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Centering Our Work in Equity: 2019 Reflections & Looking Ahead

NFSN Staff Friday, December 20, 2019

Artwork by Bonnie Acker
In 2007, the National Farm to School Network was founded with core values of local and just food and a vision of equality in the food system. But it was not until more recent years that we’ve come to recognize that the fullest expression of our vision is ultimately equity and justice. Many of the systems and sectors within which farm to school exists—including the food system, education system, economic system, and other public institutions and structures—are deeply racialized and have in the past and continue in the present to exclude, disadvantage, and cause harm to Black, Indigenous, Latino, immigrant and other people of color in our communities. Systems like these that are failing anyone are failing all of us, and we can not engage in farm to school effectively without changing them.

As we begin this new decade, we’re reflecting on National Farm to School Network’s journey to centering our work in equity and focusing our intentions towards justice. Below, learn about our efforts in 2019 to further our commitment to equity, and see what we’re planning for in 2020 here.


By Helen Dombalis, NFSN Executive Director

I do this work every day from a place of equity. The early years of my career were spent in direct service - first working with kids with developmental disabilities and then with adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses - without realizing my upbringing afforded me privileges that advantaged me and made it difficult to understand the realities of those I was attempting to serve. As my career focus shifted to making nutritious foods available to all people, I quickly learned that there’s more to the equation than want; everyone wants to live healthy, fulfilling lives, but there are intentionally inequitable and discriminatory systems and policies affecting access and ability to do so. People should not have to want for nutritious food; everyone has a right to food that nourishes them. So I shifted my focus to demand that right through advocacy and systems change. I remain grateful to the clients that inspired that shift. There was the client that took me to the grocery store with his SNAP dollars (then food stamps) at the start of the month; he held up a box of mac’n’cheese and an apple - both about $1 - and asked which I thought he would choose. (The mac’n’cheese of course; it’s more filling.) There was the client that took me to the food pantry and showed me that the foods I was teaching about in our cooking classes were far from the sugar- and salt-laden foods on the shelves.

As Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network (NFSN), I am honored and challenged to center our work in equity every day. Our food systems was built on injustices, and I cannot seek to change it without standing against those injustices. The work is urgent, because specific groups have been consistently impacted, and this has to stop now. There remain too many injustices in our food system and society

In 2007, NFSN was founded with core values of local and just food and a vision of equality in the food system. But it was not until more recent years that we’ve come to strive for equity (not just equality), and that far more is required beyond acknowledging need. In our 2017-2019 Strategic Plan, we made intentional and practice-orientated goals for making our commitment to equity more than just talk; we worked to put equity “in action.” If we are to truly achieve our vision, nothing less than this will do.

We also recognize that we have a responsibility as a national movement building organization to have a broad and diverse reach, including over 20,000 members, 70,000 followers on social media, and more than 12.5 million people plugged into National Farm to School Month in October. We have significant reach, and great potential to drive justice-oriented work in the farm to school movement and beyond. We have an important role to play in inspiring more partner organizations - at the national, regional, state, community, and sovereign levels - to create equity-driven impact in their work. We certainly know that this is not a linear process; we work forwards, backwards, and sideways. And we know it will take all of us - as reflected in our tagline Growing Stronger Together - to make forward progress.

In this spirit, I want to share what National Farm to School Network did in 2019 to further our equity work. First, we’ve kept the conversations going. Prioritizing discussions about equity ensures we all continue our learning (because there’s always something new to learn) and make the time for the work. This is a journey. We used to notice how it was too easy to set aside our focus on equity for the day-to-day things that “had” to get done: grant deliverables, fundraising, and so on. But the truth is, equity work is the work that “has” to get done. So we make time for it. Thanks to inspiration from other organizations, a group of NFSN Partners and Staff led the creation of the NFSN Community Agreements for our Annual Meeting with Core and Supporting Partners this spring. We recently realized that those agreements are a good way to start not only our annual gatherings, but all meetings, so we’re now doing so for everything from staff and board meetings to meetings with our partners. Take a few minutes of meetings to make space to remind us why we’re here and how to come to the conversations with respect. 

