Search our Resource Database

Use the quick guide to search through our resource database. You can search by topic, setting, or keywords in order to find exactly what you are looking for. Choose a filtering mechanism above to get started.

View all resources

Use the Keyword search to filter through: descriptive keywords, title, or organization.

pick a date

pick a date

Connect with your state

Farm to school is taking place in all 50 states and D.C.! Select a state from the list below to learn more or contact a state lead. 

National Farm to School Network

News

This Week in farm to school: 8/23/16

NFSN Staff Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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. Target Field Trip Grants
Some of the best learning opportunities happen outside the classroom. Target’s Field Trip Grants help make it possible for schools to give their students these unique learning opportunities. As part of the program, Target stores award Field Trip Grants to K-12 schools nationwide. Each grant is valued up to $700. Consider applying for a grant to take students to a farm, farmers market, or other food production site. Applications are due Oct. 1. Learn more here

2. Youth Educator Grants
North Central Region SARE recognizes that youth programs are a way to introduce new and exciting farming and ranching options to youth, parents, and community members. This program supports opportunities for youth educators to research, demonstrate, and learn more about sustainable agriculture. Grants of up to $2,000 will be awarded. Proposals are due in November. Learn more here.


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Local Wellness Policies with the CDC & USDA
September 1, 1-2pm ET
Alliance for a Healthier Generation is co-hosting a webinar with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the local wellness policy final rule. Learn how your school can start making changes before the implementation deadline (June 30, 2017) and what tools and resources are available to support your efforts. Register here.


2. NESAWG It Take  Region Conference
November 10-12 // Hartford, CT
Earlybird registration for NESAWG's 2016 It Takes a Region Conference is now open. The Conference, now in its 23rd year, brings together practitioners and professionals from across the Northeast to explore ideas that move us towards a more sustainable and just farm and food system. This year's conference theme is Tackling Wicked Problems in Food Systems.  To learn more, visit here


Research & Resources
1. NFSN Named Pioneer in Wellbeing Initiative 
NFSN is proud to be named a Pioneer in the RWJF and Ashoka Childrens Wellbeing Initiative. Visit our project page to learn more about how NFSN's Farm to Early Care and Education Working Group is supporting child wellbeing across the country. "Like" our project to show your support for farm to early care and education as a vital initiative to empower families and communities and connect children to healthy, local foods and high quality education opportunities.


Farm to school in the news
Norwich's farm-to-school program prepares food for new school year
Norwich Public Schools (Conn.) is preparing for the new school year by filling its cafeteria freezers with fresh, local produce, including corn, summer squash and apples. “This started as an experiment, and now it's a model. We hope we'll be able to increase the amount of Connecticut-grown food in schools across the state.” The Day

At schools, healthier options pass the taste test
In schools across Massachusetts, school officials are striving to empower mindful eaters by teaching children where their food comes from while simultaneously supporting local farmers. From school gardens to taste tests to food demonstrations in the classroom, there are many ways these schools are bringing farm to school. Boston Globe

Back to School: Local school gardens help kids
In Wisconsin, school gardens are helping students eat more fruits and vegetables and improve their social skills by working with others. "When you can plant something from a seed and you can see it from little plant to a producing plant that is more valuable than a picture in a textbook showing you the life cycle of a bean plant.” WSAW

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. 

This Week in farm to school: 8/16/16

NFSN Staff Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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. Voices for Healthy Kids Grants
Voices for Healthy Kids has two funding opportunities now accepting applications: Strategic Campaign Funds Open RFA and Incubator Grants. The goal of the grant opportunities is to make effective strategic investments in ongoing state, local, and tribal public policy issue campaigns in order to increase public policy impact on healthy weight and living among children. Voices for Healthy Kids is focusing efforts in schools, community, and out-of-school time/early care and education. Applications are due August 18 (Incubator Grants) and September 1 (Open RFA). Learn more here


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Innovative Distribution Strategies for Increasing Access to Local and Healthy Foods
August 17, 2-3pm ET
This webinar will provide strategies on how community health organizations can help expand the availability and quality of affordable healthy food, including locally-grown food, as part of a comprehensive approach to supporting equitable and healthy communities. Subject matter experts will share the results on a national study of small store food distribution strategies. Community presenters will share stories from three healthy corner store programs, each using different innovative distribution models including food hubs, gleaning (or collecting excess fresh foods), working with community gardens and urban agriculture, hub-and-spoke delivery systems, and leveraging The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs. Learn more and register here

