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New Local Food Purchasing Guide from NC Cooperative Extension

NFSN Staff Wednesday, June 19, 2019
This post is part of our Farm to ECE Procurement Blog Series, which is devoted to the many ways that early care and education sites connect children and their families to local food and local food producers. Read previous posts in this series here. Have a farm to ECE procurement story to share? Contact Lacy Stephens at lacy@farmtoschool.org.



Guest blog by Dara Bloom and Caroline Stover

Are you ready to purchase local food for your center, but you don’t know where to start? 

We are excited to share a new resource from the Kellogg-funded Farm to Early Care and Education project in North Carolina all about local food purchasing! This NC Cooperative Extension publication will be useful for child care centers and technical assistance providers who are trying to figure out the best way to purchase local food for meals and snacks for their centers. We based this publication off of the experiences of the 12 child care centers in 10 counties that participated in the North Carolina Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ Farm to ECE project in 2017. Working with these centers, we found that there was no “one size fits all” answer to how to most easily purchase local food for meals and snacks. Each center completed a self-assessment to determine what was most important to them, and used new or existing partnerships within their community to figure out what local food options were available to them. The result was a variety of different ways to purchase local food, depending on their priorities and local context.

It can be hard to provide guidance to centers and technical assistance providers about local food purchasing when it depends so much on their context and what their priorities are, but we took what these centers learned and created a short guide that walks you step-by-step through what to think about as you start to purchase local food. Here are some highlights of the tips and resources that we share:

How do you define “local”? 
Since there’s no set definition for local, we encourage centers to first think about what they value most about purchasing local food to help them create a definition. It’s also a good idea to engage parents and staff in determining what will count for local for you. For example, you might want to stick with farmers within your community, or you might feel comfortable with a more regional definition or statewide. Some centers choose to support certain types of farmers with their purchases based on race or gender. Whatever you choose, make sure you communicate your definition to your community and your vendors.

What local food option is best for you?
We’ve developed a decision tree along with a description of several different types of vendors who sell local food to help you decide which vendor works best for you based on your capacity, needs, and preferences. The decision tree asks you to consider whether you need food for meals or just snacks and taste tests, how many children are in your center, what your storage capacity is, and whether you want to have a direct relationship with your farmer or you’re comfortable working through a third party to purchase local food. For centers who don’t want to create a new purchasing account, we encourage them start where they already purchase, whether that’s a distributor or grocery store. But remember, purchasing local food is going to require some relationship-building and investment no matter what vendor you choose!



How can you expand the market for local farmers?
Sometimes centers order very small volumes of produce, especially when they choose to start small and only need enough for snacks or taste tests. While this is a great strategy to help centers get their feet wet with local food purchasing and integrate it into their kitchens and classrooms, these small volumes aren’t enough to support a farmer in the long run. In addition, farmers may not want to go out of their way to deliver a small volume, since it doesn’t make much sense for them economically. However, there are a lot of ways that you can work to help make the market more profitable. For example, if you can work with other centers and place orders together, you can order higher volumes. Don’t forget that you can also advertise to parents and staff as another potential market. This may mean offering your center as a CSA drop-off point (Community Supported Agriculture, see https://www.localharvest.org/csa/ for more information).  It can also help a farmer if you advertise who you purchase from so that parents can look for those farmers in other markets. Finally, consider talking to your local farmer about purchasing “seconds”, or smaller sized products that they might have a hard time selling in other markets.

To see the full guide and the decision tree, as well as other resources, check out: go.ncsu.edu/f2ecelocalfoodpurchasing.

This Week in Farm to School: 6/18/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 18, 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. 

