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This Week in farm to school: 3/28/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 28, 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. 


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Promising Partnerships: Extension and Farm to Early Care and Education
New Date: Tuesday, April 4, 2pm ET
With the goal of bringing practical information to improve the lives of agricultural producers, consumers, families, and children, extension is a natural fit for partnership in farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) initiatives. The National Institute for Food and Agriculture, in partnership with the National Farm to School Network, will be offering a webinar to share extension and farm to ECE partnerships and projects. Register here.

2. Webinar: Statewide Farm to ECE Network Building
Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 3:30 – 4:30 PM ET
Statewide farm to early care and education (ECE) network building is a key approach to institutionalizing farm to ECE and increasing opportunities for all children, families, and communities to reap the many benefits of farm to ECE. Join us for the April NFSN Farm to ECE Webinar where we will hear from Emily Jackson of the North Carolina Farm to Preschool Network and Erin Croom of the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition who will share models from their states and identify keys to success in building a statewide farm to ECE network. This webinar is open to the public so please share through your networks. Register here.

3. Request for Proposals: Southern Obesity Summit
October 1-3 // Atlanta, Georgia
The Southern Obesity Summit Planning Committee invites individual applications for pre-conference sessions, breakout sessions, special sessions and Pillar workgroup sessions during the 11th Annual Southern Obesity Summit. These sessions  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. The deadline for submissions in May 1. Learn more here

4. Request for Proposals: Community Food Systems Conference 
December 5-7 // Boston, Mass. 
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project's Community Food Systems Conference will address common underlying themes between food security, social justice and sustainable agriculture. There are certain cross-cutting issues we believe are fundamental in community food systems and in building a strong, equitable food future. We hope to see these represented across all sessions: Skill Building across cultures and sectors; diversity of presenters; and racial, social and economic equity. Proposals are due April 3. Learn more here


Resources
1. Report: USDA ERS - Daily Access to Local Foods for School Meals
To examine progress in the use of locally produced foods in school meals and to help identify school districts for technical assistance, this new report from USDA ERS uses data from the 2013 Farm to School Census to measure the prevalence of school districts that serve local food daily and the characteristics of those districts. Read the full report here.  

2. Recording Available: Farm to Summer: How Regional Offices and State Agencies Support Farm to Summer
Increasingly, Summer Meal sponsors are embracing the Farm to Summer movement by serving fresh, local foods and offering engaging activities, and Regional and State-level staff play a unique role in supporting these efforts. This USDA webinar provides an overview of farm to summer activities, resources, and a snapshot of how Regional offices and State agencies have encouraged sponsors to adopt farm to summer principles. From MAP addendums to partner meetings, discover how your Regional and State colleagues support “bringing the farm” to Summer Meal Programs. Watch the recording here

3. Study: School Lunch Quality and Academic Performance
In a recent paper, economists set out to determine whether healthier school lunches affect student achievement as measured by test scores. The intense policy interest in improving the nutritional content of public-school meals—in addition to vendors’ efforts to market their school meals as good for the body and the mind—sparked the researchers’ curiosity and led to an unexpected discovery: Students at schools that contract with a healthier school-lunch vendor perform somewhat better on state tests—and this option appears highly cost-effective compared to policy interventions that typically are more expensive, like class-size reduction. Read an article about the study here. Read the study here


Action Opportunities
1. 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
Food Solutions New England (FSNE) is committed to addressing all forms of racism in our food system. FSNE believe that we cannot talk about and work for sustainability, food security, and economic prosperity in our region without facing the realities of discrimination and social inequity in our food system and beyond. You’re invited to join FSNE’s 2017 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge: April 9 - April 29. Sign up here


Job Opportunities
1. Education and Training Specialist, Institute of Child Nutrition
The University of Mississippi’s Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) seeks an Education and Training Specialist I. This is a professional position in which the incumbent develops, implements, and evaluates ICN educational curricula and training program materials for face-to-face and web-based delivery. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
Colorado School District constantly seeking participation from local farmers, ranchers
Natalie Leffler, who heads Greeley-Evans School District 6’s Farm to School program, is always looking for new local farmers and ranchers to get involved in farm to school. More than 80 percent of meals in District 6’s kitchen are now made from scratch, thanks to farm to school. (The Fence Post)

Maple syrup, lobster rolls part of New Hampshire school program
After a morning of tapping maple trees, students in New Hampshire returned to their school cafeteria for a lunch of mini lobster rolls, maple-glazed scallops and clam chowder - all of the seafood sourced locally. The school was a recipient of a USDA Farm to School grant, which will end this year. But, the program will continue on, thanks to Seabrook voters, who have approved a school operating budget with money for continuing the farm to school initiative. (Newbury Port News)

North Dakota kids visit farm
Fourth graders from Thompson Public School (North Dakota) recently visited a local farm to learn about agriculture and their local food systems. "When they go to the grocery store with their parents, I want them to be able to point (to a food product) and say, 'I know a farmer who grows that,'" farmer Bob Drees said. (AgWeek)

Read past editions of This Week for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country. 

