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This Week in Farm to School: 5/19/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 19, 2020
NEW: National Farm to School Network has launched a new weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders - similar to what is shared weekly in these This Week in Farm to School blog posts. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

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. COVID-19 Action for Healthy Kids: Emergency Meal Distribution Equipment Grants
These grants provide funds for additional equipment to create “grab and go” curbside meal pickups at schools and other locations within the community. School districts (not individual schools) providing meals during school closures as a result of COVID-19 may apply for as many sites/schools that can use equipment. Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis until all funds are awarded. Learn more and apply here

2. USDA AMS Local Food Grant Programs
Deadline: May 26
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) pushed back the deadlines of its key local food grant programs by three weeks to May 26, due to COVID-19. These include Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, and Regional Food System Partnerships.

3. USDA AMS Seeks Grant Reviewers
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) seeks subject matter experts as peer reviewers to objectively evaluate grant applications against the published criteria in its competitive grant programs’ Requests for Applications. Given the sector’s great need for these resources, AMS is aiming to avoid delays on announcing its key local food grants awards, to the extent possible. They are seeking grant reviewers to assist in the upcoming review process. Learn more and apply here.

4. USDA Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Competitive Grants Program (AgVets)
Deadline: June 26
USDA NIFA's Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Program provides grants to non-profits to increase the number of military veterans gaining knowledge and skills through comprehensive, hands-on and immersive model farm and ranch programs offered regionally that lead to successful careers in the food and agricultural sector. The program encourages the development of training opportunities specifically designed for military veterans. NIFA requests applications for the AgVets to provide grants to nonprofit organizations for training programs and services to establish and enhance farming and ranching opportunities for military veterans. The close date is June 26. Learn more and apply here

5. USDA Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) Competitive Grants Program
Deadline: July 6
USDA has announced the availability of $3 million for grants through its new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. The competitive grants will support the development of urban agriculture and innovative production projects through two categories, Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. There is approximately $1 million available for Planning Projects and $2 million for Implementation Projects. The close date is July 6. Learn more and apply here.


Webinars & Events
1. COVID-19 Webinar: Opportunities and Challenges in Providing School Meals in the Wake of COVID-19
TODAY! May 19 // 1:30-3pm ET
School nutrition professionals are working hard to provide school meals to children in their local communities while our nation continues to deal with an unprecedented public health emergency. State agency leadership from three states will provide an overview for the progression of USDA policy changes requested from the state agencies to support local districts in receiving necessary flexibilities to successfully provide meals during COVID-19. This webinar is hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Register here.

2. COVID-19 Webinar: Menu Planning for Non-Congregate Meals
TODAY! May 19 // 2pm ET
Cold meals or re-heatable meals? Individually portioned items or bulk components? Planning menus for non-congregate meal service can be a challenge, especially as the weather turns warmer. Tune into this webinar to learn about planning and procuring healthy, nutritious meals for kids in your community - and about keeping those meals safe on hotter days. You'll hear from Jen McNeil from LunchAssist, Aleshia Hall-Campbell from the Institute on Child Nutrition, and Miguel Villareal from San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Register here.

3. COVID-19 Webinar: Are You Ready For The New Normal, Part Two
TODAY! May 19 // 3:30pm ET
Join Health-e Pro for the second in a two-part series on steps for child nutrition programs to prepare for Fall. Part 1 focused on asking the right questions. Part 2 will provide answers. This webinar will discuss: caring for staff; managing waivers; assessing changes to MPLH; and engaging with distributors and local farms. Register here

4. COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall: "Speak Up & Speak Out:  A Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Educators”
TODAY! May 19 // 7pm ET
Join the National Education Association for “Speak Up & Speak Out: A Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Educators," presented by the Congressional Black Caucus focused on COVID-19 and Black America. NEA’s Vice President, Becky Pringle will serve as a speaker in this important discussion. This Town Hall will include such allies as: Congresswoman Karen Bass and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (D-CA-37), Congressman and Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24), American Federation of Teachers, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., as well as other educators, activists, and thought partners. Register here

5. COVID-19 Webinar: CDC Stakeholder Webinar and Resources: Schools and Childcare 
May 20 // 4pm ET
CDC has announced upcoming live stakeholder calls to help communities plan for, respond to, and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The May 20 call is specifically for schools and childcare programs. Register here

6. COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall: Dispatch from the Frontlines: COVID-19 and Indigenous Communities
May 20 // 7pm ET
The Congressional Progressive Caucus Center and the Native Organizers Alliance are hosting “Dispatch from the Frontlines: COVID-19 and Indigenous Communities” to focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Tribal Nations and Indigenous people in the U.S. Speakers include: Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01, Laguna Pueblo); Faith Spotted Eagle (Native Organizers Alliance, Brave Heart Society, Yankton Sioux); State Rep. Ruth Buffalo (ND-HD27, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation); Tara Houska (Giniw Collective); Kevin Allis (National Congress of American Indians, Forest County Potawatomi). Register here

7. COVID-19 Webinar: Farm Credit COVID-19 Specialty Crop Virtual Panel Discussion
May 21 // 11am ET
Join this virtual panel discussion featuring Farm Credit fruit and vegetable producers. The panelists will discuss the challenges they are facing due to COVID-19, the impacts on the food supply chain and what additional resources they may require to be able to continue to operate and meet the demands of consumers. This webinar is hosted by Farm Credit. Register here

8. COVID-19 Webinar Series: Mobilizing Food Policy Councils to Support Food Workers During COVID-19
May 21 & May 28, 12pm ET
As workers from across the food supply chain risk their lives to continue feeding us, the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the harms of existing labor policies and practices. The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Policy Networks project invites you to join them for a series of webinars to discuss how food policy councils can support food chain workers during COVID-19. Register here

9. COVID-19 Webinar: Transitioning to Summer Meals
May 21 // 3pm ET
Summer's almost here - what does that mean for the Summer Nutrition Programs and those schools and sponsors that have been operating feeding programs due to COVID-19? This webinar will cover the most up-to-date information on the program flexibilities, tips for maintaining momentum, and things to consider for this summer. This webinar is hosted by FRAC. Register here

10. COVID-19 Webinar: Pickup and Order Options at Farmers Market: Create Resilience, Not Legal Vulnerability
May 21 // 4pm ET
As Farmers Markets add curbside pickup, take advance orders, and offer bundled market purchases, customers are getting fresh, local foods in the midst of a pandemic. But, these innovations can also bring legal risk as well. With some advance planning, market managers can address these risks and create a program with strength beyond COVID-19. This webinar cover issues including increased liability risk, shifting insurance needs, potential licensing obligations, and concerns under site agreements. Register here.

11. COVID-19 Webinar: True Cost Accounting in Post-COVID Food Policy
May 22 // 3pm ET
The current pandemic is showing us how brittle our food supply chains can be. But there is scope to respond to the crisis through building more sustainable, equitable food systems with policies that support localized supply chains, creating circular economies that benefit people and the planet. True Cost Accounting in food and agriculture is a currently evolving way of seeking to make visible the true costs and benefits of different food production systems with implications for everyone. Dr. Robin Currey will facilitate this panel discussion to explore how true cost accounting - applied along the food value chain - could guide post-COVID food policy. Register here

12. COVID-19 Webinar: Delivering Food and Nutrition Content During COVID-19
May 22 // 1pm ET
The Tisch Food Center, FoodCorps, and Common Threads are partnering to host a webinar on producing digital food and nutrition education content. Key areas of focus will include tailoring interventions to your audience, basic filming and video editing tips, and developing content for Google Classrooms. Hear from FoodCorps and Common Threads as they describe how they are developing high-quality digital content for their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Register here

13. COVID-19 Webinar Recording: USDA Posts Recording of CFAP Direct Payments Webinar
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has posted a recording of the webinar for farmers, ranchers and other producers interested in applying for direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) held Thursday, May 14. The recording is available on the Farmers.gov YouTube channel for immediate viewing and will be posted at farmers.gov/cfap.


