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Youth Empowerment in Farm to School

NFSN Staff Friday, December 15, 2017
By Molly Schintler, Communications Intern

At our 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in June 2016, LaDonna Redmond gave keynote remarks focused on ending systemic oppression in the food system. In her address, she urged the audience to understand that “every community has the intellect to heal itself.” She explained that the role of individuals working within farm to cafeteria is to use our skillset to uncover the intellect in our communities so that people believe in themselves. What if this approach was seriously considered within farm to school and farm to early care and education work? What would it look like for youth to be leading the movement? 

Many organizations throughout the country focus on youth leadership as a way to further farm to school efforts.  In our most recent Trending Topics: Youth Engagement through Farm to School Webinar, our network highlighted three organizations that put youth empowerment front and center in their work: 

YES! Youth Empowered Solutions: Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) is a nonprofit organization that empowers youth, in partnership with adults, to create community change. 
Alameda County Office of Education’s Project EAT:  Project Eat works to end health inequities and close the achievement gap in school communities.
Vermont FEED’s Jr. Iron Chef VT: This statewide culinary competition challenges teams of middle and high school students to understand how they can effect change in the food system by creating healthy, local dishes that inspire school meal programs.

Mary Beth Louks-Sorrell, Executive Director for YES! highlighted that when youth are not included, “One fourth of the population is being ignored, instead of tapped for their potential to contribute to improving things.” Additionally, Mary Beth offered up a set of best practices to consider before starting work with youth, including asking these questions:
What will be the role of youth in your work?
What do you hope to achieve from the inclusion of youth
Why are you interested in the thoughts, ideas, input, and leadership of youth?
What are some ways you might envision the way you and your organization operates or the direction of the work changing once youth are involved? 

Vermont FEED’s School Food Programs Coordinator, Marissa Watson commented on the importance of holding space for kids to participate, stating that, “school food change takes many players: students, food service, parents, and the community.” 
Kate Casale from Alameda County’s Office of Education explained that including youth as leaders within farm to school work is a perfect opportunity to tap into their creativity and innate interest in justice. She also reminds us about the importance of letting youth tell their stories in their own words. 

Jason, a seventeen year old from the program Bronx Youth Force explains, “If you had a problem in the Black community, and you brought in a group of White people to discuss how to solve it, almost nobody would take that panel seriously. In fact, there’d probably be a public outcry. It would be the same for women’s issues or gay issues. But every day, in local arenas all the way to the White House, adults sit around and decide what problems youth have and what youth need, without ever consulting us.” Young people are the changes makers of tomorrow, and today. Their ideas, contributions and voices are invaluable to the work of growing more just and equitable food systems, and we should always be conscious to have a place for them at the table. 


Appetite For Change is a North Minneapolis nonprofit organization that uses food as a tool to build health, wealth and social change. "Grow Food" is the culminating project of Appetite For Change's Summer 2016 Youth Employment & Training Program. Urban Youth wanted to share their message - the importance of actively choosing healthy foods - with their peers in a fun, accessible music format. Learn more about Appetite For Change here.


If you are interested in learning more about youth leadership within farm to school and the local food movement, we invited you to join us at the 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio in April 2018. An entire conference workshop track is dedicated to “Youth Leadership and Engagement” within the farm to cafeteria movement, and we’d love to have you be part of the conversation! 

Photo Credits (from top to bottom): Vermont FEED and Alameda County Office of Education (middle and bottom). 

This Week in Farm to School: 12/12/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 12, 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. Tater Tats Seed Fund Grants for Growers
Are you a growers? Tater Tats aims to help people grow vegetables--whether that means growing vegetables for the first time, expanding an operation, or experimenting with crazier, more delicious varieties. They applaud commitment to the land, to biodiversity, to the legacy of heirloom varieties, and want to help you grow! Tater Tats is giving ten percent of 2017 sales to subsidize seed purchases by offering $300 grants to vegetable producers nationwide. The deadline for next year's funding is December 31, 2017. Learn more and apply here