This Week in farm to school: 3/21/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 21, 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. Request for Applications: Native Communities with Farm to School
The National Farm to School Network is pleased to announce a new mini-grant project: Seed Change in Native Communities with Farm to School. This project aims to expand farm to school activities (procurement of local and traditional foods, school gardens, and food and agriculture education) in Native communities as a strategy to leverage community-wide initiatives towards building food security and food sovereignty and towards revitalizing use of traditional foods. The project will provide five Native schools mini-grants in the amount of $5,900 to expand and promote farm to school. Native schools/early care and education sites will be selected through an open application process to partner on this project. The full RFA can be found here. Applications are due March 22, 2017 at 6pm ET. 

2. RFA: Children, Youth, and Families at Risk Sustainable Community Projects
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA announces the Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) funding program to improve the quality and quantity of comprehensive community-based programs for at-risk children, youth, and families supported by the Cooperative Extension System. The application deadline is March 29, 2017. Learn more here

3. Seeds of Change: Garden Grant Program
Seeds of Change® is awarding grants to 24 garden project around the country. Four Grand Prize grants (totaling $110,000) and twenty Secondary grants (totaling $200,000) will be awarded. To be eligible, entries must be received by March 28, 2017. Learn more here

4. United Fresh Start Foundation Community Grants Program
The United Fresh Start Foundation is now accepting applications for its new Community Grants Program, established to help advance the organization’s mission to increase children’s access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Not-for-profit organizations focused on child nutrition, food access and creating healthy communities through increased access to fresh produce, can download the grant application here. Applications are due by Monday, April 20, 2017.


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Farm to School in the Every Student Succeeds Act
March 21, 3-4pm ET - TODAY!

Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this webinar will discuss new opportunities for  farm to school under the newest authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, called the Every Student Succeeds Act. In this legislation, there are various funding opportunities and policy levers that advocates and educators on the ground can utilize to move farm to school forward in their communities. This webinar is open to the public. Register here

2. Webinar: Schools As Nutrition Hubs: The Business Savvy Strategy to Reduce Childhood Hunger
Wednesday, March 22, 2-3:15pm ET
Are you passionate about providing meals to food insecure students? Do you want to operate a year-round food service program that is financially sustainable, creates jobs, and eases procurement? Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is working to support schools serving as “Nutrition Hubs” within their communities. Nutrition Hubs provide children with access to the full range of child nutrition programs including breakfast, served after the bell, lunch, afterschool suppers, and summer meals. In low-income neighborhoods, where students rely heavily on school meals, the role of the Nutrition Hub holds increased importance. In this interactive webinar, learn tips and how-to lessons from and brainstorm with expert Food Service Directors who operate Nutrition Hubs. Register here

3. Webinar: Local Meat to Local Schools: Lessons Learned from the Montana Beef to School Project
Thursday, March 23, 12-1pm ET
Many folks all over the nation are organizing to get local ingredients into public schools and other institutions as a way to support local farmers as well as improve the quality and healthfullness of school food. Fruits and vegetables have been the low-hanging fruit; local meat and animal products can be much more challenging to get on school menus. The Montana Beef to School Project is a three-year collaborative project between several Montana beef producers and processors, schools and many stakeholders represented in the Montana Beef to School Coalition. Hear from one of the project leaders, Thomas Bass of Montana State University Extension along with one of the key processing partners, Jeremy Plummer of Lower Valley Processing in Kalispell, about what they learned over the three years of this project. Register here

4. Webinar Rescheduled: Promising Partnerships: Extension and Farm to Early Care and Education
New Date: Tuesday, April 4, 2pm ET
With the goal of bringing practical information to improve the lives of agricultural producers, consumers, families, and children, extension is a natural fit for partnership in farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) initiatives. The National Institute for Food and Agriculture, in partnership with the National Farm to School Network, will be offering a webinar to share extension and farm to ECE partnerships and projects. Register here.

