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This week in farm to school: 3/24/15

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 24, 2015

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




Funding & Grants
1. USDA Announces $96 Million Available to Expand Access to Healthy Food, Support Rural Economies

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $96.8 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed to support specialty crop producers, local food entrepreneurs, and farm to school efforts. The grant programs administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service include the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, which covers two types of grants: the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program. Also included in the announcement is the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service Farm to School Grant Program, designed to bring local foods into the school cafeteria.

With $5 million in funding available, the four different types of USDA Farm to School grants are:
  • Planning grants - to help schools get started
  • Implementation grants - to enable schools to expand existing programs
  • Support service grants - allows community partners such as nonprofit entities, Indian tribal nations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers to provide broad reaching support to schools in their efforts to bring local products into the cafeteria 
  • Training grants - to disseminate best practices and spread strategies known to succeed 
Proposals for planning, implementation, and support service grants are due by May 20, 2015. Letters of intent for training grants are due by April 30, 2015. More information about the Farm to School Grant Program, upcoming webinars relevant to applicants, and sample grant applications can be found at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool/farm-school-grant-program.

2. Special Grant Call from Southern SARE Focuses on Local and Regional Food Systems
A special grant call to fund research on local and regional food systems across the Southern region is now available from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) program and the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC).The special grant, part of SSARE’s Sustainable Community Innovations Grant (SCIG) program, is open to any individuals, nonprofit organizations, for-profit organizations, governmental organizations and/or educational organizations located in the Southern region.

This grant is not to fund the development of individual local and regional food systems, but to fund research defining, evaluating and understanding the impacts of local and regional food systems on sustainable agriculture. Grant proposal deadline is May 4, 2015. The project is funded for one year at a maximum of $35,000. Download the Call for Proposal to follow the guidelines for writing and submitting the grant application.

Webinars & Events
1. Third Annual Native Food Sovereignty Summit, Oct. 26-29, Green Bay, Wisconsin
First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin will co-host the Third Annual Food Sovereignty Summit in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Oct. 26-29, 2015, at the Radisson Green Bay Hotel and Conference Center. At the event, Native American communities come together to learn from one another to promote Native health, wellness and food sovereignty. This conference sold out well ahead of time the previous two years, so be sure to guarantee your attendance by registering now at www.firstnations.org/summit. Find more information 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. FoodCorps Service Member Application Deadline Approaching
FoodCorps service member applications are due March 31st. Applicants are encouraged to finish their applications, and to reach out to FoodCorps with any final questions by emailing serve@foodcorps.org. Organizations can help spread the word about the deadline by tweeting, sharing on Facebook, or doing personal outreach to people you think would make great candidates.

Farm to school in the news
Farm to School’s taste-test program steers kids from french fries to kale
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Growing Minds Farm to School program offers farm fresh taste-tests at schools and helps students develop healthy eating habits. (via Mountain Xpress

Farm to School on the Rise in Arkansas
Organized farm to school activity is relatively new in Arkansas and the surrounding area. Stakeholders gathered at the Farm to School Forum in Arkansas to discuss efforts for healthier school meals and food education. (via KUAF Radio)

At Dubuque alternative school, sowing seeds of learning
By cultivating the school’s first on-site garden, the novice gardeners at an Iowa high school will learn about collaboration, problem-solving and the importance of community involvement. (via The Des Moines Register)

Read past editions of This Week here on our blog 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: 3/18/15

NFSN Staff Wednesday, March 18, 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. FY16 USDA Farm to School Grant RFA 
USDA is currently accepting applications for the next round of USDA farm to school grants. The application deadline is May 20, 2015 for planning, implementation and support service grant applications. Training grant letters of inquiry are due April 30, 2015. For more information please see: http://www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool/farm-school-grant-program. (There is a webinar on March 25th at 1 pm EST to learn more.)

2. Maya Wiley Fellowship Program, The Center for Social Inclusion
The Maya Wiley Fellowship program celebrates and supports grassroots leaders seeking to achieve racial equity through structurally transformative policy strategies and campaigns. The fellowship is open through a nomination process and provides a $25,000 stipend to support a leader’s existing work or create an opportunity to expand or scale up that work. Visit the Center for Social Inclusion’s website for further information. 

