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A Garden Story, The Passamaquoddy Way

NFSN Staff Tuesday, November 13, 2018

By Alena Paisano, Program Manager, National Farm to School Network

National Farm to School Network’s Seed Change in Native Communities with Farm to School project is working with on-the-ground partners to expand and sustain farm to school activities in Native communities across the nation. In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, here’s a story from one Seed Change school about how farm to school activities are benefiting Native youth and their communities. 

“Our success started with a behavioral intervention,” says Brian Giles, Special Education Teacher at Indian Township School in the Passamaquoddy Indian Township Reservation, Maine. “I will tell you a story, which is the Passamaquoddy way. There is a student. I will call him Kinap. Kinap means strong and brave in Passamaquoddy and although that is not his name I feel it suits him. 

This student faces multiple hardships at home. His father is afflicted with an illness out of his control, his mother not present in the picture for reasons unknown to me. He walked around school every day with his hood up and his back slouched. He would not high five, handshake or utter good morning to anyone. I knew right away that I had to get him on board. As we all know, food is life, and gardens are good therapy. This student agreed to be part of the garden club at school and showed up religiously for a few weeks. He helped weed and prepare the garden. I elected him the leader of our club since the attendance was low and he was the most active member of our group. 

Before I knew it, he was leading the younger children groups, and when the FoodCorps national team visited, I elected to have him lead our group tour. They were blown away. His hood came down, and he was excited about garden club. The enthusiasm spread through his friends. I elected to have the students do the daily watering, and he and his peers begged me each morning for the keys to the greenhouse to water our beloved seedlings. We held a community show-off night, and the students led their families through the greenhouse and gardens to see what they had grown. We were met with ‘Hey tus or qoss (son or daughter), I didn’t know you were doing this. I am so proud of you.’ 

We are trying to make gardening and food sovereignty cool. Our afterschool garden program is called Passamaquoddy OG (Original Gardeners). I am working with tribal members to integrate traditional tribal music, hip hop, and traditional dance to create a culture of cool. We are working on t-shirt and hoodie designs that integrate the medicine wheel and tribal colors and language to reward our students for their hard work and to give them a badge of honor. Our OG membership and enthusiasm continues to rise and I am met daily with ‘When are we going to garden Mr. Giles.’ My answer will always be, toke (now).”

From garden clubs celebrating tribal culture and school menus serving up traditional foods, to planting heritage orchards and connecting classroom education with traditional teachings, farm to school activities in Native communities are helping break down barriers and reinvigorating traditional food ways one ear of corn (or salmon, chokecherry, squash, taro) at a time.

Learn more about our Seed Change in Native Communities project here: www.farmtoschool.org/nativecommunities 

Find resources for growing farm to school activities in Native communities in our Resource Library by searching the “Native Communities” tag: www.farmtoschool.org/resources 

This Week in Farm to School: 11/13/18

NFSN Staff Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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 FY 2019 Farm to School Grant RFA
The FY 2019 Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is now open to applicants. Due to additional funding made available to the Farm to School Grant Program through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) seeks to award approximately $7.5M in FY 2019 funding.  Applications are due Dec. 4, 2018. Learn more and apply here

2. 2019 Youth Garden Grant
Any nonprofit organization, public or private school, or youth program in the United States or US Territories planning a new garden program or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18 is eligible to apply. The selection of winners is based on demonstrated program impact and sustainability. The top 5 programs will be awarded grant packages worth $2,100. Grant packages worth $500 will be awarded to 20 additional programs. Applications are due December 17. Learn more here


Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to School and 21st Century Food Service Programs
November 15, 7-8pm ET
In 2018, National Farm to School Network teamed up with National Education Association as its National Partner of the Year. Growing from this partnership is a movement to challenge schools to build 21st Century food programs. We want to enrich the connection between schools and fresh, healthy, and locally sourced food. Additionally, we will build a new school nutrition workforce that will anchor this lofty project in our school communities. Join this webinar to hear from participants in this new partnership that are already reaping the benefits. Register here

2. Massachusetts Farm to School Farm & Sea to School Conference 
December 6, 2018 // Leominster, MA
On December 6, 2018, Mass. Farm to School will hold its fifth statewide conference, The Massachusetts Farm & Sea to School Conference. This year’s theme is Setting the Table: Communities Creating Change.  The conference seeks to amplify traditionally underrepresented voices in the Massachusetts food system and identify strategies and resources for promoting racial equity and social justice as we grow the farm & sea to school movement. Register here


Research & Resources
1. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Farm to Head Start Video
With the help of partners like the Hmong American Farmers Association, CKC Good Foods, and Bix Produce, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy partnered with Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties to implement a farm to head start initiative. The program has had a positive impact on children, farmers, and the whole community. Watch the video here.


