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More than one good day: seeding change with farm to school

NFSN Staff Tuesday, September 08, 2015

By Sara Tedeschi, Seed Change Program Manager

Seed Change Program Manager Sara Tedeschi and Program Associate Lihlani Skipper recently visited Seed Change demonstration sites in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Louisiana. 

Some days at work are just better than others, no question.

The day we hit “send” to award $.5 million in mini grants directly to schools to build and expand farm to school activities was a really good day at work.

This fall, 100 schools in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania will each receive $5,000 Seed Change mini grants to fund a wide variety of farm to school activities, including building new school gardens, leading farm field trips and hosting community dinners featuring farm fresh food and local farmers. Direct funding at this level is a first for the National Farm to School Network, and as the mini grant projects take off with the start of the new school year, we’re taking a moment to recognize the impact this new initiative will have.  

Indeed, Seed Change is a new and exciting initiative for the National Farm to School Network. It is the first time we have received a grant (in this case, a generous donation by the Walmart Foundation) and re-granted funds directly at the local level to stimulate state-wide networking and jumpstart school and community participation in farm to school. Sharing in our excitement for this new initiative are our Seed Change state coordinator and partners: Kentucky Department of Agriculture (Ky.), Marketumbrella.org (La.), and The Food Trust (Pa.).  In addition to conducting outreach and training activities, these partners led the state committees that reviewed 185 grant applications in order to select the 100 mini grantees.

You might be wondering about the 85 applicants who, instead of receiving good news on this day, learned that we were unable to fund their proposals. Was our really good day hampered by the blow of also hitting send on these less-than-exciting emails? It was not, and here’s why: the large number of applications we received is great validation for the future of Seed Change and the farm to school movement. These applicants have shown us that schools are excited and ready to start connecting children to local food, and that’s good news as we continue to build partnerships and expand models for seeding change at the local level.

In addition to awarding mini grants, the Seed Change model in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania incorporates six “demonstration site” school districts, two in each state. Selected for their experience in farm to school leadership, these sites will serve as training hubs for the mini grantees, offering half-day farm to school tours and trainings this fall semester. In addition to modeling successful farm to school programs, these trainings will offer resources and provide opportunities for mini grantees to meet and learn from their colleagues across the state.

Having recently visited all six demonstration sites, I can heartily report that these school districts and their staff are beyond inspirational. Each site is distinctly unique in its farm to school programming and innovations, facilities, and the champions who help make these programs grow. But there is one consistent thread: everyone expressed a sense of commitment to and excitement about their role in helping farm to school thrive. In other words, these folks were having good days, too! Their contagious passion for farm to school and their “can do” entrepreneurial spirits will surely inspire the mini grantees soon to arrive on their campuses.

So, as you can see, our really good day at work did not end when we hit “send” on the mini grant award email. In fact, that was only the beginning of Seed Change, with the most exciting parts yet to unfold. Stay tuned for more good days to come.

This week in farm to school: 9/8/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, September 08, 2015

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 & Slow Food USA Tweet Chat
School Gardens & #CNR2015 : Getting Involved Now
From containers in the classroom to multi-acre farms, school gardens are sprouting up in every type of community around the country. These green spaces are providing opportunities for kids to connect with food from the soil up, and in turn, have proven to be an effective tool for helping kids learn to try and like new foods. Simply put, hands-on agriculture and nutrition education are helping shape a healthier next generation. This month, Congress has the opportunity to show its support for school gardens and other farm to school programs as it debates Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Join the National Farm to School Network (@farmtoschool) and Slow Food USA (@slowfoodUSA) for a tweet chat on Wednesday, September 16 from 2-3pm EDT to discuss school gardens, CNR, and how the USDA Farm to School Grant Program can support healthier kids. Use the hashtag #gardens4CNR to join. 

2. Webinar: USDA, Regional Rural Development Centers
Why Local Foods Matter
Thursday, September 10, 2015 11 am EDT
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s four Regional Rural Development Centers will host a webinar featuring Deb Tropp from the USDA Ag Marketing Service that will explore what is driving the public’s interest and USDA’s investments in local food initiatives. There is no need to pre-register, but on September 10th, 9 am MDT, you can go directly to this link to join. 