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to Early Care and Education State Strategic Planning 
Thursday, July 11 // 1-2 PM ET
Developing a farm to early care and education (ECE) state strategic plan can facilitate the coordinated growth, expansion, and institutionalization of farm to ECE across the state. Aligning the plan with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Spectrum of Opportunities for State-Level Obesity Prevention Efforts Targeting the Early Care and Education Setting further supports comprehensive integration of farm to ECE into existing ECE systems and structures, which can increase reach and support long-term successes. In this webinar presented by the National Farm to School Network, we’ll learn about the Spectrum of Opportunities from Nora Geary of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and hear from Erin Croom of Georgia Organics and Caliste Chong of Alabama Smart Start about the development, implementation, and impacts of state farm to ECE strategic plans in their states. This webinar will be recorded and archived for future viewing. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: State Local Purchasing Incentive Bills 
Thursday, August 1 // 1-2 PM ET
Providing an increased meal reimbursement to schools and early care and education sites purchasing and serving local foods not only increases the amount of fresh, local foods in meal program, but can provide increased revenue streams for local producers. Many states are exploring or pursuing local food incentive bills and a few states have passed and implemented successful legislation, providing important models for future legislation. In this webinar, presented by the National Farm to School Network, we’ll hear from key stakeholders about the passage and enactment of the MI Ten Cents a Meal Program and the New Mexico Grown Local Produce Grant. This webinar will be recorded and archived for future viewing. Register here.

3. EQUITY Webinar: Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics
Tuesday, July 16 // 3-4 PM ET
The Racial Equity in Food Systems Working Group (REFS) is a national workgroup coordinated by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. The webinar will provide an introduction to the newly published guide, Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics, including examples of metrics in four different themes and ways the guide can be used. Following this introduction, two food system leaders will share how they are using data and metrics to drive system change. There will be time in the webinar for questions, comments, and suggestions for related resources. Register here

4. Webinar: National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative Webinar Series: Cultivate Michigan – Reflections and Lessons
Tuesday, June 25 // 3:30-4 PM ET
In this new series, each webinar will feature a different Collaborative member and a tool or program they have used to measure farm to institution efforts. In the next webinar in this series, Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist with the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and Coordinator of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN), will reflect on Cultivate Michigan, a member-based campaign launched with the network in 2014. Designed to help member institutions find, buy, promote, and track more local foods as they work toward the Michigan Good Food Charter goal of 20% Michigan foods by 2020, Cultivate Michigan has also proven to be an important platform for communication, gathering information, and network organizing. Register here

5. 27th Annual Children and Youth Garden Symposium
July 10-13, 2019 // Madison, WI
The 2019 event will take place July 10-13 in Madison, Wisconsin, hosted by Community Groundworks, the University of Wisconsin’s Environmental Design Lab, and the Wisconsin School Garden Network. 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. Learn more here.

6. Green Schools Conference
August 1, 2019 // Milwaukee, WI
The Green Schools Conference provides inspirational examples of green & healthy schools and eco-literacy in the Milwaukee area. Attendees have an opportunity to connect with schools and supporting organizations through presentations, workshops, an exhibitor hall, school and garden tours, and networking opportunities. The conference is open to all and is an excellent opportunity to get engaged with green & healthy schools! Learn more here.


Resources & Research
1. NFSN RESOURCE State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018
National Farm to School Network and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School are pleased to announce the release of the State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018. The Handbook summarizes and analyzes every proposed farm to school bill and resolution introduced between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2018, from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. It enables readers to search bills by both jurisdiction and topic, and includes analysis of trends, case studies, advocacy resources and more. Explore the State Farm to School Policy Handbook here.


Policy News
1. Kids Eat Local Act Introduced in Congress
The Kids Eat Local Act (H.R. 3220, S. 1817) was introduced in Congress last week by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Josh Harder (D-CA), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). By including the Kids Eat Local Act in the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, schools would be given a new, easier to use local product specification option through which they could specify “locally grown,” “locally raised” or “locally caught” in their procurement language, and then make the award to the lowest bidder who can meet that product specification. The addition of local product specification would substantially improve opportunities for local producers by providing more flexibility for school districts. National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition thank the bill sponsors in both the Senate and House for introducing the Kids Eat Local Act and paving the way for increased healthy food in schools and new economic opportunities for local farmers. Learn more here

2. Minesota's Farm to School Bill Signed
Minenesota helps kids, farmers, and communities win with the recent signing of the Farm to School and Early Care Act. This bill dedicates up to $400,000 for Farm to School initiatives that will help bring fresh, healthy foods to Minnesota children and supports the creation of a marketing position that will help farmers and school districts build the needed relationships. Learn more here