3. Breakfast and Every Kid Healthy Grants, Action for Healthy Kids
Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) is now accepting School Grants for Healthy Kids applications for the 2015-2016 school year. Breakfast and Every Kid Healthy Grants up to $2,500 are available. Eligible schools may apply to pilot or expand their School Breakfast Programs, pilot universal school breakfast, and/or funding physical activity and nutrition initiatives working towards healthy schools certification. To learn more, tune in for an informational webinar on March 18 (Breakfast Grants) or March 24 (Every Kid Healthy Grants). Apply by May 1, 2015 for a 2015-2016 School Grant for Healthy Kids.

4. USDA Announces Funding Available for Specialty Crop and Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Programs
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of more than $66.5 million in funding for research and extension activities to address the needs of America's specialty crop industry and solve critical organic agricultural production issues. The grants will be funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative. Both programs are administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. Read the full USDA press release here

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN Webinar, April 14, 1 p.m. EST
Making change, part two: Q&A with the leaders behind state policy success
State-level farm to school policy work is driving a broader expansion of farm to school across the country. Thirty-nine states and D.C. now have farm to school policies on the books, and 2014 saw a 64 percent increase in successfully enacted legislation over 2013. This webinar will feature a Q&A with some of the leaders behind the most successful and comprehensive state policy campaigns. Learn what works, what doesn't and how you can make change in your state. Register here

2. The Chef Ann Foundation Webinar, April 14, 1 p.m. EST
Your Guide to the Lunch Box 
This webinar will feature a guided tour of the newly expanded school food resource website  “The Lunch Box” and a Q&A with national school food expert Chef Beth Collins. The Lunch Box is dedicated to supporting school food service teams with technical assistants for shifting their food programs from a reliance on processed foods to developing whole food based scratch cooked meals. Sign up here

3. USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach, Grant Programs Teleconferences
The Office of Advocacy and Outreach will be hosting public teleconferences on its grant programs listed below that are currently active withinwww.grants.gov. The call-in information for both sessions is (800) 369-1617 and the passcode is 5274714. 

March 18, 2015, at 2:00pm EST - Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program). 

March 19, 2015, at 2:00pm EST - Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center


Policy & Actions

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 is being distributed to school districts through state agencies the week of March 16 (this week). School district submissions must be received by May 29, 2015. Questions about the Census? Please contact matthew.benson@fns.usda.gov.

2. State Farm to School Legislative Survey: 2002-2014
The recently released State Farm to School Legislative Survey: 2002-2014 offers a comprehensive review of state-level farm to school policies, analysis of national trends, and advocacy guidance for those working to advance the farm to school movement across the country. The survey is designed to offer farm to school advocates a roadmap, allowing them to learn from the success of other states and copy their efforts. Download the full document on the National Farm to School Network's website or check out this map to see how your state compares. The survey was prepared by researchers at Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.

3. 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

4. New School Meal Regulations Increase Fruit Consumption and Do Not Increase Total Plate Waste
new study published in Childhood Obesity confirms that students are consuming healthier food at school as a result of updated meal standards. According to research results, “Students respond positively to the news lunches. They consumed more fruit, threw away less of the entrees and vegetables, and consumed the same about of milk. Overall, the revised meal standards and policies appear to have significantly lowered plate waste in school cafeterias.” Read more here.  

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Local Food Summer Internship Opportunities, Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Illinois Stewardship Alliance is now hiring for two part-time internship positions: Local Food and Policy Outreach Intern and Local Food and Sustainable Agriculture Outreach Intern. To be considered, please email isa@ilstewards.org with a cover letter and resume no later than April 17, 2015. More information about these opportunities can be found on the Illinois Stewardship Alliance website

2. Students Wanted for 2nd Annual Native Youth in Food & Ag Summer Leadership Summit
Applications are now open for the second annual Summer Leadership Summit for Native Youth in Food & Agriculture at the University of Arkansas School of Law! The program is looking for student applications from American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian youth between the ages of 13 and 18 who are passionate about food and agricultural production and have the courage to lead their Tribes and communities into the future. For more information and application details, please visit The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law website. 