3. Webinar: USDA's Team Nutrition
Nutrition Education in the Classroom and Beyond: Tips for Educators
Wednesday, September 16, 3:00-4:00 pm EDT
Go back to school with tools and resources that support healthy learning! This webinar will discuss innovative ways elementary and middle school educators can integrate nutrition education into core subjects like math, language arts, and science. New teaching resources available from Team Nutrition for the 2015-2016 School Year will be shared. Register here. 

4. Webinar: The Lunch Box, Chef Ann Foundation

Kids Eat Real Food ‒ Marketing and Lunchroom Education
Thursday, September 24, 2:00-3:00 pm EDT
Join Curry Rosato, Farm to School and Events Coordinator and Chef Ann Cooper, Director of Boulder Valley School District, Boulder, CO to learn the techniques that have brought Boulder’s kids back to the lunch program and raised participation every year since 2009. Learn marketing best practices and turn your students into “real food” aficionados. Register here. 

5. Mid-Atlantic Regional Farm to School Conference, Nov 4-5, Rockville, MD
Field to Tray: Strengthening Farm to School Purchasing in the Mid-Atlantic will bring together farmers, food service directors, suppliers and other stakeholders from the region for a day of digging in to local food procurement strategies. The Mid-Atlantic region has experienced significant growth in farm to school practices over the past several years, and this conference will be a sharing, learning and networking opportunity for key farm to school players in the region. Register by September 5 to receive the early bird discount. Learn more about the conference and register here

6. Growing Minds Farm to School Conference, Nov 14, Asheville, NC
With more than 10 years of experience in farm to school training and programming, ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School Program offers a combination of creative ideas and practical applications for school environments. This year’s conference will feature workshops focused on four specialized tracks: Early Childhood, Health and Community, Cafeteria, and Classroom. Each track features content for folks new to farm to school as well as those that want to improve their existing programs. For more information please visit the Growing Minds website.


Research & Resources

1. Harvest for Healthy Kids Pilot Study
Harvest for Healthy Kids Pilot Study: Associations Between Exposure to a Farm-to-Preschool Intervention and Willingness to Try and Liking of Target Fruits and Vegetables Among Low-Income Children in Head Start suggests that Harvest for Healthy Kids had a positive impact on willingness to try and liking of target foods. Other studies have shown that liking is a strong predictor of intake among children. Read more about the study here

2. New USDA local procurement guide available 
Just in time for the new school year, our revised guide, Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs, is now available and can help you decide how to buy local for your program. The guide covers procurement basics, defining local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations. This revision incorporates information about micro-purchases, buying local foods for child care and summer meal programs and more real-world examples. Check out the new guide for sample solicitation language, detailed geographic preference examples and helpful resources. 


Policy & Action

1. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 
Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit farmtoschool.org/cnr2015


Farm to school in the news
Merced County high schools use local produce for school lunches
Perfect Summer is the name of Live Oak Farms’ sweet red and yellow peppers, delivered to Merced Union High School District (CA) campuses Wednesday. At Merced High School, the peppers are used in wraps and at cafeteria condiment stations. (via Merced Sun-Star)

Students learn to love their veggies — by planting them
A group of Oregon elementary-schoolers played a big role in promoting healthy eating habits this summer. The kids helped design and plant a local garden before celebrating their efforts with an all-veggie picnic. (via The Daily Astorian)

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: 9/1/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, September 01, 2015

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. 2016 Culture of Health Prize
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2016 Culture of Health Prize "recognizes and celebrates communities that have placed a priority on health and are creating powerful partnerships and deep commitments to make change." A Call for Applications is currently underway.  "In this fourth round of the competition, up to 10 winning communities will each receive a $25,000 cash prize and the chance to share their accomplishments with the nation. Communities-urban and rural, tribal, large, small, and in between-are invited to apply."  Deadline for applications is November 12th.  An informational webinar is scheduled for Thursday, September 10th, 3-4pm EDT.

2. Local Foods, Local Places 2015-2016 Application
Communities are invited to apply for a new round of technical assistance from Local Foods, Local Places. Local Foods, Local Places helps communities create walkable, healthy, economically vibrant neighborhoods through the development of local food systems. A team of experts will help community members develop action plans that use local foods to support healthy families and communities and to drive downtown and neighborhood revitalization. The assistance process features a community workshop that brings people together to develop shared goals and steps to achieve them. This is not a grant program. Applications dues September 15, 2015. Learn more here.