Research & Resources 
1. COVID-19 NFSN Farm to School / ECE & COVID-19 Resource Hub
National Farm to School Network has launched a new page on our website dedicated to making it easier for you to find all of the resources, information, and news you need to support your community food systems work during the COVID-19 pandemic. See more here: www.farmtoschool.org/covid19

2. COVID-19 USDA Extends Three Nationwide Waivers
The USDA had announced that three nationwide COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response waivers will be extended through August 31, 2020, providing critical guidance to schools and other organizations making plans now to provide meals through the summer months. Waivers extend through August 31 include: the non-congregate meal service waiver; the parent meal pick-up waiver; and the meal service times waiver. The USDA also confirmed that program operators will be able to distribute meals for more than one day at a time. View the full press release here.

3. COVID-19 EQUITY When Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Programs Close, Who Cares for Farmworkers' Children?
Over 90% of Head Start programs have temporarily closed since the COVID-19 outbreak began. These closures include nearly all Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs, which provide early education, nutrition, and health services to agricultural workers and their families. Agricultural workers, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus and many of whom were excluded from stimulus relief, now have the added strain of finding child care, while Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs do their best to support families from afar. Read more

4. COVID-19 EQUITY Orgs Providing Emergency Food Relief to Native Communities During COVID-19
As COVID-19 continues to spread, Native communities across the country have been particularly hard hit by the virus. The pandemic has also exacerbated food insecurity in Native communities, which typically already face high rates of poverty and hunger in urban and rural areas. As COVID-19 disrupts food supply chains, communities face more severe water and food shortages. Food Tank is highlighting 17 organizations providing emergency food relief to Native communities during COVID-19. Read more here
 
5. COVID-19 Cultivating Social-Emotional Health with Farm to Early Care and Education
Families and children are confronting stress and uncertainty in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents, caretakers, and early care and education providers may be looking for ways to encourage play-based learning that can teach children critical skills pertaining to this crisis - especially those related to social-emotional health. This resource from Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems outlines farm to ECE activities that can be helpful for continuing to cultivate young children's emotional wellness during this time. Learn more here

6. COVID-19 Big Green at Home - Virtual Education Resources
Big Green at Home compiles garden education resources for educators and families including standards-aligned curriculum material and weekly activity newsletters. See more here.

7. COVID-19 The Green Our Planet Virtual Academy
Farmers, chefs and hydroponic experts from Green Our Planet film themselves doing lessons in the gardens and at their homes, which Green Our Planet is sharing with teachers, students and families via the weekly Green Our Planet Virtual Academy Newsletter. See more here

8. COVID-19 Maine School Garden Network's Strategies for Remote School Garden Engagement 
The Main School Garden Network has a great list of ideas on how to maintain school or early care and education (ECE) gardens safely, strategies to engage kids this spring during the pandemic and many other resources. Access the document here.

9. Farmers Guide to Direct Sales Software Platforms (English & Spanish)
This publication, created by the National Young Farmers Coalition, compares farm-specific software platforms that support direct-to-consumer sales, and highlights related educational resources. English version available here. Spanish version available here.

10. Spanish Translation of FDA Produce Safety Rule
The FDA has released a Spanish translation of the codified text of the Produce Safety Rule. The Produce Safety rule establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. The rule is part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. See more here


Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN Sign-On To Endorse NFSN's COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
National Farm to School Network's response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic are grounded in a central goal of continuing to advance towards strong, just local and regional food systems. As Congress works to finalize its next COVID-19 response bill, NOW is that time to make our voices heard. Our federal policy platform calls on Congress to strengthen its support for school meal and child nutrition programs, farmers and those who fed us, Native communities, essential workers, children and families, and others who have been historically underserved and underrepresented. Please add your voice to endorse NFSN’s federal COVID-19 policy platform, and help us advocate key food systems priorities in the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800). Sign on here

2. COVID-19 HEROS Act Provides Additional $16.5 Billion for Farmers During Pandemic
Last week, the House of Representatives unveiled another COVID relief package. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act largely builds off of previous relief bills and includes a broad range of support from support for nutrition programs to support for worker protections and increased funding for sustainable agriculture programs. Read more from NSAC here

3. COVID-19 NY State Kicks Off Nourish New York Initiative
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball kicked off the new Nourish New York Initiative last week. The initiative is providing $25 million to food banks for the purchase of surplus agricultural products from New York State farms to distribute to populations who need them most. Read more here

4. COVID-19 Massachusetts Invests $56M to Combat Food Insecurity
To bolster the food supply chain amid the coronavirus pandemic, Massachusetts state announced an investment of $56 million to combat food insecurity as a result of findings from the state’s Food Security Task Force. The group prioritized more than 80 recommendations tied to developing an emergency food program; fortifying the food bank system; maximizing federal resources for food and nutrition and reinforcing the food system infrastructure. Read more here.


Farm to School in the News
National Farm to School Network Announces FoodCorps as 2020 National Partner of the Year
In 2017, National Farm to School Network launched a “National Partner of the Year” program to strategically align and partner with other national organizations that share our goals of ensuring a nation of healthy kids, thriving family farms, and resilient communities. In 2020, we're pleased to be partnering with FoodCorps. We are joining forces to bolster our advocacy and programming so that we can better serve our communities, especially those most impacted by an unjust food system. Read more

COVID-19 Maine Lunches Made with Local Ingredients Feeding More than Students
The Community Regional Charter School in Skowhegan is pouring its school lunch dollars into the local community, helping businesses stay afloat. "It supports local and small businesses that are the backbone of our country and helps that local hub of businesses stay alive during this time and beyond really." (News Center Maine)

COVID-19 Tennessee Schools Serving Local Produce in Grab-n-Go Lunches 
Locally grown, fresh strawberries were served in Weakley County School lunches last week. “Supplying local schools has been a goal of ours for a couple of years;” Tyler Smith, owner of Future Vision Farms, said. “However, we just haven’t had the capacity. As we have grown to meet the production of our larger customers we have been able to begin servicing local school systems with our produce. We look forward to working with Weakley County Schools throughout our season from now until Thanksgiving.” (Weakley County Press)

COVID-19 YMCA Is More Than Gym-And-Swim When Kids Need Lunch
When Shelby County Schools had to cancel its plans to provide lunches for students during the pandemic because one of its food service workers had tested positive for COVID-19, the YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South stepped up. As of last week, the project had made, boxed up, delivered and handed out 279,569 meals. (Daily Memphian)

COVID-19 Listen: ‘Our Food System Is Very Much Modeled on Plantation Economics’
CounterSpin, FAIR's podcast, interviewed Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists and NFSN Advisory Board member, about the coronavirus food crisis. Listen here.


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.

Our 2020 National Partner of the Year: FoodCorps

NFSN Staff Thursday, May 14, 2020

Though 2020 is anticipated to be a year of uncertainty and significant challenges, the National Farm to School Network continues to look forward. As always, we’re a national organization that is uniquely situated at the intersection of numerous sectors and communities. Networking and partnership building have always been at the core of our efforts, and they will continue to be so long after this crisis ends.
 
We understand that working together is integral to our success, and is essential to the growth and long-term sustainability of our vision for a just food system. That’s why, in 2017, we launched a “National Partner of the Year” program to strategically align and partner with other national organizations that share our goals of ensuring a nation of healthy kids, thriving family farms, and resilient communities. (Learn more about our 2017, 2018, and 2019 partners.) We know that in order to redesign our food, education, health, and economic systems with justice at the core, we must build a big tent of organizations working multi-sectorally as we do. And in light of the COVID-19 health crisis, we believe partnerships like these are more important than ever. Coordination, collaboration, and working together is key to meeting urgent needs and accelerating our work to ensure a just food system for kids, farmers, families, and communities.  