Our staff continued internal monthly calls dedicated to discussion for grounding our work in equity, and mid-year, we began rotating facilitation and topic identification between staff to ensure professional development opportunities for all. Topics for these calls ranged from how to embed equity into our 10th National National Farm to Cafeteria Conference (coming April 2020) program and communications, to reviewing the results of and discussing opportunities for growth stemming from our biannual organizational equity assessments. We also dedicated calls to approaching Native American Heritage Month as allies and adding land acknowledgement to our email signatures (which we now do), practicing removing deficit-based language in our communications, deciding about companies to take money from based on values alignment, integrating equity into research and evaluation, and reviewing our hiring processes with an equity lens. The two NFSN Staff teams also held weekly informal discussions about emerging equity issues and questions in our work and the world, and NFSN Advisory Board members participated in an equity enrichment activity at the in-person meeting. 

To track that our discussions and idea sharing are being put into action, we use the aforementioned biannual organizational equity assessments and also an equity action plan dashboard, developed in conjunction with our 2017-2019 Strategic Plan. We’ve also developed a standard practice of  using the NFSN Racial and Social Equity Assessment Tool for Farm to School Programs and Policy that we developed in 2018 to meaningfully advance equity in our advocacy and programming. For example, the legislative language in the Farm to School Act of 2019 was not a simple copy-paste from the 2017 and 2015 versions. Rather, our Policy Team conducted listening sessions and thoughtfully reviewed the language to better ensure that the USDA Farm to School Grant funding is prioritized for communities that have been systematically disadvantaged by the food system, often communities of color. 

Integration of equity throughout the work of our organization also goes beyond programming and policy. I was reminded by my colleagues many times throughout the year that there’s always an “equity path” to take. This includes everything from the contractors and vendors we pay for services to the way our staff celebrate the holiday season. There are always opportunities to center our practices - no matter how small - in equity; sometimes, it just takes slowing down, talking to others, and thinking through what that path is and how to find it. Finally, recognizing demand from NFSN Partners to dig deeper into integrating this work into their own organizations and communities that we get in Annual Meetings and webinars, and with guidance from our equity consultant, we envisioned and then successfully fundraised for our first official equity program, the NFSN Equity Learning Lab. Stay tuned for more on this in 2020. 

Thank you for being part of the farm to school movement and for the work you do in your communities every day to advocate for equity and justice through our food system. If you have not been part of this work, we welcome you as new partners in this work. If you are not already a member, please join us (it’s free) to stay up-to-date in 2020 for more regular news about our equity journey. And, if you’re inspired by reading this, we always welcome donations to support our continued equity journey. Happy holidays, and here’s to a bright and bold 2020 together! 

This Week in Farm to School: 12/17/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 17, 2019
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 Regional Farm to School Institutes RFA
Deadline: December 27
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems is pleased to announce the new Regional Farm to School Institute Grant Request for Applications (RFA). This new grant for fiscal year 2020 will support the creation and dissemination of information on farm to school program development, and provide practitioner education and training, and ongoing school year coaching and technical assistance. The Food and Nutrition Service anticipates awarding at least two grants with a combined total of $150,000, to eligible 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations working regionally to promote farm to school activities and support practitioners. Learn more here.

2. Food System Vision Prize
Deadline: January 31
With a total of $2 million in prize money and a global network of partners, the Food System Vision Prize is an invitation for organizations, companies, governments, and other entities around the world to develop inspirational, concrete Visions for the food system of the future. The Prize, launched by The Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with SecondMuse and OpenIDEO, is driven by a central question: “How might we envision regenerative and nourishing food futures for 2050?” The Prize seeks systems-focused proposals that encourage people worldwide to take action and think collaboratively about the future. Submitted Visions should also reflect the Prize’s core beliefs that include diversity, resilience, equity, and the power of food to connect people. Learn more here.


Webinars & Events
1. NFSN EVENT 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 21-23 // Albuquerque, NM
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is just four months away, and now is the time to start planning! With 40 skill-building workshops, 10 experiential field trips, inspiring keynote addresses, valuable networking time, and a showcase of New Mexico’s vibrant local food culture, this biennial event hosted by the National Farm to School Network is an unparalleled opportunity to learn and network with food systems leaders from across the country. Early Bird registration opens in January. Save $50 on regular registration pricing and secure a seat on your first-choice field trip! Visit farmtoschool.org/conference to learn more. 