Webinars & Events
1. Slow Food USA: Town Hall Call with Dan Barber and Alice Waters, September 2
Join Slow Food USA Executive Director Richard McCarthy for a national telephone conversation with Dan Barber and Alice Waters about the future of food on Wednesday, September 2 at 4pm ET. To join the call,  RSVP here. You'll receive an email with the call-in information. Space is limited. 

2. Webinar: South Dakota State University, iGrow Webinars
Fall Gardening with Children
Wednesday, September 3, 9:30-10am CSDT, repeated 3:30-4pm CDT
The program will feature planting information, season extension techniques and other garden learning activities for the fall. School teachers, afterschool and garden program leaders and helpers are all encouraged to participate. To participate in the webinar, visit the iGrow events page.

Putting Your School Garden to Bed for Winter
Thursday, September 24, 9:30-10am CSDT, repeated 3:30-4pm CDT
Visit the iGrow website for more information about this webinar and for registration details. 

3. Field to Tray, Mid-Atlantic Regional Farm to School Conference, Nov 4-5, MD
Field to Tray: Strengthening Farm to School Purchasing in the Mid-Atlantic will bring together farmers, food service directors, suppliers and other stakeholders from the region for a day of digging in to local food procurement strategies. The Mid-Atlantic region has experienced significant growth in farm to school practices over the past several years, and this conference will be a sharing, learning and networking opportunity for key farm to school players in the region. Register by September 5 to receive the early bird discount. Learn more about the conference and register here

4. Growing Minds Farm to School Conference, Nov 14, Asheville, NC
With more than 10 years of experience in farm to school training and programming, ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School Program offers a combination of creative ideas and practical applications for school environments. This year’s conference will feature workshops focused on four specialized tracks: Early Childhood, Health and Community, Cafeteria, and Classroom. Each track features content for folks new to farm to school as well as those that want to improve their existing programs. For more information please visit the Growing Minds website.

5. Transforming Food Access Summit: Accelerating Affordability with Nutrition Incentives
The Transforming Food Access summit will be hosted by Wholesome Wave in Atlanta, GA on January 11 - 13, 2016. The event is designed to bring together key stakeholders, from the national level to community-base organizations, to engage around building food system change through affordable access to healthy food. Submissions for presenters, sessions and workshops are due September 18. More information is available on the Wholesome Wave website

Research & Resources
1. Many Eligible Children Don’t Participate in School Nutrition Programs
This study uses data from the 2013 Current Population Survey’s Food Security Supplement to document levels of participation in two of the largest programs authorized by this act—the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program—by region and place type (rural, suburban, and city), to identify areas where expanding participation may be especially important. Key finding include: Only 64 percent of eligible households participate in the National School Lunch Program; 52 percent participate in the School Breakfast Program. Read the full brief here

Policy & Action
1. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 
Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit farmtoschool.org/cnr2015

Farm to school in the news
Farm-to-School: Why We Need It and How to Get It 
With over 30 million students relying on school meals every day in the US, the quality of food we put on their plates is important — and can help us achieve a healthier, more sustainable society. Here’s why we need to step up and help local schools bring freshly farmed food to our children, and some ways to make it happen. (via EcoCentric)

5 Things to Know About the Congressional Battle over School Lunch
Kids are finally getting more whole grains and vegetables at school. But the healthier rules are at risk as Congress debates Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Read how the Farm to School Act of 2015 is expected to be one of the more bipartisan aspects of CNR. (via Civil Eats)

School Lunches Becoming Healthier, Statistics Indicate
A federal report released last Thursday that showed that the nutritional profile of school meals in the United States had improved substantially since higher government standards went into effect in 2012. “Literally, the way the school lunch line looks is different,” said Deb Bentzel, senior associate at the Food Trust. “It’s brighter, it’s healthier-looking, it’s fresher.” (via New York Times)

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. 

Look past the headlines: kids do like their fruits & vegetables

NFSN Staff Monday, August 31, 2015

By Erin McGuire, Policy Director

When I was a kid, I hated broccoli. I can sympathize with picky eaters, but I was also a kid who grew up on a farm. I was fortunate to see broccoli grow from a tiny seed into beautiful florets and carrots turn from leggy green stems to vibrant orange roots. It was those experiences that helped me learn to love vegetables. With time and repeated experiences in the garden, by age ten I was telling my chicken nuggets to move over for a mound of veggies.