Job Opportunities
1. Executive Director, National Farm to School Network (Remote) 
National Farm to School Network seeks a dynamic, values-driven and collaborative leader as Executive Director. The Executive Director leads innovation and strategic growth toward accomplishing the mission of the organization. Location is flexible (anywhere within the U.S., with preference for proximity to Washington, D.C.). The deadline to apply is Jan. 7, 2019. Learn more here

2. Policy Specialist, National Farm to School Network (Washington, D.C.) 
National Farm to School Network seeks a Policy Specialist to lead implementation of the organization's policy priorities, including influencing federal administrative, rulemaking, and legislative actions, and supporting the development of its biennial report of state level policies supportive of farm to school. This position is based in Washington, DC. Deadline to apply is Nov. 16, 2018. Learn more here

3. Executive Director, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (Richmond, VT)
The Executive Director is responsible for providing leadership and direction toward the achievement of NOFA-VT’s mission and goals; administering the operations and programs of NOFA-VT; executing the policies established by the Board of Directors; overseeing the preparation of meaningful reports reflecting the financial health of the organization; providing human resources leadership/supervising staff; and representing the goals and work of the organization to the wider community. Reporting to the NOFA-VT Board of Directors, the Executive Director will help accomplish goals set towards positive operating results for the organization. Learn more and apply here.


Farm to School in the News
Michigan fruits and vegetables feed and educate kids
An innovative and expanding farm-to-cafeteria food program is helping students in the Battle Creek Public Schools find their way to more nutritious food while helping Michigan farmers find new markets for their produce. (Second Wave)

New farm to school menu at Florida High School
A new “farm-to-school” menu at Ocoee High School is getting students excited about eating healthy. “How can we get kids excited about agriculture, create jobs for them when they come out, get healthy nutritional food back into the school system and reduce the cost in the process of it?” said 4 Rivers CEO John Rivers. (Fox 35)

Farm to School: Growing Achievements in Vermont
Farm to school activities strengthen the American economy and connects students to the farm. Schools like these contribute to a stable market for local producers, and provide dependable revenues that boost the regional economy. Farm to school also helps kids to learn where their food comes from and inspires them to try foods they have grown or prepared. (USDA)

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

This Week in Farm to School: 11/06/18

NFSN Staff Tuesday, November 06, 2018
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 FY 2019 Farm to School Grant RFA
The FY 2019 Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is now open to applicants. Due to additional funding made available to the Farm to School Grant Program through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) seeks to award approximately $7.5M in FY 2019 funding.  Applications are due Dec. 4, 2018. Learn more and apply here

2. Captain Planet Project Learning Garden
Schools can apply now to win a Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden through partnerships with grocery retailers around the country. Grand Prize Winners will receive a one year supply of DOLE Fruit Bowls and a Project Learning Garden provided by Captain Planet Foundation, including: 5 garden beds or garden expansion (for schools with an existing garden), mobile garden cooking cart, standards-based Learning Garden lessons and lesson supply kits, and online teacher training. Learn more and apply here.

3. SeedMoney Grants for Garden Projects
SeedMoney is giving away $30,000 in grants to food garden projects during their 4th Annual SeedMoney Challenge which starts on November 15th and ends December 15th. They’re offering challenge grants, crowdfunding opportunities and merit grants (i.e. no crowdfunding required) via one, easy online application. The Challenge is timed for projects to take advantage of #GivingTuesday (Nov 27) and the start of the year-end giving season. Last year, participating groups raised an average of $807 per project (i.e. grant + crowdfunds raised). Learn more and apply here.


Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to School and 21st Century Food Service Programs
November 15, 7-8pm ET
In 2018, National Farm to School Network teamed up with National Education Association as its National Partner of the Year. Growing from this partnership is a movement to challenge schools to build 21st Century food programs. We want to enrich the connection between schools and fresh, healthy, and locally sourced food. Additionally, we will build a new school nutrition workforce that will anchor this lofty project in our school communities. Join this webinar to hear from participants in this new partnership that are already reaping the benefits. Register here

2. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine & Friends of the Eartch: Scaling Up Healthy, Climate-Friendly School Food
November 14, 4pm ET
Join Chef Ann Cooper, from Boulder Valley School District, Jen Dalton, from Friends of the Earth and Maggie Neola, from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in a discussion on strategies and policies for scaling up healthy, plant-forward, climate-friendly school food. In this webinar, you will learn what other districts do to successfully increase participation rates and shift the culture towards healthier food. Register here.