2. Registration Open: Growing Power’s Urban and Small Farms Conference 2016
November 18-20 // Milwaukee, WI
Every two years, hundreds of people from around the world travel to Milwaukee to participate in an intensive three day conference that covers urban aquaculture, urban farming, planning strategies, education, youth programming, food policy and food justice. The conference theme for 2016 is Let's Scale it Up! Growing Food and Farmers: Best practices in growing, distribution and community building. It is time for the Good Food Revolution to scale up and really push ourselves to move beyond just one garden or one market but how can we make things better for ourselves, our neighbors, and our world. Learn more about the conference and register here


Research & Resources
1. Research: The Influence of School Nutrition Programs on the Weight of Low-Income Children
This study reiterates the link between schools meals and obesity in low income children, and identifies farm to school as a potential policy strategy for improving school meal programs’ effectiveness at promoting better nutrition. An overview of the study is available here


Farm to school in the news
Rootstock Radio: Farm to School with Anupama Joshi
Last week on Rootstock Radio, co-host Anne O’Connor spoke with Anupama Joshi, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the National Farm to School Network, about the benefits of farm to school and healthier school meals. Listen here.

Foundation acquires farm to provide fresh produce to D.C.’s poorest areas
The Bainum Family Foundation has acquired a 263-acre farm and plans to distribute produce — seasonal vegetables such as kale, chard, broccoli and squash — to early childhood centers and schools, develop an educational program about food, and sell some of its produce through a mobile market in some of D.C.'s poorest neighborhoods. The Washington Post

Good to Grow: Back-to-School Gardens
It's almost back-to-school time, which means many students will soon be heading back into school garden. Learn how schools are creating and maintaining different types of school gardens with the help of Master Gardeners. KETP Radio

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. 

This Week in farm to school: 8/9/16

NFSN Staff Tuesday, August 09, 2016

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. Voices for Healthy Kids Grants
Voices for Healthy Kids has two funding opportunities now accepting applications: Strategic Campaign Funds Open RFA and Incubator Grants. The goal of the grant opportunities is to make effective strategic investments in ongoing state, local, and tribal public policy issue campaigns in order to increase public policy impact on healthy weight and living among children. Voices for Healthy Kids is focusing efforts in schools, community, and out-of-school time/early care and education. Applications are due August 18 (Incubator Grants) and September 1 (Open RFA). Learn more here

2. EcoLab Foundation Grants
Through the Ecolab Foundation, grants are made to qualifying non-profit organizations in the St. Paul, MN area and U.S. Ecolab regional locations that align with their focus areas:  Youth & Education, Civic & Community Development, Environment & Conservation, Arts & Culture. The application process is now open.  Deadline to submit applications:  August 31, 2016, 11:59pm CDT. Learn more here


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Explore the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census 
August 11, 3pm ET
Join the National Farm to School Network and USDA FNS Office of Community Food Systems on Thursday, August 11 at 3pm ET for an in-depth review of the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. Presenters will provide an overview of the Farm to School Census website, including the recently posted raw data files and soon to be released data explorer tool. Presenters will also describe ways in which Census data can be used at the local, state, and national levels in support of farm to school. Register for the webinar here.

2. Webinar: Local Wellness Policies with the CDC & USDA
September 1, 1-2pm ET
Alliance for a Healthier Generation will be hosting a webinar on local wellness policies with the CDC and USDA on Thursday, September 1 from 1-2pm ET. The webinar will help assist you with the implantation of the USDA’s new final rule on local school wellness policy. Learn more here

3. Registration Open: Growing Power’s Urban and Small Farms Conference 2016
November 18-20 // Milwaukee, WI
Every two years, hundreds of people from around the world travel to Milwaukee to participate in an intensive three day conference that covers urban aquaculture, urban farming, planning strategies, education, youth programming, food policy and food justice. The conference theme for 2016 is Let's Scale it Up! Growing Food and Farmers: Best practices in growing, distribution and community building. It is time for the Good Food Revolution to scale up and really push ourselves to move beyond just one garden or one market but how can we make things better for ourselves, our neighbors, and our world. Learn more about the conference and register here