Recent headlines have painted a picture of students who haven’t yet learned to love the fruits and vegetables served to them at lunchtime - but that’s not what the larger body of data shows. In 2014, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that the implementation of the new school meal standards increased vegetable consumption by 16 percent. And that increase is making a difference. A recent study in Arkansas found that when kids were offered fresh fruits and vegetables at school, childhood obesity rates dropped by 3 percent. One approach to helping kids learning to like these new healthy options is farm to school. A report from Vermont FEED found that most food service directors in Vermont saw participation in school lunch go up after farm to school programs were started in their schools.

It’s because of on the ground successes like these that 86 percent of Americans support today’s school nutrition standards, and 88 percent support increasing government funding for farm to school programs. Farm to school activities like taste tests, school gardens, and farm visits are helping teach kids to embrace new options in the cafeteria. This common sense, hands-on approach to learning about food is what changed my mind about broccoli, and it’s an approach 23.5 million kids have access to with farm to school across the country.

These activities are the training wheels that help kids learn to try and to like news foods. Simply put, farm to school makes the National School Lunch Program stronger by bringing more students into the lunch line and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. Take these examples:

  • Students at Lincoln Middle School in Portland, Maine, used their greenhouse to learn about growing mixed salad greens, and afterward asked the food service staff to include it in the daily lunch. Now students and staff work together to harvest and serve the mix every week.
  • At Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Hawaii, the more time kids spend on their 22-acre farm, the less plate waste there is in the cafeteria and school meal participation rates have increased
  • Just last week, Burke County, Georgia, students created their own recipes using local foods. From hundreds of submissions, the finalists had their recipes prepared in the cafeteria kitchen with Rep. Rick Allen as a taste tester of the Georgia Peach Ambrosia. The winning recipe is going on the Burke County Schools cafeteria menu.

We are 17 days out from the Senate Agriculture Committee debating the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization. Do not let the negative headlines be the story that shapes this debate. Now is the time to share success stories of the great farm to school and healthy meal initiatives happening your local community. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, invite your representative to lunch at your child’s school, or pick-up the phone and call your federal representative. 

Congress has a long to-do list this fall. But now, more than ever, we need our legislators to know that healthier school meals are working, and that it's time to strengthen programs like farm to school that show results. 

This week in farm to school: 8/25/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, August 25, 2015

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. INUAg Innovators in Urban Agriculture Prize 
The International Network for Urban Agriculture (INUAg) is announcing the first global INUAg Innovators in Urban Agriculture Prize. INUAg is looking to recognize innovative urban agricultural projects contributing to their local communities in 3 different categories: Food Access, Educating Producers, Teaching Youth. Each category will have 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winners, $1250, $500, $250. INUAg is accepting nominations through August 28, 2015. Nominees can self-nominate or be nominated by others. Learn more and find instructions for nominating projects here

2. Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives
As Farm Credit enters its 100th year of service to rural communities and agriculture, it has launched a new effort to champion the women, men and youth, whose insights and influence are ensuring thriving rural communities for years to come. The Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives program will seek out and celebrate 100 visionaries – the entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders who are shaping the future of agriculture and the fabric of our nation. To recognize the diverse ways individuals are contributing to the future success of rural communities, nominations will be accepted in ten categories, including youth leadership, agricultural education and community impact, and rural and urban connection. Ten exceptional leaders, one in each category, will each receive a $10,000 award to help further their contributions to thriving rural communities and agriculture. Nominations can be submitted until Dec. 18, 2015. Learn more here

Webinars & Events
1. Field to Tray, Mid-Atlantic Farm to School Conference, Nov 4-5, Rockville, MD
Field to Tray: Strengthening Farm to School Purchasing in the Mid-Atlantic will bring together farmers, food service directors, suppliers and other stakeholders from the region for a day of digging in to local food procurement strategies. The Mid-Atlantic region has experienced significant growth in farm to school practices over the past several years, and this conference will be a sharing, learning and networking opportunity for key farm to school players in the region. Register by September 5 to receive the early bird discount. Learn more about the conference and register here

2. Growing Minds Farm to School Conference, Nov 14, Asheville, NC
With more than 10 years of experience in farm to school training and programming, ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School Program offers a combination of creative ideas and practical applications for school environments. This year’s conference will feature workshops focused on four specialized tracks: Early Childhood, Health and Community, Cafeteria, and Classroom. Each track features content for folks new to farm to school as well as those that want to improve their existing programs. For more information please visit the Growing Minds website.