Webinars
1. Webinar: You are How You Eat: Food, Culture, and Social Inequality
December 12 // 12-1pm ET
Community Food Center's Canada presents this webinar focused on how inequality plays out through a variety of aspects of our current food culture. Though there are synergies and momentum toward progressive change building within the food movement, there are also complex dynamics related to race, class, gender, and social inequality. Sociologist Alice Julier has looked at subjects ranging from food as a vehicle for gentrification to how race, gender, and socio-economic experience reveal themselves around the dinner table. Register here

2. Webinar: Food Policy Storytelling: An Introduction to Harnessing the Power of Story Maps
December 13 // 1-2:15pm ET 
Sharing a powerful food policy story is vital to garnering support for new policies. Esri Story Maps, a web-based tool that combines maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content, provides one platform to develop and share these stories. Join us for an overview of the types of story maps available, how they have been used to tell impactful food policy stories, and a brief demonstration to help you get started making a story map of your own. You will hear from the head of Esri’s Story Maps team as well as a practitioner that has used story maps to communicate about her work on environment, agriculture, and food policy in Missouri. Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future staff members will also share their experiences using story maps to support food policy in Maryland. Register here

3. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics: SNAP-Ed and Farm to School
January 4 // 2-3 PM ET
SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education), an evidence-based program aimed at helping people make healthier food choices and live healthier lives, offers a growing opportunity to bring food, nutrition and agriculture related education as well as gardening, local food procurement and other farm to school initiatives into schools and communities across the country. We will hear from practitioners from University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and other SNAP-Ed programs about the integration of farm to school in both direct education and policy, systems and environmental change SNAP-Ed initiatives. Register here.

4. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to ECE Quarterly Webinar: Placing Equity at the Center of Farm to Early Care and Education
January 9, 2018 // 3-4:15pm ET
At the intersection of multiple sectors, including policy, education, food systems and social justice, farm to early care and education (farm to ECE) can be a platform for advancing racial and social equity. Access to farm to ECE opportunities may be one approach to addressing health and education inequities by increasing access to healthy, local foods and high-quality education opportunities for children and communities while promoting ECE policies that address inequity. Farm to ECE can, at the same time, address inequities in the food system by changing ECE purchasing practices and policies. Join the National Farm to School Network, the Policy Equity Group, the Food Trust, and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems to learn how these organizations are both evaluating internal structures and practices to prioritize equity and working towards programs and policies that place equity at the center of farm to ECE initiatives. Register here.

5. Webinar: Opportunities in the 2018 Farm Bill: Federal Efforts to Advance Equitable and Sustainable Food Systems
Jan. 9, 3-4:15pm ET
This webinar will provide a brief overview of the Farm Bill and status of the reauthorization process, as well as highlight four key policy pillars within the legislation: the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), healthy food incentive programs such as Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI), and sustainable agricultural and local/regional food system development. Speakers will discuss challenges and opportunities in each policy arena and highlight opportunities to get involved in shaping the next Farm Bill. Hosted by the Healthy Food Access Portal. Register here


Events
1. Rooting DC
March 3, 2018 // Washington, DC
Rooting DC is a free day-long conference on urban agriculture and gardening. Rooting DC is currently seeking conference proposals for both interactive hour-long workshops and 7-minute "pressure cooker" talks that explore the topics of urban food consumption and production. The Workshop proposal deadline is Friday December 15, 2017. Submit your proposal here

2. MSU: Center for Regional Food Systems' Food Talk 2017
December 14 // East Lansing, MI and Virtual via ZOOM
In Food Talk 2017 each TED talk-style speaker will focus on one important food system issue, followed by a few minutes for questions. Food Talk is a unique opportunity to engage with MSU Faculty, Academic Staff, and Extension Educators helping to improve our food system. You have the option to register to attend in-person or via Zoom live streaming. Register here


Resources & Research
1. Study: Farm to school programs limit plate waste
Researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences found that students at schools with a farm to school program ate 37% more vegetables and 11% more fruit than the average student consumed before their school adopted the program, according to the release. The study is published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, according to the release. Read more

2. An Annotated Bibliography on Structural Racism Present in the U.S. Food System: Fifth Edition
Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems presents this annotated bibliography which provides current research and outreach on structural racism in the U.S. food system for the food system practitioner, researcher, and educator. Structural racism in the United States has been defined as the “normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics—historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal—that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic outcomes for people of color. This fifth edition contains 9 videos and 47 new citations.