5. Webinar: Statewide Farm to ECE Network Building
Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 3:30 – 4:30 PM ET
Statewide farm to early care and education (ECE) network building is a key approach to institutionalizing farm to ECE and increasing opportunities for all children, families, and communities to reap the many benefits of farm to ECE. Join us for the April NFSN Farm to ECE Webinar where we will hear from Emily Jackson of the North Carolina Farm to Preschool Network and Erin Croom of the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition who will share models from their states and identify keys to success in building a statewide farm to ECE network. This webinar is open to the public so please share through your networks. Register here.


Resources
1. Webinar recording: Health, Nutrition and Wellness Strategies for Your Community
NFSN's webinar for the AFT Share My Lesson Plan Virtual Conference is now available to view online. “Health, Nutrition and Wellness Strategies for Your Community” features Lacy Stephens, MS, RDN, Farm to Early Care and Education Associate with the National Farm to School Network, who discusses how farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education sites. Educators receive free professional development hours by viewing. View the recording here

2. Campus Dining 101: A Benchmark Study on Farm to College in New England
Farm to Institution New England is pleased to announce a report that highlights the data collected from college dining operators in the region. “Campus Dining 101: A Benchmark Study on Farm to College in New England” presents in-depth findings and makes specific, data-based recommendations for institutions of higher education as well as government officials, funders, and institutions. Explore the report here


Action Opportunities

1. Organizational Sign-On Letter: Young Farmer Success Act
Last month, Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA) and John Faso (R-NY) reintroduced the Young Farmer Success Act (H.R. 1060), National Young Farmer Coalition’s bill to provide student loan forgiveness to young farmers. To demonstrate broad support for this bill, NYFC is circulating an organizational sign-on letter that will be sent to the Chair and Ranking Members of the Committees of jurisdiction for this measure. If your organization would like to add their name, please fill out this Google Form by March 22. 

2. Nominations for USDA Beginning Farmer and Minority Farmer advisory committees

USDA is currently accepting nominations for both the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee and the Minority Farmer Advisory Committee. Learn more about the Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers here. Learn more about the OAO Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers here. Nominations for both committees are are due next Friday March 31. 

3. 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
Food Solutions New England (FSNE) is committed to addressing all forms of racism in our food system. FSNE believe that we cannot talk about and work for sustainability, food security, and economic prosperity in our region without facing the realities of discrimination and social inequity in our food system and beyond. You’re invited to join FSNE’s 2017 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge: April 9 - April 29. Sign up here


Job Opportunities

1. Farm to School Educator, Island Grown Schools
Island Grown Schools, Martha’s Vineyard’s Farm-to-School program, is hiring a full-time educator. This position works with grades K-12 at two local schools throughout the school year, and facilitates our teen apprenticeship program during the summer months. If interested please send your resume, cover letter, and 2 references to kaila@igimv.org.


Farm to School in the News
Vermont students compete in Jr. Iron Chef cook-off
Fiftyfive student cooking teams gathered on Saturday wearing uniforms as inventive as the food they hoped to present to the judges at the 10th Junior Iron Chef Vermont competition. The competition’s mission is to empower students to use local products and develop healthy eating habits. Vermont FEED (NFSN Vermont Core Partner) sponsors the event. Burlington Free Press

Fish to School: Sitka lunch program continues to satisfy
A weekly lunch program in Sitka, Alaska is getting wild salmon out of the fisherman’s net and onto students’ plates. “No one that’s not vegetarian does not like fish that I know,” exclaims Seren. She’s in fifth grade and takes a second to think of her favorite foods of all time. “Salmon is second on my list of favorite foods,” she says. KCAW

A healthier school lunch
Try County Schools (Nebraska) recently held its first farmer’s market, which included veggies picked from the school’s greenhouse and foods provided by local businesses. “Every class of students gets to go through our farmer's market today and try local produce. We have new vegetables out today, and we're all still learning how to spell them.” Beatrice Daily Sun


Read past editions of This Week for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country. 

This Week in farm to school: 3/14/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 14, 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. Request for Applications: Native Communities with Farm to School
The National Farm to School Network is pleased to announce a new mini-grant project: Seed Change in Native Communities with Farm to School. This project aims to expand farm to school activities (procurement of local and traditional foods, school gardens, and food and agriculture education) in Native communities as a strategy to leverage community-wide initiatives towards building food security and food sovereignty and towards revitalizing use of traditional foods. The project will provide five Native schools mini-grants in the amount of $5,900 to expand and promote farm to school. Native schools/early care and education sites will be selected through an open application process to partner on this project. The full RFA can be found here. Applications are due March 22, 2017 at 6pm ET. 

