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This week in farm to school: 6/9/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 09, 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. Grow your farm to school program with a Seed Change mini grant! (KY, LA, PA ONLY)
The National Farm to School Network is accepting applications from eligible schools and school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania for  $5,000 mini grants to help jump start new farm to school activities or ramp up existing programs. Grants can be used for local food for tastings, new processing equipment, hosting events, building school gardens and more. All nonprofit schools and school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania are eligible to apply. Deadline for applications is Monday, June 15 at midnight ET. For more information and to apply, visit farmtoschool.org/seedchange
2. Find your community of supporters with Barnraiser
The National Farm to School Network is partnering with Barnraiser, a crowdfunding platform dedicated to good food and farming projects, to elevate farm to school activities across the country. From school gardens in North Carolina to community cooking education in California, these projects are being funded by people who believe in the power of farm to school activities to support vibrant communities and to empower children and families to make healthy food choices. NFSN will be a featured partner on the site with a page that aggregates farm to school crowdfunding campaigns from across the country. If you would like help initiating a crowdfunding campaign for your farm to school initiative, check out the Barnraiser Campaign Guide and/or contact Marie Sayles, Projects & Partnerships Director, at marie@barnraiser.us. Don't forget to let us know when your project is live! 

Webinars & Events
1. Register for the Food Day Apple Crunch on Oct. 22, 2015
On and around Food Day 2015 (Oct. 24, 2015), millions of people around the country will crunch into an apple in a unifying action to raise awareness about eating better diets for our health and the environment, access and affordability of fruits and vegetables, and supporting local farmers. Hundreds of thousands of school students will crunch into an apple at lunch time, joined by Americans at public Food Day events, in corporate cafeterias and at home. Because Food Day falls on a Saturday this year, most schools will be participating in the Apple Crunch on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Start planning now to join the Food Day Apple Crunch and register your event at the link below.
2. Slow Food USA & American Heart Assoc. Garden Twitter Chat, June 10, 1pm EST
In honor of National Garden Week, Slow Food USA is teaming up with the American Heart Association for a garden-themed Twitter Chat. Do you have a home, community or school garden? Use #lifeiswhy and #SlowFoodUSA to add your voice. This chat will last from 1-2 PM EST and the topic will be gardening and healthy living. Follow @SlowFoodUSA for more information. 

Policy & Actions
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. NFSN is hiring a Farm to Preschool Associate
Join our team! National Farm to School Network is now accepting applications for a full time Farm to Preschool Associate. The Farm to Preschool Associate will be responsible for managing the implementation of a comprehensive farm to preschool growth plan for NFSN, with a focus on seamless integration of farm to preschool within all priority areas of NFSN including information/resource services, networking/partnership building and policy/advocacy. This position will report directly to the Director of Programs of NFSN. Projected Start Date: June 30, 2015. For a full position description and application instructions, click here. Please share this listing with anyone you think is interested and qualified. The deadline to apply is June 18, 2015.
2. REAP Food Group
REAP Food Group is a nonprofit organization in Madison Wisconsin that nourishes links between land and table to grow a healthful, just and sustainable local food system. REAP Food Group is currently hiring for several positions: 
Farm to School Program Coordinator: This person will provide management and training support to four half-time AmeriCorps Farm to School educators. Additionally, the Farm to School Program Coordinator will work directly with school staff, area chefs and community organizations to carry out chef in the classroom programming, manage farm to school volunteers, plan educational farm to school events and provide general program support. More info here

Communications Director: This person will develop and implement the overall communications strategy for the organization, including promotion of REAP’s mission and events, public relations, member and donor communications, website management, design of printed materials, and social media outreach. The Communications Director will be involved in event planning and represent REAP at media events and before audiences at other outreach events. More info here

AmeriCorps Farm to School Educators: REAP Food Group is seeking candidates to fill four half time AmeriCorps positions with the REAP Farm to School program. This is a one-year appointment with a 900 hour commitment (average 20 hours/wk). Members will work with elementary, middle and high school students; as well as teachers, farmers, food service personnel, parents and a wide range of community partners on Farm to School program implementation within the Madison Metropolitan School District. More info here