Research & Resources
1. Cultivating Opportunity: An Overview of USDA’s Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 Farm to School Grantees’ Growing Achievements
The Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) is excited to release a new report: Cultivating Opportunity: An Overview of USDA’s Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 Farm to School Grantees’ Growing Achievements. Trends and best practices from fiscal year (FY) 2015 and 2016 farm to school grantees are highlighted throughout. OCFS also takes a look at baseline data collected from grantees to assess the impact of the grant program on the growth of the farm to school movement nationwide. Read the full report here.

2. Summary of Findings Report: Superintendent Perspectives on Local School Wellness Policies
This report summarizes findings from focus groups conducted with superintendents at The School Superintendents Association (AASA) meeting; in addition, key informant follow up interviews were conducted following the focus groups. Superintendents shared their perspectives and experiences with implementation and evaluation of local school wellness policies (LWP). Read the full report here.

3. New Resource from NACDD: Healthy School, Healthy Staff, Healthy Students: A Guide to Improving School Employee Wellness
The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors has released Healthy School, Healthy Staff, Healthy Students: A Guide to Improving School Employee Wellness, a new resource to assist school districts and schools in establishing or enhancing an employee wellness initiative. Evidence-based school employee wellness programs have the potential to increase employee productivity and performance, improve the health of both staff and students, and support student academic success. Read the full report here.

4. No Kid Hungry Innovation Survey Opportunity
We know you’re doing creative work when it comes to feeding kids. We want to hear all about it. No Kid Hungry is developing a report on innovation and they want to hear from you. We have come a long way, but there is more work to do and innovative ideas are critical. If you or someone you know has applied a unique approach to ensuring that all kids get the food they need, please tell us more by taking this survey. Respondents will be featured in a report on the state of innovation and have the chance to receive an innovation accelerator award to support their work. The survey closes on November 30. Take the survey here.


Job Opportunities
1. Policy Specialist, National Farm to School Network (Washington, DC)
The National Farm to School Network seeks a Policy Specialist to lead implementation of the organization's policy priorities, including influencing federal administrative, rulemaking, and legislative actions, and supporting the development of its biennial report of state level policies supportive of farm to school. The Policy Specialist will cultivate relationships with policymakers and their staff, partner organizations and advocacy coalitions, manage and facilitate NFSN's Policy Group, and educate and mobilize NFSN stakeholders around key issues. This position is based in Washington, DC. Deadline to apply is Nov. 16, 2018. Learn more and apply here

2. Operations Manager, Castanea Fellowship (Remote)
Working with the Castanea Fellowship Steering Committee, and under direction of the Executive Director, the Operations Manager oversees the completion of projects and manages the day-to-day operations of the Castanea Fellowship, including scheduling and organizing meeting and events, processing financial reimbursements, providing budget tracking support, and providing project management support. This position also assists in communications and outreach to the Castanea Fellowship community, which includes partners, potential applicants, and advisors. We strongly encourage applicants with personal experience confronting the challenges of our current food system to apply, as well as, people with experience in multi-racial and multi-sector driven organizations. Learn more and apply here

3. Policy Specialist, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (Washington, D.C.)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of over 120 grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. NSAC is currently seeking candidates for a Policy Specialist position. This position is located at NSAC’s DC office on Capitol Hill and is a full-time exempt position. Each one of five Policy Specialists at NSAC reports to NSAC’s Policy Director. Learn more and apply here.

4. Good Food Purchasing Project Manager, Chicago Food Policy Action Council (Chicago, IL)
The CFPAC Good Food Purchasing Project Manager will support CFPAC’s priorities by working in coordination with CFPAC Board and staff members, local communities, organizations, vendors, suppliers, processors, and producers as well as staff at City of Chicago and Cook County Departments and Agencies, and other state and national level partners. The Good Food Purchasing Project Manager is a new role serving as a resource to participants in the above networks. The position will also closely coordinate with the Center for Good Food Purchasing and other national partners. Learn more and apply here.

5. Farm to School AmeriCorps Member, Rural Health Network of South Central New York (Binghamton, NY)
The Farm to School AmeriCorps program is an exciting new initiative of the Food and Health Network (FaHN), a program of Rural Health Network of South Central New York. The regional Farm to School program works collaboratively with 26 school districts in South Central New York. Farm to School Corps members will work as part of an expanding regional team to develop, implement, grow, and evaluate programs to bring healthy, local food to students. Members will work with staff, students, parents, farms, and community partners to increase capacity for hands-on learning, local procurement, and creating a school-wide culture of health. Learn more and apply here.


