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National Farm to School Network

News

We’re headed to Washington, D.C.

NFSN Staff Wednesday, April 22, 2015

By Stacey Malstrom, Public Relations & Outreach Manager

“Farm to school is about feeding them more than just food, it’s about feeding passions. We are working to change our menus and influencing families to make healthier choices at home too.” - Doreen Simonds, Food Services Director, Waterford School District (Ortonville, Mich.)


Next week, Congress will hear from school nutrition directors, farmers and farm to school advocates from across the country when we travel to Washington, D.C., in support of the Farm to School Act of 2015. We’ll meet with legislators from Maine to California to tell them how farm to school is an opportunity to empower more children to make healthy food choices; support more farmers, fishers and ranchers; and contribute to more vibrant communities. 

The Farm to School Act of 2015 was introduced in Congress earlier this year by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH). The bill is a bipartisan approach to child nutrition being considered as part of the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, and it has the potential to be a significant economic driver for local communities -- in the 2011-12 school year, U.S. schools spent $385 million on local food purchases. 

Not only that, farm to school is helping school districts meet science-based nutrition standards and reduce cafeteria food waste. See how Doreen Simonds describes the positive impacts of farm to school at Waterford School District in Ortonville, Mich., where she is the Food Services Director: 

  • Local food tastes better: “Food waste was the common thread of what principals, lunchroom parent volunteers, teachers and custodians were worried about. Since we started implementing farm to school activities, the staff is noticing that the kids are more willing to eat fruits and veggies. We used to waste so many apples - they had no flavor. And now that we are buying them locally, the kids are eating them like crazy.”
  • Taste tests break through negative assumptions: “Farm to school activities definitely helped us meet the new nutrition standards. We needed the taste tests because the kids were programmed to think this wasn’t going to taste good, and we had to show them that it does. Now when they see a sign for local products, they know it’s going to taste good.”
  • Food education travels home: “We hear back from kids and parents that they are trying new foods at home, going to farmers markets now, and using the Double Food Bucks too. One mom said to me, ‘I would have never thought to go to the farmers market. We don’t buy fresh fruits and veggies at the store because we can’t afford them, and it doesn’t stay fresh.’ We’re passing out recipes to the parents, so they are trying that at home, too.”
  • Farm to school helps promote farms: “The Oakland Farmers’ Market is a lot busier now. When we talk to the market manager, he’s sure we have an impact because we are sharing so much information. We’re in the newspaper all the time because we take the kids there. The kids take home food from the market at the end of the trip, and we buy food there, too.”
Waterford School District leveraged a USDA Farm to School Planning Grant to extend its farm to school program beyond taste tests, building new relationships with local farmers, adding a successful salad bar and providing in-depth training for kitchen staff. Doreen and her team continue to expand farm to school initiatives this school year with the USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant, which provided resources needed to develop new educational programming for students and staff, purchase large capacity produce washers and add open-air merchandizers to highlight local food for sale in the cafeteria.
Doreen Simonds will join fellow farm to school supporters in D.C. next week to share these insights and more with lawmakers considering strengthening the USDA Farm to School Grant Program this year so that more districts like Waterford can benefit from these activities. 
How can you help champion farm to school priorities in the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act?

The National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2015 reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act (CNR 2015), with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms. Learn more at farmtoschool.org/cnr2015

This week in farm to school: 4/21/15

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 21, 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. Every Kid Healthy Week, April 19-25
Join us in celebrating Every Kid Healthy™ Week from April 19-25! Launched by Action for Healthy Kids in 2013, Every Kid Healthy Week is an annual observance when schools, students, parents, and community members come together to recognize their school’s wellness achievements through fun and interactive health-promoting events. Over 1,000 schools are participating in 2015! For more information on how to get involved and additional resources to help you plan an event go to EveryKidHealthyWeek.org.
2. Webinar: USDA Food and Nutrition Service,  April 28, 12:30 p.m. EST
Bringing Summer Meals to Farmers Markets
USDA Food and Nutrition Service is hosting a webinar on April 28 from 12:30PM-1:30PM EST about bringing summer meal sites to farmers markets. Summer meal sites at farmers markets can help increase food traffic and offer farmers another way to enhance the visibility of fresh foods or donate their products. This webinar will inform farmers market managers, sponsors, and the public about how to start and maintain summer meal sites at farmers markets and will share best practices from farmers markets that currently administer the program. Register here.
3. April is National Garden Month
Secretary Vilsack has declared April 2015 as National Garden Month.  The official proclamation celebrates the great American tradition of gardening at home, at school and in the community. Whether you are in Washington and can visit the majestic 446-acre National Arboretum, or can take a quick stop in a community, home or school garden near you, celebrate that winter is behind us. It’s time to tend the garden! 