Job Opportunities
1. Community Food Systems Program Manager, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension (Wisconsin)
The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension seeks applicants for the Community Food Systems Program Manager position. The Community Food Systems Program Manager works with faculty, staff, and partners to develop needed community food systems program activities and manages the Community Food Systems Extension Program. This position manages and supports outreach educational programs designed to build the capacity of community residents, leaders, organizations and First Nations to build and enhance place-based food systems to improve community health and well-being. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
Young Children in Alaska Can Grow A lot in One Square Foot of Dirt
One square foot of dirt sounds like a small amount of space, but children at Ray’s Child Care and Learning Center in the Mat-Su Valley are making the most of it. Children at the center are growing vegetables, herbs and flowers in their own one square-foot garden box. “Farm to ECE activities set up young children for a lifetime of healthy habits,” said Johanna Herron with the Alaska Division of Agriculture. “It helps kids develop an appreciation for local food; knowledge of good food choices; and a connection to their environment, land, and their community.” (Alaska.gov)

Virginia students channel their inner chef at Farm to Table Cooking Camp
Area children can expand their palates and develop their social skills at a Farm to Table Cooking Camp. This experience includes children making their own meals throughout the day from fresh ingredients as they do farm chores and take part in numerous hands-on activities. (The Roanoke Times)

Sarasota County Schools Celebrate Florida Food
Students in central Florida schools spent a day full of exposure to their statewide food system. A long-term goal of this event is to expose young people to the wide variety of foods grown in Florida. The hope is that students will become familiar with and accustomed to reaching for these healthy foods, and take those habits with them as they enter adulthood. (Central Florida Ag News)

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

"Kids Eat Local Act" Introduced in Congress

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 13, 2019

Institutional markets represent some of the most lucrative and dependable options for America’s family farmers and ranchers – unfortunately, they can also be among the most challenging to break into. The Kids Eat Local Act (H.R. 3220, S. 1817), introduced today by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Josh Harder (D-CA), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), would help to break down barriers between school food purchasers and family farmers by simplifying local purchasing guidelines for school meal programs.

By including the Kids Eat Local Act in the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, schools would be given a new, easier to use local product specification option through which they could specify “locally grown,” “locally raised” or “locally caught” in their procurement language, and then make the award to the lowest bidder who can meet that product specification.The addition of local product specification would substantially improve opportunities for local producers by providing more flexibility for school districts. The Kids Eat Local Act would also allow schools flexibility in determining the definition of “local” that best suits their needs.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition thank the bill sponsors in both the Senate and House for introducing the Kids Eat Local Act and paving the way for increased healthy food in schools and new economic opportunities for local farmers. We urge all members of Congress to support this simple, yet significant change and look forward to continue working with our partners and allies as this bill and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization move forward.

Read our full press release here.
Learn more about the Kids Eat Local Act here.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2019 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.

New Policy Handbook for Farm to School Advocates

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 13, 2019


Farm to school legislation is a key strategy for making local food procurement, school gardens, and food education a reality for millions of children, farmers, and communities across the country. That’s why state farm to school policy, alongside statewide farm to school networks and state-supported farm to school positions, is one of the three core strategies National Farm to School Network prioritized in our 2017-2019 Strategic Plan to help partners advance and strengthen the farm to school movement in their states. We’re excited to share a new resource to help partners and advocates in these efforts: the State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018

Co-authored by the National Farm to School Network and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School, the State Farm to School Policy Handbook summarizes and analyzes every proposed farm to school bill and resolution introduced between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2018, from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. It enables users to search bills by both jurisdiction and topic, and includes analysis of trends, case studies, advocacy resources and more.

What’s new in this edition? 
The State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018 builds on a survey that was originally released in 2011, and updated in 2013, 2014 and 2017, and was previously called the State Farm to School Legislative Survey. New features in this edition include: new research, with farm to school policies from the U.S. territories; new scope, taking a targeted look at legislation that explicitly advances the core elements of farm to school; and, a new name, which better describes the robust content – including case studies, best practices, analysis and more – available in this resource. 