2. Call for Proposals: Raising Places
Nearly half of the nation’s children live in low-income communities where their families lack resources to thrive. Yet, there is limited effort to directly connect the complex systems that affect the health of a community and those who live there. Through a grant from RWJF, Greater Good Studio is launching Raising Places to partner with local leaders invested in childhood and community development to explore actionable, locally driven answers for the question, ‘What does it take to build healthier communities where all children and their families can thrive?’ Nonprofit agencies and their community teams are invited to apply to become part of this national initiative that will pilot new, community-driven projects that hold promise for creating healthy places where children and their families can succeed. Letters of Intent are due March 31, 2017. Learn more here


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar Rescheduled: Promising Partnerships: Extension and Farm to Early Care and Education
New Date: April 4, 2pm ET
With the goal of bringing practical information to improve the lives of agricultural producers, consumers, families, and children, extension is a natural fit for partnership in farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) initiatives. The National Institute for Food and Agriculture, in partnership with the National Farm to School Network, will be offering a webinar to share extension and farm to ECE partnerships and projects. Register here.

2. Webinar: Farm to School in the Every Student Succeeds Act
March 21, 3-4pm ET
Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this webinar will discuss new opportunities for  farm to school under the newest authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, called the Every Student Succeeds Act. In this legislation, there are various funding opportunities and policy levers that advocates and educators on the ground can utilize to move farm to school forward in their communities. This webinar is open to the public. Register here

3. Webinar: Statewide Farm to ECE Network Building
Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 3:30 – 4:30 PM ET
Statewide farm to early care and education (ECE) network building is a key approach to institutionalizing farm to ECE and increasing opportunities for all children, families, and communities to reap the many benefits of farm to ECE. Join us for the April NFSN Farm to ECE Webinar where we will hear from Emily Jackson of the North Carolina Farm to Preschool Network and Erin Croom of the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition who will share models from their states and identify keys to success in building a statewide farm to ECE network. This webinar is open to the public so please share through your networks. Register here.

4. Webinar: The Time is Right for Strong Advocacy on Capitol Hill - Lessons and Insights from Policy Insiders
March 15, 2017, 12-1pm ET
While nobody has a crystal ball to tell us the future of federal food and nutrition programs and policy, there are signs that many recent achievements could be rolled back or reversed. Food advocates need to ensure that members of Congress - new and continuing - are fully informed of the importance of our collective work. This webinar will help participants understand actions they can take to ensure that the communities we work in and programs and policies we work on maintain critical support for the next four years and beyond. Register here

5. Life Lab: Common Core in the Garden Educator Workshop (Grades K-6)
March 31 // UC Santa Cruz Farm
Learn to use a school garden to provide a meaningful context in which students can apply their emerging skills in math and English language arts. Using lessons from The Growing Classroom activity guide, participants in this workshop will experience and discuss garden activities that support learning in math and language arts. Whether they are graphing the temperature of their compost pile over time; reading a recipe to make fresh salsa; writing a story from the perspective of an ant; or presenting to a buddy class on the animals that visited their sunflower patch, the opportunities for children to practice traditional academic subjects in the garden are limitless. Learn more here


Resources
1. Toolkit: Every Student Succeeds Act and Farm to School
In 2015, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and it includes many new opportunities for the integration of farm to school and early care and education activities in educational settings. To help you stay aware and take advantage of the opportunities this legislation provides, the National Farm to School Network has created a toolkit outlining how farm to school activities can engage with ESSA. Explore the toolkit here

2. Youth Farm Stand Toolkit
The Slow Food Youth Farm Stand (YFS) model is a single-vendor market on school grounds that is run by the students of that school who sell freshly harvested produce from their school garden and, in some cases, produce from local farms and gardens. The YFS model is adaptable to the needs and resources of the school and community, such that in some cases, it is a supply of fresh produce for neighborhoods lacking fresh produce and, in other cases, can serve as a fundraiser to bring in needed funds to support the garden infrastructure. Slow Food USA just published the Youth Farm Stand Toolkit to walk you through the process of planning, marketing, pricing, and evaluating your YFS. Download the toolkit here

3. Ingredient Guide: For Better School Food Purchasing
School Food Focus has created a resource for school food leaders and manufacturers alike who are committed to improving the overall quality, nutritional value, and safety of food provided to all students in every school. The guide highlights unwanted ingredients to eliminate, or those to watch out for, as new food products are developed and others are modified. Download the guide here