In 2020, we're pleased to be partnering with FoodCorps as our National Partner of the Year. FoodCorps is a national nonprofit that connects kids to healthy food in school. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced school closures, FoodCorps service members are helping with emergency meal services, remote food, and nutrition lessons that reinforce academic priorities, and garden cultivation for community building and local nourishment. FoodCorps is also mobilizing its nationwide network of partners and allies to advocate for policies that will help schools keep kids nourished through this crisis and beyond. 

National Farm to School Network and FoodCorps already have a long history of collaboration. In 2010, National Farm to School Network was a founding partner of FoodCorps. NFSN had been founded several years earlier in 2007 to serve as a movement building, systems change, and advocacy organization, and recognized that it was also important to invest in direct service of farm to school efforts in communities through FoodCorps. Over the past 10 years, both organizations have naturally evolved and adapted to pressing needs and strategies towards our long-term visions: for National Farm to School Network, a just food system, and for FoodCorps, healthy food for all kids. What’s remained constant is partnership on many activities and projects - from advocacy days on Capitol Hill to story sharing during National Farm to School Month. So why focus on more intentional and coordinated partnership in 2020? Because we know that the visions of our organizations are urgent: we must act immediately and strategically to ensure that all kids - across all races, places, and classes - are connected to a just food system. 

We are joining forces to bolster our advocacy and programming so that we can better serve our communities, especially those most impacted by an unjust food system. And while we didn’t start 2020 anticipating it, our work now is also focusing on how to meet the urgent needs of the school food community in the face of a global pandemic. Read here a post we’ve co-authored about how the COVID-19 pandemic has shown school nutrition to be essential to kids’ health and well-being, and why USDA must uphold strong nutrition standards and build on the progress schools across the country have made to serve healthy school meals. 

National Farm to School Network and FoodCorps share a goal for the future where every child is able to be nourished by healthy food because their community food systems are thriving. We recognize that our collaboration at both the community and systems change levels towards this goal is what will accelerate our collective vision. It’s what the National Partner of the Year program is all about: leveraging our unique ideas, strategies, and resources towards a more just food system for all. 

Learn more about FoodCorps on their website and social media channels: 
And, stay tuned for opportunities to dig into this partnership with us throughout the rest of 2020!

FoodCorps and National Farm to School Network friends at the White House Vegetable Garden in 2016. From Left to Right: Cecily Upton (FoodCorps Co-Founder and Chief Strategist), Michelle Markesteyn (Rootopia and former NFSN Advisor), Curt Ellis (FoodCorps Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer), Linda Jo Doctor (W.K. Kellogg Foundation), Ricardo Salvador (Union of Concerned Scientists and NFSN Advisor), Anupama Joshi (National Farm to School Network Co-Founder and former Executive Director), and Jerusha Klemperer (FoodCorps Co-Founder).

This Week in Farm to School: 5/12/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 12, 2020
NEW: National Farm to School Network has launched a new weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders - similar to what is shared weekly in these This Week in Farm to School blog posts. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

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. COVID-19 GENYOUth Emergency School Nutrition Funding
GENYOUth is providing grants of up to $3,000 per school to supply much-needed resources for meal distribution and delivery efforts to get food to students during COVID-19. From soft-sided coolers, bags and containers for individual servings, to protective gear for food service sanitation and safety, this equipment will help ensure our children continue to receive the nutritious meals they need. Learn more here.

2. COVID-19 EQUITY NDN Collective's COVID-19 Response Project
The NDN Collective’s COVID-19 Response Project is designed to provide immediate relief to some of the most underserved communities in the country. NDN’s intent is to quickly distribute resources to frontline organizations, Tribes, and individuals who are providing essential services to Indigenous communities within the next 15-45 days to provide gap resources during this health crisis. Grants are available to support medical supplies, food delivery, youth and/or Elder care, educational access, economic relief and more. Grant review and funding notifications will occur on a weekly basis through the end of May 2020. Learn more here. Donations to support NDN's Collective's COVID-19 Response Project can be made here

3. EQUITY Native American Agriculture Fund 2020 Request for Applications
Deadline: June 1
NAFF is a private, charitable trust serving Native farmers and ranchers through strategic grantmaking. Grants are available to eligible grant recipients in the mission areas of business assistance, agricultural education, technical support and advocacy services. NAFF will also be accepting applications across four special emphasis areas: Traditional Foods and Food Sovereignty; Advocacy; Agriculture Extension; and Youth (available in a separate application process). Learn more here.

4. "One Planet. One Health" Initiative  
Deadline: June 22
Danone Institute North America – a non-profit innovation center established by Danone North America – is soliciting proposals for its second annual “One Planet. One Health” Initiative, which offers academic-based teams the opportunity to design, implement and evaluate actionable community-based projects that drive the sustainability of local food systems. The grant will provide seed funding for projects such as pilot studies, feasibility testing, needs assessments and planning grants. The four teams selected will each receive grants of $20,000 to implement their projects and amplify their messages to a broader audience – plus a $10,000 incremental award for the team with the strongest communications plan. Learn more and apply here.

5. USDA's Notice of Funding Opportunity: Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) Competitive Grants Program 
Deadline: July 6
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on May 6 the availability of $3 million for grants through its new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. The competitive grants will support the development of urban agriculture and innovative production projects through two categories, Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. There is approximately $1 million available for Planning Projects and $2 million for Implementation Projects. USDA will accept applications on Grants.gov until midnight July 6, 2020. Learn more and apply here.

6. USDA: Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Competitive Grants Program (AgVets)
Deadline: June 26
The Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Program provides grants to non-profits to increase the number of military veterans gaining knowledge and skills through comprehensive, hands-on and immersive model farm and ranch programs offered regionally that lead to successful careers in the food and agricultural sector. The program encourages the development of training opportunities specifically designed for military veterans. NIFA requests applications for the AgVets to provide grants to nonprofit organizations for training programs and services to establish and enhance farming and ranching opportunities for military veterans. The close date is June 26. Learn more and apply here. An informational webinar will be held on May 14 at 2pm ET. 


Webinars & Events
1. EQUITY Webinar Series from the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
April - August 2020
Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust is hosting a webinar series to dive deep into some of the strategies they're employing, such as Reparations, Cultural Respect Easements, Cooperative Land Tenure, and building a new economy that centers BIPOC experiences and knowledges. Featuring land and food sovereignty activists such as David Ragland, Stephanie Morningstar, Ramona Peters, Carmen Mouzon, Karen Washington, Christine Hutchinson, and Leah Penniman, you will have an opportunity to meet the food and land sovereignty change makers who work every day to make land, food, and community wealth accessible to Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Register for webinars here.

2. COVID-19 Weekly Virtual Gatherings: School Garden Support Organization Network
The School Garden Support Organization Network is hosting weekly gatherings on topics related to supporting school gardens during closures and social distancing. The next gathering is on May 12. Learn more and watch recordings here

3. COVID-19 Webinar: Produce in a Pandemic: Providing Children with Fresh Fruits and Vegetables During COVID-19 School Closures
May 13 // 2pm EST
Across the country school, nutrition professionals are doing incredible work to ensure children in their communities have access to meals during COVID-19 school closures. Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a balanced meal and a required meal pattern component. This SNA webinar, made possible in partnership with School Nutrition Association and United Fresh Produce Association, will highlight how several school nutrition programs are sourcing and serving fresh produce, and share how produce companies are working with school nutrition customers and supply chain partners during this unprecedented time. Register here.