What are the highlights? 
Between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2018:
  • 46 states, DC, and one territory have introduced legislation supporting farm to school activities. 
  • 453 bills and resolutions were introduced. Of those, 209 passed.   
  • The most common bill type has been one that provides funding for farm to school - 119 such bills have been introduced. These bills include annual appropriations, permanent funds, and other revenue streams. 
  • 25 states have passed comprehensive farm to school legislation, which includes funded grant programs, funded coordinator positions, or funded local procurement incentives. 
  • Best practices for structuring strong legislation include securing sustained funding, identifying the motivation behind the bill, and establishing an evaluation process. 


How can advocates use the Handbook? 
The time is ripe to leverage relationships and advocate to expand farm to school through state legislation, and the State Farm to School Policy Handbook is a valuable tool you can use to approach policy in ways that makes sense for your state. Whether your state is still working to pass its first farm to school legislation or ready to expand, you can use this Handbook to gain knowledge of the wide variety of farm to school policy options that exist and find inspiration and models that can be adapted to meet your states needs. The Handbook also allows you to compare your state’s farm to school laws, policies and programs to those of other states. And, check out the five case studies that analyze successful farm to school advocacy efforts and compare how different states have tackled farm to school policy opportunities with different approaches. These case studies provide a great snapshot of the stories and partnerships behind successful policy efforts – use them as a spark of inspiration to motivate your next policy idea! 

State-level farm to school policy work is driving a broader expansion of farm to school across the country. Simply put, strong laws facilitate strong programs. The State Farm to School Policy Handbook is designed to offer farm to school advocates like you a roadmap to learn about and compare existing, potentially replicable state farm to school laws, policies and programs in order to advance new legislation in your state. So dig in, and start exploring the opportunities! 

Have questions about this new resource or need a thought partner on how to connect with your state lawmakers? Don’t hesitate to contact our Policy team for support! We look forward to hearing how your advocacy efforts continue to grow the farm to school movement, state by state.

The State Farm to School Handbook: 2002-2018 is co-written by National Farm to School Network and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School (CAFS). This project is funded by the National Agricultural Library,
Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This Week in Farm to School: 6/11/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 11, 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. 

 

National Farm to School Network News
1. NCAT and NFSN Awarded USDA Cooperative Agreement
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and National Farm to School Network (NFSN) are pleased to share their partnership with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) to develop farm to school trainings for agricultural producers. This three-year cooperative agreement was announced by OCFS on May 21. The goal of the project is to help agricultural producers build their capacity to launch or expand efforts to market to schools. NCAT and NSFN will conduct a needs assessment among agricultural producers in collaboration with state agencies, develop curricula, and execute trainings that use a tiered, train-the-trainer approach. Read the full announcement here.

2. Lacy Stephens selected as 2019 Bloomberg Fellow
The Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has announced its 2019 cohort of Bloomberg Fellows, each drawn from an organization working on health challenges facing the nation. Congratulations to Lacy Stephens, Program Manager at the National Farm to School Network, for being selected as a 2019 Fellow! Fellows receive a full scholarship to earn an MPH or DrPH, then use their new skills with the organizations for which they already work to continue tackling some of the toughest challenges facing US communities. Read more here.


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Kick off the Summer with Farm to Head Start and Early Care and Education
Tuesday, June 18 // 2PM ET
How can a Farm to Head Start/ECE partnership help your program serve fresh, local food? Learn how it works through presentations from national experts and Head Start program examples. This interactive webinar is brought to you by: USDA, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Head Start, and National Farm to School Network. Primary Audience: Head Start staff, child care and CACFP providers, and State agency CACFP and Head Start staff. Please spread the news about this webinar! Register here

2. EQUITY Webinar: Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System
July 16 // 3-4 PM ET
The webinar will provide an introduction to the newly published guide, Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics, including examples of metrics in four different themes and ways the guide can be used. Following this introduction, two food system leaders will share how they are using data and metrics to drive system change. There will be time in the webinar for questions, comments, and suggestions for related resources. This webinar is sponsored by the Racial Equity in Food Systems Working Group (REFS), a national workgroup coordinated by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. Register here.

