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Engaging youth as leaders and stakeholders to grow farm to school

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 12, 2017

By Katie Warner, YES! Team Lead and Co-Founder

Young people under the age of 18 make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population, yet their potential as a generation to contribute to a better society is systematically ignored. Our nation is suffering economically, creatively, and civilly as a result. Empowering young people to participate in effective youth-adult partnerships is a proven, replicable approach to solving community problems. Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) has developed a nationally-recognized model of social change through youth empowerment and works to leverage the unique skills and power of young people. 

YES! is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization centered on the idea that real community change cannot take place without the contributions of young people. Using the YES! Youth Empowerment Model®, YES! works with youth to develop a deep critical awareness about the root causes of the issues that impact them, then works with them to develop the skills necessary to understand these complex issues, and engage in collaboration to effectively identify and advocate for solutions to those issues.

YES! also centers our work on capacity-building and support of adults and organizations as they navigate news systems and structures to understand the importance of youth empowerment and build their own capacity to work with youth in ways that support their mission. By engaging youth in our work, organizations and communities become more creative, resourceful, tech savvy, powerful, and successful at creating meaningful and sustainable solutions for community challenges.

YES! has been applying the YES! Youth Empowerment Model® to food access and food justice work since 2008. Our efforts have primarily focused on southern rural communities as we have built and tailored our approach to empower and meet the needs of youth of color, of low-wealth or living in a rural community. Over the past four years, YES! has mobilized a network of more than 350 teams of Youth and Adults that work locally on policy, system and environmental changes that increase access to healthy affordable food. In our home state of North Carolina, we have been able to galvanize partners statewide to move state level policy to support a Healthy Corner Store initiative. 

As YES! continues to grow, we are adding more partners to the YES! Youth Network, engaging with new stakeholders, training new partners, supporting their farm to school efforts at the local level and lifting up the stories of youth and adults across the country doing phenomenal work to increase access and education around healthy food, food justice and youth empowerment. 

YES! is excited to be partnering with the National Farm to School Network to celebrate National Farm to School Month and want to take the opportunity to share a few partner highlights to showcase their efforts and successes.  

Neighborhood garden transforms community Pinehurst, North Carolina
Yolonda Moore of the Sandhills Cooperation Association saw her family, friends, and neighbors eating only processed foods. Yolonda moved from Durham where she was involved in the local community garden scene, to a 0.5 acre plot in Pinehurst, NC and decided that she was going to start growing her own produce to offset the high cost of fresh fruits and vegetables sold at stores in her community. After a few years of successfully growing food for her family, Yolonda saw a real need to bring education around growing food to her neighborhood, so she teamed up with youth in her community and YES!. Together, with a small mini grant and training and support from YES!, the youth-adult team started spreading the word about food deserts and how this small neighborhood garden could transform the community. More and more community members got involved and Yolonda’s family garden became a community garden where the team of youth and adults now teach educational classes about growing food and nutrition and host cooking demos using produce grown in the garden. This community garden is also used by local homeschool families for educational purposes. Yolonda and the youth that participate in gardening activities estimate that they donate excess produce to around 50 people each growing season. Because of training provided by YES!, the youth from Pinehurst also participated in several advocacy activities, including attending a Youth Advocacy Day at the NC General Assembly to advocate for state level policy to decrease food deserts across NC. 



Community gardens lead to advocacy
Springfield, Missouri
Through the Healthy Eating Active Living grant with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department has been piloting a new youth-led effort: the Youth Health and Wellness Council.  The council has worked with local organizations, such as the Springfield Community Gardens (SCG), to influence change in the community around nutrition and food access. Over the last two years, the Youth Health & Wellness Council worked with SCG to increase awareness, knowledge and engagement within the gardens through designing and providing name and welcome signs for each garden, purchasing bus advertisements to promote the gardens, and hosting a Family Fun Day event at one of the local gardens.  This year, the Health Department is partnering with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield to continue work around policy and environmental changes in the community around healthy eating, active living, and tobacco.  This year’s Youth Health & Wellness Council kicked off with a YES! Advocacy 101 Youth Training!