Research & Resources
1. Report: Getting it There: The Role of New England Food Distributors in Providing Local Food to Institutions
Farm to Institution New England has announced the publication of the first in its new series of research reports designed to help food system stakeholders understand the impact of institutional markets on New England's food system. “Getting it There: The Role of New England Food Distributors in Providing Local Food to Institutions” presents in-depth findings and makes specific, data-based recommendations for food distributors – including food hubs – as well as government officials, funders and institutions. Explore the report here


Jobs & Opportunities
1. Executive Director, Green Mountain Farm-to-School
Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS) seeks a dynamic, passionate, experienced nonprofit leader who will grow their efforts to strengthen local food systems in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. The ED must have a passion for the GMFTS work, demonstrated strengths in marketing and fundraising, a strategic vision, and the ability to support day-to-day operations of a small organization. More information here

2. Lead Educator + School Gardens Coordinator, City Blossom

City Blossoms seeks a Lead Educator + School Gardens Coordinator to join their team. This position is designed to expand and lead City Blossoms' programming at partnering early childhood centers and elementary schools. The position will include further designing the year-round educational programs at various sites throughout Washington, DC, leading regular workshops and documenting the process. Learn more here

3. Vice President of Finance and Administration, Healthy School Campaign

Healthy Schools Campaign is seeking a Vice President of Finance and Administration. This key position will serve as a strategic thought partner and a hands-on manager who will lead a team in the following areas: finance; planning and budgeting; human resource administration; administration and IT and CRM. More information about the position and the application can be found here.

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. 

This Week in farm to school: 8/2/16

NFSN Staff Tuesday, August 02, 2016

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. Lowe's Charitable and Education Foundation Accepting Applications for Toolbox for Education Grants
The Lowe's Charitable and Education Foundation has announced the opening of its Fall 2016 Toolbox for Education, which supports projects that encourage parent involvement in local schools and build stronger community spirit. One-year grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded to projects with the potential to have a permanent impact on a school community, such as facility enhancement (indoor or outdoor) or landscaping/clean-up projects. In addition,  Toolbox grants can be used as part of a large-scale project like a playground, as long as the grant will be used to complete a phase of the project that can be completed within twelve months of the award. Learn more and apply here


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Explore the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census 
August 11, 3pm ET
Join the National Farm to School Network and USDA FNS Office of Community Food Systems on Thursday, August 11 at 3pm ET for an in-depth review of the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. Presenters will provide an overview of the Farm to School Census website, including the recently posted raw data files and soon to be released data explorer tool. Presenters will also describe ways in which Census data can be used at the local, state, and national levels in support of farm to school. Register for the webinar here.

2. Webinar: Make Healthy Food the Easy Choice - Best Practices for Healthy Food Promotion

August 8, 10am-12pm ET
You’re invited to join Ecology Center, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, and Taste the Local Difference as they explore ways to promote healthy, local, and sustainable food efforts at your business, school, hospital, or food pantry. Register here

3. Three Perspectives on Food: A Conversation between Will Allen, Ron Finley and Alice Waters

November 18 // Milwaukee, WI
Join Leaders in the food world as they come together to share their perspective on how farming, social justice and the culinary arts can be powerful tools for equity, locally, nationally, and internationally. How can we scale up from small school gardens to school farms that can nourish a community? How do we connect and support permanent land use by the community for food production as well as economic and cultural development? This event also coincides with Growing Power's National-International Urban and Small Farms Conference. Learn more here


Research & Resources
1. Institutional Food Networks Survey
A Seattle based researcher is developing recommendations for a network of service providers that assist institutions (schools, hospitals, corporate campuses, corrections, sporting centers, and others) in locating and purchasing local and regional food - both direct through farmers and food hubs, but also through traditional supply chains. She seeks information about networks that are established and support similar Farm 2 Institution/Farm 2 Cafeteria efforts. If you have information about networks like this, please fill out this survey by Friday, August 12. 