3. American Horticultural Society's National Children Youth and Garden Symposium
July 10-13, 2019 // Madison, Wisconsin
The American Horticultural Society is hosting the National Children and Youth Garden Symposium, a three-day long symposium for educators, non-profit professionals and others working with children and youth in garden-based settings across the country. At this event, held on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, the focus will be on providing the next generation the knowledge and tools to create a sustainable environmental future and finding ways to maintain and grow gardens with programs that nurture the youth. NCYGS will explore innovative sustainable gardening curriculum and practices, exploring "green" career resources, and highlighting model partnerships for attracting the human, financial, and intellectual capital needed to sustain youth gardening endeavors. Learn more here.

4. 2019 Maine Farm to School Conference
October 4, 2019  // Hinckley/Clinton, Maine
With the 2019 conference theme of "Innovations in Farm to School", stakeholders from across the state of Maine and beyond will convene for a full day of learning, best practice sharing, and networking. This event will be hosted at the Kennebec Valley Community College's Alfond Campus from 8:30 AM - 5 PM. Learn more here

5. Louisiana Farm to School Conference
October 22-23, 2019  // Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Louisiana Farm to School Program will host the annual Louisiana Farm to School Conference on October 23, 2019 at the Pennington Biomedical Conference Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During their time in the Bayou State, stakeholders will attend a special "Meet the Buyer, Greet the Grower" event to kick off the conference and explore networking opportunities between farmers and school nutrition staff. Some of the hot topics for this event will include school gardening challenges, barriers of farm to school, and sourcing local foods in school. Save the date and make a trip to attend! Learn more here

6. NFSN EVENT Save the Date: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 20-24, 2020 // Albuquerque, New Mexico
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 20-24, 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!


Job Opportunities
1. NFSN JOB Senior Director, Programs & Policy, National Farm to School Network (Remote) 
The Senior Director of Programs and Policy will lead the strategic direction of programming and policy advocacy aimed at institutionalizing farm to school in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. Territories. Responsibilities include successful implementation of programs and policy activities with an eye towards innovation, oversight of Core and Supporting Partner engagement and capacity building, and cultivation of strategic partnerships with national organizations and federal agencies to advance National Farm to School Network's mission. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
New York school greenhouse advances agricultural learning, access to fresh food
School district officials unveiled Greenport’s first-ever outdoor greenhouse Friday to grow and harvest “hundreds of pounds” of fresh produce, officials said. The 20-by-50-foot structure west of the school building was created with help from a New York State Farm to School grant. “Ask a kid if he or she likes kale? No way. But if he or she grows the kale, ‘That’s my kale, and I grew this!’ There’s that wonderful relationship between farmer and food.” (The Suffolk Times)

Colorado school district turns old buses into mobile cafes to feed students during summer
In the past, the school provided lunches at school cafeterias during the summer, but getting to the school was a challenge for many students. Therefore, school officials decided to transform buses going out of service into bright, mobile cafés. “It is a small gesture, but it has a huge impact,” Bennett says. (ABC Actions News)

Pizza, hamburgers and ... local broccoli? School lunch in Arizona
Tucson Unified School District's farm to school program has brought locally-grown lettuce, asian pears and broccoli to students at different grade levels. “I’ve noticed this misconception that the farm to school program is just about giving students an opportunity to know what a local carrot looks like. And although that’s part of it, it’s also about educating adults about our food system, about where food comes from, the challenges of growing food." (Arizona Public Media

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.

NCAT and NFSN Awarded USDA Cooperative Agreement

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 06, 2019

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and National Farm to School Network (NFSN) are pleased to announce our partnership with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) to develop farm to school trainings for agricultural producers.

The goal of the partnership is to help agricultural producers build their capacity to launch or expand efforts to market to schools.

Gwen Holcomb, director of the project for OCFS, announced the farm to school training and curricula cooperative agreement on May 21. She noted that this is an important project for the agricultural producers who can grow, produce, and distribute food for Child Nutrition Programs in schools and school districts. “With more than 30 million students participating in the National School Lunch Program each day, schools provide a large, stable, long-term market for producers,” said Holcomb.