4. Case Study: Shrinking the Carbon and Water Footprint of School Food - A Recipe for Combatting Climate Change
As schools across the nation grapple with how to feed kids healthier, more sustainable food on tight budgets, an inspiring story from Oakland Unified School District provides a roadmap for change. Friends of the Earth’s new case study shows how the district was able to significantly reduce its carbon and water footprint by replacing a share of its meat, poultry and cheese purchases with plant-based proteins. These actions also saved the district money and improved students’ access to healthful food. Read the case study here

5. NSAC Blog Series: Path to the 2018 Farm Bill
As a lead-up to the 2018 Farm Bill, around which discussions and debate in Congress have already begun, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is previewing some of the major programs and policies advocates need to know in order to effectively engage. The first post in its series, “Path to the 2018 Farm Bill,” covers the nutrition title; specifically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), by far the largest program in the farm bill from a funding standpoint. Read the blog series here

6. Webinar Recording: Letters to the Editor 101
On March 18, 2017 WFAN’s Plate to Politics program hosted a Letters to the Editor 101 webinar focused on writing opinion pieces with an ecofeminist perspective. The presenters discussed writing effective letters, including finding your voice, framing your argument, how to submit a letter, writing as a coalition and handling reactions. Watch a recording of the webinar here


Action Opportunities
1. Survey: how can NFSN better support your farm to school efforts?
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is partnering with the STAR program at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School to identify new and innovative ways NFSN can better support farm to school and farm to early care and education efforts to keep the movement growing strong. All farm to school and ECE practitioners and stakeholders are invited to take a short (15 minute) survey to offer their perspective on opportunities for additional services, platforms and content that the National Farm to School Network may offer. Take the survey here, and please share widely with your networks. The survey closes March 19.

2. High School Garden Programs Survey
Noehealani Antolin, a graduate student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, is conducting an online survey to ascertain information on high school garden programs across the United States. The purpose of the study is to describe educators’ perspectives about high school gardening programs across the nation, including benefits associated with having a school garden and barriers encountered with implementation and sustainability of a school garden. Please share this survey widely with your networks. All who are directly involved in high school garden programs are encouraged to participate. Take the survey here.


Job Opportunities
1. Development Director, National Farm to School Network
The National Farm to School Network seeks a Development Director to lead the organization in strategic growth and diversification of its funding base. This is a remote position and candidates will be considered from any location within the United States. The deadline to apply is March 20, 2017. Learn more here

2. Communications Professional, NESARE
University of Vermont Extension seeks a full-time communications professional for the USDA Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. This position manages outreach to farmers, researchers, educators, service providers, non-profits and other agricultural professionals in the 12 Northeast states. Learn more here

3. FoodCorps Service Member Application due March 15
FoodCorps is recruiting talented leaders for a year of paid public service building healthy school food environments in limited-resource communities. FoodCorps AmeriCorps members teach student hands on lessons in growing cooking and tasting healthy food; promote healthy eating onions in the cafeteria; and, make schools healthier place to eat, learn and grow. The FoodCorps application is open now through March 15th. Learn more here


Read past editions of This Week for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country. 

Celebrate CACFP with Farm to Early Care and Education!

NFSN Staff Monday, March 13, 2017

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

While we aim to celebrate great nutrition for kids all year round, this week, we have a special reason to cheer. March 12 – 18 is National CACFP Week, a week devoted to raising awareness of how the USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) works to combat hunger and bring healthy foods to the table for adults in day care and children in child care homes, centers, and in afterschool and summer feeding programs across the country. CACFP provides approximately 1.9 billion meals and snacks to over 3.3 million children every day. Studies show children who participate in CACFP programs have healthier eating patterns and are less likely to be overweight. CACFP may even contribute to reduced household food insecurity. There are so many reasons to celebrate this important program! 

Farm to early care and education (ECE) activities – including local procurement, gardening, and food-based education – offer valuable opportunities to support success in CACFP. In 2017, new CACFP meal patterns will go into effect that require programs to serve a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and lower sugar foods. Farm to ECE experiences, like taste tests, cooking activities and gardening, can encourage children to taste and accept new, diverse foods. Serving local and seasonal foods is even identified as a best practice in USDA’s “Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Pattern Revision: Best Practices.”   