3. Are states creating equitable school funding systems?
Research shows state lawmakers may be falling short when crafting equitable school funding systems. One analysis shows that 21 states - up from 14 the year before - provide less funding to schools with higher concentrations of low-income students. Read more


Job Opportunities
1. Multiple Positions, National Young Farmers Coalition
The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) seeks a California Organizer to mobilize young farmers and ranchers across California to advocate for critical policy reform, and a full-time Policy Specialist to grow their federal policy team in DC. Learn more

2. Agriculture Institute Director, University of Wisconsin Extension

The Agriculture Institute Director is a senior level administrator who will provide organizational and cross-disciplinary leadership for the Agriculture Institute within Cooperative Extension. This full-time role will be responsible for strategic, financial, and operational oversight of centers within the institute, including the Center for Animal Agriculture, Center for Crops and Soils, Center for Farm Management, and Center for Horticulture. Learn more

3. Operations Assistant, Fair Food Network
Fair Food Network seeks to hire an Operations Assistant to be primarily based out of the Ann Arbor, Michigan office, but will also be responsible for maintaining the Detroit office and liaising with out-of-state staff on their local offices. This position is full-time. Learn more

4. Farm-to-Early Care and Education Program Specialist, Boulder County Public Health  
The Farm-to-Early Care and Education Program Specialist position is responsible for completing the goals and objectives of the FTECE Program with partial support provided by the City of Boulder Health Equity Funding for Boulder residents. This is a part time, benefited position. Learn more

5. Education Coordinator, Real Food Farm 
Real Food Farm is seeking an Education Coordinator Real Food Farm is Civic Works’ 8-acre urban farm enterprise that grows fresh vegetables and fruit in and around Clifton Park in Northeast Baltimore. Learn more


Farm to School in the News
Farm Fresh Fridays introduce Texas students to new veggies
“I tried the zucchini and I had not tried it before,” Bell said. “I thought it was a cucumber and I really liked it because it had a kick to it.” Students even experimented with the vegetables and dipped them in sauces and paired them with other foods from their lunches. (Killeen Daily Herald)

Thanksgiving starts in the garden for California students 
Each year in the fall, Crane School’s fifth-grade students harvest veggies from the school’s garden beds and prepare a big pot of soup for their class. They use a pitchfork to gently pry each carrot loose from the dirt. (Santa Barbara Family Life)

New greenhouse expands opportunities in Missouri
Central Missouri Master Gardeners has built a greenhouse for Callaway Hills Elementary School that will in time help students develop their green thumbs, and provide more vegetables to the school cafeteria and the Samaritan Center. (News Tribune)

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.

Food is Culture and Celebration!

NFSN Staff Wednesday, December 06, 2017

By Molly Schintler, Communications Intern

When I think about food, especially during the holiday season, I think about my traditions with family and friends. From holidays to birthdays and reunions, food has always been a central part of my celebration of life events. In the recently published New York Times Op-ed titled Feeling Conflicted on Thanksgiving Viet Thanh Nguyen explains, “DNA, in any case, tells us little about culture. Food tells us more.“ Farm to school is as much about food, culture, and celebration as it is about education, health and access.

Schools and early care settings across all 50 states, D.C., the U.S. Territories, and Native communities are using farm to school as an approach to deepen their understanding of food as a tool for cultural connection and celebration. At Warm Spring K-8 Academy on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon, there is urgency to connecting school and community culture to food traditions.  District Superintendent Ken Parnell explains:

You can’t just focus on math and literacy, because the rate of diabetes in our community is heartbreaking. Male life expectancy is 38 years. Many adults die from complications from diabetes. You can’t just say that’s a health concern and leave that in the community (outside of the school), because it affects our students. In my first year, eleven students lost parents. We have a responsibility to start working with students at a young age around nutrition.