4. Webinar: Menu Planning for Non-Congregate Meals
May 19 // 2:00PM EST
Cold meals or re-heatable meals? Individually portioned items or bulk components? Planning menus for non-congregate meal service can be a challenge, especially as the weather turns warmer. Tune into this webinar to learn about planning and procuring healthy, nutritious meals for kids in your community - and about keeping those meals safe on hotter days. You'll hear from Jen McNeil from LunchAssist, Aleshia Hall-Campbell from the Institute on Child Nutrition, and Miguel Villareal from San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Register here.

5. Webinar Series: Resiliency through Agriculture
May 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, & 26 
A webinar series, Resiliency through Agriculture, developed by team members at the Intertribal Ag Council (IAC) is exploring topics under the IAC mission areas of Legal and Policy, Professional Development, Conservation and Production Innovation, Food Systems, Communications and Economics.  Resiliency through Agriculture is an initiative to help educate producers, provide them resources and offers toolkits that will help them make informed decisions. Webinars will occur throughout the month of May and will be archived. Learn more and register here.


Research & Resources
1. COVID-19 NFSN Farm to School / ECE & COVID-19 Resource Hub
National Farm to School Network has launched a new page on our website dedicated to making it easier for you to find all of the resources, information, and news you need to support your community food systems work during the COVID-19 pandemic. See more here.

2. COVID-19 NFSN New Weekly COVID-19 & Farm to School Resource E-Newsletter
National Farm to School Network is launching a free weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of new COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

3. COVID-19 NFSN Infographic: How to Create a Mutual Aid Pod in Your Community
Farm to school, at its core, is about relationships: relationships that benefit children and families while strengthening local community food systems. In times of crisis, these community-based relationships are even more vital in supporting continued healthy food access, community well being, and producer viability. Models like mutual aid bring people in communities together so no one goes hungry. Learn about starting a Mutual Aid Pod in your neighborhood with this new infographic

4. COVID-19 ABC Adventure Video Series featuring Chef Asata
Small Bites Adventure Club has created the ABC Adventure series to help children discover, love, and eat fruits and vegetables at home while schools are closed. This series introduces a new food and an *EASY* tasting activity. The series also touches on counting, colors, shapes and critical thinking skills! New videos will be uploaded every week! View the video series here.

5. COVID-19 USDA Approves $1.2B in Contracts for Farmers to Families Food Box Program 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved $1.2 billion in contracts to support American producers and communities in need through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. A full list of approved suppliers can be found here. Additional information on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, including webinars and an FAQs, is available here.  

6. COVID-19 Research: The COVID-19 Crisis Has Already Left Too Many Children Hungry in America
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity has increased in the United States. This is particularly true for households with young children. Two recent nationally surveys - The COVID Impact Survey and The Hamilton Project/Future of the Middle Class Initiative Survey of Mothers with Young Children - have found that rates of food insecurity observed in April 2020 are meaningfully higher than at any point for which there is comparable data. The Survey of Mothers with Young Children found that 40.9 percent of mothers with children ages 12 and under reported household food insecurity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 17.4 percent reported that since the pandemic started, “the children in my household were not eating enough because we just couldn’t afford enough food.” Read more here.


Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN Local Policy Ask Template in Response to COVID-19

National Farm to School Network has compiled local policy asks to create a COVID-19 Local Response Template for advocates. The asks in this template have been pulled together with the support of over 20 local organizations, and reflect policy concerns beyond just farm to school, as we understand that food justice is tied to the larger justice conversation. Advocates are encouraged to pull ideas from this template, making changes and additions as needed, to address the needs of your community. See more here

2. COVID-19 NFSN COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
As the federal government continues to develop legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, National Farm to School Network urges policymakers to respond to this emergency in ways that will advance a more just food system. Read our COVID-19 federal policy platform here.

3. COVID-19 NFSN Policy FAQ: Farm to School/ECE and COVID-19
National Farm to School Network is compiling policy-related questions and answers for how COVID-19 is impacting farm to school and farm to ECE efforts. In this document, find a summary of information about how the federal government has done so far to allow farm to school and ECE programs to adapt; what resources are available to farmers who are suffering losses as a result of school and program closures; and more. See more here.

4. COVID-19 EQUITY Intertribal Agriculture Council Loan Relief Call to Action
The Intertribal Agriculture Council is seeking your support for a common-sense solution that will provide meaningful, timely assistance to nearly all of the 80,000 Indian Producers, countless other farmers and ranchers across the country. This solution would reduce loan payments for all borrowers for 2020 and 2021 and allow for planning in this time of uncertainty. View the call to action and sign-on here.

5. COVID-19 Washington State Legislators Introduce “Farmers Feeding Families Act” to Support Local Farmers Washington State Congresswomen Kim Schrier, M.D. and Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced the Farmers Feeding Families Coronavirus Response Act which would provide funding for state agencies and partnering food-banks to replenish their food stocks to meet increased demand spiked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

6. COVID-19 National Conference of State Legislatures' (NCSL) Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Child Nutrition & School Meals
Congress has provided $8.8 billion in additional funding for child nutrition programs and temporarily removed some existing program requirements in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act); the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has provided administrative flexibilities. 
Click here to learn more about federal options to provide meals during COVID-19.

7. COVID-19 CACFP Relief Bill Introduced in Congress to Provide Emergency Funding
Maryland Representative David Trone has introduced a bill to Congress that would provide emergency funding to CACFP operators. If passed, child care providers, centers, and sponsors would receive emergency funding equal to 55% of reimbursements from the same month of the previous year minus any current reimbursements. Read more and see the bill text here.  


Farm to School in the News
COVID-19 STEM Academy in Ohio Sponsors Virtual Farm Tour
Global Impact STEM Academy (GISA) in Springfield, Ohio gave its students a chance to venture onto a sheep farm through their computers from home Wednesday. The STEM Academy has participated in several virtual farm tours over the years, but this was their first time sponsoring one, according to school officials. (Springfield News-Sun)

COVID-19 Kids, Adults Learn to Grow Vegetables at Home With Free Online OSU Courses
How’s this for convenient learning: Oregon State University Extension Service has free, online gardening courses that adults and interested older kids can access anytime. The introductory course to the Oregon Master Gardener program, which trains volunteers to teach others about the science and art of gardening, is always free and a vegetable growing course has been extremely popular since its $45 fee was waived until May 27. (The Oregonian)

COVID-19 Schools Struggle to Afford Meals for Low-Income Kids
Many public schools that are closed by the coronavirus pandemic are still providing lunches to low-income students who would otherwise go hungry. Some are serving entire families and other community members, acting more like soup kitchens than school cafeterias. But what happens when the school year ends? (AXIOS)

COVID-19 NFSN Share Your Story: Farm to School and ECE During COVID-19
Communities across the country are demonstrating innovation and resilience as they continue to connect children and families to local foods and education opportunities and support local producers. National Farm to School Network wants to hear from you about what food systems resilience looks like in your community.  If you have a farm to school, farm to ECE or community food systems story to share, please share it with us using this brief form.

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.

Farm to School Without Borders: U.S. and Canada Movements

NFSN Staff Thursday, May 07, 2020


Guest blog by Katie Kennedy, Farm to Cafeteria Canada contributor 

On February 24, 2020, it was announced that Joanne Bays is transitioning out of her role as National Director of Farm to Cafeteria Canada. The organization has been an important driver of the farm to school movement in Canada, with a mission “to bring local, healthy and sustainable foods into all public institutions”. As co-founder of Farm to Cafeteria Canada, Bays has been in this role since its inception in 2011. 
Being about a decade behind the U.S. farm to school movement, Bays has often looked to the U.S. National Farm to School Network for inspiration and guidance on how to navigate the movement in Canada. In doing so, a strong relationship was developed between Bays and Anupuma Joshi, the former Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network, as the two shared similar roles across borders. Today, the relationship between organizations continues to grow under new leadership, with Helen Dombalis as the current Executive Director in the U.S., and the soon to be determined National Director in Canada.