The National Farm to School Network and ECE stakeholders will continue the celebration of CACFP when we convene for the National CACFP Conference in San Diego, Calif., April 18-20, 2017. Farm to ECE educational opportunities are highlighted throughout the conference schedule, ensuring even more CACFP sponsors and ECE stakeholders will take home resources, information and know-how to spread farm to ECE opportunities across the country. The National Farm to School Network will kick off the conference week by offering a preconference training session in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture, Taking Root Tennessee, and YMCA Childcare Resource Service of San Diego. This four-hour session will demonstrate how farm to ECE initiatives not only integrate seamlessly with the learning style of young children, but are also an evidenced-based approach to meeting educational and nutrition standards (including CACFP meal patterns) and improving the quality of early care and education environments. Whether participants are seasoned experts or just ready to plant the first seeds, they will come away with concrete plans to “grow” health and wellness, experiential learning opportunities, and parent engagement through farm to ECE.  

The learning and fun continue with multiple break-out sessions devoted to the core elements of farm to ECE. The National Farm to School Network, USDA, the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute and North County Community Services will introduce participants to the ways that farm to ECE initiatives can support success in meeting new CACFP meal pattern requirements while increasing children’s acceptance of the new foods found on their plates. In another session, USDA will show participants how to use the popular Grow It! Try It! Like It! nutrition education curriculum to build lifelong healthy habits for young eaters. USDA will also join the Texas Department of Agriculture and Michigan State University to provide attendees with concrete steps to begin or increase their use of local products in menus and educational programming. Finally, Our Daily Bread of Tennessee will dig into the garden experience and demonstrate how gardening can promote healthier food choices and introduce science, math, and environmental stewardship concepts, while improving social and interpersonal skills.  

Find more ways to celebrate CACFP during National CACFP Week and learn more about National CACFP Conference from the National CACFP Sponsors Association. Learn more about farm to early care and education from the National Farm to School Network’s Farm to Early Care and Education landing page.   

Farm to School in the Every Student Succeeds Act

NFSN Staff Wednesday, March 08, 2017
By Ariel Bernstein, Farm to School and Education Fellow

Farm to school is a multifaceted movement with many intersecting components. As stakeholders continue to engage in policy levers for farm to school, a large piece of education legislation, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), comes into the conversation. To help you stay aware of and take advantage of the opportunities this legislation provides, the National Farm to School Network has created a toolkit outlining how farm to school engages with ESSA. As the farm to school movement continues to grow, it is imperative to seek new opportunities where farm to school can impact students and families. ESSA is one of them.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been one of the most important education policies to shape the way states and districts interact with their most vulnerable students and lowest performing schools. It has provided opportunities for low-income, migrants and native students, as well as outlined Title I funding, data reporting and many forms of enrichment education. In December of 2015, Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into legislation, reauthorizing ESEA and replacing its predecessor, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). ESSA has taken a different approach than NCLB did, shifting more decision making authority to states, opposed to having power concentrated at the federal level. Under the new legislation, State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) design their own education plans, giving them leverage to choose how federal funding is used. ESSA also has a heavy focus on non-academic factors that contribute to improving education. Aspects such as school climate, health and wellness, and family engagement are being pulled into conversations about student success, creating a more holistic and well-rounded educational environment for students.

These themes provide great potential for farm to school and early care and education (ECE) to interact with this legislation. There are opportunities for the inclusion of farm to school and ECE in the design and implementation of state and local plans for ESSA. Farm to school can improve educational outcomes through methods such as social and emotional learning, health and food education, family and community engagement, and healthier school climate, just to name a few. ESSA’s focus on well rounded education is a great connection point for farm to school, and one that should be taken advantage of by educators, school health professionals, parents advocates and all other farm to school stakeholders.

With education as one of the three core elements of farm to school, it is key that we stay engaged with this legislation and the opportunities it provides. This new toolkit is designed for educators, advocates, parents and farm to school and ECE stakeholders to understand and act upon the opportunities ESSA offers, and to continue to expand the reach of farm to school and ECE in our communities. 


Ready to learn more? Join us on March 21, 3-4pm ET, for a Q&A style webinar about farm to school in ESSA. Register here. Or, contact Ariel Bernstein, National Farm to School Network Farm to School and Education Fellow, at ariel@farmtoschool.org

This Week in farm to school: 3/7/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 07, 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. Request for Applications: Native Communities with Farm to School
The National Farm to School Network is pleased to announce a new mini-grant project: Seed Change in Native Communities with Farm to School. This project aims to expand farm to school activities (procurement of local and traditional foods, school gardens, and food and agriculture education) in Native communities as a strategy to leverage community-wide initiatives towards building food security and food sovereignty and towards revitalizing use of traditional foods. The project will provide five Native schools mini-grants in the amount of $5,900 to expand and promote farm to school. Native schools/early care and education sites will be selected through an open application process to partner on this project. The full RFA can be found here. Applications are due March 22, 2017 at 6pm ET. 