Farm to school in the news
Why Some Schools Serve Local Food And Others Can't (Or Won't)
An examination of real and perceived challenges of sourcing local food in school by Tracie McMillan. (via NPR)

Students enjoy local farm bounty through partnership
The Vista Unified School District is now a direct beneficiary of its prime location by partnering with Solutions Farms to provide the highest grade organic salad greens and basil to its cafeterias, as well as farm-based educational opportunities for its students. (via Seaside Courier)

Reconnecting Children with Local Food and the Land
The trend of nature-based and farm-to-school programs has been taking off. The Cornucopia Project in Peterborough is a perfect example, integrating curriculum about the natural world, and helping schools create their own gardens. (via Sentinel Source)


Seed Change on its way in three states

NFSN Staff Thursday, March 12, 2015


By Anupama Joshi, Executive Director

Today marks the launch of Seed Change, the National Farm to School Network’s major new initiative to change the dynamics of farm to school at the state level in support of growing healthier kids and better economic opportunities for small farmers. 

Every state has its own unique set of challenges and opportunities when it comes to improving community health, tackling childhood obesity and supporting farmers and local food systems, including funding and people power. With a $1.5 million grant from the Walmart Foundation, we are able to kick off Seed Change in three states that are poised for significant growth in farm to school programming. 

Seed Change by the numbers:

  • 1.8 million students in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania engaged
  • 100 mini grants to emerging farm to school sites for local food purchasing, school garden activities, nutrition education, retrofitted kitchens, food service staff training and more 
  • Six farm to school demonstration districts and training hubs established
  • Goal of 10 percent growth in farm to school sites, student participation and number of school gardens in each state in 18 months

Leveraging the power of existing partnerships and networks in each state, Seed Change will provide the direct investment and proactive outreach needed to significantly increase the number of schools, children and farmers participating in farm to school activities and the dollars spent on locally sourced food. 

The project will be coordinated locally by NFSN partners the Kentucky State Department of Agriculture, Market Umbrella in Louisiana and The Food Trust in Pennsylvania, who will lead statewide outreach efforts, trainings and technical assistance to create a vibrant and active farm to school network in each state for long term program sustainability.

Learn more about Seed Change here, and sign up for our e-newsletter to stay updated about applying for mini-grants this spring. 

This week in farm to school: 3/9/15

NFSN Staff Monday, March 09, 2015

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




Funding & Grants
1. First Nations’ Native Agriculture and Food System Initiative Receives $2.95 Million, Three-Year Grant 
In the continuing effort to improve the health of Native American children and families and boost the economic health of Native communities, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) has awarded First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) of Longmont, Colorado, a grant of $2.95 million to extend First Nations’ work in the area of Native agriculture and food systems for three years, 2015 through 2017. Read the full press release here.

2. USDA Community Food Projects Grant Program applications due March 17
There are less than two weeks left to apply for the USDA Community Food Projects Grant Program through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Applications are due Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 5 pm EST. If you are interested in getting assistance with your application, or have questions, visit the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project website for free one-on-one technical assistance and resource

3. Voices for Healthy Kids opportunities for funding
Are you working to improve access to affordable, healthy foods for all children and families? Voices for Healthy Kids can support your work. Voices for Healthy Kids is providing funding to coalitions to advance coordinated issue advocacy campaigns focused on ending childhood obesity. Healthy food procurement is one of their priority areas. Organizations working to ensure that food and beverages sold and served on government property are healthy and meet specific nutrition guidelines may be eligible for funding. Learn more and apply for funding at www.voicesforhealthykids.org.

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN Webinar, March 10, 1 p.m. EST
Making change: How you can support farm to school policy this spring
Although the Child Nutrition Act (known as CNR) isn't set to expire until September 30, the action in D.C. is happening now, and we need your help. Join us to learn how farm to school legislation is progressing as part of CNR and what you can do to help make sure farm to school gets the support it needs from Congress! We will cover actions that anyone can take to join the effort and become an effective advocate for farm to school. The 20-minute presentation will be followed by a Q&A session. Register here

2. 17th Annual National Value Added Agriculture Conference, Austin, Texas May 18-20
You are invited to attend the 17th Annual National Value Added Agriculture Conference in Austin, Texas on May 18-20, 2015, hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. The National Value Added Agriculture Conference is held every year in a different state in the United States to address food security, rural development, and value added agriculture. This year, the Conference focuses on working toward the future of the U.S food systems, on the goal of providing enough nutritious, sustainable, and healthy foods for the U.S consumers. More information about the conference can be found here.