Farm to school in the news
Roosevelt serves up home grown food for lunch program
Kindergarten students help maintain a school garden, and serve up spinach, lettuce and radishes to their classmates for lunch. (via Gazette Extra)
Students receive fresh, local produce through N.C. Farm to School program
Schools receive North Carolina peaches, Asian pears, watermelon, sweet potatoes, collards, apples, cabbage, carrots and more. “We try to really introduce different things to everyone.” (via Salisbury Post)
Fifth Graders Learn Lessons on Gardening, Healthy Lifestyles
Fifth graders in Minnesota are teaching each other the best way to plant potatoes."A garden is a living laboratory. When kids can be out learning how to do it, doing the research and applying it with their hands, the knowledge that they have, it really sticks and stays with them for a lifetime." (via  Fox 21)

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: 6/2/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 02, 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. Grow your farm to school program with a Seed Change mini grant! (KY, LA, PA ONLY)
The National Farm to School Network is now accepting applications from eligible schools or school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania for $5,000 mini grants to help jump start new farm to school activities or ramp up existing programs. Grants can be used for local food for tastings, new processing equipment, hosting events, building school gardens and more. All nonprofit schools and school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania are eligible to apply. Deadline for applications is Monday, June 15 at midnight ET. For more information and to apply now visit: www.farmtoschool.org/seedchange
2. Voice for Healthy Kids Grant
Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and American Heart Association (AHA), advances policy strategies to help all young people eat healthier foods and be more active. This initiative is working to advance coordinated issue advocacy campaigns by providing funding to coalitions focused on ending childhood obesity. Campaigns with a goal of implementing strong physical activity and healthy eating standards in out-of-school time programs may be eligible for this funding. Applicants must be a nonprofit organization with the ability to lobby, and applications should focus on individual campaigns seeking public policy change at the state, local or tribal level. Learn more and apply for funding here
3. USDA announces funding to assist with organic certification costs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced that approximately $11.9 million in organic certification assistance is available through state departments of agriculture to make organic certification more affordable for organic producers and handlers across the country. The funding is provided on a cost share basis and certification assistance is distributed by two programs. Through the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, $11 million is available to organic farms and businesses nationwide. Through the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program (AMA), an additional $900,000 is available to organic producers (crop and livestock operators only) in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. More information can be found here
4. USDA seeks applications for grants to help socially-disadvantaged producers
USDA is now accepting applications to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Funding will be made available through USDA's Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program, which assists organizations that provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Examples of technical assistance are conducting feasibility studies, developing business and strategic plans, and providing leadership training. USDA plans to make up to $3 million in grants available. The maximum award under this notice is $175,000. More information on how to apply can be found on page 28937 of the May 20 Federal Register. Applications submitted by mail must be postmarked by July 20, 2015. Electronic applications must be submitted at www.grants.gov no later than midnight Eastern Time July 14, 2015. More information can be found here

Webinars & Events
1. Canada's first national school food conference, Montreal, Nov. 12 -14
Changing the Menu, the first-ever Canadian national school food conference aims to advance activities to get more healthy, local and sustainable food into the minds and onto the plates of students. The event will bring together a diverse group of participants from various sectors including health, education, food service, recreation, agriculture, policy and research. Some 400 people from coast to coast including members of indigenous communities are expected to attend the Montreal event. Find more information and the call for proposals here
2. Field to Tray: Strengthening farm to school purchasing in the Mid-Atlantic, Rockville, MD, Nov. 5
Field to Tray will bring together farm to school leaders including school nutrition professionals, farmers, suppliers, government representatives and nonprofit organizations for a day of learning and networking at the first farm to school conference in the Mid-Atlantic.  Field to Tray will highlight best practices and strategies for connecting local and regional farm products to more schools. From using school garden produce in the cafeteria, to farm to school funding opportunities for farmers, to adding local foods to school menus, this gathering will empower the Mid-Atlantic to ramp up farm to school purchasing practices for long-term success. Find more information here
3. Farm to School Coalition of NC Conference, July 25, Raleigh
Save the date for the first annual state-wide NC F2S Conference at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, NC. To be notified of updates from the NC F2S Coalition including how to register, email caroline.stover@foodcorps.org and ask to be added to the Coalition listserv. 