2. Call for Proposals: National Children & Youth Garden Symposium
July 7-10 // Santa Cruz, CA
The American Horticultural Society is pleased to announce its 28th annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium (NCYGS). The 2020 event will take place July 7-10 in Santa Cruz, California, hosted by Life Lab. At the core of the symposium are peer-led educational sessions that focus on relevant, thought-provoking topics, provide attendees with practical knowledge and skills, and appeal to attendees representing a variety of experience levels, educational settings, and youth audiences. Deadline to submit proposals is Jan. 8, 2020. Learn more here

3. Call for Proposals: 2020 Natural Start Conference
July 29-August 1 // Cincinnati, OH
The Natural Start Alliance’s annual Nature-Based Early Learning Conference brings together hundreds of new and seasoned nature-based early childhood education professionals from the U.S. and abroad. Sessions explore how to plan, implement, and advocate for nature-based early learning programs; report on new and relevant research; share best practices in teacher education; explore education policy; and examine other topics that advance the field of nature-based early learning. This conference may be of interest to farm to early care and education practitioners who would like to highlight their farm to ECE efforts. Deadline for proposal submissions is Feb. 7, 2020. Learn more here


Research & Resources
1. EQUITY National Farm to School Network Announces New Equity Learning Lab
Thanks to the generous support of National Co+op Grocers and Newman’s Own Foundation, National Farm to School Network is excited to launch a new initiative aimed at advancing racial and social equity and addressing injustices in farm to school and the wider food movement. Our Equity Learning Lab, launching in 2020, will train farm to school leaders from across the country in equity principles and strategies that will maximize impact towards creating a more equitable and just food system. Read more

2. EQUITY Webinar Recording: NAFSN Good Food Talk
This recording features, “Best Practices in Diversity, Inclusion, and Racial Equity Training in Food Systems,” a NAFSN Good Food Talk in collaboration with eXtension Community, Local & Regional Food Systems National Open Forum. Speakers had a thoughtful and productive session with panelists from Michigan State, Tuskegee, and Iowa State universities, North Carolina A&T, and the North American Food Systems Network (NAFSN). Watch here.

3. EQUITY Article: Food & Race: 10 Years of Creating a More Just Food System
Since its inception, Civil Eats has chronicled the myriad efforts to expose and address the ways that structures in the food system actively work to silence, marginalize, and disadvantage people of color. To mark the site’s 10th anniversary, they have conducted a series of roundtable discussions in an effort to take an in-depth look at many of the most important topics they have covered since 2009. In this final conversation of the series, they invited four experts to discuss their own work on food justice and some of the pervasive, systemic issues facing people of color working to put food on our tables. Learn more here.

4. EQUITY Webinar Recording: Building Partnerships to Support Food Sovereignty in African American Communities
Racial Equity in the Food System Workgroup
Learn about how and why African American communities are working together to enhance their food sovereignty. Following the introduction to the concept of food sovereignty and its role in African American communities, Malik Yakini with the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and Lilly Fink Shapiro with the University of Michigan’s Sustainable Food Systems Initiative discuss their partnership designing and co-leading the Food Literacy for All course. They describe how the partnership was developed and its impact both in the community and on campus. Watch here.

5. EQUITY Commentary: Fighting for the Taste Buds of Our Children
Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
In this commentary, A-dae Romero-Briones (First Nations Development Institute) looks at the impacts of Indian boarding school food on American Indian foodways and community as a source of acculturation, arguing that, "From the introduction of specific foods that now make up the modern diet of many American Indian communities to the generational cycle that begins in utero, the taste buds of American Indian children are still subject to the 'American Indian Boarding School experiment' that began in the late 1800s." Read the complete commentary here

6. Free Recipes: 30 Kid-Approved, Plant Forward Recipes
The Chef Ann Foundation is excited to announce that the Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Kids Collaborative, with support from Whole Kids Foundation, has created 30 culinary-inspired, kid-approved, plant-forward recipes available FREE for all K-12 schools! Learn more at chefannfoundation.org/HKC.


Jobs & Opportunities
1. RWJF Culture of Health Leaders Application Opening Soon
Culture of Health Leaders is for visionary individuals who are sparking changes in communities to overcome injustice and promote opportunity, allowing everyone access to what they need to thrive. Leaders in the program develop deep relationships with other diverse thinkers and doers, knowing that meaningful change cannot be achieved alone. During the course of the program, leaders undertake a personal and professional journey that broadens their perspectives and approaches, amplifying their ability to solve complex health challenges in their communities. Applications open January 10, 2020. Learn more here.

2. Regional Farm to School Program Specialist - USDA FNS Mid-Atlantic Regional Office (Robbinsville, New Jersey)
This position is located in a Regional Office of the United States Department of Agriculture's Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNCS). Through the Agency's Federal nutrition assistance programs, FNCS provides children and needy families with access to nutrition and a more healthful lifestyle. The Regional Office is responsible for ensuring the effective and efficient operation of the Federal nutrition assistance programs administered by State agencies within each region. Applicants must select the Robbinsville, NJ location to receive consideration for the Farm to School position. The closing date is 12/20/19. Learn more here.