Second Chance Breakfast to Increase Food AccessAsheville, North Carolina
Asheville High School (AHS) is home to roughly 1,400 students and the school itself stands out in many ways because of outstanding academic and athletic programs, but additionally because it houses a high population of students on free and reduced lunch. The campus is large, with students reporting a 15-20 minute walk from one side to the other, and there are transportation issues that often force students to take city buses to get to and from school. These issues add up to quite a few students missing breakfast. After researching many options, youth from AHS’s Student Government Association (SGA), partnered with YES!, and the school nutrition director to bring Second Chance Breakfast to their campus. After several months of work, in which students surveyed their peers to gather support and determined what types of foods students would purchase most often, they spoke directly with decision makers at the school, the decision was made to purchase a food cart to sit in the middle of campus for students to pick up a quick and nutritious breakfast on their way to class. Students on free and reduced lunch were able to use this benefit at the breakfast cart or in the cafeteria, depending on which best fit their schedule. The SGA also successfully advocated for a longer break between classes to give students extra time to stop by the cart. YES! supported AHS’s SGA by providing guidance with action planning for this project, and helping strategize and prep for meetings with key decision makers at the school. Data collected by the school nutrition program showed that Second Chance Breakfast served nearly 200 students every day and increased the number of students eating breakfast at the high school by 26.5%. To read more, download your free copy of the Second Chance Breakfast Change Chronicle here

Take Action: Learn about the USDA Farm to School Grant Program

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Photo Courtesy: USDA Food and Nutrition Service
By Christina Conell, USDA Office of Community Food Systems

National Farm to School Month is not just a time for celebration. It’s also a time to take action. This October, USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems invites you to learn more about the USDA Farm to School Grant Program.  

In 2010, the Farm to School Program was established by law to assist eligible entities – through grants and technical assistance – in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in schools. To fulfill this commitment, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides $5 million on an annual basis to support these grants.

Just in time for Farm to School Month, the fiscal year 2018 Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications was released last week! Designed to increase the availability of local foods in schools, grants can help new farm to school programs get started or expand existing efforts. Funds support a wide range of activities from training, planning and developing partnerships to creating new menu items, establishing supply chains, offering taste tests for children, purchasing equipment, planting school gardens and organizing field trips to agricultural operations.

To date, the USDA Farm to School Grant Program has provided more than $25 million for 365 farm to school projects to increase the amount of healthy, local food in schools across all 50 states, plus the Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. 

Reaching more than 29,000 schools and approximately 13 million students in the past five years, the Farm to School Grant Program is an effective mechanism for increasing local foods in schools and creating new markets for producers. In looking at baseline and final reports from fiscal year 2015 and 2016 grantees, it’s evident that these efforts are making a difference. From the start of their grant period, grantees report increased garden activities, taste tests, farm field trips and more farm to school concepts embedded in schools’ curriculum.

Take action and learn more about the USDA Farm to School Grant Program with these resources:


This Week in Farm to School: 10/10/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 

Grants & Funding

1. USDA FY 2018 Farm to School Grant RFA 
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems has released the FY 2018 Farm to School Request for Applications (RFA). The purpose of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is to assist eligible entities in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. Interested in applying? Complete applications must be submitted on grants.gov by 11:59pm ET on December 8, 2017. Check out our resources for applicants and see a list of awardees since the release of the first RFA in 2013. 

2. Value Added Producer Resource Grants
The Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Learn more  by attending the October 18th webinar and apply here

3. Local Foods, Local Places
Local Foods, Local Places supports locally led, community-driven efforts to protect air and water quality, preserve open space and farmland, boost economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses, improve access to healthy local food, and promote childhood wellness. Communities are invited to apply for a new round of planning assistance from Local Foods, Local Places. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on October 25, 2017.


Webinars
1. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to ECE Quarterly Webinar: Farm to Early Care and Education in Head Start – A Natural Alignment

Tuesday, October 10, 3-4 PM ET
Explore the National Farm to School Network’s exciting new resource, Growing Head Start Success with Farm to Early Care and Education, and hear from Head Start practitioners about best practices and successes in implementing farm to ECE in the Head Start setting. Register here

2.  NFSN WEBINAR Webinar: Economic Impacts of Farm to School
Wednesday, Oct. 11 // 12-1pm ET
This webinar is part of a wider effort to promote the release of the associated report Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools (a collaborative project of the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University). Panelists will discuss findings of the new report, highlight the use of two key resources for conducting economic impact studies of food system initiatives and their application to farm to school economic impact assessment, and discuss continuing work to better understand the impacts of farm to school activities. Additional panelists include representatives from  USDA Office of Community Food Systems, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and Cornell University. Register for the webinar by submitting this form

3. Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) Webinar: National Farm to School Month: Early Care Education Edition
Tuesday, October 17 // 12-1:15pm ET
October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate the connections happening all over the country between children and local food. It is also a great time to learn more about farm to early care and education (ECE), a suite of activities and strategies that entails three core elements, including the use of local foods in meals and snacks, gardening opportunities, and food-based learning activities implemented in the ECE setting. Join speakers from the National Farm to School Network and Arizona State University to learn about opportunities to celebrate National Farm to School Month and to learn more about the vast array of benefits of farm to ECE for children, families and communities. This webinar is free and open to the public. Register here

4. Special Session on Soil Health

Wednesday, October 25 // 9:30 am -11:30 am ET
Organized by the Organic Farming Research Foundation, this special session on Soil Health Research is applicable to both organic and conventional practices, providing production systems to improve sustainability and profit. Presenters will discuss effects of cover crops, compost, and rotation, as well as the influence of soil management practices on economic returns. Register here or plan to watch the archived recording here

Events

1. October is National Farm to School Month!
National Farm to School month is here! The National Farm to School Network has free resources, planning materials, activity ideas and a new calendar of events for ways you can get involved in October. Visit farmtoschool.org/month to get involved. 

2. National Farm to School Month Tweet Chat
October 12 // 12-1pm ET
Every October, communities across the country come together to celebrate the connections happening between children and local food. Come celebrate with us during a live chat on Twitter! Ask your farm to school questions, hear from movement leaders, share resources and tell us about your favorite examples of farm to school in action. Join the National Farm to School Network (@FarmtoSchool) and special guests for a #FarmtoSchool101 tweet chat onThursday, October 12 from 12-1pm ET to discuss how farm to school supports healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities. 

3.  National School Lunch Week 2017

Oct. 9-13 is National School Lunch Week! During this annual weeklong celebration, School Nutrition Association members and students around the country celebrate in their cafeterias with decorations, special menus, events, and more. The 2017 NSLW theme is “School Lunch: Recipes for Success”, and it’s all about showing off the secrets to your school lunch success in your schools and districts—fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and of course, our students. Learn more and find resources to celebrate here

4. Summit for Beginner Farmer Service Providers
January 11, 2018 // Hyattsville, MD
This summit brings together beginning farmer service providers from across the region to discuss best practices, policy, and emerging trends in beginning farmer training. This one-day summit is held annually. Register here

Action Items

1. 9th Farm to Cafeteria Conference: Call for Workshop & Poster Proposals 
The 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Cincinnati, OH, April 25-27,2017! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene more than 1,000 diverse stakeholders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. Conference organizers are seeking workshop and poster proposals from individuals and organizations working to improve our food system, strengthen community health, empower youth, advance equity and increase opportunities for farmers. Learn more information about proposal submissions here. Proposals are due no later than 8 pm ET on November 14, 2017. All questions should be sent to conference@farmtoschool.org

2. National Farm to School Month's Take Action Pledge

Celebrate National Farm to School Month by adding your name to the National Farm to School Network's Take Action Pledge! Sign the pledge and you’ll be entered to win our Farm to School Month sweepstakes! Ten winners will receive a prize package that includes: assets from the Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden™ program, a Stand2Learn student standing desk, and a collection of seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. No action is too small – take the pledge now! 

3. #RealSchoolFood Campaign

It’s easy! Post a #RealSchoolFood selfie to social media throughout the month of October, and our generous sponsors will donate $1 to the Chef Ann Foundation. Make sure your post includes #RealSchoolFood, a call out to @ChefAnnFoundation , and make it public so it's counted! Post as many times as you want, each post gets us a $1 donation to help schools serve healthier food to kids.

4. Call for Nominations: 2018 School Nutrition Heroes
School Nutrition Association is seeking nominations of SNA members who go above and beyond their responsibilities to make a difference in the community for SNA's 2018 School Nutrition Heroes awards. To tell them about the individual that you think should be recognized as a School Nutrition Hero, fill out the Online Nomination Form. All nominations are due no later than Friday, October 27, 2017.  

Resources & Research

1. Johns Hopkins' FoodSpan Curriculum  
The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future has developed a curriculum for high school students on the food system.  The curriculum, called FoodSpan, is highlighted in this Baltimore Sun article. 