Policy & Action

1. New County and Congressional District Data on Food Insecurity

Feeding America released its annual Map the Meal Gap report with state, county, and congressional district data on overall and child food insecurity rates. The report also includes data on food cost variation by county and congressional district and the percent of food insecure populations likely eligible for federal nutrition programs. There are also several resources available online: executive summary; interactive map with printable fact sheets by state, county or congressional district; and, printable data charts with overall child food insecurity rates by county and congressional district.

2. Second Bi-Annual Farm to School Census 

The USDA Farm to School Census is a crucial tool for gathering information about the state of the farm to school movement. The first census was conducted in 2013, and USDA is now seeking updated information through the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. The Census questionnaire was distributed to school districts through state agencies the week of March 16. School district submissions must be received by May 29, 2015. Questions about the Census? Please contact matthew.benson@fns.usda.gov.

3. 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 Associate, Development, The Food Trust
The Food Trust is a nationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. The Senior Associate for Development will have diverse nonprofit fundraising experience, including a strong track record in developing grant proposals, building corporate partnerships, managing annual giving campaigns and overseeing fundraising events. The ideal candidate will have excellent interpersonal skills, and a passion for developing and executing creative fundraising strategies. This senior staff position will report to the Development Director, and will work closely with the Development Associate, program staff, and external partners. Find the full job description and application instructions here.
2. Kid Chefs: Join the Fourth Annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge!
Calling all budding chefs! Do you like to cook and make healthy food for your friends and family? If so, you might be able to show off your skills and creativity to the First Lady of the United States and your peers from across the country. Learn more about how you can represent your state at the Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House this summer.Visit pbs.org/lunchtimechallenge to learn more about the Heathy Lunchtime Challenge and submit your recipe by April 30.
3. Farm Aid hiring Farm Advocate and Program Manager positions
Farm Aid is a national nonprofit organization working to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. They are hiring for two full-time positions in their office in Cambridge, Mass. The Farm Advocate will serve as Farm Aid’s primary direct service provider, working one-on-one with farmers across the country to address their unique resource needs through quality referrals and emotional support. The Program Manager works to strengthen family farm and rural service organizations nationally and the resources and opportunities available for family farmers through strategic management, implementation, promotion and evaluation of Farm Aid’s grant program and the Farm Aid Resource Network website. Applications are due by May 3. See links for full job details. 

Farm to school in the news

WhyHunger’s Food Justice Voices Series

WhyHunger’s Food Justice Voices series continues with “Social Justice for Lunch: Delta Fresh Foods Initiative at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference.” This piece explores the work of the Delta Fresh Foods Initiative (DFFI) to transform the food system in the Mississippi Delta region into one that is more equitable and just for all.
Plymouth lunches feature student-raised pork
The Plymouth School District took the concept of local food one step closer to home this school year by featuring meat in several recent school lunches from two pigs raised by students. (via Sheboygan Press)

Seeds of Change: The Value of School Gardens in Education and Community Health
Gardening at school and at home can provide young people with learning opportunities, lasting skills, and positive, memorable experiences. But perhaps most importantly, it can help foster healthy lifestyles and encourage healthy eating with more nutritious foods. (via KCET)

Youth in Jacksonville's 'food deserts' learning about nutrition, helping teach parents
This farm-to-school program is geared toward school-age students and parents who live in so-called food desert communities, with little or no access to affordable, fresh food and produce. It works to introduce them to basic elements of health and nutrition, gardening and farming, and food preparation. (via The Florida Times-Union)
 

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. 

House begins CNR hearings

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 16, 2015

By Natalie Talis, Policy Associate

Update: Watch this clip of Rep. Rick Allen's (R-GA) remarks about farm to school at the Education and Workforce hearing on April 15, 2015. 

On Wednesday, the House Education and Workforce Committee held its first hearing in preparation for the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR). With the current bill set to expire at the end of September 2015, the “Serving Students and Families through Child Nutrition Programs” hearing focused on key child nutrition programs, including farm to school. 