Farm to school in the news
Educators embrace school gardens as multidisciplinary teaching tool
Teachers in Oregon are learning how school gardens can be used to engage students in fun, outdoor, hands-on science lessons. Students “actually learn to garden — they learn how to grow their own food and make a connection with it and start to see how they fit into the web of the world. It’s so comprehensive.” (via The Register-Guard)

Schools nurture students’ agriculture interests
Agriculture offers a hands-on way to study STEM, and provides an avenue to hundreds of potential careers in biology, chemistry, veterinary science, environmental policy, food science and nutrition, entrepreneurship and more. Penn Manor High School (Pa.) and Schurz High School (Ill.) explain their programs. (via USA Today)

Another Reason To Buy Directly From Farmers: You Could Help the Local Economy More
A new study from UC Davis took a look at the way buying directly from farmers affects the economy in the Sacramento, Calif. At its core, the study (coauthored by NFSN’s Policy Director, Erin McGuire) found that a dollar spent buying directly from a farmer has about twice the impact on the local economy as spending a dollar on food that goes through a middleman. (via Modern Farmer)

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. 

This Week in farm to school: 7/26/16

NFSN Staff Tuesday, July 26, 2016

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. INUAg 2016 Leaders in Urban Agriculture Awards 
INUAg is now accepting submissions for the 2016 Leaders in Urban Agriculture Awards. They will present awards for 1st ($1,000) 2nd ($700) and 3rd place ($300) in each of the following categories to urban farming projects building better food systems around the world: Educating Communities, Food Justice, Innovation. Submissions are due August 15. Learn more here


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Explore the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census 
August 11, 3pm ET
Join the National Farm to School Network and USDA FNS Office of Community Food Systems on Thursday, August 11 at 3pm ET for an in-depth review of the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. Presenters will provide an overview of the Farm to School Census website, including the recently posted raw data files and soon to be released data explorer tool. Presenters will also describe ways in which Census data can be used at the local, state, and national levels in support of farm to school. Register for the webinar here.

2. Registration Open: Southern Obesity Summit
November 13-15 // Houston, Texas
Registration for the 10th Annual Southern Obesity Summit is now open. The Southern Obesity Summit is the largest regional obesity prevention event in the United States, drawing hundreds of participants from 16 Southern States. The 10th Annual Southern Obesity Summit will help stakeholders strategize next steps to implement policy and program initiatives across all 16 states and effectively engage youth in our strategies to prevent obesity. Learn more and register here

3. NESAWG It Takes a Region Conference
November 10-12 // Hartford, CT
Earlybird registration for NESAWG's 2016 It Takes a Region Conference opens August 1. The Conference, now in its 23rd year, brings together practitioners and professionals from across the Northeast to explore ideas that move us towards a more sustainable and just farm and food system. This year's conference theme is Tackling Wicked Problems in Food Systems. NESAWG has printed 1,500 conference postcards and needs your help to get them to the right people. If you can help distribute the postcards, email Julia Fiore (julia@nesawg.com). Learn more about the conference here


Research & Resources
1. USDA Announces 4 Major School Meals Rules 
Last week, USDA announced four final rules that will ensure that children have access to healthy snacks and that nutrition standards for the foods marketed and served in schools are consistent. The rules include: Local School Wellness Policy final rule; Smart Snacks in School final rule; Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) final rule; and, Administrative Review final rule. Learn more here


Jobs & Opportunities
1. Research Fellow, School Food Focus
School Food Focus seeks a part-time Research Fellow to join its PreK-12 School Food: Making It Healthier, Making It Regional (MHMR) study. MHMR is a two-year project, conducted by School Food Focus in conjunction with Rutgers University, to study the impact of shifting public school food procurement to more healthful and/or more regional foods. The Research Fellow will contribute to all aspects of the study, particularly data collection, data analysis, and writing of final reports. Applications are due August 5. Learn more and apply here


Farm to school in the news
Salem serves up summer meals
The Salem Summer Meals Program (Salem, Mass.) provides free breakfast and lunch to children while school is out. Among meals served are fresh salads harvested from Salem High School’s Freight Farm, a sustainable garden built into a refurbished freight car, located in Salem High School’s parking lot. (via Salem Gazette

Lake Geneva school grows food for lunch program
"When I got involved with these agriculture classes, I made a whole group of new friends that are now like my family. I love the agricultural aspect, and I've found there are ways that someone who doesn't live on a farm can still raise food,” says Bryn Rohde, Badger High School student. (via Wisconsin State Farmer)

Teachers learn about planting school gardens

About 40 teachers from across Virginia have taken part in a two-day workshop to learn about a more hands-on approach to education. The teachers are learning how to start and maintain gardens, and how to connect school gardens to school cafeterias. (via WHSV

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. 