To assist producers in entering this market, NCAT and NSFN will conduct a needs assessment among agricultural producers in collaboration with state agencies (SAs) and then develop curricula. We will promote and execute trainings that use a tiered, train-the-trainer approach. 

This national three-year, $1.8 million project will be co-managed by NCAT and NFSN. NCAT, headquartered in Butte, Montana, has over 40 years of experience providing training, education and technical assistance in sustainable agriculture, local food systems, and energy efficiency and conservation. NSFN is a national information, advocacy, and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing, school gardens, and food and agriculture education into schools and early care and education settings. Assisting with the needs assessment and project evaluation are independent evaluators from New York University.

“We are so pleased to be part of this national effort to help producers access and enhance their marketing to schools and to get more healthy, local farm products in school cafeterias,” said Devona Bell, NCAT’s Sustainable Agricultural Program Director.

“Schools across the country are eager to purchase from local producers and put more fresh food on students’ plates,” said Helen Dombalis, NFSN Executive Director. “This project provides a much-needed opportunity to educate and engage more farmers and producers in market opportunities with schools. When schools buy from local producers, it’s a win for kids, farmers and communities.” 

Read the full press release here.

This Week in Farm to School: 6/4/19

Anna Mullen Tuesday, June 04, 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. 

 

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics In Farm to School: Child Nutrition Reauthorization and Federal Policy Advocacy - How You Can Get Involved
Thursday, June 6 // 1 PM ET
The next Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) is at the forefront of food policy discussions in Washington. A diverse community of voices should be heard in policymaking, but do you find it challenging to get involved? Join Chloe Marshall, National Farm to School Network Policy Specialist, to learn about CNR and how you can advocate with impact! Participation in this webinar in not considered lobbying. Register here

2. Webinar: Campus Dining 201: Trends, Challenges & Opportunities for Farm to College in New England
Wednesday, June 12 // 2PM ET
There are 200 colleges and universities with dining services in New England. Farm to Institution New England (FINE) estimates that those campuses spend between $110 million and $115 million dollars annually on local food. This webinar will highlight some of the key recommendations in FINE's Campus Dining 201: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Farm to College in New England report, and then feature two examples of work already being done to address those recommendations on campuses in New England. Register here

3. Webinar: Kick off the Summer with Farm to Head Start and Early Care and Education
Tuesday, June 18 // 2PM ET
How can a Farm to Head Start/ECE partnership help your program serve fresh, local food? Learn how it works through presentations from national experts and Head Start program examples. This interactive webinar is brought to you by: USDA, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Head Start, and National Farm to School Network.Primary Audience: Head Start staff, child care and CACFP providers, and State agency CACFP and Head Start staff : Please spread the news about this webinar! Register here.

4. School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute
January 19-24, 2020 // Santa Cruz, CA
Hosted by Life Lab in partnership with Whole Kids Foundation, join 20 other School Garden Support Organization teams from across the nation to strengthen your organization’s goal of enhancing professional development and ongoing support for school garden programs in your region. Application deadline: August 2, 2020. Learn more here

5. Save the Date: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 20-24, 2020 // Albuquerque, New Mexico
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 20-24, 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!


Resources & Research 
1. Call for Information: Farm to ECE State Survey/Evaluation Tools and Data
In recent years many states have conducted state level farm to ECE surveys and assessments. We are working to compile these tools and data to serve as a resource for others and supplement our learnings from the 2018 National Farm to Early Care and Education Survey. If you have state farm to ECE survey/evaluation tools and data to share, please send to Lacy Stephens, NFSN Program Manager, at lacy@farmtoschool.org

2. EQUITY Call for Citations: 7th edition of Annotated Bibliography on Structural Racism present in US Food System
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) is seeking help in identifying citations to update CRFS’s publication: An Annotated Bibliography on Structural Racism Present in the U.S. Food System. They seek citations that refer to research, analysis, outreach, and commentary on BOTH structural racism AND the U.S. food system. Deadline for citation submission is August 5, 2019. Learn more here