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. Summer Leadership Summit for Native Youth in Food & Agriculture, July 19-28
There are still slots open for the second annual Summer Leadership Summit for Native Youth in Food & Agriculture at the University of Arkansas School of Law, July 19-28. All slots will be fully paid, travel included, for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian youth between the ages of 13 and 18 who are passionate about food and agricultural production and have the courage to lead their Tribes and communities into the future. The deadline to apply has been extended for First Time Students and Summit Fellows to June 15th, or until all spaces are full. For more information and application details can be found here
2. Call for Proposals: The 2015 Young Farmers Conference
Every December, hundreds of beginning farmers from across the United States gather at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture to learn from agricultural luminaries, peers, and advocacy organizations at the Young Farmers Conference. On December 2-4, 2015, Stone Barns Center will host the 8th annual Young Farmers Conference, providing participants with access to inspiring keynotes and unique workshops that address soil science, technical skills, agricultural policy, farm business management, conservation and more. To submit a workshop proposal, visit this website. The deadline for proposals is June 15, 2015.
3. Southern SARE seeking NGO nominations for administrative council
The Administrative Council of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) program is seeking nominations of non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives with expertise in sustainable agriculture to replace outgoing Administrative Council members. NGO members are directly involved in deciding the future of research and education of the Southern SARE program. 
If you are interested in applying or nominating someone for a position on the SSARE AC, please send email your/their name, email address, postal address, phone number and the AC position applied for.  Southern SHARE will send you/them an invitation to apply for a position and the link to the Southern Region SARE On-Line AC Application System. To be considered, Southern Share must receive your e-mail nomination by June 19, 2015.  The deadline for a person to complete the SSARE On-Line Application is July 10, 2015. E-mail nominations to: John Mayne, Ph.D., SSARE Assistant Director, jmayne@uga.edu.

Farm to school in the news
Pueblo schools extend farm-to-school programs into summer
School is almost out, but that does not mean the end of free lunch for Pueblo students. Local agencies and farmers are helping the districts provide healthy options all year long. (via KOAA)
Madison district growing its own produce
For the first time, produce grown by the Madison School District will be used for its meal program. The garden is located at the Madison School District’s central production kitchen and distribution center, and herbs grown in the garden will be used in soups and sauces. (via Wisconsin State Journal)
Taco Tuesday: Students to enjoy grass-fed beef at lunchtime
Over 8,000 students in California ate lunch made with local, organic, grass-fed beef as part of the third annual “Taco Tuesday.” This Farm to School event provided an opportunity to celebrate local producers and change the face of school food across the region. (via Times-Standard)

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. 

Passion, persistence, and patience in New Jersey

NFSN Staff Monday, June 01, 2015
By Jaime Lockwood, Development Director  
  

Photo courtesy of New Jersey Farm to School Network

Social media can be a powerful tool for change by connecting people with similar passions and complementary talents. Tony Kowalak and Steve Vande Vrede are a perfect example of this. Tony is the Sodexo Food Service Director in the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District of central New Jersey. Steve is a farmer at Edible Garden in Belvidere, New Jersey. The two met in 2013 while participating in New Jersey Farm to School Network’s “I Tweet for Food” campaign. Noticing each other’s tweets about the importance of getting locally grown food in schools, they formed a partnership that is now bearing fruit. 

Over the past several years, Tony has been an internal advocate for sustainable practices within Sodexo, a company that provides food services to schools across the globe. Tony has also been a farm to school advocate, and has worked to establish farm to school programs across his home state of New Jersey. Through this work, he became familiar with a project in Rhode Island where local producers and food service companies worked collectively and intentionally to overcome distribution hurdles and help local produce find its way into schools across the state. Tony was fascinated by the idea and wondered how New Jersey schools could leverage similar partnerships, particularly in the winter when local fields are dormant and food must be imported. When he met Steve, who specializes in greenhouse growing and produces year-round, the two began investigating what it would take to get Steve’s lettuce into schools across New Jersey. 