This Week in farm to school: 7/19/16

NFSN Staff Tuesday, July 19, 2016

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. INUAg 2016 Leaders in Urban Agriculture Awards 
INUAg is now accepting submissions for the 2016 Leaders in Urban Agriculture Awards. They will present awards for 1st ($1,000) 2nd ($700) and 3rd place ($300) in each of the following categories to urban farming projects building better food systems around the world: Educating Communities, Food Justice, Innovation. Submissions are due August 15. Learn more here


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Explore the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census 
August 11, 3pm ET
Join the National Farm to School Network and USDA FNS Office of Community Food Systems on Thursday, August 11 at 3pm ET for an in-depth review of the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. Presenters will provide an overview of the Farm to School Census website, including the recently posted raw data files and soon to be released data explorer tool. Presenters will also describe ways in which Census data can be used at the local, state, and national levels in support of farm to school. Register for the webinar here.


Research & Resources
1. Full Report: Results from a National Survey of Early Care and Education Providers
Earlier this year, the National Farm to School Network launched the preliminary results of our 2015 survey of early care and education providers. With nearly 1,500 providers in 49 state and Washington, D.C., responding, we learned that farm to school in early care and education is promoting healthy eating habits and providing high quality learning environments for thousands of children at a critical stage of development. A full report of the survey results is now available for download. Looking for a quick overview of the highlights? Check out our infographic and one-page fact sheet

2. Keynote Videos Available from 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference 
In June, more than 1,000 farm to cafeteria leaders gathered in Madison, Wis., for three days of learning, networking and idea sharing at the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference. Among the highlights were keynote addresses given by some of the most instrumental leaders driving the farm to cafeteria movement forward. Recordings of the keynote addresses are now available on YouTube. Watch them here


Jobs & Opportunities
1. Program Director, Chef Ann Foundation
The Chef Anna Foundation seeks a Program Director to joins its team. This full time position will be responsible for all work as it relates to the development, implementation and management of Chef Ann Foundation’s online learning program in addition to other program oversight. Learn more and apply here

2. Executive Director, Green Mountain Farm to School

Green Mountain Farm to School seeks an Executive Director to join its team. The Executive Director will lead GMFTS by managing the finances, staff, programs, and structure required to enact GMFTS’s mission. Learn more and apply here

3. Event & Project Coordinator, Farm to Institution New England

The FINE Event and Project Coordinator will play a lead role in coordinating the 2017 Farm to Institution Summit in April 2017, working in close contact with the Summit Steering Committee and FINE staff. The Coordinator will also support event planning for other events that FINE conducts and provide coordination functions for other FINE projects including the Processing Community of Practice and Harvest of the Month Community of Practice. Learn more and apply here


Farm to school in the news
Schools use ag to educate students about food system - shout out to Lorin Fahrmeier, NFSN Missouri State Lead!
Farm to school efforts in Missouri support rural economies, put more nutritious foods into the school system and educate students about their food and where it comes from. School gardens, farm field trips and local food procurement are taking off. (via Missouri Farmer Today)

Leaders of Color Discuss Structural Racism and White Privilege in the Food System
What can the food movement learn from Black Lives Matter? Civil Eats reached out to leaders of color in the food justice community for their thoughts about how they think the “food movement” might come together on the issues of race, equity, and access. (via Civil Eats)

University works to bring local food to dining halls
The executive chef of Southern Illinois University has for years been in the forefront of a program aimed at increasing food purchased from small-acreage farmers in the region. An Illinois mandate requires that by 2020, state-funded institutions such as universities and prisons purchase at least 20 percent of meat and produce from farms within a 250-mile radius. (via Illinois Farmer Today)

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. 

Take Action: Paper Plate Advocacy

NFSN Staff Friday, July 15, 2016

Congress only has a few weeks left to pass the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) this year, so we’re organizing a paper plate campaign to share with legislators the many reasons that healthy school meals and farm to school are vital for a healthier next generation.
 
At the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference last month, more than 350 people joined us in writing and drawing on paper plates what school meals and farm to school mean to their communities. Here’s a snapshot of what people said: 

Kids are what they eat and will eat what they grow. Let them grow healthy!

School meals may be the best meal of the day! Make it good, make it great. Tasty, healthy food for ALL.

