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News

This Week in Farm to School: 7/10/18

NFSN Staff Tuesday, July 10, 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. 

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to Summer
July 12, 2pm ET
The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) anticipates providing more than 200 million free meals to children across the U.S. when school is out of session this summer. The seasonality and flexibility of SFSP create a perfect opportunity to highlight local products and incorporate food education. Join this webinar to learn about USDA farm to summer resources and hear about innovative farm to summer initiatives from NFSN Core Partners in Kentucky and Massachusetts. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to ECE: Indigenous Foods in Early Care and Education Settings
August 2, 2-3pm ET
Incorporating indigenous foods into education and meals in early care and education (ECE) settings offers many benefits, including increasing children’s knowledge of tribal history and food ways and strengthening cultural, spiritual, and social connections in the community. However, ensuring indigenous foods are procured, prepared, and served in ways that align with state licensing and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) regulations can be challenging. Join this webinar to hear from speakers from the National Farm to School Network, the Institute for Agriculture Trade and Policy, and the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association and to learn about innovative practices and resources that help overcome these challenges and support the inclusion of indigenous foods in ECE settings and in CACFP. Register here. 

3. Free Webcast: Community Forum on School Gardens as Havens in Turbulent Times
July 12, 5pm ET
As part of the 2018 National Children & Youth Garden Symposium later this week, the American Horticultural Society will host a community forum, "The Garden as Haven: Finding Resilience and Renewal in Turbulent Times." The moderated discussion will take place at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and will include a free live webcast starting at 5 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, July 12. Register to participate in the webcast here. 

4. Louisiana Farm to School Conference 2018
October 9-10, 2018 // Baton Rouge, LA
The LSU AgCenter is hosting a statewide farm to school conference  this October to bring together farmers, food distributors, school administrators, school nutrition program directors, teachers, parents, food hubs, and food processors in the interest of Louisiana agriculture, local food systems, school gardens, and healthy school meals. New this year, the event will include a Meet the Buyers Reception - a casual evening of networking with retail, wholesale, and institutional buyers to learn how to get more fresh produce into the value chain. Learn more and register here. 


Research & Resources
1. Hawai’i Study Reveals How to “Beef Up” the ‘Aina Pono School Lunch Program
Lieutenant Governor Doug Chin, the Hawai’i State Department of Education (HIDOE) and the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture (DOA), together with private stakeholders, implemented the ‘Aina Pono farm to school program and collected necessary data, including a statewide market research of the agriculture industry. The data provides the HIDOE with information directly from farmers, processors, and distributors. The research shows ag producers are willing to increase productions if they have access to long-term contracts, which will allow schools to stimulate and support local agriculture. Read more here.


Job Opportunities
1. Education Coordinator & Community Programs Coordinator - Youth Garden Project (Moab, UT)
Youth Garden Project is currently hiring for two Americorps VISTA positions: Education Coordinator and Community Programs Coordinator. The term of service dates are August 19, 2018 - August 30, 2019. Learn more and apply here. 


Farm to School in the News
Colorado students get hands-on experience in farm work
Southwest Open School and Montezuma Land Conservancy have teamed up to give students hands-on learning experience in agriculture. The students work Monday through Thursday in the SWOS school garden and at Fozzie’s Farm, learning job skills and learning about local agriculture. The students also take field trips to gain a sense of the diversity of production. (The Journal)

Georgia teen manages community garden
Although Sylvester’s Village Community Garden is supported by multiple volunteers and sponsors, 14-year-old Janya Green is the one who runs the place. “Due to my work here at the garden, the (Worth County) school system has become a part of it,” she said. “One time, the Worth County School System brought 180 kids here. These kids followed me here, which makes them even more attached to the garden.” The Village Community Garden is a personal project for Janya that she wants to share with everyone she can. (Albany Herald)

Wisconsin’s growing food independence
What started as farm to school lessons in the classroom has grown into a full-scale movement, with school food service staff teaching students Farm to School lessons, kids at the elementary, middle, and high school level planting school gardens (with six districts serving what they grow in their gardens in the lunch lines), and science and agriculture teachers working with students to build and operate hydro and aquaponics systems, greenhouses, and chicken coops. (Green Bay Press Gazette)

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: 7/3/18

NFSN Staff Tuesday, July 03, 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. 