Farm to School in the News
Iowa students learn from local farmers
Iowa Valley RC&D and Field to Family are working with the Iowa City Community School District — which oversees Van Allen Elementary — as well as the Solon, Clear Creek Amana and Cedar Rapids districts to provide nutrition education programs for students. (The Gazette)

New Jersey school goes hydroponic, wins farm-to-school award
For “Take Your Parents to Lunch Day” earlier this month, Hopewell Elementary School students picked basil from the school’s vertical farm that was later featured in a deconstructed caprese salad. It is the latest item to be added to the school’s organic homemade lunch menu, available three times a week, with vertical farm produce infused into two of those three meals. (Community News)

New York students take food from courtyard to cafeteria
Last month, students celebrated eating a breakfast made from their own eggs, and it’s all thanks to Andover Central School’s Environmental Technology class. In 2015, this course was formed after a strong demand by high school students who desired to learn about local and sustainable agriculture. Since the garden’s inception, students in the Environmental Technology course have designed, built, and maintained a high tunnel, a raised bed garden, a composting system, and a mobile chicken coop in their courtyard. (Wellsville Daily)

  
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 Month 2018 Roundup

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Highlighting Actions from Across the Nation



By Anna Defendiefer, Communications Intern

For the past 31 days of National Farm to School Month, millions of students, farmers, educators, and communities across the U.S. have been celebrating the movement that connects kids to healthy, local food and supports local economies. From Florida to Alaska and everywhere in between, people are understanding the power that farm to school can bring to kids, farmers, and communities - that’s what National Farm to School Month is all about! 

This year’s campaign encouraged participants to take action and try new things to further embrace the farm to school movement in their local communities. Hundreds of people across the country told us the activities they planned to try this month in our Take Action Pledge:

  • Harvested the school garden, cooked a meal, saved the seeds for next season, and amended the soil to get ready for spring - Alaska
  • Scheduled a Growing Gardens Class for preschoolers - Colorado
  • Taught students about healthy eating and exercise by using pumpkins as weights to do lunges and Russian twists - Connecticut
  • Partnered with a local dairy to name a baby calf - Delaware
  • Installed and planted a rain garden full of native pollinator plants - Oregon
  • Worked with a local dairy farm to teach students how farmers produce milk, yogurt, and cheese - Arizona
  • Students constructed a greenhouse for the school farm and grew food for the Mighty Mustang Backpack Meals Program - Mississippi
  • Celebrated “Garden Day” at a local elementary school, where each grade planted a different kind of seed - Texas

 

At the National Farm to School Network, we’ve been leading Farm to School Month celebrations by sharing farm to school inspiration and stories from partner organizations including School Nutrition Association, National Head Start Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and Newman’s Own Foundation. We also highlighted innovative approaches to farm to school by talking about breakfast and reducing plate waste in the cafeteria. 

On social media, we celebrated by encouraging people to share their ideas and help spread awareness for the farm to school movement using #F2SMonth and #farmtoschool. Over 6,000  social media posts celebrated farm to school this month, showcasing hundreds of activities and events. We were so inspired by the creative ideas and excitement for the farm to school movement we saw! 


Regionally, millions of students and teachers took a collective “crunch” into delicious local produce this month - states in the Great Lakes region, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia all ate local apples, while Florida enjoyed some cucumbers for “Cucumber Crunch!” Policymakers created Farm to School Month proclamations in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Arkansas, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Utah. Some states celebrated by creating exciting farm to school events: Georgia “Kickin’ It with Kale,” Iowa Local Food Day, Louisiana Farm to School Conference, the D.C. Greens Summit, Massachusetts Farm to School Awareness Day, New Jersey Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, Texas Farm Fresh Challenge, and Mississippi Farm to School Week all helped spread awareness in a fun environment!

 
States also showcased their seasonal harvests in a variety of ways: California designated peppers as their “Harvest of the Month,” Idaho celebrated Harvest Day, Minnesota celebrated Minnesota Thursday, Maine hosted a Harvest Lunch Week, New Hampshire celebrated kale, Hawaii celebrated ‘Ulu (also known as breadfruit), and Nebraska launched Nebraska Thursdays. And that's just a snapshot!

Farm to school is a grassroots movement powered by people like you, who take action and try new things every day to encourage local food sourcing and food, agriculture, and nutrition education to students across the nation. While Farm to School Month has come to an end, we encourage you to keep the momentum going and continue to celebrate the positive power that farm to school brings to kids, farmers and communities. To stay up-to-date on the latest stories, new resources, policy actions, learning opportunities and more, join our network. Let’s keep taking action all year long!