Policy & Action
1. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 
Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit farmtoschool.org/cnr2015

Jobs & Opportunities 
1. Communications and Development Specialist, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition 
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. NSAC is currently seeking a Communications and Development Specialist to support our policy and grassroots work through strategic communications efforts and expanded development capacity. This position is located at NSAC’s DC office on Capitol Hill. The Communications and Development Specialist reports directly to the Managing Director. Learn more about the position here

2. Call for papers: Labor in the Food System from Farm to Table
The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development welcomes submissions of papers on descriptions and analyses of the scale and scope of labor problems in the food system, as well as those that inform solutions. This can include case studies, positive experiences of food service and kitchen staff implementing farm to school, etc. Submissions are due September 22. More details can be found here

Farm to school in the news
Poll Finds Most Back Healthy School Meals
A majority of Americans support providing schoolchildren with healthy meals that consist of more fruits and vegetables and fewer foods high in calories, according to a national poll recently released by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. The poll also found that about 90 percent of Americans support more government spending on farm-to-school programs. (via New York Times)

Beefing Up School Lunch 
The latest addition to Oakland Unified School District’s (Calif.) school lunch menu is organic beef sourced from retired dairy cows. The verdict, according to one high school student: "The chili is on point." (via East Bay Express)

Farming programs hitting public schools
Farm and garden programs are becoming popular in Hawaii’s public schools. They’re sprouting up on 75 percent of school campuses across the state. In addition, Governor David Ige recently signed a bill establishing a Farm to School program in the state. The program means a menu makeover for the next school year. (via KITV

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. 

Growing farm to school in Mississippi

NFSN Staff Wednesday, August 19, 2015
By Sunny Young, Mississippi Farm to School Network and NFSN Mississippi State Co-Lead 


In April of 2014, Dorothy Grady-Scarborough and I met at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Austin, Texas, to talk about a Mississippi Farm to School Network. Between her work with Mississippians Engaged in Greener Agriculture (MEGA) and relationships with farmers across the state, and my school food reform experience and work with Good Food for Oxford Schools, we felt a partnership would lead to bigger and better things than working alone. 

I'm proud to say that one year later, our partnership is thriving. We are working together as co-State Leads for the National Farm to School Network and, with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, are making our state farm to school network dreams a reality through Seed Change, an initiative by the National Farm to School Network to rapidly scale up farm to school at the state level and strengthen partnerships for long-term sustainability. 

The intent of the Mississippi Farm to School Network is to build on all of the wonderful farm to school initiatives that have existed for years in Mississippi while increasing statewide efforts to connect practitioners and train new leaders. It's to learn from all the experience of programs and individuals around the state and strengthen partnerships to move forward together. It's to utilize our strengths to set new farm to school activities in motion and, with the support of our state and national farm to school networks, and evaluate our work so it is stronger each year. 

So what will the Mississippi Farm to School Network mean for Mississippi schools and farmers? We have outlined a number of goals and priorities for the upcoming three years of funding, including:
Developing the Network: The network will promote farm to school activities as well as bring together a diverse audience of individual stakeholders and organizations from across the state. Within three years, the state network hopes to engage more than 500 active members and an Advisory Board to help guide the future of farm to school in Mississippi.   

Request an Expert: A database of experts in farm to school related fields will be developed to provide dedicated support to schools facing questions or barriers. These experts will be deployed to assist schools in starting new activities or expanding existing programs. 

Outreach and Networking Events: From local mixers and cafeteria taste tests to the statewide Mississippi Farm to Cafeteria Conference, the Mississippi Farm to School Network will build awareness of and support for farm to school activities with parents, farmers, administrators and students across the state. Trainings and technical assistance will be provided to practitioners on the ground to help expand the number of farm to school sites in Mississippi. 

Website and Resources: A new Mississippi farm to school website will serve as an online portal for information and resources on farm to school in Mississippi. This will include new how-to guides, a statewide farm to school mapping project, promotional materials for students, event information and opportunities for schools to engage students and the community with local food. 

Be sure to sign up for our monthly Mississippi Farm to School Network e-newsletter to stay in the loop with all these new projects. 

Dorothy and I are incredibly grateful for this opportunity to help expand the practice of farm to school throughout the state. We are thrilled to work with partners who have been practicing farm to school since before it had a name. These existing and past projects are our inspiration for what can be, and we look forward to working together to grow. So cheers to farm to school! We look forward to growing together.