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to Summer
July 12, 2pm ET
The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) anticipates providing more than 200 million free meals to children across the U.S. when school is out of session this summer. The seasonality and flexibility of SFSP create a perfect opportunity to highlight local products and incorporate food education. Join this webinar to learn about USDA farm to summer resources and hear about innovative farm to summer initiatives from NFSN Core Partners in Kentucky and Massachusetts. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to ECE: Indigenous Foods in Early Care and Education Settings
August 2, 2pm ET
Incorporating indigenous foods into education and meals in early care and education (ECE) settings offers many benefits, including increasing children’s knowledge of tribal history and food ways and strengthening cultural, spiritual, and social connections in the community. However, ensuring indigenous foods are procured, prepared, and served in ways that align with state licensing and Child and Adult Care Food Program regulations can be challenging. Join this webinar to hear from speakers from the National Farm to School Network, the Institute for Agriculture Trade and Policy, and the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association and to learn about innovative practices and resources that help overcome these challenges and support the inclusion of indigenous foods in ECE settings and in CACFP. Register here

3. School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute
January 20-25, 2019
Join 20 other School Garden Support Organization teams from across the nation to strengthen your organization’s goal of enhancing professional development and ongoing support for school garden programs in your region. Learn more here and apply by August 10.


Policy Updates
1. Senate Passes 2018 Farm Bill - No Farm to School Amendments Included
The Senate passed its farm bill last week without addressing many filed amendments, including two farm to school amendments: Geographic Preference and the Pilot Project for Unprocessed Fruits & Vegetables. Although the National Farm to School Network is disappointed these amendments weren't included, our combined advocacy efforts were effective in bringing farm to school issues to the forefront. We also gained many new farm to school champions through this process - thank you Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)! Thanks to everyone who made calls and continues to share the importance and successes of farm to school with policymakers. The National Farm to School Network continues to work with congressional champions to identify additional avenues for strengthening and advancing farm to school priorities. 


Research & Resources
1. New Farm to School Research Indicates Increase in Fruit & Vegetable Consumption
A new article in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, “A Plate Waste Evaluation of a Farm to School Program,” indicates that participation in a farm to school program increases students’ fruit and vegetable consumption. Students at participating schools consumed, on average, 0.061 (P = .002) more servings of vegetables and 0.055 (P = .05) more servings of fruit after implementation of the farm to school program. Read more here


Job Opportunities
1. Nutrition Services Director, Berkeley Unified School District (Berkeley, CA)
An exciting opportunity to shape the school food system of Berkeley is available. The School Nutrition Services Director plays a key role in the district's ability to innovate and provide students high quality and delicious school meals. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
Connecticut garden made accessible to all students
The community garden at Norfeldt Elementary School has long been an educational tool, but until now, it wasn't accessible in the same way for every student. That changed after the school received a grant to purchase two VegTrug raised gardens, which are elevated off the ground and accessible for all students, including those with physical disabilities. (Hartford Courant)

Many schools keep gardening efforts going all summer
For many schools across the country, the school year runs just the opposite of the growing season, making it difficult for educators to teach kids how to garden. But many school systems enlist volunteers to prep garden beds while students are on summer break, making the crops ready to tend when classes resume in September. (Associated Press)

Minnesota campers meet animals, taste herbs, envision ag careers
Middle- and high-school students in a Minnesota district are learning about agricultural careers at a camp hosted by the Minnesota State Engineering Center of Excellence. Students learn about animal and food science, and they made and took home a small hydroponics system. (The Free Press

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.

Action Alert: Two Opportunities for Farm to School in the Farm Bill

NFSN Staff Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The 2018 farm bill is back in action today. As the bill moves forward, we are thrilled to see that TWO of our farm to school priorities will be introduced as amendments to this legislation, and could be included in the final version of the Senate’s farm bill. 

Senator Brown (D-OH), Senator Collins (R-ME), Senator Tillis (R-NC) & Senator Hassan (D-NH) Amendment #3179
Amends the Geographic Preference provision in the existing farm bill to allow the use of “location” as a product specification when procuring school food. Current law does not allow schools to explicitly require “local” or “regional” as a product specification in a food procurement request. 

Senator Wyden (D-OR) Amendment #3129
Continues and expands to more states the Pilot Project for Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables and allows participating states more flexibility in procuring fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. 