Policy News
1. Minnesota legislators fund farm-to-school initiative
A final omnibus agriculture policy bill passed by Minnesota legislators last week included a $400,000 fund that can be used to reimburse schools that purchase local foods, and tasks a position at the state Agriculture Department with helping farmers and schools connect, among other duties. Read more about this state policy win here


Job Opportunities
1. Senior Director, Programs & Policy, National Farm to School Network (Remote) 
The Senior Director of Programs and Policy will lead the strategic direction of programming and policy advocacy aimed at institutionalizing farm to school in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. Territories. Responsibilities include successful implementation of programs and policy activities with an eye towards innovation, oversight of Core and Supporting Partner engagement and capacity building, and cultivation of strategic partnerships with national organizations and federal agencies to advance National Farm to School Network's mission. Learn more here

2. Executive Director, Edible Schoolyard Kern County (Bakersfield, CA)
The Grimm Family Education Foundation is seeking a new Executive Director, to work in collaboration with the Foundation President, to create and implement a multi-year program development plan for Edible Schoolyard Kern County. This plan will be aligned with the Foundation’s and Grimmway Schools’ existing strategic plan for all ESY programs. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
North Carolina farm teaches low-income kids about food deserts - and self-sufficiency
Sankofa Farms has developed a curriculum to teach 11-16 year old students about everything from team work to the problem of food deserts, plus beekeeping, chicken coop mending, operating tractors, tilling the land and building animal pens, to name a few duties. “They’re doing this because they love the work and they want to see changes in their community." (Forbes)

Kentucky schools serve local food in summer meal program
This summer, Bowling Green Independent School District will be serving locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries and watermelon from Need More Acres farm in Allen County, as part of its summer meal program. (Bowling Green Daily News

From butternut squash to candy cane beets, students dig into Michigan-fresh foods
Now in their second year of the state-funded 10-Cent Grant program, Thornapple Kellogg Schools dining staff have been serving up fresh, locally-sourced fruits and vegetables to students in West Michigan. Each month, a different Michigan food is featured across the district. Through the 10-Cent Grant, schools receive matching incentive funding up to 10 cents per meal to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables and legumes. (School News Network

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.

Reflections from the Road: Power of Procurement Summit

NFSN Staff Monday, June 03, 2019
By Helen Dombalis, Executive Director


There could not have been a more invigorating way to spend my first few days as National Farm to School Network’s (NFSN) new Executive Director than with mentors, colleagues, partners and collaborators at the Power of Procurement: Good Food for our Future summit. Hosted by the Center for Good Food Purchasing with the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the summit brought together food systems leaders from across the country to strategize on advancing institutional procurement that supports “good food” economies - ones that are healthy, ecologically sound, socially responsible and humane. While I did some live tweeting in Chicago (find me at @helen_dombalis), I want to share additional thoughts from the summit in a longer form. My mind is bursting with inspiration, and I’m buzzing with new ideas for NFSN’s next phase - which we’ll need your help to make happen. Here are the big picture themes I’ve taken home and my thoughts for how NFSN will continue to leverage its role in this wider “good food” movement to maximize the power of procurement.  

Have a vision and set a direction.
Visioning makes all the difference in realizing change. This was a theme shared over and over during the summit. Linda Jo Doctor (W.K. Kellogg Foundation) offered that through the process of visioning, we build “an awareness of what’s not working…but it doesn’t get caught there.” Visioning allows us to identify a direction to move in to create change. At NFSN, we envision a nation in which farm to school programs are an essential component of strong and just local and regional food systems, ensuring the health of all school children, farms, environment, economy and communities. It’s a vision that we work towards every day with support from people like you. And as we’re developing our next Strategic Plan for 2020 and beyond, it continues to be our goal to turn this vision into reality. 

Back up your vision with data. 
Good data helps prove that our vision matters, and illustrates the need for others to join and invest in our work. At NFSN, we know this is true: data helps tell the story of the opportunities and impacts of farm to school. But in order to create the systems change we seek, we need to keep pushing for more proof of concept across the movement. For example, I’m dreaming of the day we can say with data: Invest $5 million in farm to school now, and in two decades, we’ll see billions in savings in healthcare costs. Anecdotally, this is something that we already know is true. As Gary Cohen (Health Care Without Harm) noted at the summit, “Our food system is bankrupting our healthcare system.” Let me know if you want to invest in my data dream.