Helping schools source local produce improves freshness and quality and builds and supports the local economy.

School meals fuel healthy bodies & strong minds!

In the next few weeks, we’ll be delivering these plates to lawmakers as they continue to debate this important piece of legislation. 
 
There’s still time to participate in our paper plate campaign! Share your farm to school message on a paper plate (add your name, city and zipcode to the back) and send it to our office in Washington, D.C. We’ll hand deliver your plate to Congress and send a strong message to legislators that school meals and farm to school are an important part of growing healthy kids. As a reminder, this activity is not lobbying so anyone can participate!
 
Mail paper plates to:
National Farm to School Network
110 Maryland Avenue NE, Suite 209 
Washington, D.C. 20002
 
Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest CNR news. 

Putting data to work

NFSN Staff Thursday, July 14, 2016
Messaging and advocacy with results from the NFSN Farm to Early Care and Education Survey and USDA Farm to School Census 



By Lacy Stephens, MS, RDN, Farm to Early Care and Education Associate

With abundant information from the National Farm to School Network 2015 National Survey of Early Care and Education Providers and the preK data from the USDA Farm to School Census, we have a better understanding than ever of the current reach of farm to early care and education. 

According to the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) survey, 54 percent of respondents are currently engaging in farm to early care and education (farm to ECE) activities, and the USDA census shows that 32 percent of responding school districts participate in these activities with preschool students. This information not only provides a picture of the current status of farm to early care and education, but can be a valuable tool to spread and scale the movement. NFSN’s survey infographic, fact sheet and full report and USDA’s website and data sets can be used to spark programmatic and policy change at multiple levels and engage all stakeholders in understanding the value of local food procurement, gardening and food and farm education.   

NFSN survey responses will resonate with early care and education providers – the survey’s respondents – who indicate that two of the top reasons for engaging in farm to ECE activities include improving children’s health and providing experiential learning opportunities. These reasons parallel goals in the early care and education community and underscore the opportunity for farm to ECE to create a high quality environment for young children. The survey also demonstrates the wide array of activities encompassed by farm to ECE, including the top three reported activities: teaching children about local food and how it grows, gardening and using local food in meals and snacks. 



State level stakeholders, such as state agencies housing the Child and Adult Care Food Program, those housing early childhood programs and early care and education professional or advocacy organizations, will find appealing the ability to use farm to ECE to meet health and early learning objectives and should note the wide spread interest in growing farm to ECE: in addition to the 54 percent of respondents already engaged, an additional 28 percent plan to start activities in the future. Further, the specific information regarding purchasing practices can help frame and tailor training opportunities. State level stakeholders may be interested to see that farm to ECE activities are being applied in all types of early care and education settings, so regardless of the type of program they work with, these opportunities abound.      

Local, state, and federal policy makers are important stakeholders to reach with data. The infographic and fact sheet developed from the NFSN survey are valuable tools to start these conversations as they not only outline the challenges in early childhood, including obesity, food insecurity and poor quality care and education, but also the opportunity to reach a large number of children and families through early care and education settings. The value of farm to ECE in addressing these problems is reflected in the motivations reported by respondents, including improving children’s health, experiential learning and increasing access to fresh, high quality food. 

Conveying the potential economic impacts is also important in communicating with policy makers. According to the NFSN survey, reporting respondents spent 27 percent of their food budget on local food and 74 percent of those purchasing locally plan to increase their purchases in the future – a huge potential boon to farmers and producers and local economies. Results also identify barriers to local purchasing, including cost and seasonality of food and unreliable supply. Understanding barriers can spur conversation about policies that may alleviate these issues, including increased funding, offering provider trainings and supporting local food supply chain infrastructure. USDA census data allows you to make your message local. Seeing how your state or school district compares to others in applying farm to school in preschool can be a great motivator to take action and catch up with other states or districts.

To spread and scale farm to early care and education and ensure that more children, families, and communities benefit from these valuable activities, we must reach stakeholders and garner support at every level. Equipped with data, resources and passion, farm to early care and education champions are furthering the movement everyday by advocating for programmatic and policy changes that not only directly support farm to early care and education, but create high quality learning environments and improved community food systems. 

For additional resources and ways to get involved by visiting our farm to early care and education and farm to school policy webpages. 
  1 2 3 4 5 .. 26   Next