Both of these amendments are crucial for advancing farm to school procurement in your communities. These amendments are a direct response to ongoing calls, letters, and story sharing from farm to school advocates like you. Please join us in one last push to help these important farm to school priorities make it across the finish line! 

TAKE ACTION: Take five minutes right now to call both of your Senators and ask them to support these two farm to school amendments. Here’s how:  

Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or look up contact information for your two Senators here.

Once you’re connected, leave a message like this: 

Hello, my name is [______] and I’m a constituent of Sen. [______]. I understand the Senate is debating the 2018 farm bill this week, and I’d like to ask that the Senator vote YES on two important, bipartisan amendments: (1) Vote YES on the Sen. Brown, Sen. Collin, Sen. Tillis and Sen. Hassan Geographic Preference amendment (#3179), which would allow schools to prioritize local, fresh produce when procuring foods for school meals. And, (2) Vote YES on Sen. Wyden’s amendment (#3129) to expand the unprocessed fruit and vegetable pilot program. These two amendments would be a win for children, farmers, and communities across our state. Thank you for passing along this message to the Senator, and for your time. 

If you work for a government agency or university and cannot lobby, you can still make a difference! Follow the same actions above, but instead of mentioning the specific policy asks, share general information about farm to school in your state and how you have had troubles with purchasing locally and/or how the pilot program has benefited you. Sharing information is not lobbying - it’s education, which all of us can do! 

Local food procurement in our nation’s schools is more than a win for kids and farmers - it’s strong agricultural policy. Make your voice heard and help us ensure that these important farm to school priorities are included the farm bill. 

This Week in Farm to School: 6/26/18

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 26, 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. Wallace Center Food Systems Leadership Network Professional Development Scholarship
Professional Development Scholarships of up to $500 are available on a bi-annual basis to emerging leaders in the Food Systems Leadership Network. Requests by emerging leaders of color will be prioritized for support. Applications are due July 1, 2018. Learn more here

2. GreenWorks! Grants
Project Learning Tree offers GreenWorks! grants of up to $1,000 to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects that link classroom learning to the real world. Students implement an action project they help design to green their school or to improve an aspect of their neighborhood’s environment. Applications are due Sept. 30. Learn more here

3. Eco Garden Systems Offering Discounted Elevated Gardens
Eco Gardens Systems is offering discounted elevated gardens to schools through its 501c3 program. Learn more here. For questions or signup, contact Craig Espelien, President of Eco Garden Systems, at (612) 845-0064 or cespelien@gmail.com.


Webinars
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to Summer
July 12, 2pm ET
The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) anticipates providing more than 200 million free meals to children across the U.S. when school is out of session this summer. The seasonality and flexibility of SFSP create a perfect opportunity to highlight local products and incorporate food education. Join this webinar to learn about USDA farm to summer resources and hear about innovative farm to summer initiatives from NFSN Core Partners in Kentucky and Massachusetts. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to ECE: Indigenous Foods in Early Care and Education Settings
August 2, 2pm ET
Incorporating indigenous foods into education and meals in early care and education (ECE) settings offers many benefits, including increasing children’s knowledge of tribal history and food ways and strengthening cultural, spiritual, and social connections in the community. However, ensuring indigenous foods are procured, prepared, and served in ways that align with state licensing and Child and Adult Care Food Program regulations can be challenging. Join this webinar to hear from speakers from the National Farm to School Network, the Institute for Agriculture Trade and Policy, and the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association and to learn about innovative practices and resources that help overcome these challenges and support the inclusion of indigenous foods in ECE settings and in CACFP. Register here


Research & Resources
1. Seeking Information: Organic Practices in Farm to School
The National Farm to School Network is seeking information about and examples of schools/districts incorporating organic practices into farm to school initiatives. This could include purchasing certified organic and/or organically grown or raised products, educating students about organic practices, or using organic (or certified organic) gardening practices. Please complete this form with contact information for example schools/districts by Tuesday, July 3rd. The National Farm to School Network may contact these schools/districts for more information or to request their participation in a case study. For more information, or if you are unable to access the Google Form, contact Lacy Stephens, National Farm to School Network Program Manager, at lacy@farmtoschool.org.