Farm to School in the News
Mississippi students experience hands-on farm to table lessons
Amory School District Food Service Director Steve Stockton got a tip from a former student that has grown into an interesting project for West Amory Elementary School students. “Amory graduate Jill Miley Stevens introduced me to the idea of tower gardening. It was a perfect fit for the kids. It’s a great hands-on lesson,” he said. (Monroe Journal)

Student growth through gardening: how California garden expands education
Only in a garden can one experience the technicolor tartness of biting into a fresh tomato, enjoy the smell of sun-warmed, scented herbs, and delight in the buzzing bees, who offer a pollinator’s promise of good things to come. In today’s technology-centric world, Clairbourn School’s gardens provide students with a way to connect with life’s simple, outdoor pleasures. But more importantly, they offer a way for students to understand humanity’s role in maintaining a healthy, life-sustaining ecosystem. (Pasadena Now)

Montana school garden provides fresh vegetables for students
Frenchtown Elementary School students have a special connection to the lunches they eat every day. Because of Freedom Gardens volunteer efforts and donations, students are learning how their food grows and tastes in the greenhouse behind the school. (KPAX)

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.

National Farm to School Network Announces New Equity Learning Lab

NFSN Staff Monday, December 16, 2019

Thanks to the generous support of National Co+op Grocers and Newman’s Own Foundation, National Farm to School Network is excited to launch a new initiative aimed at advancing racial and social equity and addressing injustices in farm to school and the wider food movement. Our Equity Learning Lab, launching in 2020, will train farm to school leaders from across the country in equity principles and strategies that will maximize impact towards creating a more equitable and just food system. 

Advancing equity has been a core value of the National Farm to School Network since our founding, and we are committed to centering equity in all of our work. During our 2017-2019 Strategic Plan, we focused on developing resources and tools to help farm to school practitioners put equity into action. We created the Racial and Social Equity Assessment Tool for Farm to School Programs and Policy, hosted numerous webinars on equity topics, invested in farm to school in Native communities, and more. We’ve heard resounding feedback from our partners and members that they look to the National Farm to School Network as a leader for advancing equity in farm to school, and they’re eager for more tools and support to further this important work in their organizations and communities. We hear your feedback, and meeting this need is our vision for the Equity Learning Lab.

Our concept for the Equity Learning Lab is to take a collaborative and innovative approach, where project stakeholders will co-construct the programmatic content and curriculum alongside National Farm to School Network staff. Given this dynamic structure, the first Equity Learning Lab will be open to twelve NFSN Core and Supporting Partners. We believe serving a smaller group of stakeholders as an intimate group will provide the ideal environment for learning. Session topics will include identifying inequities in the food system and related history and policies; why farm to school is an approach to addressing inequities and why farm to school cannot be successful without addressing inequities; NFSN’s approach to advancing equity and how we implement it through programs and policy; equity in action; and more. It’s also our goal that this model be replicable. We’ll be using a “train the trainer” approach so that the impact of the Equity Learning Lab can extend beyond the participants, giving them tools, resources, and knowledge to share what they’ve learned back in their communities. 

The launch of our Equity Learning Lab has been made possible through generous support from National Co+op Grocers and partners within the natural/organic foods industry, who raised funds for the Equity Learning Lab during NCG's annual grocery and wellness conference and tradeshow earlier this year, and support from Newman’s Own Foundation, the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. 

We will be sharing more details about the initiative and its outcomes in the upcoming months. Be sure you’re signed up for our e-newsletter to receive the latest updates and opportunities to get involved. Have questions? Contact Krystal Oriadha, Senior Director of Programs and Policy, at krystal@farmtoschool.org

This Week in Farm to School: 12/10/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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 2020 Farm to School Grant RFA 
Deadline: December 13
The 2020 USDA Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. With additional funding made available through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) seeks to award approximately $10 million in FY 2020 funding. Grants ranging in size from $20,000 to $100,000 will be available to schools, nonprofits, State and local agencies, agricultural producers, and Indian tribal organizations to plan and implement farm to school activities. Applications are due Dec. 13, 2019. Learn more here.

2. USDA Regional Farm to School Institutes RFA
Deadline: December 27
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems is pleased to announce the new Regional Farm to School Institute Grant Request for Applications (RFA). This new grant for fiscal year 2020 will support the creation and dissemination of information on farm to school program development, and provide practitioner education and training, and ongoing school year coaching and technical assistance. The Food and Nutrition Service anticipates awarding at least two grants with a combined total of $150,000, to eligible 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations working regionally to promote farm to school activities and support practitioners. Learn more here.