Committee members discussed flexibility for school nutrition administrators, public-private partnerships and hunger as a barrier to academic achievement. And members on both sides of the aisle called out farm to school as an important tool for school meals. 

Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) commented that in his district, the addition of fresh, local products such as collard greens and sweet potatoes in school meals increased consumption of fruits and vegetables by students. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) saw similar results in his district, with a 10 percent increase in school lunch participation after the introduction of local products and a salad bar. This increase in participation has created additional revenue for the school and improved its economic viability. 

In her witness testimony, Julia Bauscher, president of the School Nutrition Association, agreed that kids eat what they know. She said this happens as kids become more familiar with fruits and vegetables through farm to school taste-tests, agriculture education and school gardens. Responding to a question from Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) – one of the champions of the bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2015 – the First Lady of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe, added that many students do not know where their carrots and peaches come from until they meet farmers. She has seen farm to school help students build healthy habits, and commented that it’s an important tool for supporting farmer incomes and local economies in her state. 

Committee members also commented on successful farm to school programs they have seen in their districts during school and farm tours. As Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) stated, “this is really a bipartisan issue,” and a win-win-win for kids, farmers and communities. 



The National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms. The benefits of farm to school were heard in Wednesday’s hearing, and we will continue to work to make sure they are part of the conversation as this critical legislation is developed. 

Join us in asking Congress to continue and expand upon the success of farm to school with the Farm to School Act of 2015. 


Bringing farm to school, one Thursday at a time

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 09, 2015

By Jaime Lockwood, Development Director

Photos courtesy of the Center for Ecoliterary

The premise of California Thursdays is simple: encourage school districts to serve one locally sourced and freshly prepared meal per week to benefit kids, local economies and the environment.  It’s a program the Center for Ecoliteracy and Oakland Unified School District piloted during the 2013-14 school year. By October 2014, when the California Thursdays program was rolled out statewide, 15 school districts were on board. 

Despite its relative newness, California Thursdays is already demonstrating its impact. By last fall, four of the six largest school districts in California had signed up, including Los Angeles Unified with its 1,309 schools. Combined with the 14 school districts in the original cohort, these participating school districts serve 190 million meals annually – approximately 20% of school meals in California. Now with 42 school districts from across the state joining, California Thursdays is poised to make an unprecedented impact on local procurement in California.

In February, the Center for Ecoliteracy graciously invited me to a communications and media training for participating California Thursday school districts to learn more about the program. The program is designed to take much of the guesswork and behind-the-scenes research of sourcing local food out of the equation for school food programs.  It also trains school districts in communicating the value of California Thursdays across their community to garner support.

As I sat through this California Thursdays training (one of several that the districts participate in throughout the school year), it was clear that the initiative is the result of careful listening, planning and thought partnering on behalf of the Center for Ecoliteracy and school food staff from across the state. Their hard work has resulted in a comprehensive set of supports designed to address the most common challenges schools face in sourcing and preparing fresh, local food in school kitchens, including:

  • A list of California-grown/produced foods that meet the federal reimbursable guidelines – and the vendors who sell them
  • 21 recipes featuring California-grown fruits and vegetables, including nutritional information
  • Trainings to help school districts broadly communicate the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of California Thursdays to various members of their community
  • Resources in both English and Spanish to help engage parents in the discussions about school food
  • A network of school food service/nutrition directors who can reach out to each other for continuing support and ideas

California Thursdays stands out as a state-level innovation that is ripe for replication across the country. A similar program, Minnesota Thursdays, has already followed California's lead. To riff on their tag lines, what if all Thursdays were Arkansas Thursdays, West Virginia Thursdays, Rhode Island Thursdays, and Wyoming Thursdays? What if all states had initiatives that supported their schools in improving the quality of food served, building relationships with local farmers, and helping students and their communities reclaim their food heritage?

Then perhaps, one day, every day will be Local Food Day in schools. 

Cultivating Food Justice with Farm to School

NFSN Staff Wednesday, April 08, 2015
By Anna Mullen, Communications Intern

What does it mean for food to be just? And what factors must be considered in cultivating food justice? These questions were on the table at Just Food? A Forum on Justice in the Food System, recently held in Cambridge, Mass. Hosted by the Harvard University Food Law Society and Food Better Initiative, the event brought together activists, scholars and practitioners to explore the complex legal, political, health and environmental aspects of building a just food system. 