2. New Resources: State Farm to School Networks Toolkit & State Farm to School Positions Guide
The National Farm to School Network is excited to announce the release of two new resources to support farm to school practitioners in strengthening their efforts to develop robust and sustainable statewide farm to school programs. The State Farm to School Networks Toolkit is designed to demonstrate best practices and lessons learned from 29 existing networks, and provides practitioners key strategies and approaches for developing and sustaining state farm to school networks. It includes a primer on general network models and development, a deep dive into state farm to school network best practices, case studies highlighting successful tools and tactics, and analysis of challenges for and the future of state farm to school networks. The State Farm to School Positions Guide aims to help stakeholders strategically advocate for the creation of more state agency and university Extension positions dedicated to supporting farm to school. The guide includes a list of all known existing state farm to school positions, four state case studies, an analysis of the current landscape of state farm to school positions, and sample job descriptions. Both resources can be downloaded at farmtoschool.org/resources.


Job Opportunities
1. Farm to School Specialist, Baltimore City Public Schools (Baltimore MD)
Baltimore City Public Schools seeks a Farm to School Programming Specialist to plan and implement farm to school instructional activities and programs and to provide related educational services for students, teachers, and volunteers in both classroom and outdoor environments. Learn more here

2. Michigan Food Systems Collaboration Academic Specialist (Lansing, MI)
The Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) is seeking a full-time Academic Specialist to lead efforts to build upon and further develop the collaboration underlying the Michigan Good Food Charter. Learn more here.

3. Farm to School & Community Director, REAP Food Group (Madison, WI) 
The Farm to School & Community Director will provide strategic direction, management and implementation of REAP’s Farm to School Program in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) as well as grow community engagement beyond school walls to increase community access to food education and sustainable local foods. Learn more here

4. Farm to Business Director, REAP Food Group (Madison, WI) 
The Farm to Business Director will will provide strategic direction, management and implementation of REAP’s Farm to Business initiatives including 1) development of a Farm to Hospital initiative with area healthcare facilities, 2) coordination of a pilot vegetable processing project in 2019 for several institutional buyers, and 3) cultivation of the Buy Fresh Buy Local program, a restaurant and institutions partnership program committed to supporting a just, sustainable, local food system. Learn more here

5. Wisconsin AmeriCorps Farm to School Team
The Wisconsin AmeriCorps Farm to School Program is looking for dedicated service members for the upcoming service year! AmeriCorps Farm to School members have the opportunity to serve as either half-time (900 hours) or full-time (1700 hour) service terms as Nutrition Educators, Community Outreach Coordinators, or both.  The program year runs from August 15, 2018 to August 14, 2019. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
USDA supports local foods in schools through farm to school grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service recently announced $5.2 million in grant awards to bring nutritious, local foods into schools and create new economic opportunities for farmers. The grants, part of the USDA Farm to School Program, will impact over 6,000 schools and 2.8 million students nationwide. (USDA Press Release)

Kansas students grow, sell produce
During the summer at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School in Lawrence, Kansas, students spend a few hours each week planting, harvesting, and taking their produce to market, where they sell their produce to help maintain their school’s garden program. (Lawrence Journal-World)

South Carolina program gets kids involved with agriculture
What began with a seed planted in the Charleston area in 2012 has taken root in 16 counties in South Carolina and sprouted into 147 school gardens across the state -- and counting. Since 2012, 463 South Carolina educators have received training through Clemson Extension’s School Gardening for South Carolina Educators training program. (The Times and Democrat

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 Announces 2018 Farm to School Grant Recipients

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 21, 2018

Congratulations to the newest USDA Farm to School Grant Program recipients! USDA announced today that 73 communities in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Guam  have been awarded farm to school grants to explore, expand, or scale up their farm to school activities. The 2018 awards total $5.2 million, and will impact 2.8 million students.

While this year’s funding will reach 6,006 schools, there are thousands more eager to have access to these crucial funds. In fact, 296 communities submitted applications this grant cycle, requesting nearly $21 million — four times higher than current available funding.

That's why the National Farm to School Network is working with a bipartisan and bicameral group of Congressional champions to strengthen this important grant program and support other farm to school priorities with the Farm to School Act. While the Farm to School Act has not been incorporated into current drafts of the farm bill, we’re continuing to work with our Congressional champions to find a legislative path to move these priorities forward.