Thank you to this year’s National Farm to School Month sponsors - CoBank, Newman’s Own Foundation, U.S. Highbush Blueberry CouncilCaptain Planet Foundation, Farm Credit, FarmLogix, Organic Valley, and High Mowing Organic Seeds - as well as the Featured Partner and Outreach Partner organizations that helped us spread the word about farm to school far and wide throughout October. And, thanks to YOU for being a farm to school champion in your community!

Plate Waste Warriors: How Schools Are Reducing Food Waste

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The blog is sponsored by CoBank, who shares the National Farm to School Network's mission of growing farm to school to support farmers and vibrant rural communities. We thank CoBank for being a sponsor of our 2018 National Farm to School Month Celebrations. 
By Elizabeth Esparza, NFSN Communications Intern

Observe any school cafeteria during a typical lunchtime, and you are bound to witness a perplexing problem. On the one hand, you would certainly see students who rely on school meals to meet their daily nutritional needs getting the food they need. Simultaneously, on any normal day, you would also undoubtedly notice the staggering amount of waste that cafeterias across the country inevitably produce. 

Though plate waste abounds, schools and communities throughout the country are stepping up to fight the issue with creative solutions. Reducing plate waste in schools is an important things to consider in ensuring that all students get the food they need while working to send less food to the landfill. Here are a few examples of how school campuses across the country are taking steps to put more food in tummies, and send less food into trash bins. 

The Natural Resources Council of Maine recently published a how-to Guide to Reduce Wasted Food in Maine’s K-12 Schools. One of the study’s coauthors, Ryan Parker, formerly a commercial farmer, was interested in how much it was costing school districts to purchase and prepare food that would ultimately be thrown away. Recognizing the barriers schools encounter in reducing their food waste such as limited staff time, serving mandates, and the length of lunchtime, the guide focuses on composting and share tables, two great ways to make sure the food they produce doesn’t go to waste. Public schools produce 1.9% of food waste in the country, which amounts to 36.5 pounds of food per student per year. Though there is certainly more waste to be found in other areas such as households, schools provide a great opportunity to teach and influence students to create positive habits for the future. Check out the guide from some practical examples that can be implemented at any school. 

The Campus Kitchens Project, a national program of DC Central Kitchen, has an innovative model to turn what could be waste into much needed meals for the community. The program works with students at 65 universities and high school campuses throughout the country to transform unused food from cafeterias and other community kitchens into meals for their hungry neighbors. With a model that targets the many root causes of hunger, Campus Kitchens not only feeds those who need it and keeps food from going to waste, it also creates opportunities for high school and college students to gain leadership and entrepreneurial skills that can benefit them into their future careers. Here’s an example of the impact one school has made through the program: Gonzaga College High School, located in Washington, D.C., has recovered 28,990 pounds of food since launching in 2005. The Campus Kitchen cooks twice a week, and delivers twice a week to mostly senior, low-income housing communities - watch the video the learn more! Overall, schools participating in The Campus Kitchen Project in the 2016-2017 academic year recovered 991,872 pounds of food that would have otherwise gone to waste, and prepared 378,423 nutritious meals for those in need. 

Another key strategy for reducing food waste is educating students about why this is an important issue in the first place. The more students know about food waste, food insecurity, and the complete cycle of the food system, the more likely they are to be conscious of what's left on their plate at the end of a meal. In Michigan, fifth graders at Traverse Heights Elementary have had a hands-on lesson with bananas (rescued from a local grocery story) that illustrated how much food is wasted despite the fact that many people are food insecure. In Arkansas, Washington Elementary School found success when students led a food plate waste audit. In the months following the audit, students reduced their milk waste by 20% and shared various unopened lunch meal items (e.g. milks, apples, oranges, etc.) as afternoon snacks with other students. And in Hawai'i, the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation's 3R’s School Recycling Program focuses on educating students to reduce, reuse and recycle waste in gardens, schoolyards, cafeterias, and classrooms. The program trains students leaders to engage their school community in implementing a school-wide recycling system by conducting classroom presentation, creating campaign materials, and serving as mentors on campus. Empowering students to feel knowledgeable and invested in taking action to reduce waste in the cafeterias and throughout their school campuses is an important step in creating lasting impacts on reduced school food waste. 

Whether they utilize share tables, composting, or transforming food, schools and communities are working to combat food waste by reducing what they are able to, reusing what they can, and repurposing what is left. 

If you are interested in fighting food waste in your school, here are some more resources to get you started:

Are you taking steps to reduce food waste in your school? We’d love to hear about it! Send us a note via our Story Form or tag us in a post on social media. 