This week in farm to school: 8/18/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 



Grants & Funding
1. Native Agriculture & Food Systems Scholarship Program
First Nations Development Institute believes that reclaiming control over local food systems is an important step toward ensuring the long-lasting health and economic well-being of Native people and communities. The Native Agriculture and Food Systems Scholarship Program encourages more Native American college students to enter agriculture-related fields by awarding five $1,000 scholarships annually to students majoring in agriculture and agriculture-related fields. The deadline to apply is September 30. Visit First Nation’s website for more information. 

Webinars & Events
1. Webinars: The Lunch Box, Chef Ann Foundation
Recipes and Menus 
Thursday, August 27, 2-3pm EST
The Lunch Box presents recipes and menu cycles with Amy Glodde, RD, MPH, menu planner and training supervisor with Oakland Unified School District and RD consultant.  Amy will join us and discuss recipe writing in the scratch-cooking environment; creating menu cycles that feature your favorite farm to school ingredients; navigating The Lunch Box recipe database and more. Register here

Kids Eat Real Food – Marketing and Lunchroom Education 
Thursday, September 24, 2-3pm EST
Join Curry Rosato, Farm to School and Events Coordinator and Chef Ann Cooper, Director of Boulder Valley School District, Boulder, CO to learn the techniques that have brought Boulder’s kids back to the lunch program and raised participation every year since 2009.  Learn marketing best practices and turn your students into “real food” aficionados. Register here

2. Urban Food Systems Symposium, June 22-25, 2016, Olathe, KS
Kansas State University is holding an Urban Food Systems Symposium on June 22-25, 2016 to bring together a national and international audience of academic and research-oriented professionals to share and gain knowledge on urban food systems and the role they play in global food security. This symposium includes knowledge on: urban agricultural production, local food systems distribution, urban farmer education, urban ag policy, planning and development, and food access and justice. Learn more here

3. NESAWG 2015 Conference, November 13-14, Saratoga Springs, NY
It Takes a Region Conference: Putting MOVE in the Movement
Civil rights, labor, women’s rights—the movements that transformed our world can give us insight on ways to accelerate food systems change.  What can we learn from leaders past and present? At this year’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference (Nov 13-14), learn and strategize with hundreds of attendees—from farmers to researchers to policymakers—as we work to build a movement and realize the change we want to see. Shirley Sherrod, a longtime civil rights activist and advocate for family farms and food justice, will deliver the keynote speech. Register before October 3 and get the Early Bird discount. Visit the conference website for more information. 

Research & Resources
1. Poll: Nine out of 10 Americans want to keep school meals healthy
new national survey commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation shows that people in the United States overwhelmingly support current efforts to keep school meals healthy. Among the key findings: 86 percent support today’s school nutrition standards, which are helping more than 31 million kids get their daily nutrition through healthy school meals and 88 percent support government-funded farm to school programs. See the results of the 2015 Food Poll here

2. New USDA local procurement guide available Just in time for the new school year, our revised guide, Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs, is now available and can help you decide how to buy local for your program. The guide covers procurement basics, defining local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations. This revision incorporates information about micro-purchases, buying local foods for child care and summer meal programs and more real-world examples. Check out the new guide for sample solicitation language, detailed geographic preference examples and helpful resources. 

3. Study: School fresh fruit, vegetable program cuts childhood obesity rates
In a state with some of the highest childhood obesity rates in the nation, a new study shows that a program bringing fresh fruits and vegetables into Arkansas schools not only lowers obesity rates, it can also save hundreds of dollars per child each year to prevent obesity. Read more about the study here

Policy & Action
1. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 
Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit farmtoschool.org/cnr2015

Jobs & Opportunities 
1. Senior Food & Environment Outreach Coordinator, Union of Concerned Scientists
The Union of Concerned Scientists uses the power of knowledge to demonstrate the true costs of the current food and agriculture system and show how to achieve a healthier, more sustainable and science-based system. The Senior Outreach Coordinator’s critical focus is to conceive, plan, and implement outreach activities aimed at transforming our agricultural system into a more sustainable and equitable enterprise. On behalf of an 11-person team and under the supervision of the Campaign Manager, the Senior Outreach Coordinator carries out online activism, builds relationships with key constituencies, leads visibility efforts at professional society meetings, and coordinates with allied organizations. Learn more about the position here.