Your voice is crucial in this ongoing work to advocate and advance farm to school at the federal level. If you haven’t yet done so, please take 2 minutes to add your name to our citizen sign-on letter and/or organizational sign-on letter in support of the Farm to School Act. And, continue sharing your #farmtoschool stories and successes with your members of Congress and on social media.

The USDA Farm to School Grant Program is an essential tool to improve the health of our children, our food system and our local economies. Join us in calling on Congress to continue and expand its support for this highly impactful program.

New Resources to Make Your Case: State Farm to School Networks and Positions

NFSN Staff Wednesday, June 20, 2018

By Hannah McCandless, NFSN Network and Partnerships Fellow

The National Farm to School Network’s Strategic Plan for 2017-2019 includes three strategies for farm to school at the state level: policy, networks and positions. These strategies have been shown to increase the capacity of the National Farm to School Network’s Core and Supporting Partners and farm to school practitioners across the country, and to expand the breadth of farm to school activities nationwide. Since our founding in 2007 the National Farm to School Network has maintained a State Farm to School Legislative Survey that documents all proposed and enacted state farm to school policies, as well as best practices for state advocacy. We are pleased to announce the release of two new companion resources: the State Farm to School Networks Toolkit and the State Farm to School Positions Guide. Used together or separately, these three resources support farm to school stakeholders from every state and territory leverage proven strategies to grow and sustain the farm to school movement. 

The State Farm to School Networks Toolkit is a compilation of network development tools, best practices, case studies, analysis, and tangible examples of how individual states are building teams to grow their statewide farm to school efforts. State farm to school networks are key to bringing together diverse sectors and stakeholders and to creating a united voice and set of priorities to propel the movement. But just as farm to school is not a one-size-fits-all model, nor are state farm to school networks. While each state farm to school network is unique, our research found that many share a set of best practices that facilitate growth at the state level and in turn support the national movement — what we call the Six Seeds of a Successful State Farm to School Network. The toolkit expands on each “seed” with a detailed look at the implementation of these best practices and examples shared by our Core and Supporting Partners, including starting a farm to school network, leveraging partnerships, and developing lasting and effective networks.



In addition, the toolkit includes a primer on general network models and development, four case studies highlighting successful tools and tactics, and an analysis on challenges for and the future of state farm to school networks. Throughout this resource, you’ll find a plethora of practical examples and useful tools that can help increase capacity and involvement in growing farm to school efforts in your state or territory. Explore the full toolkit here

The State Farm to School Positions Guide aims to help stakeholders strategically advocate for the creation of more state farm to school positions in state agencies and university Extension programs. The guide includes an extensive list of all known farm to school positions, both full- and part-time, in state agencies and university Extension; case studies highlighting the development, evolution, successes, and challenges of positions in four states; analysis of trends in developing state positions; and several example farm to school position descriptions. 



Across the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories, there are 157 farm to school positions (part-time and full-time), with 98 housed in state agencies and 59 in university Extension offices. The majority of state agency positions are based in Departments of Agriculture and Departments of Education. Positions based in Departments of Health, Social Services, and Environment also exist, though are not as common. The total full-time equivalent of all farm to school positions adds up to 86.975, a significant increase from 28 FTE documented in 2015. Although the majority of states and territories have at least one position focused on farm to school, more often than not, positions are only dedicated part-time to farm to school. The cases studies, analysis of trends, and example position descriptions in this guide give stakeholders the tools and information they need to advocate for the creation of new and expansion of existing farm to school positions in their states and territories. Explore the full guide here

Together, the State Farm to School Networks Toolkit, State Farm to School Positions Guide, and State Farm to School Legislative Survey work as a trio of resources to support states and territories in growing and institutionalizing the farm to school movement. The strategies outlined in these three resources are also mutually supportive: state networks can be instrumental in helping shape goals for state farm to school policies; state policies can dedicate funding for farm to school programs and positions; and state agency and Extension positions are important stakeholders in state networks. 

Currently, there are 29 state farm to school networks, 29 states with at least one full-time farm to school position, and 33 states with funded farm to school legislation. Preliminary data analysis suggests that states that have at least one of these strategies have higher state-wide participation in farm to school. That’s good news for the farm to school movement, and a good reason for farm to school advocates in every state and territory work towards these impactful strategies. Whether your state is already implementing these strategies or just looking to get started, we hope you’ll find new and useful information in these new resources to keep your state and territory farm to school efforts going. As the National Farm to School Network's tagline encourages, let’s employ these strategies to continue growing stronger together!