3. Food System Vision Prize
Deadline: Jan. 31
With a total of $2 million in prize money and a global network of partners, the Food System Vision Prize is an invitation for organizations, companies, governments, and other entities around the world to develop inspirational, concrete Visions for the food system of the future. The Prize, launched by The Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with SecondMuse and OpenIDEO, is driven by a central question: “How might we envision regenerative and nourishing food futures for 2050?” The Prize seeks systems-focused proposals that encourage people worldwide to take action and think collaboratively about the future. Submitted Visions should also reflect the Prize’s core beliefs that include diversity, resilience, equity, and the power of food to connect people. Learn more here.


Webinars & Events
1. NFSN Open Space: Institutionalizing School Garden Programming
December 12, 2 PM ET
Please join us for a special National Farm to School Network (NFSN) Partner Open Space session facilitated by California Supporting Partner John Fisher of Life Lab. This special session will be open to NFSN partners and members and the School Garden Support Organization Network. Join the call to learn and share experiences around district-run school gardening programs. Joining the discussion will be district-run school garden program directors from a small, medium and large school district. Register here

2. Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Conference
February 12-13, 2020 // Silverton, Oregon
This will be a two-day event with workshops, speakers, resources and networking opportunities. Wednesday, February 12 will be focused on farm and garden-based education. Thursday, February 13 will be focused on incorporating local food into school meals. The purpose of the Conference is to support members of Oregon’s farm to school and school garden community in their work to provide farm and garden-based education and incorporate healthy, local food into school meals for students grades PreK-12. The audience is food service directors and staff, farmers/producers, distributors, enrichment instructors, OSU Extension staff and volunteers, classroom teachers, school administrators, government agency staff, non-profit staff, and parents and community volunteers and others working to support Oregon’s farm to school and school garden programs. Register here

3. 2020 National Good Food Network Conference
March 10-13, 2020 // New Orleans, Louisiana
This event will reflect on the gains and missteps of past decades of food systems work, examine models and practices that are working now, and co-create new strategies for food systems change. This is a conference for people working to create healthier, greener, and more accessible food systems and will amplify the voices of frontline communities. To gain a deeper understanding of the nuts and bolts of food systems development, tangible skills to strengthen your impact, and new connections for solidarity and support, register here

4. NFSN EVENT Save the Date: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 21-23, 2020 // Albuquerque, New Mexico
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 21-23, 2020! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene a diverse group of food service professionals, farmers, educators, students, representatives from nonprofits and government agencies, public health professionals and more to learn, network, and strengthen this important movement. Are you passionate about supporting local agriculture and fostering a culture of food literacy in your community? This event is for you. Visit farmtoschool.org/conference to learn more and start making plans to join us in Albuquerque! Registration opens in January 2020. 


Research & Resources
1. Connecting Classrooms, Cafeterias, Communities: A Guide to Building Integrated Farm to School Programs
The newly published Vermont FEED Guide is intended to support school communities in developing robust, long lasting, and integrated farm to school programs, addressing whole school change. It reflects 20 years of practice, evaluative research, and innovation in the field.  The guide is organized around farm to school action planning, a step-by-step process to help you assemble a team, identify shared goals, and plan and conduct strategic activities. In addition, it provides valuable content on classroom curriculum, school meal programs, and community building. The guide is filled with useful templates, curricular design strategies, and creative ways to communicate and celebrate farm to school success. Available for free download and to purchase as a hard copy here.


Jobs & Opportunities
1. Farm to Institution and Wisconsin Foods Program Specialist - Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (Madison, WI)
This position is responsible for farm to institution initiatives including collaborating with multiple stakeholders to increase the sales of Wisconsin food into markets such as K-12 schools, hospitals, colleges, cafeterias or government agencies. To accomplish this goal, the position will actively engage with a broad network of stakeholders, facilitate partnerships and advise other agencies on promotion and market development programs for farm to school/institution. The application deadline is Sunday, January 5 at 11:59 PM. Apply here


Farm to School in the News
Seed2Tray program brings free meals to Vermont school
Hunger Free Vermont estimates nearly 18,000 children in the state live in food-insecure households. That means, about 15 percent of kids don't have regular access to nutritious food. That can put them at risk for poor health, developmental delays, worse academic performance, and behavioral issues. In Townshend, Scott Fleishman shows us how a chef is on a mission to change that. (WCAX)

Idaho preschoolers learn healthy eating habits through grant-funded project
Preschoolers in several schools in Blaine County are learning about locally farmed fruits and vegetables in an effort to create long-term, healthier eating habits. The program, called Farm to Early Care and Education, or Farm to ECE, is funded by a state grant and has shown success since the program was launched in September. (Idaho Mountain Express)

New Jersey school introduces vertical gardening
Having a salad for lunch might not be a hassle when half the ingredients are already being grown in the classroom. Southampton School #2 became one of the first in the area to introduce a tower garden in a classroom this week, where students will take care of the plants. (Courier Post)

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.