2. Food Systems Volunteer Field Specialist, South Dakota State University Extension  
South Dakota State University Extension is seeking a Food Systems Volunteer Field Specialist. They are looking for an individual to join them in growing their Healthy Food, Healthy Families, and Healthy Communities initiative by cultivating a more formal process for volunteer management to increase the capacity of our organization’s food systems efforts. This position will be located in Sioux Falls, SD, but will coordinate state-wide volunteer outreach activities. Learn more about the position here

Farm to school in the news
More Americans support farm-to-school programs, report says
Nearly nine out of 10 people want to see an increase in farm-to-school food programming in the U.S., according to national survey results released Tuesday. The poll — commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation — asked 1,200 adults across the country for their opinions on school nutrition standards and healthy food educational programs. (via USA Today)

Accessible garden a hit with special needs students
For students with special needs, planting, tending and harvesting in the garden can be difficult. But at Haverhill High School (Mass.), handicap-accessible garden beds & dedicated teachers are helping students earn their green thumbs and enjoy the fruits of their labor. (via The Haverhill Gazette)

Building A Successful Farm To School Movement: One Person, One Plot, One Policy At A Time
Chaffee County, Colorado is building a successful farm to school programs with supportive school district administration, a strong school wellness policy, a food service director passionate about incorporating locally grown foods into school meals, and buy-in from local residents, businesses, and nonprofits. (via Health Affairs Blog)

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. 


New state laws boost farm to school in Louisiana

NFSN Staff Friday, August 14, 2015
On August 1, 2015, two Louisiana bills became laws that support and strengthen farm to school efforts across the state. We interviewed our Louisiana State Lead, Katie Mularz, to learn how these policies will help bring Louisiana kids fresh, local food, and why grassroots advocacy is important for helping farm to school grow. 

Tell us about these bills, and how they relate to farm to school in Louisiana. 
The first is Senate Bill 184 – the “Small Purchase Threshold” bill. Up until now, any food purchase a school made larger than $30,000 was subject to a complicated bidding process, known as a “formal bid.” This made it difficult for schools to get seasonal and local foods because the process is often challenging for smaller-scale, local farmers. The passage of SB 184 increased the small purchase threshold to meet the federal standard of $150,000, enabling schools to work more closely with small-scale farmers to serve local food to Louisiana children. 
The second is House Bill 761 – the “Urban Ag Incentive Zone” bill. This bill creates urban agriculture incentive areas and reduces taxes on land used for urban farming. It greatly reduces expenses associated with acquiring urban agricultural land, and in turn encourages Louisianans to grow more local food. This is great for schools because it means there will be even more local producers to buy from. 

What did farm to school policy in Louisiana look like before the passage of these bills?
Although these are the first state laws supporting farm to school efforts, in 2014 the Louisiana legislature unanimously passed a resolution to convene an interagency task force to study how best to implement farm to school in Louisiana. It was an important accomplishment and first step in putting farm to school on the map, and it gave us the momentum to further drive farm to school policy in our state.

What role did partnerships play in passing these bills?
Senator Francis Thompson was a crucial champion of SB 184, the Small Purchase Threshold bill. He is committed to Louisiana schools, and as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, he is committed to supporting farmers. For him, working on farm to school was a natural fit. Senator Thompson's office worked to stay informed about local farm to school activities, and they shared that work with his constituents and fellow Senators. 

We also had a lot of allies and partners from organizations across the state, including more than 130 schools and organizations that are part of our Louisiana Farm to School Alliance. We had monthly calls to update our allies on the progress of the bills, and they helped spread our message that farm to school is a win for kids and farmers through a sign-on letter. I really think these relationships are what made the bills successful. 

Why is state-level policy important for farm to school? 
The farm to school movement is aching to grow – on the school end and on the farmer end. Grassroots advocacy is an opportunity for the public to express its desire to see programs like farm to school become institutionalized in state policy. Our ability to pull together and help these bills pass has given our state movement energy, momentum and a stronger voice for helping move this work forward to benefit kids, farmers and communities. 

What’s next for farm to school in Louisiana? 
We’re excited to ride this wave of momentum to continue building farm to school and our Louisiana Farm to School Alliance. We had 49 applications for the National Farm to School Network Seed Change mini grants, and although we could only fund 32, it’s encouraging to know that people want more farm to school programming in our state. We’re looking forward to building our capacity and seeing these two new laws bring more local food to students across Louisiana. 



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