The key to this relationship has been that both organizations view farm to school as being without borders; meaning that these movements work with one another despite occurring in two separate countries, each with their own unique contexts and challenges. Still, the connection between the organizations has certainly played an important role in continuing to shape farm to school in each country. Bays mentioned how valuable it has been for her having someone out there doing similar work and leading the same kind of national movement, as they can mentor each other and share insights, expertise and strategies. Dombalis similarly spoke to the benefits of their working relationship wherein the two share metrics and evaluation methods, capacity building efforts and discuss the ways in which they embed all the values of farm to school into their roles, such as equity and climate change mitigation and adaptation. 
Despite the Canadian movement being the younger of the two, Dombalis mentioned a number of ways she has been inspired by Bays and farm to school in Canada. 

She appreciates “[Bays’] visionary style of the number of people to include in the movement and illuminating conversations about messaging and strategies to involve new people in the movement.” She also applauds Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s work administering direct-to-school grant programs in Canada, and cites the organization’s successful partnership with the Government of Canada, as well as efforts to encourage embedding Indigenous ways of knowing into farm to school best practices, as sources of inspiration to the U.S. movement. 

In turn, there is a great deal of work that has been done in the U.S. that has directly inspired Bays and the Canadian movement. 

“I see the strength of the US network, the way they communicate and share information, ideas and resources. The way they track and evaluate impact and – importantly – I see advocacy efforts with positive results, even in the most challenging political and economic contexts. These efforts serve as inspiration we can apply here in Canada.”

Specifically, Bays and the Farm to Cafeteria Canada team have been able to look at the tools, information and resources available in the U.S. to inform their own activities. For example, Bays appreciated coming to understand the governance models of the US National Farm to School Network – particularly a national network of regional leads to inspire the movement in communities across the country. A similar model is now evolving in Canada to support a national community of practice for farm to school. Additionally, when Bays saw that the U.S. had created a map that illuminated national farm to school trends, and that it was catching the attention of policy makers, she was inspired to develop a similar map to reflect relevant activity in Canada. 

Looking to the next chapter of farm to school in both countries, both Dombalis and Bays are encouraged by the strength of their organizations’ relationship and look to the future with positivity. 

Dombalis spoke with admiration when reflecting on Bays’ announcement. “Her retirement is another example of how [Bays] demonstrates her leadership… [it] sends a signal that there are future generations that can contribute positively to the movement.” Dombalis hopes that the future leader embodies three main values that Bays stands for: 1) the value of partnership between Canada and the U.S. and a focus on connections; 2) being centered around equity and social justice; and 3) the importance of a whole-system approach, and the potential to use policy and advocacy as ways to transform systems for the better. 

Likewise, while moving on to pursue a new chapter in her own path, Bays is excited to see the relationship continue between the Canadian and U.S. farm to school movements. She reflects that the two organizations have worked so well together on various events, such as conferences and linking their respective National Farm to School Month celebrations, and they share many common goals and values. 

When asked why now is the right time to transition from her role, Bays responded, "You know the time is right when you can see the vision that was articulated by a group of brilliant and driven individuals coming to life. You know the time is right when thousands are rolling up their sleeves to close the distance between field and tray. You know the time is right when both the leadership and resources are in place to see this activity continue to blossom in the sun for years to come.”

It seems clear that despite a coming change in leadership within the Canadian movement, we can expect to see continued collaboration between Canada and the U.S. to support the future health of both people and planet, as the two countries embody “Farm to School Without Borders”.

Learn more about Farm to Cafeteria Canada at http://www.farmtocafeteriacanada.ca/


This article was written by Katie Kennedy, BSc Food, Nutrition and Health – UBC. Katie has a strong interest in sustainable food systems and farm to school programs. She is passionate about food security, nutrition and the health of the planet. She is a contributor to Farm to Cafeteria Canada. 

This Week in Farm to School: 5/5/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 05, 2020
NEW: National Farm to School Network has launched a new weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders - similar to what is shared weekly in these This Week in Farm to School blog posts. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

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. COVID-19 NFSN National Farm to School Network COVID-19 Relief Fund
Deadline: May 10
National Farm to School Network has created a COVID-19 Relief Fund to support organizations in continuing their important farm to school and farm to ECE work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any organization working to support farm to school / farm to ECE efforts is eligible to apply, with priority being given to current NFSN Core and Supporting Partners, as well as organizations serving American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian populations within urban, rural and tribal jurisdictions (including schools, farmers/producers and community-based organizations and Tribal entities). The application deadline is May 10, 2020. Learn more here. Donations to support NFSN's COVID-19 Relief Fund can be made here

2. COVID-19 GENYOUth Emergency School Nutrition Funding
GENYOUth is providing grants of up to $3,000 per school to supply much-needed resources for meal distribution and delivery efforts to get food to students during COVID-19. From soft-sided coolers, bags and containers for individual servings, to protective gear for food service sanitation and safety, this equipment will help ensure our children continue to receive the nutritious meals they need. Learn more here.

3. COVID-19 EQUITY NDN Collective's COVID-19 Response Project
The NDN Collective’s COVID-19 Response Project is designed to provide immediate relief to some of the most underserved communities in the country. NDN’s intent is to quickly distribute resources to frontline organizations, Tribes, and individuals who are providing essential services to Indigenous communities within the next 15-45 days to provide gap resources during this health crisis. Grants are available to support medical supplies, food delivery, youth and/or Elder care, educational access, economic relief and more. Grant review and funding notifications will occur on a weekly basis through the end of May 2020. Learn more here. Donations to support NDN's Collective's COVID-19 Response Project can be made here

4. EQUITY Native American Agriculture Fund 2020 Request for Applications
Deadline: June 1
NAFF is a private, charitable trust serving Native farmers and ranchers through strategic grantmaking. Grants are available to eligible grant recipients in the mission areas of business assistance, agricultural education, technical support and advocacy services. NAFF will also be accepting applications across four special emphasis areas: Traditional Foods and Food Sovereignty; Advocacy; Agriculture Extension; and Youth (available in a separate application process). Learn more here.

5. "One Planet. One Health" Initiative  
Deadline: June 22
Danone Institute North America – a non-profit innovation center established by Danone North America – is soliciting proposals for its second annual “One Planet. One Health” Initiative, which offers academic-based teams the opportunity to design, implement and evaluate actionable community-based projects that drive the sustainability of local food systems. The grant will provide seed funding for projects such as pilot studies, feasibility testing, needs assessments and planning grants. The four teams selected will each receive grants of $20,000 to implement their projects and amplify their messages to a broader audience – plus a $10,000 incremental award for the team with the strongest communications plan. Learn more and apply here.


Webinars & Events
1. COVID-19 Guiding Native Farmers Through COVID-19 Relief & Recovery
TODAY! May 5 // 3-4:30pm EST
Native American Agriculture Fund and Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative are pairing with Farm Aid and Farmers' Legal Action Group to walk through COVID-19 relief and recovery for Native farmers and ranchers. Register here. 

2. EQUITY Webinar Series from the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
April - August 2020
Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust is hosting a webinar series to dive deep into some of the strategies they're employing, such as Reparations, Cultural Respect Easements, Cooperative Land Tenure, and building a new economy that centers BIPOC experiences and knowledges. Featuring land and food sovereignty activists such as David Ragland, Stephanie Morningstar, Ramona Peters, Carmen Mouzon, Karen Washington, Christine Hutchinson, and Leah Penniman, you will have an opportunity to meet the food and land sovereignty change makers who work every day to make land, food, and community wealth accessible to Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Register for webinars here.