3. California Farm to School Network Webinar, March 19, 12 p.m.  CDT
California Food for California Kids®: Innovations from the Cafeteria to the Community, Part 2
School foodservice directors navigate a complex web of challenges when it comes to getting food on the tray - and even more so when they try to bring in more fresh, healthy, and local foods. This two-part series highlights farm to school leaders in California who didn't get discouraged by barriers, but instead used their own creativity and innovative spirit to launch and sustain farm to school efforts in their districts. Register here

4. Life Lab School Garden Workshops, Santa Cruz, CA 
Upcoming Educator Workshops in the Life Lab Garden Classroom include:

Policy & Action
1. State Farm to School Legislative Survey: 2002-2014
The recently released State Farm to School Legislative Survey: 2002-2014 offers a comprehensive review of state-level farm to school policies, analysis of national trends, and advocacy guidance for those working to advance the farm to school movement across the country. The survey is designed to offer farm to school advocates a roadmap, allowing them to learn from the success of other states and copy their efforts. Download the full document on the National Farm to School Network's website or check out this map to see how your state compares.The survey was prepared by researchers at Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.

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. Growing Food & Justice for All Initiative Strategic Plan Membership Survey
The responses to the questions in this survey will be used by the Strategic Planning Task Group to prepare the 2015-2020 Growing Food & Justice for All Initiative (GFJI) Strategic Plan. This Strategic Plan document will be presented, discussed at the GFJI Gathering to be held September 25-27 in Chicago. The GFJI Strategic Plan will articulate GFJI's highest aspirations in realizing shared vision and clearly define the actions that GFJI must make in molding its future. Find a link to the survey here

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Good Food & Justice for All Initiative Gathering 2015 Request for Proposals
The Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative is excited to announce the 2015 Gathering Request for Proposals is now available. GFJI is looking for confident and passionate facilitators to lead participatory sessions. Proposals are due March 15. Find more information and proposal details here

Farm to school in the news
Farm to school programs reach over 25.5 million students, report says
The number of farm to school programs in the U.S. increased 430 percent between 2006 and 2012, according to a report released by the National Farm to School Network. (via Agri-Pulse)

Farm-to-School programs prove successful
The overall goal of the Vernon County Farm to School program is to integrate fresh, whole foods into school lunches and classrooms in southwest Wisconsin, while teaching children the lifelong benefits of healthy eating. (via Westby Times)

State Officials Encourage Kids To Play In The Dirt
In celebration of National Nutrition Month, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is hosting kindergarten and third grade students from Roberts Elementary School. The students planted potatoes and learned about the garden. (via WFSU)

Local food movement is growing up
One change to the local food movement came through farm-to-school programs. In 2012, more than 4,300 school districts reported spending more than $385 million on local food through farm-to-school programs. In California, there are over 2,600 schools spending more than $51 million on local food. (via Merced Sun-Star




Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner: Student-raised chickens on school lunch trays

NFSN Staff Friday, March 06, 2015

By Sarah Elliott, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and Wisconsin state lead for the National Farm to School Network

On January 30, students across the Holmen School District in northwestern Wisconsin had a special farm to school lunch, aptly named “Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner.”  Over the past year, students in Roger King’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) classes raised over 450 meat chickens to be served to more than 3,000 Holmen students during this special lunch. The fantastic partnership between the FFA program; the Holmen’s nutrition services director, Mike Gasper; and the Coulee Regional Farm to School Program, made this extraordinarily unique project a farm to school success!

Last month I interviewed Holmen Mike Gasper, to learn more about this project and other farm to school activities in the district.

What prompted you to undertake this chicken project?
About a year ago, 25 of our FFA students came to me to ask if we would be interested in serving chickens they raised. We said yes, and so began the adventure that culminated in our Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner event.

The school helped pay for the equipment that was needed—feeders, waterers and chicken feed, and in May, the students got their first chicks. When they reached maturity, the birds were processed at a USDA licensed facility and then picked up by our distributor partner, Reinhardt Foods, who froze the chickens and stored them until enough birds had been raised to feed the whole district. The last batch of chickens went to the processor in the beginning of November.

What were some of the lessons you learned during the course of this project?
Well, we learned a lot about raising chickens. And we worked hard to put a system in place to ensure proper protocols and insurance while transporting the chicken between locations. To accomplish this, we actually became a processing member of Fifth Season Cooperative – a multi-stakeholder organization that includes six member classes that span the entire supply chain at the local level. Producers, producer groups, processors, distributors, buyers and workers all contribute. We sold the chicken to Fifth Season, they sold it to Reinhardt and then we bought it back. Now that the system is in place, we anticipate that next year will be even less expensive.  

