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National Farm to School Network


Celebrating Jenna Rhodes - NFSN Arkansas Co-Core Partner

NFSN Staff Friday, August 16, 2019

By National Farm to School Network Staff and Partners

Jenna Rhodes, National Farm to School Network Arkansas Co-Core Partner, brought an indomitable spirit to our farm to school family. It is with sadness, but also hope and fond memories, that we celebrate her life. Though much too short, it was a life lived with joy, passion, and commitment, including a deep-seated commitment to farm to school. 

As Program Manager at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Jenna supported Arkansas Farm to School, helping it grow into the robust program that it is today. Not only was Jenna a vital part of Arkansas Farm to School’s success, she shared her enthusiasm and knowledge with our national network of partners, bolstering and helping to grow the national farm to school movement. Jenna was always at the ready with an infectious smile and helping hand. Along with NFSN staff, Jenna’s farm to school friends from across the country are celebrating her spirit:    

Jenna started on our team at the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute following a year-long student project with us as part of her Master of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service (more info here from the Clinton School’s memorial here). We were immediately drawn to her outgoing and earnest spirit and her higher than average devotion to organization. Those two characteristics continued through her entire five years with us.
Jenna could flip any stranger to friend in a matter of minutes, always managing to get straight to the heart of your unique situation and offer suggestions to help you on your way. Her first forays into the field yielded open arms and huge hugs within minutes, which was always warmly received by our farm to school community, especially with our school child nutrition teams.
Her family tells the story of her organizing the third-grade tug of war - taking charge, situating people on the rope, and cheering louder than anyone else in her class. Her teacher told her mom, “This is how Jenna always is, and this is how Jenna will always be.” Never a truer sentence spoken. She had timelines for every project, color-coded sticky notes to keep us all on track, and just the week before she passed had written out every single activity (by month!), that we need to get done in the next year.
Jenna was incredibly organized. If we said we needed to bring something special into the office like a camera or kitchen tools, Jenna would find out when we planned to leave home the next morning, and text us just before to remind us to bring the thing. She even set little reminders for herself to remind us.  
Jenna jumped into everything wholeheartedly. A friend shared last week that when you mentioned an idea to Jenna, if she liked it, then it felt like you were just starting and she was already at halftime. Her questions, her plans, dates, people to invite, what about...things you hadn’t considered she would already have thought about somehow.
And at the SNA conference in Salt Lake City, she was sitting across from Bertrand Weber, who had spoken about taste tests and how he introduces new foods to students that day. Someone at the table ordered calamari, which Jenna had not had before and wasn’t excited about trying, but having heard Bertrand she wanted to see his method first hand. Bertrand went through his full taste test/sensory experience with Jenna and the calamari, and though she wasn’t crazy about it she admitted his process works!
She was a rockstar, both personally and professionally, and she will be deeply missed by many.
- Emily English and Andrew Carberry  

I had the unique pleasure of working with Ms. Jenna as she first entered the farm to school arena. As the NFSN South Region’s lead, I engaged closely with the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute and their Arkansas Grow Healthy Study about school gardening. When Andrew Carberry suggested that Jenna be added as the Arkansas co-lead, I understood why he felt she should be formally recognized in her role. Our monthly regional calls were livened up by Jenna’s presence and enthusiasm. We attended many state and national conferences together and her smile always lit the room. Of the many farm tours we joined, I remember her at Heifer Ranch the most. After a full day of farm to school planning, touring, and celebrating, Jenna stepped on a big old thorn that went through her shoe, deep into her foot. We were outside taking our group photo and many of us offered to drive her to the hospital. Jenna insisted we take our group photo and finish our day together. We removed the thorn and cleaned her foot and then she smiled just as big as ever for our photo. We cleaned up the space and Jenna drove herself to the hospital.

I will always remember her laughter, her creative joy in her work, her faith, and her dedication to service. Laughing and wounded, she put herself last. But she is first in many of our hearts as we mourn her untimely passing.

- Pam Kingfisher

While Jenna will be dearly missed as a friend and colleague, her impact on farm to school in Arkansas and on NFSN will not be forgotten. We feel privileged to carry on her legacy of building community and making the world a better place through farm to school. You can read more about Jenna, including ways to donate to scholarships set up in her name, here

This Week in Farm to School: 8/13/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, August 13, 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. Native American Agriculture Fund Inaugural RFA Now Open
Deadline: September 30, 2019
The Native American Agriculture Fund's (NAAF) mission is to support Native American farmers and ranchers and promote their continued engagement in agriculture. NAAF was created after conclusion of the lengthy Keepseagle v. Vilsack litigation and was designed for the purpose of addressing four areas important to the success of Native farmers and ranchers:  business assistance, agricultural education, technical support and advocacy. Eligible applicants must submit a complete application no later than Monday, September 30, 2019. Learn more here

2. Head Start Gro More Good Garden Grants
Deadline: October 11, 2019
In collaboration with The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and KidsGardening, The National Head Start Association is honored to bring the life-enhancing benefits of gardens to more children and families in the Head Start community. Schools, community action programs, non-profits, hospitals, community centers and inter-generational groups that hosts Head Start programs are eligible to apply. The grants awarded are in the amount of $5,000, plus a garden kit and materials and gardening educational resources. Learn more here