3. COVID-19 Weekly Virtual Gatherings: School Garden Support Organization Network
The School Garden Support Organization Network is hosting weekly gatherings on topics related to supporting school gardens during closures and social distancing. The next gathering is on May 6. Learn more and watch recordings here

4. COVID-19  WEBINAR: Communication and Outreach During COVID-19
May 7 // 3pm EST
As schools remain closed due to COVID-19 -- and with many states announcing that they will stay closed for the rest of the school year -- it is important that schools, sponsors, and advocates maintain communication with families about the availability of meals through the child nutrition programs. This webinar will highlight strategies and best practices for getting the word out as things continue to evolve. Register here.

5. COVID-19 National Education Association (NEA) Education Support Professionals Quality (ESPQ) Department Center for Great Public Schools Webinar: School Meal Policy in the COVID-19 Era
May 7 // 7pm EST
This webinar will explore the policy and practice of feeding hungry children in the midst of an epidemic. What intelligent and pressing advocacy has the NEA Government Relations engaged in? How have food service workers met the challenges in spite of obstacles and risks? NEA lobbyist, Christin Driscoll, NEA New Mexico Director of Instruction and Professional Learning, Ignacio Sanchez, and Angelica Castañon, Senior Policy Analyst with NEA’s Education Policy and Practice, will lead this timely and lively discussion. Register here.

6. COVID-19 Webinar: Produce in a Pandemic: Providing Children with Fresh Fruits and Vegetables During COVID-19 School Closures
May 13 // 2pm EST
Across the country school, nutrition professionals are doing incredible work to ensure children in their communities have access to meals during COVID-19 school closures. Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a balanced meal and a required meal pattern component. This SNA webinar, made possible in partnership with School Nutrition Association and United Fresh Produce Association, will highlight how several school nutrition programs are sourcing and serving fresh produce, and share how produce companies are working with school nutrition customers and supply chain partners during this unprecedented time. Register here.


Research & Resources
1. COVID-19 NFSN Farm to School / ECE & COVID-19 Resource Hub
National Farm to School Network has launched a new page on our website dedicated to making it easier for you to find all of the resources, information, and news you need to support your community food systems work during the COVID-19 pandemic. See more here.

2. COVID-19 NFSN New Weekly COVID-19 & Farm to School Resource E-Newsletter
National Farm to School Network is launching a free weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of new COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

3. COVID-19 NFSN Infographic: How to Create a Mutual Aid Pod in Your Community
Farm to school, at its core, is about relationships: relationships that benefit children and families while strengthening local community food systems. In times of crisis, these community-based relationships are even more vital in supporting continued healthy food access, community well being, and producer viability. Models like mutual aid bring people in communities together so no one goes hungry. Learn about starting a Mutual Aid Pod in your neighborhood with this new infographic

4. COVID-19 NASDA: State Departments of Ag Create Solutions to Food Supply Chain Disruptions
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) members are developing creative solutions to market and distribute food through safe, efficient, and innovative approaches – including the “Million Dollar Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Partnership," Florida's "Farm to You" commodities list, and the “Seed to Supper” in New Mexico. See many more examples here. 

5. Educational Greenhouse Program Survey
Deadline: May 8
 The U.S. Botanic Garden and City Blossoms would like to survey educators (including formal classroom educators, specialists and organizations partnering with schools, or anyone else who identifies as an educator) who would like to develop an educational greenhouse program. If this sounds like you, please take this SURVEY that will help us plan trainings around growing and teaching in a greenhouse. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes. Please respond by Friday, May 8th.


Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN Local Policy Ask Template in Response to COVID-19

National Farm to School Network has compiled local policy asks to create a COVID-19 Local Response Template for advocates. The asks in this template have been pulled together with the support of over 20 local organizations, and reflect policy concerns beyond just farm to school, as we understand that food justice is tied to the larger justice conversation. Advocates are encouraged to pull ideas from this template, making changes and additions as needed, to address the needs of your community. See more here

2. COVID-19 NFSN COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
As the federal government continues to develop legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, National Farm to School Network urges policymakers to respond to this emergency in ways that will advance a more just food system. Read our COVID-19 federal policy platform here.

3. COVID-19 NFSN Policy FAQ: Farm to School/ECE and COVID-19
National Farm to School Network is compiling policy-related questions and answers for how COVID-19 is impacting farm to school and farm to ECE efforts. In this document, find a summary of information about how the federal government has done so far to allow farm to school and ECE programs to adapt; what resources are available to farmers who are suffering losses as a result of school and program closures; and more. See more here.

4. COVID-19 EQUITY Intertribal Agriculture Council Loan Relief Call to Action
The Intertribal Agriculture Council is seeking your support for a common-sense solution that will provide meaningful, timely assistance to nearly all of the 80,000 Indian Producers, countless other farmers and ranchers across the country. This solution would reduce loan payments for all borrowers for 2020 and 2021 and allow for planning in this time of uncertainty. View the call to action and sign-on here.

5. Article: Ensuring Equitable Access to School Meals
This article in the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides an overview of the increasing prevalence of unpaid meal debt and associated lunch shaming within our nation’s schools, and the Academy’s current policy stance to address this issue, developed by the Child Nutrition Reauthorization working group and approved by the Academy Board of Directors. The Academy advocates for addressing the root cause of lunch shaming, which is unpaid meal debt, and thereby supports equitable access to school meals by expanding and strengthening universal school meal policies and programs and the Community Eligibility Provision. Read more here


Job Opportunities
1. Congressional Hunger Center, Director, Emerson National Hunger Fellowship (Washington, D.C.)
The Hunger Center seeks a Director of the Emerson National Hunger Fellowship who will lead the design of programmatic goals and strategy; fellow recruitment, selection, and advising; host organization recruitment and selection; program budget, administration and reporting; and strategic partnerships. Learn more and apply here

2. Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Director (Washington, D.C.)
This Division supports the mission of ARC through management of economic development projects. This position is responsible for providing strategic direction, operational management and personnel leadership of the Division. This position works collaboratively to plan, develop, execute and evaluate regional economic development strategies aligned with ARC’s priorities and strategic plan. The division is responsible for program grants management activities including coordination with State ARC Offices, other federal agencies, the Office of the Federal Co-Chair, and grantees. This position reports to the Executive Director and manages a team of administrative and professional positions. Learn more and apply here.


Farm to School in the News
COVID-19 PODCAST: Local Food Fuels Meals for Kids
ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) shares how in response to school closures, Buncombe County School Nutrition quickly pivoted to provide free meals to students—open to any child in the area, from birth to 18 years old. Since March 15th, they’ve served a total of 413,009 meals with breakfast and lunch combined. Listen here.

COVID-19 Community Health Collective Roots4Change Launches “Farms to Families” Initiative for Immigrant Families
A new emergency initiative provides fresh, healthy, locally grown food to Latino and Indigenous residents and families hard-hit by job loss and food insecurity. (Madison 365)

COVID-19 'They Need Our Help': Free Meals During Coronavirus Will Cost Baltimore-Area Schools Millions Without Aid
Maryland schools have been feeding whole families and neighborhoods instead of just their students, but because the U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses schools for meals on a per-student basis, schools in Maryland and around the country are bracing for tens of millions of dollars in losses from their food programs, unless they receive additional funding. (Baltimore Sun)

COVID-19 NFSN Share Your Story: Farm to School and ECE During COVID-19
Communities across the country are demonstrating innovation and resilience as they continue to connect children and families to local foods and education opportunities and support local producers. National Farm to School Network wants to hear from you about what food systems resilience looks like in your community.  If you have a farm to school, farm to ECE or community food systems story to share, please share it with us using this brief form.

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.

Preschool's Farm & Food Partnerships Keep Kids Eating Local

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 30, 2020

Photo credit: Sonflower Seeds Christian Preschool and Learning Center, taken in 2019. 
Guest blog by NC Farm to Early Care & Education, an initiative of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Based in Silk Hope, North Carolina, Sonflower Seeds Christian Preschool and Learning Center (Sonflower Seeds) has cared for children from 6 weeks old to age 12 for the past 15 years. Silk Hope is a small rural community near the Triangle of NC and beyond their play area lies 500 acres of pasture. Sonflower Seeds has been a leader in their county for many years for their support of local food and farms. 