Native F2S Champions: Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs K-8 Academy

NFSN Staff Friday, December 06, 2019
By Katherine Minthorn, Intertribal Agriculture Council, Northwest Region

Photo Credit: Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Oregon K-8 Academy
This blog is part of a series of profiles of Native Farm to School Champions, organized and collated by the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC). IAC is NFSN's 2019 National Partner of the Year, and we are excited to collaborate with IAC on this storytelling project to celebrate farm to school activities happening across Indian Country. These Champion profiles were written and submitted by IAC's Regional Technical Assistance Specialists, and these programs will be recognized for the farm to school leadership at the 2019 IAC Annual Meeting. Learn more about the IAC at www.indianag.org.

Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs K-8 Academy opened its doors to an estimated 675 students at the beginning of the 2014 school year.  The project budget for the school was $21,472,600; the Tribes and Bureau of Indian Affairs provided 50% of the budget with the Tribes' $4.6 million, and a $6.8 million loan from USDA Rural Development was also used.  Jefferson County School District 509-J provided $10.7 million through a memorandum of agreement and an Inter-agency Education Agreement between Jefferson County School District 509-J and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Mission Statement of the Warm Springs K-8 Academy:
  • We believe our students should feel a sense of pride in themselves, their community and school
  • We believe that the whole child is important
  • We believe that all children should be loved
  • We believe that pride, compassion, culture and diversity build community
  • We believe that learning is lifelong and should be nurtured
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs applied to National Farm to School Network’s Seed Change in Native Communities project.  In 2017, they were awarded a mini grant, which was used to implement farm to school activities in their community and leverage community wide initiatives towards building food security and food sovereignty. As well as, revitalizing the use of traditional foods.  The program has helped students make connections as to where food comes from and how it is part of their cultural heritage by building a greenhouse, planting a school garden, and promoting a healthy snacks program. The garden has also been used for science and nutrition education.  The Academy hosted an end of school year Pow wow which, was attended by over 1,000 students and family members and served a traditional dinner of salmon, fresh foods, and root vegetables.
Learn more about Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs K-8 Academy here: https://warmsprings-nsn.gov/program/k-8-academy/

Native F2S Champions: STAR School

NFSN Staff Thursday, December 05, 2019
By Desbah Padilla, Intertribal Agriculture Council, Southwest Region

Photo Credit: D. Padilla
This blog is part of a series of profiles of Native Farm to School Champions, organized and collated by the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC). IAC is NFSN's 2019 National Partner of the Year, and we are excited to collaborate with IAC on this storytelling project to celebrate farm to school activities happening across Indian Country. These Champion profiles were written and submitted by IAC's Regional Technical Assistance Specialists, and these programs will be recognized for the farm to school leadership at the 2019 IAC Annual Meeting. Learn more about the IAC at www.indianag.org.

  • Farm to Cafeteria
  • Healthy Kids = Healthy Learning
  • Connecting Farmers and Schools
In July, the Intertribal Agriculture Council was invited to speak at the “Healthy Kids = Healthy Learning: Connecting Farmers and Schools Symposium” at a successful Farm to School program called STAR School near Flagstaff, Arizona. At the symposium, organizational and program professionals presented to approximately 150 farmers, gardeners, educators, health officials and other partnerships interested in pursuing a Garden to Cafeteria program to support nutritious meals in their schools. 

The Intertribal Agriculture Council has been working closely with National Farm to School Network in pursuing this challenging development. There are several schools in New Mexico who are currently developing Garden to Cafeteria Pilot Programs who are paving the way for other schools as well. 

There are many partnerships necessary in developing protocols that include a food safety plan, environmental regulations, school garden staff, food and nutrition staff, etc. The Belen Consolidated Schools is partnering with the School Nutritional Services Department and is one example of pursuing the task of a Farm to School Program to provide students with fresh and healthy garden grown food through their school lunch program. The other school researching the program is Magdalena Municipal School located in Southern New Mexico. 