2. United Fresh Start Foundation Community Grants Program
The United Fresh Start Foundation is now accepting applications for its new Community Grants Program, established to help advance the organization’s mission to increase children’s access to fresh fruit and vegetables. The Community Grants Program extends the foundation’s work beyond the school day, with the goal to provide children in communities across the country with access to fresh fruit and vegetables afterschool, on weekends, during summer breaks and in other creative venues. Local community organizations and groups that share the United Fresh Start Foundation’s mission are encouraged to apply. Not-for-profit organizations focused on child nutrition, food access and creating healthy communities through increased access to fresh produce, can download the grant application here. Applications are due by Monday, April 20, 2017.

3. Voices for Healthy Kids: Incubator Grant Opportunity
The purpose of this Strategic Campaign Fund Incubator opportunity is to support innovative advocacy approaches that align with Voices for Healthy Kids policy priorities. Incubator opportunities should identify additional partners and strategies through the empowered engagement of populations that are in the greatest need for helping all children achieve a healthy weight. All grants awarded within this opportunity will be 100% non-lobbying funding. The deadline for application submission is Friday, March 31, 2017 at 5pm EST. Learn more here

4. Specialty Crop Block Grant Program 2017 RFA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, AMS, requests applications for the FY 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to award grants to eligible State departments of agriculture to carry out projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Approximately $60.6 million, less USDA administrative costs, is available to fund applications under this solicitation. Learn more here


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Promising Partnerships: Extension and Farm to Early Care and Education
March 14, 2pm ET
With the goal of bringing practical information to improve the lives of agricultural producers, consumers, families, and children, extension is a natural fit for partnership in farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) initiatives. The National Institute for Food and Agriculture, in partnership with the National Farm to School Network, will be offering a webinar to share extension and farm to ECE partnerships and projects. Register here.

2. Webinar: Farm to School in the Every Student Succeeds Act
March 21, 3-4pm ET
Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this webinar will discuss new opportunities for  farm to school under the newest authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, called the Every Student Succeeds Act. In this legislation, there are various funding opportunities and policy levers that advocates and educators on the ground can utilize to move farm to school forward in their communities. This webinar is open to the public. Register here

3. Webinar: Statewide Farm to ECE Network Building
Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 3:30 – 4:30 PM ET
Statewide farm to early care and education (ECE) network building is a key approach to institutionalizing farm to ECE and increasing opportunities for all children, families, and communities to reap the many benefits of farm to ECE. Join us for the April NFSN Farm to ECE Webinar where we will hear from Emily Jackson of the North Carolina Farm to Preschool Network and Erin Croom of the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition who will share models from their states and identify keys to success in building a statewide farm to ECE network. This webinar is open to the public so please share through your networks. Register here.

4. 2017 New England Farm to Institution Summit
April 5-7 // Leominster, Mass. 
Are you working to mobilize the power of schools, colleges, hospitals, corrections, and other institutions to transform our food system? You’re invited to the 2017 New England Farm to Institution Summit on April 5-7 in Leominster, Massachusetts! The #F2ISummit will feature 65+ sessions, inspiring speakers, local tours, good food, an exhibitor fair, and more. Please join us – along with hundreds of other farm to institution advocates – for up to three exciting days of learning, sharing and connecting. Early bird rates end on March 10th. Register online: www.f2isummit.org/register

5. National Children & Youth Garden Symposium: Scholarships Available
July 12-25 // Greater Portland, Oregon & Vancouver, Washington area
NCYGS is a national networking event for like-minded teachers, garden designers, community leaders, program coordinators, and others involved with connecting kids to the natural world. A limited number of scholarships for discounted or complimentary registration are available for the 25th annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium (NCYGS). The deadline for submitting an application is Friday, March 17. Learn more here


Resources
1. 500 Cities Map: Local data for better health
CDC has launched an interactive web application for the 500 Cities Project. The interactive web application allows users to view chronic disease risk factors such as obesity, health outcomes, and clinical preventive service use for the largest 500 cities. The interactive mapping application also enables users to zoom in to their neighborhood and explore their local data in the larger context of their city. View the map here.