Was the event a success?
Most definitely! “[This is the] best school meal I’ve ever gotten!” was a comment echoing throughout the cafeterias. In addition to the chicken, we served hydroponic lettuce grown at our high school, locally-grown potatoes sourced from Fifth Season and local milk, plus a non-local fruit. The FFA students helped serve the meal, and everyone had a great time. The cafeteria atmosphere was very celebratory – I even saw some kids doing the “chicken dance!” Our staff did an outstanding job. We are definitely planning on doing it again next year—and have even been talking to the FFA about the possibility of four-legged animals!

What is the history of farm to school activities in Holmen?
We started farm to school in 2008, which was my first year with the district. We started with apples and still partner with the same orchard today. Our county program started the following year, with the introduction of a Harvest of the Month Program and cooking classes with Chef Thomas Sacksteder. This past year we also partnered with the FFA to grow three fields of sweet corn. The chickens were our first meat project, and the first time we served so many local products on one day!  

We’re with Blue: Know your food, know your source

NFSN Staff Wednesday, March 04, 2015

By Stacey Malstrom, Public Relations & Outreach Manager

We’re joining with One Percent for the Planet and some of our favorite organizations (think Chef Ann Foundation, Farm Aid, Honest Tea and more…) to talk about the importance of knowing where your food comes from as part of the Blue Needs You to Know Your Source campaign. Local food not only tastes better because it’s fresh, it also supports a strong local economy, jobs in your community and a smaller environmental footprint. 

Across the board, kids who know their food are more likely to eat their food. Who isn’t curious to taste a carrot they just pulled out of the ground or meet the farmer who grew their lunch? The more positive experiences children have with healthy foods, the more they acquire a taste for them. Farm to school activities like school gardens, taste tests, cooking classes and farm field trips are building a new generation of informed, healthy eaters. 

That’s why we’re working in D.C. to make sure more farm to school programs across the country benefit from the Child Nutrition Act, which is up for reauthorization this year. Learn more and sign our letter to Congress asking them to continue support for farm to school success with the Farm to School Act of 2015. 

Together we can build strong local food systems and empower children and families to make informed food choices.

This week in farm to school: 3/3/15

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 03, 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. Request for Proposals for Native Agriculture & Food Systems Initiative Grants 
First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is now accepting proposals for its Native Agriculture & Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI). Through the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, First Nations plans to distribute up to eight grant awards averaging $26,000 to support projects that address food-system control, food insecurity and food deserts, with an emphasis on serving Native American children and families. Proposals are due March 25, 2015. More information can be found here

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN Webinar, March 10, 1 p.m. EST
Making change: How you can support farm to school policy this spring
Although the Child Nutrition Act (known as CNR) isn't set to expire until September 30, the action in D.C. is happening now, and we need your help. Join us to learn how farm to school legislation is progressing as part of CNR and what you can do to help make sure farm to school gets the support it needs from Congress! We will cover actions that anyone can take to join the effort and become an effective advocate for farm to school. The 20-minute presentation will be followed by a Q&A session. Register here


2. 2015 Farm to Institution Summit, April 7-9, UMass Amherst
Are you working to increase the amount of local and regional food used by schools, colleges and health care facilities in the Northeast? You’re invited to the 2015 Farm to Institution Summit at UMass Amherst on April 7-9! This first- year conference will feature 50+ sessions, inspiring speakers, local tours, good food, live music, an exhibitor fair and more. Join hundreds of other farm to institution advocates for three exciting days of learning, sharing and connecting. Register by March 2nd to save $20 per day: www.farmtoinstitution.org/summit

3. 2015 USDA Farm to School Census Webinar, March 3, 1:00 pm EST
USDA Farm to School staff will host a webinar to provide an overview about the upcoming 2015 USDA Farm to School Census, including information about the Census questionnaire, survey invitation process, and timeline for data collection and analysis. This webinar is open to everyone and State agencies are especially encouraged to participate. No registration is required to attend. To join the webinar online, simply click here.