Words matter.
We were convened by the Center for Good Food Purchasing to talk about “good food” procurement. As Marion Kalb (Jefferson County Public Health Department and Co-Founder of NFSN) pointed out, when a producer or distributor is approached about getting involved, what does the language of “good food” convey to them? This is similar to a question that our NFSN team has been pondering. Just as there are underlying values in the phrase “good food”, what are the underlying values in “farm to school”? We recognize that the words we use (as well as the words we don’t use) signal our values, and we have to be more intentional about making sure our words match our values. For example, NFSN’s equity commitment statement is not embedded in our mission statement and is less-than explicitly included in our core values. This is something I’m eager to change. NFSN is committed to equity. Our mission and core values must express this without reservation. 
 
Programming matters, too. 
Another big takeaway for me at this summit came from Ricardo Salvador (Union of Concerned Scientists and NFSN Advisory Board member). In his keynote, Ricardo used an example of how programming efforts can flounder if they don’t go as far as possible to acknowledge injustices and work to address them. NFSN’s Racial and Social Equity Assessment Tool for Farm to School Programs and Policy is a great way to check ourselves on maximizing impact to advance equity. For example, it’s one thing to kick off a meeting with a land acknowledgment, recognizing the traditional inhabitants of this place, who stewarded the land for generations before European contact and colonization. But the acknowledgment falls short if we don’t also tell the history of unjust structures and policies behind the land we meet on, such as the forced removal of Native peoples. (The policy was literally called the Indian Removal Act.) Janie Hipp (Native American Agriculture Fund) also reminded us that “we have to stop asking who’s missing and start inviting them to be here.” I’m committed to channeling these actions into future NFSN convenings. (Speaking of, save the date! We’ll be gathering in Albuquerque, NM, April 20-24, 2020.) Actions can speak louder than words, and that’s especially true in program design. As a movement builder, NFSN's actions serve as an important model for our state partners, and this extends into addressing racism and inequities in farm to school and the food system.
 
Investment spurs innovation.
Shifting the food system means shifting the spending. NFSN will continue working with schools and in early childhood settings to shift their purchasing power, but should also work with our partners at USDA to shift theirs. Envision with me: what could we accomplish if we embed good food values into the federal government’s commodity program purchases? As Haile Johnston (The Common Market and NFSN Advisory Board Vice Chair) challenged, “This is our money. So how do we hold decision-makers accountable [to spend that money in ways that] nourish our communities?” Here are a few more ideas: what if we regionalize USDA Foods so that school and other participating institutions aren’t just purchasing 100% American-grown, but 100% American-grown within their geographic region, from farms that support and invest in the land, the laborers and the local community? And, what if we leverage the public-private financial investment strategies of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to go a step further than just healthy food access, to ensuring that this healthy food is also “good food”? How can NFSN and the farm to school movement work with others in this space to shift the demand and change the food system together? This kind of big-picture, systems-change visioning is one of the ways that I’m excited to contribute and lead as NFSN’s Executive Director. Your investment in our work helps spur the innovation and action needed to make big change like this happen. 

Vision → Action
Paula Daniels (Center for Good Food Purchasing) elevated the importance of putting vision into action by quoting Franklin D. Roosevelt: “To reach a port we must set sail. Sail, not tie at anchor. Sail, not drift...We’re all in this boat together, so let’s set sail.” This sentiment perfectly aligns with NFSN’s tagline - growing stronger together - and encapsulates why I’m excited about NFSN’s future. I may be at the helm of NFSN, but I honor and appreciate those who set the course (like our Co-Founder and former Executive Director Anupama Joshi) and those who are in this boat with me. It takes all of us! We’re serious about the “Network” part of our name. Get to know our incredible partners, advisors and staff, and if you haven’t already, join our network. I hope that you’ll hop on board and join us in this important work - your voice, perspective and support are needed here! Check out what we accomplished together in 2018 and stay engaged as we continue growing stronger together
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