cnr2015

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