Food justice is interconnected with many other social justice causes, including farmworkers rights, racial justice and the environment. This multidimensional understanding of food justice requires that a plurality of voices be included in creating our vision of a just food system. Indeed, food is everyone’s issue, because everyone eats! Therefore, everyone has a hand in cultivating food justice. 

So, what’s the role of the farm to school movement in helping create a more just food system? 

  • Farm to school educates the next generation of conscious eaters: As Dr. Molly Anderson reminded listeners in her keynote address, the road to food justice is long, and will require years of activism. Farm to school is working today to help educate the next generation of food advocates. In classrooms, school gardens and cafeterias, more than 23.5 million students are engaged in farm to school across the country. By teaching kids about where food comes from – who grows food, how it is harvested, how to prepare delicious meals – farm to school is cultivating conversations about just food among our nation’s youngest eaters. 
  • Farm to school builds a spirit of inclusivity: Food is a bridge between people, communities and cultures – everybody eats! As a panelist at Just Food, Sunny Young, our Mississippi State Lead, shared how Good Food for Oxford Schools has partnered with other local organizations and churches to make healthy food a community affair. Their annual Gospel Choir Showcase in front of Oxford City Hall features local gospel music, dancing, healthy food samples and farm to school presentations from students and staff. The event brings the wider Oxford community together to celebrate the connections between the farm and their forks. Creative community collaboration can bring food change from the classroom out into the streets, and even to the steps of City Hall.
  • Farm to school can connect all students to healthy, local food: Many of our nation’s children eat two of their meals at school every day, so what better place to level the playing field on access to good food? Our Policy Associate, Natalie Talis, explained to the audience of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization workshop how the Farm to School Act of 2015 will expand and improve the popular USDA Farm to School Grant Program to reach more schools nationwide. And not only more schools, but also more preschools; critically important summer food service sites; after school programs; tribal schools and producers; and beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Collectively, these programs offer millions of children access to healthy, local food, irrespective of race, socioeconomic status or geographic location. Farm to school can connect all students to good food, and Congress has an opportunity to expand the programs supporting these efforts with the Farm to School Act. 
  • Farm to school supports small farmers: Student presenters from The Food Project emphasized that we need small-scale farmers in our communities to help know our food. Farmers make great food educators, and they’re also valuable contributors to local economies. Farm to school activities open the doors to an institutional market that spent an estimated $385 million on local food for schools during the 2011-2012 school year. Furthermore, farm to school facilitates farmer-community relationships, diverse markets and encourages grower cooperatives. It’s a win for farmers and the communities they help feed.

The National Farm to School Network is bound together by the vision that vibrant local and regional food systems are essential to the health of our children, farms, environment, economy and communities. It’s a vision that we believe is integral to the work of food justice. Join us





This week in farm to school: 4/7/15

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 07, 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. Webinar: Colorado Farm to School Task Force, Wednesdays, April 8 - May 6, 5 p.m. EST

Evaluation Made Easy: How to Evaluate your Farm to School Activities

The fourth (and last) five-week training series on the Farm to School Evaluation Toolkit from Colorado Farm to School Task Force and Spark Policy Institute starts tomorrow. The series is free and made possible by a USDA Farm to School Grant. Participation in the live webinars includes the following benefits: eligible for five contact hours of continuing education credits, participation in the F2S Evaluation Toolkit Forum for peer-to-peer learning, and up to four hours of free technical assistance to plan/implement your F2S evaluation. Register here.


2. The Chef Ann Foundation Webinar, April 14, 1 p.m. EST
Your Guide to the Lunch Box 
This webinar will feature a guided tour of the newly expanded school food resource website “The Lunch Box” and a Q&A with national school food expert Chef Beth Collins. The Lunch Box is dedicated to supporting school food service teams with technical assistants for shifting their food programs from a reliance on processed foods to developing whole food-based, scratch-cooked meals. Sign up here

Policy & Action

1. Second Bi-Annual Farm to School Census 

The USDA Farm to School Census is a crucial tool for gathering information about the state of the farm to school movement. The first census was conducted in 2013, and USDA is now seeking updated information through the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. The Census questionnaire was distributed to school districts through state agencies the week of March 16. School district submissions must be received by May 29, 2015. Questions about the Census? Please contact matthew.benson@fns.usda.gov.