The Intertribal Agriculture Council will continue partnering with the National Farm to School program officials as we continue to bring awareness to programs such as the Garden to Cafeteria Program.

Learn more about STAR School here: http://www.starschool.org/home/

Motherhood Inspires My Farm to School Work

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 03, 2019
By Helen Dombalis, Executive Director




Since I became Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network earlier this year, I’ve been eager to share with you why I am inspired to do this important work every single day. In 2017, my family expanded when I gave birth to a daughter and became a first-time mom. Since that time, the impact of farm to school has taken on a new level of significance personally and professionally.

Now that she is a toddler, our daughter is testing boundaries and asserting independence. There are moments when it can be difficult to get her to try new foods. In these times, I remind myself of the importance of the National Farm to School Network’s work in early care and education settings. My daughter is at the critical age when taste buds are forming, and she is developing life-long habits that will build the foundation of her lifestyle and well-being. 

This is what farm to school is about: empowering kids to be knowledgeable about and invested in their local food systems. At home, my husband and I take our daughter to Garden Sweet, a farm in our community. We go weekly during the growing season to pick berries and flowers, and participate in their community supported agriculture (CSA) program. I watch our daughter’s excitement about our weekly farm visits; she knows that the berries on her dinner plate come from Garden Sweet and its farmers with whom she regularly interacts. 

National Farm to School Network is committed to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to know where our food comes from: to be nourished by food grown justly and sustainably in our communities, to visit farms and know farmers, and to dig into gardens that teach how food grows. There are many inequities built into our food system that hinder the opportunity for every child to engage in these experiences. Dismantling these injustices is what makes our work so important. 

Through farm to school, we’re able to connect our children to where their food comes from, enhance the quality of the educational experience, and promote practices that bolster more equitable food systems. At the National Farm to School Network, we lead national efforts to strengthen and expand this work by connecting people to resources, people to policies, and people to people. 

We cannot do this important work without your support. Your gift today enables us to improve children’s health, strengthen family farms, and cultivate vibrant communities across the country.

Gratefully,
Helen 

P.S. One last farm to school lesson we have with our daughter: at meals, our family always starts with gratitude - for the chicken farmer, the rice farmer, the broccoli farmer - the people who made our meal possible. It is with tremendous gratitude that our family thanks you for helping make farm to school possible!

This Week in Farm to School: 12/3/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 03, 2019
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. 

Action Opportunities
1. You Count! USDA Farm to School Census Closes Dec. 6
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems' third Farm to School Census closes this Friday, Dec. 6. Be sure your school district is counted! The Farm to School Census is the only national survey that examines school districts’ farm to school activities. It's imperative that all School Food Authorities (SFAs) - whether or not they currently participate in farm to school activities - complete the Census in order to have the most accurate picture of the scope, reach and impact of farm to school nationwide. The Census has been sent directly to SFAs. Please check with your SFAs to ask if they've submitted the Census, and make sure your efforts are counted! Learn more about the Census here.


Grants & Funding
1. USDA 2020 Farm to School Grant RFA Now Open
Deadline: December 13
The 2020 USDA Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. With additional funding made available through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) seeks to award approximately $10 million in FY 2020 funding. Grants ranging in size from $20,000 to $100,000 will be available to schools, nonprofits, State and local agencies, agricultural producers, and Indian tribal organizations to plan and implement farm to school activities. Applications are due Dec. 13, 2019. Learn more here.
 
2. NFSN Consultation Services to Support USDA Farm to School Grant Applicants
National Farm to School Network advocated for the establishment of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program and is committed to ensuring this funding reaches the communities that need it most. NFSN is available on a consultation basis to provide assistance during the application process (thought partnership, preparing the grant application, evaluation) and during grant implementation (needs assessment, evaluation, action plan, virtual coaching). Learn more here.  

3. USDA Regional Farm to School Institutes RFA
Deadline: December 27
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems is pleased to announce the new Regional Farm to School Institute Grant Request for Applications (RFA). This new grant for fiscal year 2020 will support the creation and dissemination of information on farm to school program development, and provide practitioner education and training, and ongoing school year coaching and technical assistance. The Food and Nutrition Service anticipates awarding at least two grants with a combined total of $150,000, to eligible 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations working regionally to promote farm to school activities and support practitioners. Learn more here.

