Congress is Red, Blue and Green!
Photo credit: National Sustainable Agriculture CoalitionWith farm to school, advocacy isn’t just letters and phone calls – it's also about getting policymakers out to the farm! In April, the National Farm to School Network teamed-up with DC Central Kitchen, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, DC Greens and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to welcome congressional staff to K Street Farm in Washington, D.C. and witness farm to school in action. When policymakers join the fun happening in their own backyard, it provides firsthand experience with farm to school’s critical role in developing young, healthy eaters. From teachers to students, food processors to farmers, gardeners to congressmen, advocacy opportunities share the intricate stories of farm to school and how this powerful tool can be used to create healthy, lifelong habits.
CNR has recently seen movement from the House Education and Workforce Committee, which introduced its draft CNR bill on April 20, 2016. While the House CNR bill includes big wins for farm to school, we do have a number of concerns regarding student access to healthy, nutritious meals year round. Check out this update from our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition for more details.
Try your own advocacy event and set up a farm to school tour day for policymakers in your community! Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Choose a farm to school activity that you’re most excited about in your community - is it the school garden? Local food taste tests? Harvest of the Month?
- Strategize how you could share this excitement with your policymakers - e.g. invite policy makers to a cooking demonstration or a harvest celebration.
- Form a team, including community partners and other key stakeholders, to help create an agenda for the event.
- Find contact information for the policymakers and legislative staff you’d like to invite. Consider policymakers at all levels, from US Senators and Representatives to your governor, mayor or city council members.
- Send invitations – don’t forget to invite local media, too.
- Celebrate your advocacy event!
- Follow-up with all participants and make sure to send a thank you. Include a memento from the day (like a picture) to remind your policymakers what farm to school success looks like.