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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. 

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