This Week in Farm to School: 10/30/18

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 30, 2018
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. National Head Start Association Garden Grants
The National Head Start Association and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation have launched a new multi-year Garden Grants initiative, which seeks to bring the life-enhancing benefits of gardens to more Head Start children and families, increasing healthy food access and fostering a lifelong love of gardening. Grant recipients will receive $5,000, plus a garden kit, to create or expand a garden in their community. Schools, community action programs, non-profits, hospitals, community centers and inter-generational groups that hosts Head Start programs are eligible to apply.  Application deadline for the 2018/2019 program year is November 15, 2018. Learn more here

2. USDA FY 2019 Farm to School Grant RFA
The FY 2019 Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is now open to applicants. Due to additional funding made available to the Farm to School Grant Program through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) seeks to award approximately $7.5M in FY 2019 funding.  Applications are due Dec. 4, 2018. Learn more and apply here


Webinars & Events
1. National Farm to School Month - Last Chance to Share How You're Celebrating!
How are you celebrating National Farm to School Month? The National Farm to School Network wants to know! Share what actions you're taking for farm to school this October by adding your name to the Take Action Pledge. Everyone who completes the pledge form will be entered to win farm to school prizes for a school of their choice! Eleven (11) winners will be randomly drawn, and prizes include a "Build-Your-Own Blueberry Day" from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, assets from the Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden™ program, organic dairy products from Organic Valley, and seed packets from High Mowing Organic Seeds. Whether you’re hosting a taste test in the cafeteria, harvesting school garden produce or making a new farm to school connection, no action is too small! Take 2 minutes to add your name to the pledge and enter to win by Oct. 31, 2018. Learn more at www.farmtoschool.org/pledge.  

2. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics: NFSN Seed Change in Native Communities Cohort
November 1, 2-3pm ET
In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, our November Trending Topics webinar will feature partners from the National Farm to School Network's Seed Change in Native Communities project. Since 2017, the Seed Change project has helped to create dozens of school gardens in Native communities, put local and indigenous foods on the plates of hundreds of children, and supported the inspiring work of five school communities dedicated to expanding and sustaining farm to school programming for the next generation of Native youth. Register here.

3. EQUITY Equity & Access in the School Garden Movement Webinar
Today! October 30, 1-2pm PT
School gardens can be a powerful tool for promoting racial and social equity, but equally important are the ways school garden organizations and school garden educators approach equity and access. Please join Suzannah Holsenbeck of Common Ground, Ida Sobotik of Community Groundworks, and Sam Ullery of the DC Office of State Superintendent of Education as they discuss what equity in school gardens means to their organizations. They will share case studies and offer suggestions for how your organization can tackle issues around equity and access in your work. Register here.


Research & Resources
1. New Report: Cultivating Opportunity: An Overview of USDA's Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 Farm to School Grantees’ Growing Achievements
The USDA Farm to School Grant Program is one way schools, State agencies, Indian Tribal Organizations, producers, and nonprofit organizations are working together to incorporate local and regional foods into the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). This report explores the history and benefits of farm to school programs across the country and dives deeper into the strategies and outcomes of USDA’s Farm to School Grant Program. Read the report here. 

2. Benefits of Farm to School: Evidence from Canada
The Benefits of Farm to School: Evidence from Canada demonstrates the impacts of farm to school activities, which include public health, education and learning, the environment, community connectedness and the economic benefits. It is complemented by the United States’ National Farm to School Network’s fact sheet, which provides an extensive list of benefits and sources backed by research from the US. The positive impacts of farm to school programs in Canada are becoming clear, but more evaluation is needed to better understand – and grow – the movement to put more healthy, local food on the minds and plates of Canadian students. The development of this fact sheet is an important first step. Read the report here

3. JAFSCD and JAIE Call for Papers and Commentaries
The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development and the Journal of American Indian Education jointly seek manuscripts and commentaries on practice-relevant and pedagogical research related to Indigenous food sovereignty issues, especially tribal and government policy, grassroots community organizing, culturally defined foods and practices, and the transfer of Indigenous knowledge.The deadline for manuscript submissions is January 15, 2019. Read the full description here.