2. FoodTank's List of 18 Farm-to-School Initiatives Making an Impact
Food Tank is celebrating farm-to-school month by featuring 19 inspiring and innovative farm-to-school programs from around the world. These programs are making a demonstrated difference in child health, school attendance rates, food security, and farmer livelihoods in many communities. The National Farm to School Network was honored to be included on the list. Read about all 18 of the farm to school programs that made the list. 

Job Opportunities
1. Public Health Nutritionist, Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD)
The CPHD seeks to hire a Public Health Nutritionist to develop, implement and coordinate activities in Cambridge to promote healthy eating and active living with a focus on policy, practices, systems changes to create an environment that promotes healthy choices. Learn more here

2. Executive Director, National Farm Farm Coalition (NFFC)
NFFC seeks to fill the role of Executive Director to engage its diverse and dedicated membership to influence national farm and fisheries policy, magnify its fundraising capacity, and expand relationships with allies, potential allies and legislators while serving as a public face of the coalition. Read more here

3. Operations Manager and Culinary Manager, San Francisco Unified School District 
San Francisco Unified School District has two open management positions within Student Nutrition Services. Both are great opportunities to drive innovation and create change within a large school district's school meals program. Learn more about the Operations Manager role as well as the Culinary Manager

Farm to School in the News

Student-grown salad in the school cafeteria? These D.C. kids dig it
At Horace Mann Elementary School in Northwest D.C., instruction isn’t confined to a few cedar-raised beds. After leafy vegetables are planted and cared for, students harvest the crops, chop them up and serve them to more than 400 of their peers for lunch. (WTOP)

Local Food Hub brings apples to Virgina Elementary for "Crunch Heard 'Round the Commonwealth"
For Virginia Farm to School Week, the Local Food Hub is supplying cafeterias in six public school districts and one private school with fresh, fruits, vegetables, meats, and other products grown by Virginia family farms. In total, the schools purchased over $10,500 in local products. (Charlottesville Tomorrow)

Pennsylvania elementary students sow seeds for hydroponic garden business

The agricultural team planted 100 strawberries and is breeding tilapia as part of the project. The technology team works with tools to gather data, and the business team is tasked with creating a logo and marketing the shop. (Triblive


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.

Locally Grown Food: A Key Ingredient in School Lunch Recipes

NFSN Staff Monday, October 09, 2017

By Dr. Lynn Harvey, RDN, LDN, FAND, SNS
School Nutrition Association President 
Chief of School Nutrition Services for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction


October is ripe with reasons to celebrate – school cafeterias are recognizing National Farm to School Month and National School Lunch Week (NSLW - Oct 9-13). The overlap is especially fitting since schools are increasingly turning to Farm to School activities to help promote the healthy, local choices available on school lunch menus.
 
In my home state of North Carolina, school nutrition directors can order locally grown produce and have it delivered right to the district through our Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The department even supplies educational and promotional materials to help students learn about the healthy offerings in the cafeteria that have been grown in their communities. During the 2016-2017 school year, the program generated nearly $1.3 million in produce sales with participation by 79 school districts statewide.
 
But North Carolina’s approach is just one of a multitude of successful Farm to School models and initiatives across the country. As School Nutrition Association (SNA) president, I am inspired by my peers every day as I witness the creative strategies they employ to connect students with more fresh, local foods.
 
For example, the School District of Holmen, WI, hasn’t let a short growing season limit their Farm to School efforts. With the help of school nutrition professionals and guidance from science and math teachers and the Future Farmers of America, students raise their own chickens, grow their own crops on donated land and harvest from hydroponic greenhouses. The 2016-2017 school year marked the fourth year students in the district helped raise chickens, nurturing and caring for them from day-old chicks to mature chickens. Students enjoyed the fruits of their labor during a “Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner” event, with enough baked chicken for 3,000 servings. To learn more about this project and Holmen’s crop of 2,500 asparagus, visit SNA’s Tray Talk blog

This year, as SNA members celebrate NSLW, we look forward to seeing how schools use the School Lunch: Recipes for Success marketing campaign to show off the many locally sourced ingredients in their recipes. SNA’s recently released 2017 Trends Survey revealed that 61% of responding districts have increased scratch preparation of school foods to meet sodium limits for school meals. Scratch preparation also allows schools to utilize more healthy, local foods into dishes.