Webinar & Events
1. Webinar: SGSO Network Crowdfunding Webinar
Wednesday, August 28 // 3-4 PM EST
Time and time again, the ability to raise adequate financial support tops the list of challenges of school garden programs both at individual school and SGSO levels. In this webinar we will explore the concept of crowdfunding which is a term broadly used to describe fundraising efforts focused on raising smaller amounts of money from large numbers of people frequently through online and social media efforts. This webinar is a part of the School Garden Support Organization (SGSO) Network. Register here

2. First Nations Food Sovereignty Summit
September 23-26, 2019 // Green Bay, Wisconsin
First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin (Oneida) again are co-hosting the national Food Sovereignty Summit. It will be held September 23-26, 2019, at the Radisson Hotel in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The conference workshops are divided into three tracks: Sustaining Food Systems, Strengthening Tribal Sovereignty, and Caring for Our Lands. Full information and a registration link can be found here.

3. NESAWG's 26th Annual It Takes a Region Conference
November 7-9, 2019 // Jersey City, NJ
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group annual It Takes a Region Conference brings together farm and food practitioners across the 12-state Northeast region to learn, debate, collaborate, and innovate ideas and solutions to critical food systems issues. Hundreds of practitioners convene not only for workshops, plenaries and networking, but to roll up their sleeves and do the real work needed to create a just and fair regional food system in several work group sessions. Learn more here

4. NFSN EVENT Save the Date: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 20-24, 2020 // Albuquerque, NM
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. Do you have expertise to share? We’ll be seeking proposals for conference content (workshops, posters, etc.) from stakeholders interested in sharing their models and strategies for making farm to cafeteria initiatives a reality in their communities. The Request for Proposals will open mid-August. Visit to learn more and start making plans to join us in Albuquerque! 

Resources & Research 
1. NFSN RESOURCE Call for Updates to "Benefits of Farm to School" Fact Sheet
National Farm to School Network is in the process of updating our popular Benefits of Farm to School fact sheet and we need your help identifying farm to school and farm to early care and education research and reports that may be relevant to include in a new edition of the resource. You can submit relevant content by adding directly to this spreadsheet or sending to Lacy Stephens, NFSN Program Manager, at We are interested in both peer reviewed and grey literature. Please submit by Friday, August 16. Thank you for your help in making this valuable resource even more impactful!

2. EQUITY American Academy of Pediatrics Addresses Racism and Its Health Impact on Children and Teens
Racism has a profound impact on children’s health. With the goal of helping all children reach their full potential, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is publishing new recommendations on ways to lessen the impact of racism on children and teens. In the policy statement, “Racism and Its Impact on Child and Adolescent Health,” the AAP calls on pediatricians to create welcoming, culturally competent medical practices, to advocate for policies that advance social justice, and to engage leaders in their communities to reduce health disparities. Read more here

3. Report: Food Systems Resilience: Concepts & Policy Approaches
Food Systems Resilience: Concepts & Policy Approaches presents advocates and policymakers with a suite of policy tools for strengthening food system resilience. With climate-related shocks and stressors adding to existing hazards facing food systems, this is a critical time to examine food system vulnerabilities and work to ameliorate them. This resource provides an overview of the current scholarship on resilience, especially as it applies to food systems, as a means to predict, assess, and improve how those systems cope with disruption. It also includes a case study of Puerto Rican laws and policies. Learn more here

Policy News
1. TAKE ACTION for Farm to School in the next CNR
National Farm to School Network is taking steps now to ensure that the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR) strengthens farm to school opportunities across the country! Farm to school activities – including procurement of local food for school meals, school gardens, and food and agriculture education – have been proven to help students build healthy eating habits and support family farmers by expanding market opportunities. You can help! Endorse the Farm to School Act of 2019 (S. 2026, H.R. 3562) and Kids Eat Local Act (S.1817, H.R. 3230) to encourage members of Congress to provide the federal dollars needed by community-grown initiatives. Have another five minutes? Make a quick call to your members of Congress to ask them to co-sponsor these bills! Learn more about farm to school opportunities in the next CNR here

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Applications Now Open: 2020 Bloomberg Fellows Program
The Bloomberg American Health Initiative is supporting a new generation of public health leaders in organizations across the country who are tackling some of the most pressing challenges to public health, including Obesity and the Food System. The Bloomberg Fellows Program offers a full scholarship and $10,000 stipend for the Master of Public Health (MPH) or a full scholarship for the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The application deadline is December 1, 2019. Learn more here

Farm to School in the News
West Virginia 'farm to school institute’ connects students to the food they eat
How does milk get to the dairy aisle? Why are there different types of apples? Why should salads be a part of a healthy diet? Answers to questions like these and more are things that children at Jefferson County Schools in West Virginia will be welcomed back to this coming school year after school teachers and workers attended a program that was the first of its kind for the area. (Herald Mail Media)

Washington State University Extension helps launch robotics gardening program
An elementary school in the Mount Vernon School District received a $25,000 grant to start a robotics gardening program with the help of WSU Extension. The FarmBot growing system will be installed at Jefferson Elementary this fall to help grow, water and weed the school’s garden. (WSU Insider)

Texas school district unveils innovative new menu
With an emphasis on international cuisine and locally sourced ingredients, Texarkana Independent School District will revolutionize most parents understanding of the typical school lunch. (TXK 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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