Initially, the task seemed daunting. There were distribution channels that needed to be tweaked, liability insurance that needed to be increased and pilot school sites developed. With the help of others, including Beth Feehan of the New Jersey Farm to School Network and our New Jersey State Lead, Edible Gardens won approval by Sodexo and their primary distributor, PFG, to start moving Steve’s lettuce into a handful of school districts. Beginning in January, lucky students in East Orange, Long Branch and West Windsor-Plainsboro school districts began eating lettuce grown within their state – in the dead of winter. 

This new partnership is a big victory for Tony, Steve and students in New Jersey. School food can be incredibly complicated, with many layers of funding and regulation that dictate what is served in the cafeteria. And, schools that work with distributors are often limited by what is available through their established partnerships. But, as this example in New Jersey shows, when schools, distributors and producers come together to bring more local options in to the lunchroom, students can enjoy fresh, local food year-round. 

New Jersey State Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher visits Catrambone Elementary School’s kitchen with students to see how local lettuce is used for lunch. (Photo courtesy of New Jersey Farm to School Network)

Now that he’s been through it himself, Tony graciously shares his process with others to help them understand how they can overcome challenges facing their own local procurement projects. When I spoke with him a few weeks ago, he had this advice for people working to connect local producers with schools: “Passion, perseverance and patience is the winning combination,” he said. “Projects like this don’t happen overnight, but if you stick with it, you will ultimately prevail and know that you’ve done the right thing for kids and for farmers in your community.”

In April, a celebration was held at Catrambone Elementary School in Long Branch. New Jersey State Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher and other representatives from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Sodexo management, and New Jersey farm to school champions visited the school to highlight the program and participate in a lunch where lettuce from Edible Gardens was featured. Tony, Steve and all those involved hope that their lessons learned and success will inspire similar partnerships and programs across the country. 


This week in farm to school: 5/26/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 26, 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. Grow your farm to school program with a Seed Change mini grant! (KY, LA, PA ONLY)
The National Farm to School Network is now accepting applications from eligible schools or school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania for $5,000 mini grants to help jump start new farm to school activities or ramp up existing programs. Grants can be used for local food for tastings, new processing equipment, hosting events, building school gardens and more. All non-profit schools and school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania are eligible to apply. Deadline for applications is Monday, June 15 at midnight ET. For more information and to apply now visit: www.farmtoschool.org/seedchange
2. USDA to Give Priority Funding for Regional Economic Development Projects
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA's plan to implement a Farm Bill provision that will have a major policy impact on the way the Department helps rural communities plan and finance regional economic development strategies. The new Regional Development Priority (RDP) policy will make it easier for rural communities to access resources to invest in long-term community development efforts by giving priority to applications for Rural Development programs that include regional partnerships and strategies. Under the RDP, communities with multi-jurisdictional economic development plans will be able to request funding priority when they apply for loans and grants in four key USDA programs. More information can be found in the full USDA press release, here

Research & Resources
1. The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics Releases 'Cooperatives in Your Community' Teaching Modules
The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics is pleased to release "Cooperatives in Your Community", a set of teaching modules for high school students about the economics of cooperatives. The teaching modules cover two themes in cooperatives education-consumer cooperatives and agricultural cooperatives. Both teaching modules are designed to take no more than 180 minutes of class time. Each can be adapted according to the use and needs of the instructor. The teaching modules are hosted on the Council for Economic Education's EconEdLink website. 
2. Submit your school obesity prevention programs to School Health Hub
Organizations with school obesity prevention programs are asked to map their location and promote themselves as a resource to schools on the newly launched School Health Hub. School Health Hub collects data on the many effective programs and resources available to fight childhood obesity in our nation’s K-12 schools. School administrators, policymakers, funders, educators and parents can access the interactive map to identify evidence-based programs in their communities, complete with contact information. Just as importantly, the map also serves to identify gaps in resources — helping to match funders and program providers with communities in need. There's no cost to participate - the goal is to get programs on the map so we all know where we are and to then promote the Hub to schools so they can take better advantage of these programs. Click here for more information. 