4. New Report: Army fell short of its recruiting goal, in part due to obesity
Mission: Readiness, an organization of retired admirals and generals, recently released a new national report, ‘Unhealthy and Unprepared,’ on the recruiting challenges currently confronting our armed forces. This year, the Army fell short of its recruiting goal for the first time since 2005, due in part to the 31 percent of 17-24 year-old recruits who are disqualified from serving in the military due to obesity. Overall, 71 percent of young people between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service. This new report details how parents, educators, and policymakers can improve children’s health, prevent obesity, and grow the pool of eligible recruits by encouraging healthy eating and physical activity from a young age. Read the report here


Job Opportunities
1. Policy Specialist, National Farm to School Network (Washington, DC)
The National Farm to School Network seeks a Policy Specialist to lead implementation of the organization's policy priorities, including influencing federal administrative, rulemaking, and legislative actions, and supporting the development of its biennial report of state level policies supportive of farm to school. The Policy Specialist will cultivate relationships with policymakers and their staff, partner organizations and advocacy coalitions, manage and facilitate NFSN's Policy Group, and educate and mobilize NFSN stakeholders around key issues. This position is based in Washington, DC. Deadline to apply is Nov. 16, 2018. Learn more and apply here

2. Community Programs Coordinator Americorps VISTA, Youth Garden Project (Moab, UT)
The Community Programs Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA member will work directly with Youth Garden Project’s many community-based programs and events. Ideal candidate will be flexible, collaborative, able to work independently, exhibit strong leadership, and enthusiastic about YGP’s mission of cultivating healthy children, families, and community through the process of connecting people with food from seed to table. Learn more and apply here.


Farm to School in the News
Rep. Panetta visits school garden program in California
Rep. Jimmy Panetta visited an elementary school in Watsonville to observe the impact of a school garden program designed to provide young children in resource challenged communities with fresh healthy food and knowledge about where it comes from. (Santa Cruz Sentinel

Composting enriches Farm-to-Table Program at Florida School
Visitors at Sugar Mill Elementary might be surprised to spot strawberries, papayas, peppers, pineapples, bean, avocados, lettuce and melons around the campus. Students from each grade take turns tending to their fruits and vegetables, which they've grown over several weeks. Eventually, they harvest what they've grown and make a meal. (Port Orange Observer)

Ohio school employees experience farming up close and personal
Serving food to children is the core focus of about 50 Ashtabula Area City Schools nutrition service workers who got the opportunity to see the details of the farming process at area farms. (Star Beacon)
  
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.

How State Departments of Agriculture Grow Farm to School

NFSN Staff Monday, October 29, 2018
Guest post by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture


New Jersey State Department of Agriculture, 8th Annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances agriculture by forging partnerships and creating consensus to achieve sound policy outcomes between state departments of agriculture, the federal government and stakeholders. NASDA appreciates its partnership with the National Farm to School Network (NFSN), as connecting farmers with new markets and children with healthy food is a common sense opportunity to create vibrant communities of all sizes. Across the nation, NASDA Members support farm to school activities in several creative ways. Read just a few of our success stories below:

Georgia Department of Agriculture
In 2014, the Georgia Department of Agriculture implemented a farm to school program, “Feed My School,” to help school nutrition programs utilize locally grown foods. Through identifying barriers to sourcing Georgia grown products and creating practical solutions for school nutrition directors, the department has reached over one-third of the state’s K-12 population. 

“Georgia Grown Test Kitchens” have tremendously aided the formulation of new meals and program implementation methods as they develop, test and share menu plans for schools across the state. Following the Feed My School program’s initial success, the department of agriculture has set a new goal to include 20 percent locally grown products in every school meal. To learn more about the Feed My School program and the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s goals, visit www.FeedMySchool.com.

New Jersey Department of Agriculture
The New Jersey State Department of Agriculture hosted a program this September to recognize New Jersey farmers’ farm to school efforts. This year’s winner, recognized during the 8th Annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, was Terhune Orchards. 

Terhune Orchards regularly hosts classes from schools and events for children all year round. The orchard currently has a tour program that explores how crops grow, and life on the farm. Also, in one of the orchard’s barns, it features a life size story about corn showing the growth stages of corn until it is ready for harvest. “We feel strongly that it is important to show children how food is grown and to teach them about the importance of eating healthy,” said Gary Mount, Terhune Orchards owner and operator.

During the 2017-18 school year, the influence of the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Program led to 255 schools purchasing some local produce from their main distributor, 223 districts buying local produce directly from farms, 212 districts using a curriculum that ties cafeteria meals to healthy eating education and 114 districts organizing field trips to farms.

West Virginia Department of Agriculture
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is collaborating with the West Virginia Department of Education and West Virginia University Extension Service on a USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant project totaling $91,540. Together, they are designing and executing a two-year strategic plan that expands market opportunities for farmers. In addition to benefitting farmers, the project will increase awareness of West Virginia agriculture and provide resources to farmers, buyers and producers statewide. Stay updated on the program’s progress by visiting the West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s website

On a federal policy level, NASDA supports increased funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Grant Program from $5 to $15 million in order to incubate more farm to school programs throughout the United States. We also encourage Congress to provide additional regulatory flexibility to school food procurement practices. In order to provide this clarity, Congress should expand existing local procurement and geographic preference language to specifically allow “local” as a product specification for school food, provided competitive bidding is maintained. 