2. 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. Kid Chefs: Join the Fourth Annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge!
First Lady Michelle Obama is teaming up with PBS flagship station WGBH Boston, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to host the fourth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge to promote cooking and healthy eating among young people across the nation. The challenge invites kids ages 8-12 to join a parent or guardian in creating an original recipe that is healthy, affordable, and delicious. One winner from each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia will be selected and have the opportunity to attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” here at the White House this summer where a selection of the winning recipes will be served. Visit pbs.org/lunchtimechallenge to learn more about the Heathy Lunchtime Challenge and submit your recipe by April 30.

2. Garden Manager, Slide Ranch, Muir Beach, CA
Reporting to the Director of Operations, the Garden Manager is an integral member of the Ranch Operations Team.  Specific responsibilities include all aspects of maintaining a certified organic garden, native plant restoration, teaching and training Slide Ranch Teachers-in-Residence (TIRs), work with program staff to utilize the garden as a teaching environment for youth education, train and manage garden volunteers, and provide sufficient produce for daily program lessons as well as for resident staff consumption. This position requires living on-site in housing provided by Slide Ranch. For more information, visit the Slide Ranch website

3. Director of Development, Slide Ranch, Muir Beach, CA
Slide Ranch seeks a Director of Development who will manage all aspects of Slide’s Development Office: Annual Fund, Major Gifts, Special Events, Grants, Capital Campaign  and Communications. The Director of Development reports to and works closely with the Executive Director to create and implement development strategies and practices that will help Slide Ranch sustain and grow its operations and fulfill its mission. For more information, visit the Slide Ranch website

4. Request for Applications, Southern Regional Learning Lab Evaluator 
The Food Options for Children in the United States (FOCUS) Southern Regional Learning Lab (SRLL) engages seven school districts to leverage their combined buying power and redirect purchasing practices to access more wholesome food. The SRLL has just entered Phase One of a three-year implementation and is beginning work in two food categories: chicken and produce. FOCUS seeks an evaluation contractor (individual or team) that will work closely with program participants and staff to refine and implement an evaluation protocol designed during the SRLL Assessment Phase. The contractor will conduct evaluation activities for Implementation Phase One (April 2015 - June 2016) and ideally will continue over the duration of the project. Click here to download the SRLL Evaluation Contractor Request for Applications. Applications are due Sunday, April 19.  

5. Food Services Director, Austin Independent School District
This position is the chief administrator for supporting the facilitation and implementation of program areas within Food Services. Incumbent provides instruction and technical supervision to staff on non-routine and policy matters, especially in areas requiring oversight to ensure compliance. More information can be found on the AISD careers website

Farm to school in the news
Why 2015 is a big year for child nutrition
The new Farm to School Act and the proposed renewal of federal child nutrition programs should make this an important time for kids and healthy eating. (via Mother Nature Network)

How One Visionary Changed School Food in Detroit 
With a focus on healthier foods and local farms, National Farm to School Network Advisor Betti Wiggins has led Detroit Public School’s +55K students through a food revolution. (via Civil Eats

Helping Food Hubs Connect Local Farmers To VT Schools
A new online tool made possible with a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School grant connects new Vermont farmers and food producers with their local communities using food hubs. (via My Champlain Valley)

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. 





Encouraging Future Farmers in North Carolina

NFSN Staff Friday, April 03, 2015

By Laura Fieselman, Executive Assistant

“I hope people will learn to revere farmers. And farmland too.” 
-North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler  

Farm to school doesn’t just happen in the cafeteria; it takes place in the classroom too. That was the case recently when North Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler, visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as part of the university’s new Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats initiative. The event afforded students an opportunity to interact with farm to school on a policy level, asking the Commissioner about North Carolina’s ports and the Department of Agriculture’s budget. It was also a chance for Commissioner Troxler to share what he’s most passionate about: farming. 


North Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler, speaks to students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

A farmer himself, the Commissioner is no stranger to teaching and instilling ag excitement in young people. Commissioner Troxler encouraged the class to consider agriculture as a career – and not just farming, but also processing, transportation and the science of crop development. As the local food movement continues to take hold with schools, colleges, hospitals, and other institutional buyers across the country, opportunities for new farmers and food businesses are expanding exponentially.  