Though the number of children at the Center has decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonflower continues to serve many children of farmers, paramedics, police, and other essential workers. We spoke with Heidi Lineberry, Sonflower Seeds’ Director, to learn how sourcing local food has allowed them to continue serving nutritious meals to the children throughout the pandemic while supporting farmers nearby. 

The NC Farm to ECE Initiative, facilitated by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, works with early childhood facilities and their communities to purchase local food and provide children with experiential learning around local food. The Farm to ECE Collaborative organizes community teams throughout North Carolina to connect food and early childhood systems. 

Sonflower Seeds has been part of the Collaborative for a few years now. In 2019, with support from NC Farm to ECE, Sonflower Seeds formalized their commitment to local food by implementing a center policy that they serve fresh produce five days a week.

Sonflower Seeds’ dedication to sourcing locally began about eight years ago, when Heidi realized that she could have milk and other dairy products delivered from a local dairy, Homeland Creamery, rather than using staff time and gas for hauling 20+ gallons of milk from the grocery store every week. They also source most of their produce locally from Red Roots Farm, Okfuskee Farm, and Kildee Farm, eggs from Edell’s Eggs, apples and berries from Millstone Creek Orchards, and ground beef from Smithview Farm. Several of these farmers have children or grandchildren who attend Sonflower Seeds. Heidi connected with other farmers through word of mouth or recommendations from other farmers. 

Sourcing food from local farmers as well as having a garden on site, has benefited Sonflower Seeds in many ways, including: 

Product availability even during emergencies: Sonflower Seeds’ existing connections with local farmers has allowed them to serve nutritious, local foods without disruption even when other centers in their area have struggled to find milk and other products during the pandemic. They were already well accustomed to ordering and delivering procedures and local suppliers prioritized Sonflower Seeds as loyal customers.

Child nutrition, experiential learning, and family engagement: Heidi believes serving nutritious local foods is part of their commitment to caring for the “whole child.” When produce is delivered, children get to know the farmers by name and learn that real people in their community grow their food. Sonflower also hosts a pop-up farmers market for parents to meet the farmers and learn how the food is produced. When the center receives carrots with the greens on, children learn which part grows below the ground and which part above and practice preparing fresh produce with child-friendly utensils. The children also love to walk through the center’s strawberry patch, and parents are interested in helping in the garden too.  

When the egg farmer has fewer eggs during the winter, the center overcomes this by slightly altering their menus and uses this as a learning opportunity to share with the children how it’s natural for chickens to take a break from laying eggs in the wintertime. One of the farmer's children was excited to share when his family got more chicks and to tell his friends they’d have more eggs soon!

Food quality and taste
: The local produce is fresh and delicious. Sonflower Seeds offers taste tests for the children and many opportunities to try new foods, and has seen the children become more adventurous. Children might not eat cooked spinach, but will pluck the leaves and eat them raw from the garden.

Marketing: Sourcing locally has helped Sonflower Seeds to attract new families too. They send out a questionnaire to new families about children’s dietary needs and preferences and promote their participation in Farm to ECE so parents know it is a priority. They display a Farm to ECE poster provided by the Collaborative on a fence outside of the building. This year alone, Sonflower Seeds added five new families because of their commitment to local foods. 

Heidi says, “The Farm to ECE Collaborative has grown our Center. It has helped us to see that a little bit of what we were already doing can be done on a broader scale, it helped turn us into a niche program by putting into policy that we serve fresh and local fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy, and promoting it. Once you put things out there more things come to you.” 

The Center receives wholesale pricing from many of the local producers and says their monthly Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) reimbursement more than covers the costs of local and organic foods. She also learned that CACFP offers reimbursement for plants, seeds, and vegetables grown by the Center.

Heidi says she really enjoys the Farm to ECE Collaborative and the energetic staff, so much so that she decided to become one of seven mentors for other centers in North Carolina. As a co-leader of an Affinity group for center directors, Heidi helps to facilitate monthly meetings to discuss food and gardening and support other centers in meeting their Farm to ECE goals. The Chatham County Partnership for Children and their Child Care Health Consultant, Dorothy Rawleigh, has also helped Sonflower Seeds with connecting with farmers, other centers nearby, and purchasing materials for raised bed gardens.

“So much of children’s time is spent eating, why not make the quality of the food a priority?” Heidi’s advice for other centers considering Farm to ECE: “You have to be willing to do trial and error. Try to meet a farmer every month, and be willing to collaborate with other directors nearby. Just give it a try!”
  
Interested in getting started with sourcing locally? Check out these local food purchasing resources from the NC Farm to ECE Initiative. 

This Week in Farm to School: 4/28/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 28, 2020
NEW: National Farm to School Network is launching a new weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders - similar to what is shared weekly in these This Week in Farm to School blog posts. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

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. COVID-19 NFSN National Farm to School Network COVID-19 Relief Fund
Deadline: May 10
National Farm to School Network has created a COVID-19 Relief Fund to support organizations in continuing their important farm to school and farm to ECE work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any organization working to support farm to school / farm to ECE efforts is eligible to apply, with priority being given to current NFSN Core and Supporting Partners, as well as organizations serving American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian populations within urban, rural and tribal jurisdictions (including schools, farmers/producers and community-based organizations and Tribal entities). The application deadline is May 10, 2020. Learn more here. Donations to support NFSN's COVID-19 Relief Fund can be made here

2. COVID-19 GENYOUth Emergency School Nutrition Funding
GENYOUth is providing grants of up to $3,000 per school to supply much-needed resources for meal distribution and delivery efforts to get food to students during COVID-19. From soft-sided coolers, bags and containers for individual servings, to protective gear for food service sanitation and safety, this equipment will help ensure our children continue to receive the nutritious meals they need. Learn more here.

3. COVID-19 EQUITY NDN Collective's COVID-19 Response Project
The NDN Collective’s COVID-19 Response Project is designed to provide immediate relief to some of the most underserved communities in the country. NDN’s intent is to quickly distribute resources to frontline organizations, Tribes, and individuals who are providing essential services to Indigenous communities within the next 15-45 days to provide gap resources during this health crisis. Grants are available to support medical supplies, food delivery, youth and/or Elder care, educational access, economic relief and more. Grant review and funding notifications will occur on a weekly basis through the end of May 2020. Learn more here. Donations to support NDN's Collective's COVID-19 Response Project can be made here

4. EQUITY Native American Agriculture Fund 2020 Request for Applications
Deadline: June 1
NAFF is a private, charitable trust serving Native farmers and ranchers through strategic grantmaking. Grants are available to eligible grant recipients in the mission areas of business assistance, agricultural education, technical support and advocacy services. NAFF will also be accepting applications across four special emphasis areas: Traditional Foods and Food Sovereignty; Advocacy; Agriculture Extension; and Youth (available in a separate application process). Learn more here.

4. Voices for Healthy Kids: Policy Campaign Grant
Voices for Healthy Kids' Policy Campaign Grant is designed to support strategic issue advocacy campaigns supporting Voices for Healthy Kids policy priorities with a focus on health equity. Applications must be specific to an individual campaign for public policy change in one state, city, town or county, or tribal nation. Applications should focus on public policy changes to reduce health disparities for children in urban, suburban or rural settings who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, and Alaskan Native or from families who have low income. The Letter for Intend deadline is April 29, 2020. Learn more here.  