Nearly 60% of districts surveyed report offering new menu items this school year that feature international flavors. Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern and other ethnic recipes help schools appeal to diverse student communities - and incorporate local foods. Douglas County School District, CO, serves Salvadorian pupusas, handmade locally using all Colorado ingredients. The dish was first served as a special feature on Colorado Proud School Meal Day but was so popular with students that pupusas are now menued year-round.

I am also glad to report that nearly 70% of school districts surveyed utilize salad/produce bars or made-to-order salads to give students more choices when it comes to selecting their fruits and vegetables. We love to see schools create delicious salad creations – especially when the incorporate student grown produce, like this colorful organic Green Swiss Chard salad from Arlington, VA. 

SNA hopes schools and their partners will continue to share the good news about all the creative, positive Farm to School efforts in their communities!

School Nutrition Association is the National Farm to School Network’s 2017 National Partner of the Year. Read more about our partnership here

Photo credit for all photos: School Nutrition Association

Too small for grocery stores, but just right for schools

NFSN Staff Friday, October 06, 2017
Clearview Farm’s farm to school story

By Molly Schintler, Communications Intern
Clearview Farm has been in Rick and Diane Melone’s family for 265 years. In fact, this century farm - two times over - was the inspiration for the classic children’s poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Situated just outside of Boston in Sterling, Mass., Clearview Farm’s 85 acres grows a diverse array of produce for diverse markets, including local schools.

The farm includes apple and peach orchards for a u-pick operation, as well as hosts school tours that bring hundreds of students at a time to the farm. Additionally, the farm grows twenty acres of pumpkins, along with diversified vegetable production for an on–site farm stand. Rick has always seen diversity as essential to the farm’s operation. When Rick and Diane moved to the farm in 1989, it was all apples, so they diversified by planting peaches. Today, they sell those apples and peaches to the Worcester Public Schools, the third largest school district in the state, by the truckload.

Clearview Farm has been engaged with farm to school for eight years, and Rick explains that selling to schools has provided his farm a valuable and necessary market. “I’m too small to work with huge markets like Whole Foods and other grocery store whole-salers," he says. "But I can bring a truck load of apples in (to schools) and they will use them that day. We also sell veggies to the school’s summer feeding program.” Prior to selling to Worcester Public Schools, Clearview Farm’s relied more heavily on selling to medium sized grocery stores, but with so many other farms selling in that same market, competition was heavy. In addition, Rick added that a few years ago his farm stopped selling at the Boston farmers markets after seeing several years of declining sales. It's schools that have become one of his most reliable and valuable customers.

Before working with schools, Clearview Farm did not have a market for selling small peaches and apples. But as it turns out, smaller sized fruit is perfect for students. “There are so many schools and kids who need lunches and also farmers who need to move product. Children deserve better (lunches)!” Rick and Diane are proud of the fresh, healthy, and local produce they are able to provide the students of Worcester. In the end farm to school is not only a win for Clearview Farms. It’s a win for students too! 

Learn more about the economic impacts of farm to school and benefits to farmers in our new “Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools” report. This new report, a collaborative project between National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University, with generous support from CoBank and AgriBank, examines the economic impact of local purchasing and provides new insight into the potential for farm to school procurement to positively impact local economies. Explore the report and register for an upcoming webinar here

The National Farm to School Network thanks CoBank for their generous support of this blog and our 2017 National Farm to School Month celebrations!

STEM, DIY Projects, Conservation & History: Partnership Ideas for Farm to School Month

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 04, 2017
By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, Director of Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

At the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, we believe in the power of partnership with business. We are passionate about innovative solutions, like our newest one with Amazon Business, that bring bold change for children’s health.

To celebrate Farm to School Month, here are five ideas for collaborating with local businesses while linking school, afterschool and families. In honor of a new report from The Aspen Institute that underscores the importance of social and emotional learning, I have made an effort to focus on affirming activities that foster positive connections and welcoming spaces.

Build Bridges with STEM
In The Power of Partnerships with the Business Community, I emphasize that “healthy children grow up to be consumers with increased earning and buying power.” Farm to School Month is a tremendous opportunity to build bridges with local STEM-focused companies. Agriculture is uniquely situated at the intersection of STEM and wellness. If you’re hosting an event or celebration this month, invite business leaders to speak with your students and work together on fun enrichment activities like Apples Turning Brown! (page 3), that intentionally link nutrition with science. 

To help grow the STEM and wellness conversation, check out our new educational brief, STEM and Wellness: A Powerful Equation for Equity and recorded workshop during the National AfterSchool Association Virtual Convention in November.