For those looking to learn more about their state’s farm to school initiatives, or if you have ideas on how to collaborate, NASDA suggests contacting your state department of agriculture. Search NASDA’s directory here

Celebrating Farm to School with Head Start Gardening!

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 25, 2018
Guest post by the National Head Start Association



Gardens offer untapped potential in low-income communities
Head Start strives to provide at-risk children with the support they need to reach their full potential in school and in life. Head Start recognizes good health and nutrition as the foundation of school readiness and child development, and takes a comprehensive approach to supporting and promoting the health and well-being of children and families. This approach includes high-quality health and nutrition standards that are required to be culturally and developmentally appropriate, meet the nutritional needs of all individual children, follow the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and USDA recommendations, and served as family-style meals to promote staff-child interactions and healthy socialization. However, we believe there is untapped potential for garden projects in Head Start and Early Head Start programs which can further improve the health and development of children in vulnerable communities, where fresh foods are most scarce. 

Recognizing the importance of strong health and nutrition in early childhood and understanding many at-risk children and families suffer from lack of access to fresh foods, the National Head Start Association (NHSA) has partnered with the National Farm to School Network to celebrate National Farm to School Month and to spread awareness on this critical issue. In celebration of National Farm to School Month, NHSA is expanding our reach, resources, and partnerships with organizations related to farm to early care and education, with the overall goal to increase access to gardening and its many benefits to low-income communities.

Numerous benefits to starting gardening early
Gardens and the fresh foods they provide in early care and education programs offer numerous benefits, ranging from increased access to nutritious and local foods for children in their vital years of development, to improved physical activity and hands-on learning related to agriculture, health, and nutrition. But not only does gardening contribute to positive child health outcomes, it also fosters healthy interactions and social skills between children, teachers, and families. Additionally, when schools and communities support local food systems, the surrounding economy thrives. 

Research to support these many benefits has grown in recent years and as a result, local fresh foods and gardens have spread through communities and schools. However, most families in vulnerable communities are still food insecure and often live in areas with little to no access to fresh foods, or “food deserts.” Far too often, low-income children and families lack access to basic fresh foods.

So in addition to the National Farm to School Network, NHSA has also joined forces with The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation.
Through our partnership with Scotts Miracle-Gro, we will work with Head Start programs across the country to support children, families, and communities in the growing of their own fresh produce for life. This multi-year initiative will make garden grants, garden kits, educational curriculum, and garden training available to all Head Start programs, with the goal of creating more edible gardens for young children and their families. The partnership also includes a webinar series, as part of NHSA’s Year of Whole Health, to share information about how to create and sustain a successful Head Start garden program and the benefits for children, families, staff, and the surrounding community. 

By partnering with the National Farm to School Network and Scotts Miracle-Gro, NHSA’s goal is to expand access to gardens, fresh foods and nutrition education materials for children, families, and staff across the Head Start field. NHSA hopes that each new garden grown or current garden maintained will stimulate healthy child development, family and community engagement, and sustainable locally sourced foods. 

How can you help?
Through these partnerships, NHSA encourages all families, teachers, and program leaders in Head Start and across the early care and education field to share educational materials and resources with your communities and find ways to incorporate gardens into your programs and schools. 

  • Visit the NHSA & Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Garden Grants Initiative website to apply for a grant for your Head Start or Early Head Start program and learn about future webinars and resources. 
  • Join us in celebrating National Farm to School Month! Check out NFSN’s Celebration Toolkit for ideas on how your community, school, or program can spread awareness and support locally sourced foods. Did you know that October is National Head Start Awareness Month, too? Head Start programs can celebrate both by raising awareness of Head Start’s impacts and the ways they’re growing healthy kids and healthy families through farm to school activities. 
  • Read through NFSN’s Growing Head Start Success with Farm to Early Care and Education report to understand more about the role Head Start can play in promoting farm to ECE.   
  • Read through the 2018 National Farm to Early Care and Education Survey produced by NFSN and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. This information is easily shared with families, teachers, and communities through the Fact Sheet, Infographic, and Sharing Toolkit provided in the above link. 
  • Search other helpful resources in NFSN’s resource database to understand more about the benefits of gardening and supporting local fresh foods and how you can spread this initiative to all children and families in need.
To stay up-to-date with the National Head Start Association’s work, follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Happy Farm to School Month!

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