Action Opportunities
1. Survey: how can NFSN better support your farm to school efforts?
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is partnering with the STAR program at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School to identify new and innovative ways NFSN can better support farm to school and farm to early care and education efforts to keep the movement growing strong. All farm to school and ECE practitioners and stakeholders are invited to take a short (15 minute) survey to offer their perspective on opportunities for additional services, platforms and content that the National Farm to School Network may offer. Take the survey here, and please share widely with your networks. The survey closes March 19.


Job Opportunities
1. Development Director, National Farm to School Network
The National Farm to School Network seeks a Development Director to lead the organization is strategic growth and diversification of its funding base. This is a remote position and candidates will be considered from any location within the United States. The deadline to apply is March 20, 2017. Learn more here

2. Communications Intern, National Farm to School Network
The National Farm to School Network seeks a Communications Intern to support content development and dissemination of information and resources to Core Partners and general membership. This is a paid, twelve-month position, with approximate 10 hours of work per week. The deadline to apply is March 13, 2017. Learn more here


Read past editions of This Week for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country. 

Promising Partnerships: Extension and Farm to ECE

NFSN Staff Wednesday, March 01, 2017
 The MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center offers up close experiences with goats and other animals as part of the Farm Sprouts Preschool Program. 

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


Cooperative Extension programs have been bringing quality research and education to rural and urban communities for over 100 years. With the goal of offering practical information to improve the lives of agricultural producers, consumers, families, and children, extension is a natural fit for partnership in farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) initiatives. Across the U.S., extension provides a vital link to resources and information and builds connections between producers and communities, expanding opportunities for local procurement, gardening, and food and agriculture education in schools and ECE settings. 

Extension supports farm to ECE efforts in a variety of ways with diverse models of success emerging in communities across the country. Some extension programs bring local foods, gardening, and food-based education directly to the ECE classroom. In Maricopa County, Ariz., University of Arizona Cooperative Extension has a family resource center housed in a school that serves Head Start families and children with special needs. The resource center features 15 raised garden beds as part of an outdoor learning center where extension staff engage children, parents, and teachers in “Play and Learn” workshops and professional development opportunities. University of Maryland Extension brings gardening along with food, nutrition, and wellness education to children and teachers at Head Start locations in Princess Anne, Md. Children plant seeds, learn about fruits and vegetables, and sing and dance to songs about healthy food through culturally adapted curriculum. Parents join in the fun, too, with family days offering healthy snacks and family gardening time. 

Other extension models bring children to the farm for immersive experiences with food and agriculture. In Pima County, Ariz., at the Tucson Village Farm, young children and their parents dig into the Lil’ Sprouts Program to learn about a wide variety of food and agriculture topics from seeds to worms to farmers. As children are immersed in hands on, scientific discovery, parents gain understanding of the important skills children develop by working in the garden, from developing self-regulation as they wait for a radish to emerge from the soil to the math skills necessarily to evenly divide seeds for sprouting. At MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center, the Farm Sprouts Preschool Program focuses on developing scientific thinking and understanding through discovery, experimentation, and sensory experiences. Young children explore the farm and contribute to the farm community by caring for the farm animals, tending and harvesting in the gardens, and engaging in meaningful projects. The program encompasses cross-institute components, within MSU Extension, related to child development, health and nutrition, natural resources, agriculture and food systems, environmental science, and global and cultural education. 

Young students visit Down’s Produce as part of the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative. 

In other programs, extension agents act as liaisons and connections to local producers and support the integration of local foods into meals and snacks in ECE settings. The Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative aims to make the region a place where all people have access to healthy, local foods. One component of their multi-faceted approach is to integrate healthy, local food options into early care and education settings. One of the vital partners of the Initiative is Iowa State University Extension and Outreach which, through the development of the Iowa Food Hub, plays a primary role in production, access, and procurement of local food. In Wake County, N.C., the Wake County Farm to Child Care program has worked closely with county extension since the development of the project. In addition to helping to write the project plan, a local extension partner supports on-going connections with farmers and helped support the projects “farmer liaison” in understanding how farmers and ECE programs can work together. Through this partnership, Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) and cooperative extension staff also developed a series of publications titled "Local Foods: Childcare Center Production Gardens."

The National Institute for Food and Agriculture, in partnership with the National Farm to School Network, will be offering a webinar to share more about these and other extension and farm to ECE partnerships and project. Register here and join the webinar on March 14, at 2 PM ET. To learn more about how you can work with extension, find your local Cooperative Extension and check out tools and resources from extension at https://extension.org.    

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