Start Simple and Go Do-it-Yourself (DIY)
Swing by your arts and craft store and ask them to sponsor a farm-focused bulletin board to cultivate curiosity and brighten up your physical space. Spotlight a local farm and regularly feature “Foods of the Month.” October’s Food of the Month theme is Apples, Pears and Winter Squash. Why not ask a local orchard grower to serve as a guest speaker for your next family event. At your gathering, host a fresh fruit taste test.

Take a bite out of childhood hunger with 6 more apple themed ideas from a past article I wrote for School Breakfast Week. Don’t forget to provide take-home printables, like these from USDA, highlighting seasonal produce that’s budget friendly. Find out if your local art or hardware store will donate supplies year-round for creative activities.

Turn Field Trips into Long Term Relationships
A simple way to engage with local business leaders is through field trips, but don’t stop there. Whether you visit a creamery or a vegetable farm, foster an ongoing relationship by starting a pen pal project with a local farmer. After your field trip, dialogue with students and find out what their interests are. Maybe even organize a mini Youth-Hosted Forum to amplify youth voice in your community. Ask the farmer you visit to provide regular updates on crops and progress photos of animals and plants. A Farm to School Month field trip could turn into a long-term relationship with new adult allies. Imagine your next fall festival or a healthy Halloween potluck featuring local produce provided by new partners. Never stop searching for extensions and collaborators. Link field trips with literacy goals too! Why not collaborate with your library on an agriculture themed book nook?

Partner with Parks 
Farm to School Month is the perfect time to work with parks and recreation and other organizations with roots in nature. Conservation-focused community celebrations and service-learning projects are a great way to promote critical thinking and social responsibility while reinforcing healthy habits. Even simple healthy hydration activities can inspire a greater awareness of local water sources and sustainable farming practices.

Build Community History
As I explored in Creating a More Connected World Through Local Agriculture: 9 Voices, agriculture has the power to connect us and honor our collective history. Invite retired farmers to speak with students to help them understand the historic value of farming in your community. Young professionals in the farming and agriculture field can inspire career and trade exploration. Help students establish meaningful connections and build communication skills by presenting to business leaders on issues they care about. If you have a school garden, work with your local county extension agents to turn produce into recipes and partner with local restaurant owners to feature student creations. Use Farm to School Month as an opportunity to connect students with the world around them in a meaningful way.

I hope this article has given you a few new ideas for business partnerships. Which activity or idea will you try? Share your ideas with me on Twitter using @hatchdw. I’d love to add to this list and hear your success stories.

Want even more inspiration? Read how Kelliher School District started a farm to school program and made student wellness a priority.

BONUS ACTIVITY: Farm to School Month Energizer
Have you been sitting for a while? Why not take a fitness break? I adapted our Healthier Generation Task Cards (#17) into a simple activity with a farm and math twist. Ready?  Gather your coworkers and act out this math problem for a quick energizer. 15 crows were flying in the air and 7 stopped for a snack in a cornfield. How many were left flying?

Simple right?! Happy Farm to School Month.

Read more from Daniel Hatcher on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's New & Notable blog.

Photo credit for all photos: Alliance for a Healthier Generation

This Week in Farm to School: 10/03/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 03, 2017
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. Extension Risk Management Education Competitive Grants Program
The four regional Extension Risk Management Education (ERME) Centers request
applications for the Extension Risk Management Education Competitive Grants Program. This announcement seeks applications from eligible organizations with a demonstrated capacity to develop and deliver results/outcome-based risk management education and training programs to agricultural producers and their families. Learn more here

Webinars
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics: Celebrating Farm to School Month State-by-State 
Thursday, October 5, 2-3pm ET
Join us for a special “Farm to School Month” themed webinar to hear how states across the country are lifting up and celebrating National Farm to School Month, and gather easy action ideas for how you can get involved this October. This webinar is generously sponsored by Co-Bank. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to ECE Quarterly Webinar: Farm to Early Care and Education in Head Start – A Natural Alignment

Tuesday, October 10, 3-4 PM ET
Explore the National Farm to School Network’s exciting new resource, Growing Head Start Success with Farm to Early Care and Education, and hear from Head Start practitioners about best practices and successes in implementing farm to ECE in the Head Start setting. Register here

3. Webinar: Economic Impacts of Farm to School

Wednesday, Oct. 11 // 12-1pm ET
This webinar is part of a wider effort to promote the release of the associated report “Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools” (a collaborative project of the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University). Panelists will discuss findings of the new report, highlight the use of two key resources for conducting economic impact studies of food system initiatives and their application to farm to school economic impact assessment, and discuss continuing work to better understand the impacts of farm to school activities. Additional panelists include representatives from  USDA Office of Community Food Systems, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and Cornell University. Register for the webinar by submitting this form

Events
1. October is National Farm to School Month!
National Farm to School month is here! The National Farm to School Network has free resources, planning materials, activity ideas and a new calendar of events for ways you can get involved in October. Visit farmtoschool.org/month to get involved. 