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

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 19, 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. 

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics: Farm to Summer
July 12, 2pm ET
The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) anticipates providing more than 200 million free meals to children across the U.S. when school is out of session this summer. The seasonality and flexibility of SFSP create a perfect opportunity to highlight local products and incorporate food education. Join this webinar to learn about USDA farm to summer resources and hear about innovative farm to summer initiatives from NFSN Core Partners in Kentucky and Massachusetts. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to ECE: Indigenous Foods in Early Care and Education Settings
August 2, 2pm ET
Incorporating indigenous foods into education and meals in early care and education (ECE) settings offers many benefits, including increasing children’s knowledge of tribal history and food ways and strengthening cultural, spiritual, and social connections in the community. However, ensuring indigenous foods are procured, prepared, and served in ways that align with state licensing and Child and Adult Care Food Program regulations can be challenging. Join this webinar to hear from speakers from the National Farm to School Network, the Institute for Agriculture Trade and Policy, and the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association and to learn about innovative practices and resources that help overcome these challenges and support the inclusion of indigenous foods in ECE settings and in CACFP. Register here

3. It’s Pollinator Week!
Eleven years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. June 18-24 is Pollinator Week. Learn more here


Resources & Research
1. New Resources: State Farm to School Networks Toolkit & State Farm to School Positions Guide
The National Farm to School Network is excited to announce the release of two new resources to support farm to school practitioners in strengthening their efforts to develop robust and sustainable statewide farm to school programs. The State Farm to School Networks Toolkit is designed to demonstrate best practices and lessons learned from 29 existing networks, and provides practitioners key strategies and approaches for developing and sustaining state farm to school networks. It includes a primer on general network models and development, a deep dive into state farm to school network best practices, case studies highlighting successful tools and tactics, and analysis of challenges for and the future of state farm to school networks. The State Farm to School Positions Guide aims to help stakeholders strategically advocate for the creation of more state agency and university Extension positions dedicated to supporting farm to school. The guide includes a list of all known existing state farm to school positions, four state case studies, an analysis of the current landscape of state farm to school positions, and sample job descriptions. Both resources can be downloaded at farmtoschool.org/resources.

2. New Report: State Policy Development for Oregon’s Farm to School Grant Program: Successes and Lessons Learned
RTI International and the National Farm to School Network have released a new study that documents and analyzes the outcomes of state farm to school legislation in Oregon. State Policy Development for Oregon’s Farm to School Grant Program: Successes and Lessons Learned describes Oregon’s farm to school legislative process, and identifies Oregon’s farm to school state policy design attributes that have successfully leveraged limited state resources to improve farm to school participation among school districts. Successes, challenges and lessons learned about the effect of policies on program implementation are shared.Farm to school policy advocates in other states and territories can learn from the findings of this study to support their policy efforts. Learn more here

3. Washington State Department of Agriculture report examines the challenge of getting local produce to schools and other institutions 
Serving local produce and minimally processed foods is a goal for many school cafeterias and other institutions, but there are challenges to reaching that end. To understand the challenges and potential solutions better, WSDA’s Regional Markets team studied supply chains in Washington state for local, minimally processed food from farm to school for 2016-2017. The study, “Value Chain Strategies for Source-Identified Minimally Processed Produce for the School Market,” was completed earlier this year. The study also sought to identify strategies for developing a “value chain” infrastructure and building relationships to help local farms meet the demand for these products from schools, hospitals, and other institutional buyers. Read more here

4. Tracking Shows Increase in Local Food Purchasing at Michigan Schools
Since 2014, the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems has partnered with the Michigan Department of Education to track local food purchasing by K-12 schools. This short report shares the K-12 local food purchasing results from the 2017 MEGS+ application and compares these to the 2014 results. Read more


Policy Updates
1. Senate Agriculture Committee advances farm bill without farm to school 
Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted 20-1 to pass its version of the farm bill, allowing the bill to be brought before the full Senate for a vote later this month. While none of the National Farm to School Network’s top policy priorities have been included in the Senate’s draft bill, there are a number of other provisions in the draft that support local and regional food systems, rural business development, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, and healthy eating initiatives. For example, the bill maintains the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program as fresh only, increases funding for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program, and creates a Harvesting Health Pilot Program. The National Farm to School Network Policy Team continues to look for opportunities to advocate for important farm to school priorities when the bill draft comes to the full Senate floor. 