The school district has framed farm to school as an opportunity to connect students to local, healthy, and traditional foods, such as root vegetables and salmon.  As the school became more engaged with these traditional foods in the cafeteria, they also realized there were opportunities to extend farm to school activities to families. For example, the school district’s family engagement nights, which turnout up to 1,000 students and family members, provided an exciting opportunity to celebrate healthy, traditional foods on a wider scale. After reflecting of how to better incorporate traditions into family nights, the district planned a powwow where everyone participated in dancing and enjoyed traditional food. Ken added, “It would have been much easier from the (school) kitchen (to work alone), but we worked with tribal partners to prepare traditional foods.”  

Every community has different food and cultural traditions – and that’s worth celebrating! Here are several additional snapshots of how farm to school celebrates traditions, relationships, and an overall connection to community-based food:

- Students in Arkansas are celebrating the holiday season and learning about each other cultures with a recipe swap. One student shared a family recipe dating back to 1911!

- In preparation for the upcoming holiday season, middle school students in rural Iowa learned about table settings, polite dinner conversation, and menu selection. To conclude their class, they enjoyed a Thanksgiving lunch together where they could put all they learned into practice.

- For about 20 Phoenix School culinary students, preparations to feed a Thanksgiving feast to 200 students and staff would not be complete without a trip to the school’s garden. Picking herbs from the garden was among the tasks needed to be finished before Tuesday’s big event.

This Week in Farm to School: 12/05/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 05, 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 FY 2018 Farm to School Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. 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. Applications are due Dec. 8, 2017. Learn more here

2. NIFA’s Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Competitive Grants Program (AgVets)
AgVets seeks to increase the number of military veterans gaining knowledge and skills through comprehensive, hands-on, and immersive model farm and ranch programs offered regionally that lead to successful careers in the food and agricultural sector. The program encourages the development of training opportunities specifically designed for military veterans. Eligible applicants must be nonprofit entities.The letter of intent deadline is Jan. 11, 2018. The application deadline is Feb. 8, 2018. See the request for applications for details.

3. Farm Asset Builder

Farm Asset Builder is an Individual Development Account (IDA) matched savings program. Farmers work with Angelic Organics Learning Center and partners to improve their financial and business planning skills, while also saving a monthly portion of their earned farm income that will then be MATCHED! Savings will then be used to purchase items (or assets) that help grow your farm business. Application period ends Friday, December 8, 2017. Read more and apply


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Building a Successful Food Forest
December 6 // 3:30-4:30 CT
The Wisconsin School Garden Network is partnering with colleagues at La Crosse Area Family YMCA, GROW La Crosse, and Coulee Region Ecoscapes to discuss how to build a successful food forest. A food forest, large or small, is a great way to enhance your youth garden with fruit trees, fruiting shrubs, and other edibles! Register here

2. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics: Youth Engagement through Farm to School
December 7 // 2-3pm ET
Farm to school initiatives across the country are changing the way young people view and consume fresh, local foods and interact with their community. This month’s focus on youth engagement through farm to school will highlight unique approaches and initiatives to engage youth in their communities and food systems and empower youth to be leaders and active voices in the farm to school movement. Join us for the webinar to hear speakers discuss initiatives, best practices, resources and more to boost youth engagement in farm to school. Register here

3. Webinar: You are How You Eat: Food, Culture, and Social Inequality

December 12 // 12-1pm ET
Community Food Center's Canada presents this webinar focused on how inequality plays out through a variety of aspects of our current food culture. Though there are synergies and momentum toward progressive change building within the food movement, there are also complex dynamics related to race, class, gender, and social inequality. Sociologist Alice Julier has looked at subjects ranging from food as a vehicle for gentrification to how race, gender, and socio-economic experience reveal themselves around the dinner table. Register here

4. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to ECE Quarterly Webinar: Placing Equity at the Center of Farm to Early Care and Education
January 9, 2018 // 3-4:15pm ET
At the intersection of multiple sectors, including policy, education, food systems and social justice, farm to early care and education (farm to ECE) can be a platform for advancing racial and social equity. Access to farm to ECE opportunities may be one approach to addressing health and education inequities by increasing access to healthy, local foods and high-quality education opportunities for children and communities while promoting ECE policies that address inequity. Farm to ECE can, at the same time, address inequities in the food system by changing ECE purchasing practices and policies. Join the National Farm to School Network, the Policy Equity Group, the Food Trust, and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems to learn how these organizations are both evaluating internal structures and practices to prioritize equity and working towards programs and policies that place equity at the center of farm to ECE initiatives. Register here.

5. Food Tank Summit Events

Each Summit features 30+ speakers (to be announced soon) and includes a delicious breakfast and lunch, with tons of other terrific opportunities and surprises. Washington, D.C. Summit (February 28): Cultivating the Next Generation of Young Food Leaders presented in partnership with George Washington University and World Resources Institute, Seattle Summit (March 17): Growing Food Policy presented in partnership with Food Action, and Boston Summit (April 19): Exploring the Paradox of Hunger and Obesity presented in collaboration with the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and Oxfam America. Read more


Resources & Research
1. School Nutrition Association’s 2017 Trends Report
As school nutrition professionals work to promote healthier choices and boost school meal participation, a recent SNA survey reveals school menus feature more international flavors, made-to-order entrees and cleaner label options. Read More.

2. Racial Equity in the Farm Bill: Context and Foundations
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has launched a new blog series focused on the Farm Bill as a tool for advancing racial equity in food and agriculture. In this first post from the series, NSAC wades into the complex and historical issues of racial equity, setting the stage for subsequent posts that will focus on the specific challenges faced by people of color in the food and farm system and recommendations for creating lasting institutional change.


Job Opportunities
1. Program Manager, Green Shoots for New Americans
The Green Shoots for New Americans - Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program (RAPP) is an educational urban farming program, located on Buffalo, New York's east side, that provides adult refugees adaptive farming and marketing skills. Green Shoots seeks to hire a Program Manager. Learn more

2. Executive Director, The Northern Colorado Food Cluster

The Northern Colorado Food Cluster is looking for an Executive Director to lead the organization in promoting food systems-led economic development in the Northern Colorado region. Learn more

3. Farm Manager, Allegheny Mountain Institute
Allegheny Mountain Institute is seeking a Farm Manager to manage the farm central to AMI's Farm and Food Education Fellowship, an intensive, hands-on cooperative experiential learning and training program in Highland County, VA. Learn more

4. Education Director, Wright-Locke Farm
Wright-Locke Farm is now hiring an Education Director to develop, manage, and facilitate youth and adult education programs. The Education Director is a full-time, year-round salaried position. Learn more

5. Garden Teacher, Pacific Elementary School 
Pacific School in California is hiring a Garden Teacher. Grow food with kids for a leading school meal program. Truly a unique school and part-time job. Learn more


Farm to School in the News
Anchorage School District is Really Living the Farm to School Dream
What do you get when you combine a former Minnesotan who grew up on a farm, a farmer in the Matanuska Valley who has many potatoes too small to sell, and 30,000+ Thanksgiving meal lunches for students in Anchorage schools? You get an excited Student Nutrition Department Executive Director, a happy farmer, and students thrilled about the fresh, nutritious, local mashed potatoes in their lunch! (KTVA The Voice of Alaska

New Mexico Teacher Prepares Fresh Lunches for 160 Students Every Day - From Scratch

“On pizza day, I will make five full-sized trays of focaccia and split down the middle, so we have 10 pieces. We make tomato sauce (sometimes we use fresh tomatoes from the school garden) and fresh herbs, we top that with green chile and other toppings. The kids go crazy … I love that.” (Babble)

Iowa Schools are Using Local Produce to Make Global Recipes
Every school day in October, the 550 students at Decorah Middle School sampled recipes from around the world. This program not only connected students to global foods, they also made local connection by using local, seasonal fruit and vegetables whenever possible. (The Lunchbox)

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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