Webinars & Events
1. EQUITY Webinar Series from the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
April - August 2020
Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust is hosting a webinar series to dive deep into some of the strategies they're employing, such as Reparations, Cultural Respect Easements, Cooperative Land Tenure, and building a new economy that centers BIPOC experiences and knowledges. Featuring land and food sovereignty activists such as David Ragland, Stephanie Morningstar, Ramona Peters, Carmen Mouzon, Karen Washington, Christine Hutchinson, and Leah Penniman, you will have an opportunity to meet the food and land sovereignty change makers who work every day to make land, food, and community wealth accessible to Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Register for webinars here.

2. COVID-19 Weekly Virtual Gatherings: School Garden Support Organization Network
The School Garden Support Organization Network is hosting weekly gatherings on topics related to supporting school gardens during closures and social distancing. The next two gatherings are April 29 and May 6. Learn more and watch recordings here

3. COVID-19 Webinar: Finding Balance in Disorienting Times
April 29 // 2pm ET
To balance something means to put it in a steady position to prevent it from falling. During uncertain times, you may find yourself not feeling very steady – and that’s ok! Join Kaiser Permanente, Sanford Harmony and Healthier Generation as we help you gain practical tips to steady yourself in disorienting times, including setting boundaries, understanding why and how to use gratitude and learning how to complain effectively. Register here.


Research & Resources
1. COVID-19 NFSN Farm to School / ECE & COVID-19 Resource Hub
National Farm to School Network has launched a new page on our website dedicated to making it easier for you to find all of the resources, information, and news you need to support your community food systems work during the COVID-19 pandemic. See more here.

2. COVID-19 NFSN New Weekly COVID-19 & Farm to School Resource E-Newsletter
National Farm to School Network is launching a free weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of new COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

3. COVID-19 "Food Systems Disruptions: Turning a Threat into an Opportunity for Local Food Systems"
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed consumer buying and eating habits and strained agricultural supply chains? What does this mean for local food networks? A new JAFSCD commentary explores opportunities for the expansion of sustainable, resilient food systems as a result of this pandemic. Read more here

4. COVID-19 New Surveys Provide Insight on COVID-19 Impacts on Early Care and Education
Two new surveys - NAEYC's ECE Provider Survey and the Bipartisan Policy Center's Child Care in the Time of Coronavirus - provide important insight on the COVID-19's impacts on early care and education in the US. Highlights from these surveys include:
  • Half of providers have completely closed their facilities while 17% have closed to everyone except the children of essential personnel
  • Of the facilities remaining open, 85% reported operating with less than 50% of their enrollment capacity; and the majority of those—65%—were operating at less than 25% of capacity
  • 37% of respondents have had to lay off or furlough workers, or they have been laid off or furloughed, and another 41% anticipate furloughs or layoffs
  • 53% of center-based providers and 25% home-based care providers applied for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program.


Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and Local Food
On Friday, April 17, USDA announced the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This may be an opportunity for local product to make its way to emergency feeding programs, addressing a vital need for market opportunities for local producers and food access needs in communities. The program aims to support producers and consumers with two approaches: (1) direct support for farmers and ranchers, and (2) through the purchase and distribution of up to $3 billion of agricultural products to those in need. Read more here

2. COVID-19 NFSN COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
As the federal government continues to develop legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, National Farm to School Network urges policymakers to respond to this emergency in ways that will advance a more just food system. Read our COVID-19 federal policy platform here.

3. COVID-19 NFSN Policy FAQ: Farm to School/ECE and COVID-19
National Farm to School Network is compiling policy-related questions and answers for how COVID-19 is impacting farm to school and farm to ECE efforts. In this document, find a summary of information about how the federal government has done so far to allow farm to school and ECE programs to adapt; what resources are available to farmers who are suffering losses as a result of school and program closures; and more. See more here.

4. COVID-19 EQUITY Intertribal Agriculture Council Loan Relief Call to Action
The Intertribal Agriculture Council is seeking your support for a common-sense solution that will provide meaningful, timely assistance to nearly all of the 80,000 Indian Producers, countless other farmers and ranchers across the country. This solution would reduce loan payments for all borrowers for 2020 and 2021 and allow for planning in this time of uncertainty. View the call to action and sign-on here.


Job Opportunities
1. Congressional Hunger Center, Director, Emerson National Hunger Fellowship (Washington, D.C.)
The Hunger Center seeks a Director of the Emerson National Hunger Fellowship who will lead the design of programmatic goals and strategy; fellow recruitment, selection, and advising; host organization recruitment and selection; program budget, administration and reporting; and strategic partnerships. Learn more and apply here


Farm to School in the News
COVID-19
COVID-19 has forced large-scale farms that supply institutions to dump produce they can’t sell. Why?
To get a clearer understanding of where institutional food comes from, why kinks at the center of the supply chain make rerouting a challenge, and what’s being done to change that, The Counter interview a number of agriculture experts, including Lacy Stephens (NFSN Senior Program Manager), Laura Edwards-Orr (NFSN Advisory Board), and others. (The Counter

COVID-19 ‘The Need Is Great’: Nonprofits in Iowa Work to Meet Families’ Need for Fresh Food During Pandemic
Living in a food desert — a place where there is limited access to healthy and affordable food — is not a new issue in eastern Iowa. But COVID-19 has increased the need for fresh food and has changed how nonprofits in the state can deliver that food to people who need it most. (Little Village)

COVID-19 Oregon State University Offers Farm-To-School and Nutrition Education Activities for Youth
Can’t leave home but still want to connect with local food and farmers? OSU Extension nutrition educators have adapted materials for elementary-age youth and their families for delivery online.  All activities are free, some require registration as supplies are limited. (Herald and News)

COVID-19 Vermont's Burlington School Food Project adds frozen meals to the menu
The Burlington School Food Project is expanding its emergency meals options to include frozen meals. Each meal will come bagged with instructions on how to properly heat up the food, made from locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. "Kids do tend to eat meals at school, whether they need to financially or not, so I think now when families are really struggling, it's super important that we make sure that the nutrition that they need is being offered to them," said Doug Davis. (WCAX3)

COVID-19 NFSN Share Your Story: Farm to School and ECE During COVID-19
Communities across the country are demonstrating innovation and resilience as they continue to connect children and families to local foods and education opportunities and support local producers. National Farm to School Network wants to hear from you about what food systems resilience looks like in your community.  If you have a farm to school, farm to ECE or community food systems story to share, please share it with us using this brief form.

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.

USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and Local Food

NFSN Staff Monday, April 27, 2020

On Friday, April 17, USDA announced the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. While there is still much unknown about how the program will be implemented, it may be an opportunity for local product to make its way to emergency feeding programs, addressing a vital need for market opportunities for local producers and food access needs in communities. The program aims to support producers and consumers with two approaches:

  • Direct Support for Farmers and Ranchers
  • USDA Purchase and Distribution 
What You Need to Know 
  • Direct Support for Farmers and Ranchers - USDA is in the process of developing rules for how support will be distributed and who will be eligible. NFSN and partners are working to ensure all farmers are able to access this program by pushing USDA to target local and regional producers and to outline the measures it will take to equitably include producers of color. What you can do: We anticipate a brief rulemaking process to direct how this money will be distributed. We encourage partners to be prepared to submit comments. We also encourage partners to work with their state departments of agriculture to put pressure on USDA to commit to the measures the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition outlines.
  • USDA Purchase and Distribution - On Friday, April 24, USDA opened solicitations (view RFP here) for regional and local distributors who can coordinate purchase of agricultural products, the assembly of commodity boxes and delivery to identified non-profit organizations that can receive, store and distribute food items. Included in the application is a request for applicants to describe how they intend to support small farmers and those serving local and regional markets. Applicants are also responsible for identifying non-profit organizations for distribution, and this could potentially include schools and early care sites. What you can do: Share relevant information (see links below) with local food hubs, intermediaries, producers, and relevant food businesses. Awardees are expected to capitalize on exisiting networks and relationships, so this is a vital opportunity for local and regional food networks to activitate local distribution chains.  
Additional Resources and Information

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