Farm to School in the News
West Virginia serves local in summer meals
School nutrition professionals in a West Virginia district are working to include local food in summer meals. "The students get to try different varieties of tomatoes, different varieties of radishes, cucumbers, carrots, everything that I can get my hands on. If they have the ability to bring it to me, then we are using it in this program,” said Kanawha County Schools Child Nutrition Director Diane Miller. (WOWK-TV)

4th Annual Northeast Farm to School Institute kicks off
Twelve Northeast school teams are gathering this summer to build Farm to School action plans for the next academic year at the Annual Northeast Farm to School Institute, offered by Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT. Over eight years, the Institute has supported farm to school programs at 74 schools and districts, reaching over 54,000 Northeast students. (Shelburne Farms

Texas Farm Fresh program expands to summer
The Texas Department of Agriculture's Farm Fresh program, which provides locally produced food for school meals, is expanding to include summer-meal programs across the state. About 40% of Texas schools participate in the program, which is supported by the US Department of Agriculture. (KXAN-TV

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.

Evaluating Oregon’s Farm to School Policy

NFSN Staff Monday, June 18, 2018

As the farm to school movement has taken root in communities across the country over the past 20 years, so have efforts by U.S. state and territory legislatures to propose policies that support local procurement, school gardens and food and agriculture education in their states. In the last 3 years alone, over 200 farm to school policies have been proposed in state legislature and territories, which represents an important move toward the institutionalization of farm to school by generating awareness, building coalitions, and taking ownership of farm to school growth and implementation. But how do we know what makes state farm to school policies effective in programmatic implementation?  

To build on existing information about policy best practices, we partnered with RTI International to document and analyze one of the country’s most ambitious state farm to school policies. Oregon has been a pioneer in institutionalizing farm to school programs, and their legislative efforts to support local procurement have resulted in a total of $4.5 million in grants to 124 school districts. Our new report, State Policy Development for Oregon’s Farm to School Grant Program: Successes and Lessons Learned, examines the ins-and-outs of Oregon’s procurement policy efforts to provide an analysis of successes, challenges and lessons learned for future farm to school policy in both Oregon and other states and territories.

The study finds that Oregon’s farm to school legislation has been overwhelmingly successful in meeting its intended impacts, especially as they related to the effectiveness of the farm to school grants in providing access to locally grown, nutritious foods to school districts, principally low income. However, the process of conducting the study also revealed some challenges with the legislation, such as with logistics, purchasing strategies and grant administration. Farm to school policy advocates in other states and territories can learn from these findings to support their own policy efforts. The four overarching lessons from this study include: 

  • Importance of Inclusion: Not all school districts were able to participate in the Oregon Farm to School grant program when it was a competitive grant program. When the program was converted to an opt-in program and distributed grants to schools based on their number of school lunches served, participation increased among low-income school districts, distributors, and farmers.
  • Importance of Training: Although school districts may be somewhat familiar with administrative processes related to grants, the claim process for accessing the reimbursements through this grant program was significantly different, and districts would have benefited from additional training. 
  • Preparation of Implementing State Agencies: State agencies that will be implementing the state policies must be on board and adequately staffed to ensure timely processing of claims and provision of technical assistance. 
  • Clarity in Bill Language: The language of any farm to school legislation must specifically target the intent of the farm to school policy. For example, through this study, we learned that during the early implementation phase school districts were purchasing milk and bread produced in the state using grant funds. Although these were local products, schools were already purchasing them before the grant was available. Evolution of the policy resulted in new language that restricts “prior purchased processed or produced foods,” which now fully ensures that the grant funds go toward purchasing new locally grown and produced Oregon products, thereby stimulating the state’s economy.
Evaluating the effect of policies on program implementation is important for understanding policy successes and areas for improvement. This analysis of Oregon’s legislative efforts helps provide new information about the effectiveness of state policies that support healthy eating activities through a combination of targeted funding streams and state agency support. We hope its findings serve as a useful tool for policy advocates nationwide, as we together continue to strengthen state and territory legislative support of important farm to school efforts. Read the full report here

This project was funded by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Read more on RTI International’s website.
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