2. National Farm to School Month Tweet Chat
October 12 // 12-1pm ET
Every October, communities across the country come together to celebrate the connections happening between children and local food. Come celebrate with us during a live chat on Twitter! Ask your farm to school questions, hear from movement leaders, share resources and tell us about your favorite examples of farm to school in action. Join the National Farm to School Network (@FarmtoSchool) and special guests for a #FarmtoSchool101 tweet chat on Thursday, October 12 from 12-1pm ET to discuss how farm to school supports healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities. 

3. Illionos Farm Bureau's Local Regional Food Conference

November 6-7 // Bloomington, IL
Are you a local farmer, processor, distributer, or retailer? Do you own a small business? Know your impact and what buying and selling local can bring your local economy. Attend the Local Regional Food Conference Conference and learn how to grow your business from the best. Early bird registration through October 13th. Read more and register

4. DC Greens' Regional School Garden Summit
October 14 // Washington, DC
Join DC Greens for the first annual Regional School Garden Summit. The goal of the Summit is to nurture the emerging regional network of non-profits, schools, and government agencies interested in capacity and network building around school gardens by providing a space to learn, share best practices, and make new connections. Register here

Action Items
1. 9th Farm to Cafeteria Conference: Call for Workshop & Poster Proposals 
The 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Cincinnati, OH, April 25-27,2017! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene more than 1,000 diverse stakeholders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. Conference organizers are seeking workshop and poster proposals from individuals and organizations working to improve our food system, strengthen community health, empower youth, advance equity and increase opportunities for farmers. Learn more information about proposal submissions here. Proposals are due no later than 8 pm ET on November 14, 2017. All questions should be sent to conference@farmtoschool.org

2. National Farm to School Month's Take Action Pledge
Celebrate National Farm to School Month by adding your name to the National Farm to School Network's Take Action Pledge! Sign the pledge and you’ll be entered to win our Farm to School Month sweepstakes! Ten winners will receive a prize package that includes: assets from the Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden™ program, a Stand2Learn student standing desk, and a collection of seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. No action is too small – take the pledge now

Resources & Research
1. NEW REPORT: Economic Impacts of Farm to School
Using a survey and case study approach, this new report (a collaborative project of the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University) examines the economic impact of local purchasing and provides new insight into the potential for farm to school procurement to positively impact local economies. The report finds that not only were surveyed farmers satisfied or very satisfied with most aspects of farm to school sales, but farm to school farms purchase more inputs from the local economy, which results in positive local economic impact. 

2. A Farmer like Me: Exploring Hunger, Race, and Farming in America
In Food Justice Voices "A Farmer Like Me: Exploring Hunger, Race and Farming in America," farm and food justice activist Lorrie Clevenger of Rise & Root Farm, shares her childhood foundation, experience as a Black farmer and her vision on how we can make our agricultural system better.

3. From Coal to Kale: Saving Rural Economies with Local Food
Many counties are switching to oil and gas production as coal's fortunes wane, but farms, food hubs, and community kitchens may keep rural areas alive. “Recognition is growing that support of small/local farm businesses may keep a greater share of money recirculating in the local economy and allow farmers to retain a greater share of consumer expenditures on food,” Tropp writes in the book’s first chapter. Read more

Job Opportunities
1. Department Chair of Agriculture Science, Austin Community College 
Austin Community College seeks to hire a Department Chair of Agriculture Science to be housed at the Elgin campus. This position provides academic leadership, management, and overall coordination for the Agricultural Sciences area. Read more here

2. FoodCorps hiring for multiple positions
FoodCorps is a fast-growing national nonprofit that provides a scalable response to the epidemics of childhood obesity and food insecurity, while training a new generation of leaders in the fields of food, health, education and sustainability. Read more about FoodCorps' job openings