4. Food System Vision Prize
Early Deadline: Dec. 5 / Final Deadline: Jan. 31
With a total of $2 million in prize money and a global network of partners, the Food System Vision Prize is an invitation for organizations, companies, governments, and other entities around the world to develop inspirational, concrete Visions for the food system of the future. The Prize, launched by The Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with SecondMuse and OpenIDEO, is driven by a central question: “How might we envision regenerative and nourishing food futures for 2050?” The Prize seeks systems-focused proposals that encourage people worldwide to take action and think collaboratively about the future. Submitted Visions should also reflect the Prize’s core beliefs that include diversity, resilience, equity, and the power of food to connect people. Learn more here.


Webinars & Events
1. EQUITY Webinar: Building Partnerships to Support Food Sovereignty in African American Communities
Dec. 3 // 3PM EST
This webinar is an opportunity to explore how and why African American communities are working together to enhance their food sovereignty. Following this introduction to the concept of food sovereignty and its role in African American communities, Malik Yakini with the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and Lilly Fink Shapiro with the University of Michigan’s Sustainable Food Systems Initiative will discuss their partnership designing and co-leading the Food Literacy for All course. They will describe how the partnership was developed and its impact both in the community and on campus. The webinar also will introduce Kimberly Carr, a post-doctoral research associate in food sovereignty and racial equity at the Center for Regional Food Systems and Center for Interdisciplinarity at Michigan State University. The webinar is hosted by the Racial Equity in the Food System workgroup, coordinated by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. Register here.

2. Seeking Workshop Proposals: 2020 National Family Child Care Conference
July 15-18, 2020 / Norfolk, VA
The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)is currently seeking workshop proposals for the 30th National Family Child Care Conference, taking place in Norfolk, Virginia July 15-18, 2020. Attendees are looking for sessions that focus on practical solutions to increase their knowledge and effectiveness; to engage and challenge their thinking; and to nurture their purpose, creativity, and professional excellence. This is a great opportunity to share farm to early care and education experiences and expertise. If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please reach out to Lacy Stephens (Program Manager, National Farm to School Network) who can help make introductions to potential proposal partners. Learn more about the conference and workshop proposal application here.   

3. NFSN EVENT Save the Date: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 21-23, 2020 // Albuquerque, New Mexico
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 21-23, 2020! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene a diverse group of food service professionals, farmers, educators, students, representatives from nonprofits and government agencies, public health professionals and more to learn, network, and strengthen this important movement. Are you passionate about supporting local agriculture and fostering a culture of food literacy in your community? This event is for you. Visit farmtoschool.org/conference to learn more and start making plans to join us in Albuquerque!


Research & Resources
1. Opinion Editorial: How to Fight Back Against Injustice in Your School Cafeteria
This opinion editorial from Teen Vogue argues that our system of “cheap” industrial food and low-wage labor is incredibly costly in the long term. The author explores the types of questions that students in the United States ask themselves everyday in the cafeteria and provides guidance on how to implement the change that you would like to see in your school food system. Read here
 
2. EQUITY Article: A New Generation of Black Farmers Is Returning to the Land
This article from YES! MAGAZINE explores the efforts of those working to repair harm inflicted over the past 400 years towards black farmers, with an eye toward reparations. Read here


Jobs & Opportunities
1. Community Food Systems Mentorship Program
Deadline: December 29
The Wallace Center is excited to announce that the application for the Spring 2020 round of the Community Food Systems Mentorship Program is now open. The Mentorship Program provides food systems leaders with the opportunity to closely engage with proven leaders and experts as thought partners and coaches. It includes 8 hours of one on one connection between you and a mentor over a 4-month period. The application deadline in December 29, 2019. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
Oregon students celebrate Thanksgiving with farm to school meal
When you think of school food you probably think back to when you were a kid, and it may not have been that appetizing. That's not the case with Portland Public Schools.It’s all healthy and local. Lunch on Friday was no different, as students across the district had a Thanksgiving spread filled with turkey, mashed potatoes and roasted squash. (KGW8)

Illinois high school students prepare farm-to-table Thanksgiving meal for senior citizens
Almost everything was prepared with food from the school, which has the city’s only working farm, according to school officials. The turkeys were raised on the school’s 70-acre farm, where students also raise cows, turkeys, pigs, goats, chickens and two alpacas. Vegetables, including the pumpkins in the pie, also were grown at the school. (Chicago Tribune)

Multi-group effort teams students with sustainable farming in Hawaii
This past semester at Kohala High School has, with lots of help, enhanced garden-to-school efforts thanks to dedicated partnerships between KHS, community investors, and the Hawaii Institute of Pacific Agriculture. (West Hawaii Today)

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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