The North Carolina Farm to School program has been serving fresh, local produce in the state’s lunchrooms since 1997. Originally a pilot project with strawberries, today the program has grown to serve tomatoes, zucchini, collards and sweet potatoes, along with blueberries, cantaloupes, apples, peaches and sprite melons. During the 2013-2014 school year, nearly a million dollars worth of North Carolina produce was served to the state’s students in farm to school programs. That’s a lot of food dollars reinvested in local and regional agriculture. 

The National Farm to School Network believes that vibrant local and regional food systems are essential for building healthy kids and healthy communities. In North Carolina, Troxler is helping students learn this in the classroom, and encouraging them to taste it too. 

Learn more about how farm to school is a win for kids, win for farmers and win for communities here.   






This week in farm to school: 3/31/15

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 31, 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. 




Funding & Grants

1. Keep Spreading the Word about Community Eligibility

To provide ample time to school districts to consider implementing community eligibility, this month is a great time provide them with a variety of opportunities to learn more about the option and the success other school districts are having. Food Research and Action Center has updated some of its resources to help you spread the word to districts: FRAC’s Community Eligibility One-Pager (pdf) and Sample CEP Presentation Slides (PowerPoint file). 


2. Seeds of Change® Grant Program

To support the mission of the 1% Fund, Seeds of Change® is hosting the 4th annual Seeds of Change® Grant Program, which encourages communities nationwide to apply for funding to support community or school garden and farming programs. The application asks how the program helps build a healthier, more sustainable community and how it teaches people where their food comes from. The submission period for the grant program has been extended until April 6. A total of $200,000 in grant money is available. From April 9 through April 27, 2015, applications will be available for public voting at www.seedsofchangegrant.com.


Webinars & Events
1. Grow. Share. Prepare. Food Systems Program Training, Austin, June 8-10
Sustainable Food Center will offer its fourth annual Grow. Share. Prepare. Food Systems Program Training at its facility in Austin, Texas June 8-10, 2015. The intensive three-day workshop will be lead by SFC staff and partners and is designed for community-based organizations, local government entities, and other groups interested in sustainable and local food systems programming. A limited number of scholarships will be available, based on interest and need. Registration deadline is April 24, 2015, but early registration is strongly encouraged due to limited space.

Policy & Action

1. Second Bi-Annual Farm to School Census 

The USDA Farm to School Census is a crucial tool for gathering information about state of the farm to school movement. The first census was conducted in 2013, and USDA is now seeking updated information through the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. The Census questionnaire was distributed to school districts through state agencies the week of March 16. School district submissions must be received by May 29, 2015. Questions about the Census? Please contact matthew.benson@fns.usda.gov.

2. 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. USDA Seeks Reviewers for Grant Programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service announced it is seeking reviewers to evaluate grant applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program. Applications are due April 27. Additional details can be found here.

2. USDA Seeks Peer Reviewers for BFRDP Proposals
The USDA received a record number of BFRDP applications for 2015, and are looking for additional peer reviewers to serve on the panel this year. Panels are comprised of farmers and ranchers, practitioners, CBO/NGO representatives, academic personnel, agency staff, as well as others. To nominate yourself, send an email to bfrdp@nifa.usda.gov with “reviewer” in the subject line.  Include your contact information (organization, address, email, phone); a brief description of your areas of expertise or experience related to beginning farmers and ranchers; and whether or not you plan to be a participant on a proposal this round. Deadline for nominations is Friday, April 3, 2015. For additional information, email BFRDP National Program Leader, Jill Auburn, at jauburn@nifa.usda.gov

Farm to school in the news
Empowerment from the Earth: Reclaiming Cherokee health and heritage
Several community and youth efforts are using gardens to reconnect the Cherokee people to local food, health and a collective heritage defined by knowledge of the earth. (via Mountain Xpress)

Locally grown veggies now part of school lunches
More than 1,000 heads of locally grown lettuce now are being transported to 16 Gainesville schools each month. It's part of the Farm to School Work Hub. (via Gainesville Sun)

School garden helps emphasize healthy eating to Cannon students
Cannon Elementary school in South Carolina has received grants that will allow students to design gardens, learn how to plant and nurture foods and incorporate those foods into school lunch programs. (via GoUpstate)

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

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