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

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Program Director, LiveWell @ School Food Initiative
The Director of the School Food Initiative leads the coordination and implementation of LiveWell Colorado’s healthy eating and active living strategies in school districts throughout the State of Colorado. The Director works as part of a talented team at LiveWell Colorado with the opportunity to plan and execute a flagship school nutrition program that has reached to date more than 600,000 students in 98 school districts. More information can be found on the LiveWell Colorado website.

2. Summer Teacher-in-Residence, Slide Ranch
Each year, Slide Ranch selects ten emerging environmental educators to participate in the Slide Ranch Teacher-in-Residence program, a residential teaching internship. Slide Ranch’s Teacher-in-Residence program fosters and inspires environmental educators, preparing them for meaningful careers in the fields of education, sustainable agriculture, and environmental stewardship.Teachers-In-Residence lead groups and develop curriculum for school, community and family groups visiting the ranch. More information can be found on the Slide Ranch website

Farm to school in the news
Lawmakers offer new bills to expand Farm to School program
In an effort to expand production and consumption of locally-grown foods in schools, lawmakers introduced new legislation today that would enhance USDA's Farm to School program. (via Agri-Pulse)

'You give them a sense of ownership with the garden'
“When the kids know there is something on the salad bar from their garden - they are like seagulls to crackers on the beach,” said Aggi Hendrixs. Since the school started its sustainable garden, she says she sees less food being left on their plates. (via KATU)

Report: Better School Meals Good for Kids, Communities
The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act aims to increase childhood nutrition by bringing more fruits and vegetables to school cafeterias. Across the nation, districts large and small, urban and rural have expanded the fresh fruit and vegetable offerings, often by teaming up with local providers thanks to incentives in the law. (via Iowa Public Radio)

Young gardeners get head start on spring
Despite the fact their school garden is covered with snow, students in Waggoner Road Middle School's Garden Club are "greening up" a classroom, starting seedlings under grow lights and preparing to plant in a hoop house. (via Reynoldsburg News)



March toward #CNR2015 begins: Farm to school bill introduced in Congress

NFSN Staff Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Over the past two years, farmers, teachers, school nutrition professionals and engaged community members have made one message loud and clear: the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is crucial to the success of farm to school across the country. 

The only problem? Demand for the grants far exceeds supply. In its first three years, the Farm to School Grant Program received more than 1,000 applications but only had enough funding to award 221 grants. In other words, just one in five projects was funded.

Today, Congress took an exciting step toward closing this gap with the introduction of the bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2015. Thanks to the leadership of Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Congress will consider the Farm to School Act as part of the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which is set to expire on Sept. 30.  

The bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2015 proposes an increase in annual mandatory funding for the grant program from $5 million to $15 million and full inclusion of preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers. The proposed legislation also aims to improve program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. 

This grant program is an essential tool to improve the health of our children, our food system and our local economies. Today, more than 23 million students are making healthier food choices at school and at home thanks to farm to school activities like school gardens, cooking classes and incorporating local foods in school meals. 

Since its launch in 2011, the USDA Farm to School Grant Program has supported projects that benefit farmers, kids and communities nationwide:

  • In Ohio, Farmer Floyd Davis benefited when schools in his region bought more of his apples, lettuce and spinach thanks to Farm to School Grant funding. Davis has expanded his farming acreage and installed seven high tunnels for year-round produce production to serve local schools. And David isn’t alone: Farmers participating in farm to school initiatives nationwide have seen an average 5 percent increase in income.
  • Kale and collard greens are on the menu in South Carolina thanks to farm to school funding. School nutrition professionals at School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties attended a culinary training where they learned how to incorporate these vegetables into school meals so that students could enjoy a local source of dark, leafy greens.
  • In Nebraska, a state where one in three children are overweight, grant-funded school gardens and farm field trips have introduced healthy eating habits and hands-on agricultural experiences to kids in more than a dozen schools across the state. Participation in farm to school activities has been proven to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. Nebraska currently spends more than $3 million of its school food budget locally.

TAKE ACTION!

  • Join us and our bipartisan champions in telling Congress: farm to school is a powerful tool for supporting our kids, our farmers and our communities! 
  • Add your organization to our growing list of supporters. 
  • Sign up for action alerts to stay up-to-date on the latest in the march toward CNR 2015, including how to support the Farm to School Act of 2015 – there will be many opportunities to get involved this spring! 
  • Learn more about the Farm to School Act of 2015
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