3. Executive Director, Common Good City Farm
Common Good City Farm based in DC seeks to hire an Exec. Director. The ideal candidate will have experience working within a nonprofit organization and have the ability to manage the day-to-day of the organization while keeping an eye on the big picture. Learn more and apply

Farm to School in the News
Gov. Scott to sign proclamation for Vermont Farm to School Month
Farm to School month will kick off Monday, October 2, when Governor Phil Scott will sign a proclamation declaring October to be Vermont’s Farm to School Month at 1:00PM in the Governor’s Ceremonial Offices at the Statehouse. Second Graders from Northfield Elementary School will be on hand to witness the Proclamation’s reading and signing and to “gift” the Governor with saved seed packets and muffins made with ingredients from their Harvest School Garden. (VT Digger)

Oklahoma Community helped by Global Gardens 
Global Gardens began in 2007 as a school program for children at Eugene Field Elementary School in west Tulsa. The plan was to teach the students, many of whom came from low-income families, life skills through hands-on education about science and nutrition. In the 10 years since, the program has expanded to four sites. (Tulsa World)

Pride of Dakota School Lunch Day
 K through 12 schools across the state were celebrating their history Thursday afternoon for the Pride of Dakota School Lunch Day. “It's really about where their food comes from. North Dakota agriculture is the number one economy in the state, so we really want to recognize what agriculture does for our state,” said Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Jon Bodine. (West Dakota Fox News)

South Carolina: Lessons in the Garden

The Daniel Island School and Community Garden coordinators and volunteers have worked with teachers to develop educational programs since the inception of the newly purposed garden in 2015. The programs are designed to complement, enhance and bring to life academic subjects taught in elementary and middle school. (The Daniel Island News)

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.

Ready, Set, Celebrate!

NFSN Staff Monday, October 02, 2017

It’s the time of year again! Every October, when gardens and farms are full of harvest bounty and students are sliding up to lunchroom tables, we come together with schools, farmers, communities, families and food advocates from every corner of the country to celebrate the connections happening between students and local foods. Designated by Congress in 2010, National Farm to School Month is a time to raise awareness of the importance of farm to school as a means to improve child nutrition, support local economies and educate communities about the origins of their food.

This October, we invite you to join us in taking action for farm to school. Whether you’re hosting a taste test in the cafeteria, harvesting school garden produce, making a new farm to school connection, or advocating for supportive policies like the Farm to School Act of 2017, no action is too small! 

Here are five easy action steps to get you started: 

  • Take the Pledge: Sign our Take Action Pledge and commit to taking action to advance farm to school in your community this October. Add your name to the pledge and you’ll be entered to win our Farm to School Month sweepstakes! Ten winners will receive a prize package that includes: assets from the Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden™ program, a Stand2Learn student standing desk, and a collection of seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. No action is too small – take the pledge now! 
  • See what’s happening: Explore our national calendar of Farm to School Month events and see what celebrations are taking place in your community. 
  • Read inspiring stories: Visit our blog all month long to read inspiring stories of farm to school success and innovation. Guest blog posts include the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, School Nutrition Association, USDA Office of Community Food Systems, National CACFP Sponsors Association, the NEA Foundation, Youth Empowered Solutions and more!
  • Explore resources: Check out our free resources for planning and promoting celebrations in your community, including customizable posters and bookmarks, stickers, activity suggestions and communications tools. 
  • Donate to support our work: Invest in the future of farm to school. Donate to the National Farm to School Network and help us bring farm to school to communities across the country every month! Take one small step and make a charitable donation today. Take one small step and make a charitable donation today. 
We want to know: what action steps will you take this month? Share with us by taking the pledge! Or, let us know during our #FarmtoSchool101 tweet chat on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 12-1pm ET, or anytime with the social media hashtags #F2SMonth and #farmtoschool

Farm to school is a grassroots movement powered by people like you taking small actions every day to grow healthier kids, support local agriculture and cultivate vibrant communities. YOU are part of this movement, and you can help keep it growing. 

Thank you to this year’s National Farm to School Month sponsors -  CoBank, Territory Foods, Captain Planet Foundation, Organic Valley, Perdue, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Stand2Learn and High Mowing Organic Seeds - as well as the Feature Partner and Outreach Partner organizations that are helping us spread the word about farm to school throughout October. And, thanks to you for being a farm to school champion in your community.

Happy National Farm to School Month! 

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