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
3. Community Eligibility Provision Action: Reach out to key districts
By now, most states have published a list of schools that qualify to adopt community eligibility for the 2015-2016 school year. You can find your state's list by clicking on the link in CBPP's map. Here are some additional steps you can take to make sure districts with high-poverty schools are considering community eligibility:
  • Start the conversation by sending a letter to eligible districts in your state. This template (MS Word document) is a great place to start and we can help you tailor it.
  • Broaden your reach by asking your Member of Congress to send letters to superintendents (MS Word document) in your state.
  • Make the case for community eligibility by utilizing the resources in FRAC's implementation guide (pdf). Check out the modelpresentation (Powerpoint file), brief (pdf), and sample blog posts for inspiration.
Also, don't forget to register for FRAC's upcoming Community Eligibility Webinars with USDA: Successful Implementation Strategies, Jun 10, 2015, 1pm EST.

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Nutrition Research Coordinator, Boston Children’s Hospital 
The Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital is conducting a major clinical trial to investigate how diet composition affects metabolism and risk for obesity-related disease.The Center seeks a Nutrition Research Coordinator to provide advanced dietary and operations support for this controlled feeding study. The Nutrition Research Coordinator will support study participants, aiming to maximize participant engagement (one-on-one counseling, group presentations, telephone check-ins) and also support daily operations of the dietary intervention. More information & application instructions can be found here
2. Farm Fresh Specialist and Event Specialist, TX Dept of Agriculture
Farm Fresh Specialist: Plan, develop, implement and coordinate the Farm Fresh Initiative and related functions of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Food and Nutrition (F&N) Division. Farm Fresh includes Farm to School, Farm to Childcare and Farm to Summer Site activities. Provide highly complex consultative services and technical assistance to agency staff, producers, governmental agencies, community organizations and the general public. 

Event Specialist: Coordinate special events for the Food and Nutrition Division (F&N) of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). Responsible for contributing to the promotion of F&N programs through its public events and activities. 
3. Call For Papers: Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
Call for Papers on Labor in the Food System
From migrant laborers and apprentices in our fields, to cutters in meatpacking plants and line workers in restaurants and food service, the world's food system is balanced on the backs of an often exploited group of people. The food system may be the largest employer in the world, but there is a dearth of research on the subject of labor in the food system. Click here (then scroll down) for details. Submission deadline: Sept. 22, 2015, with papers to be published in the winter 2015–16 issue or spring 2016.
 
Call for Commentaries on Race and Ethnicity in Food Systems
Despite the best intentions of many, the food movement manifests levels of whiteness and privilege that tend to exclude significant parts of society, and thus does not address the needs of the excluded. JAFSCD invites commentaries (preferably 1,500–2,000 words) from activists, scholars, and other food systems development professional and practitioners on issues and strategies related to race and ethnicity in food systems. Click here for details. Submission deadline: June 15, 2015, for publication in the summer 2015 issue.

Farm to school in the news
Northwest Side students dig into dirt to fight obesity
Oriole Park Elementary School in Chicago is fighting child obesity by having its students plant a garden at the school. (via Chicago Tribune)
Teaching Kids How to Grow Their Own Food — With Fish
Since September students in Pennsylvania have been harvesting vegetables from their aquaponics system, which has provided a yearlong biology curriculum incorporating STEM education, as well as lessons in horticulture, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and more. (via State College.com)

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. 

Grabbing their attention: Strategies for engaging students in the cafeteria

NFSN Staff Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Guest post by Beth Collins, Director of Operations for Chef Ann Foundation

Students in Oxford, Mississippi show off their stickers after trying new food. (Photo courtesy of Chef Ann Foundation)

When I first started cooking professionally, I was living in New York City. My love affair with food centered on the Union Square Market when I shopped for the restaurants where I worked. It was there that I connected the flavors to the farmer. I have carried that local connection with me as I moved from restaurants to schools—bringing local flavor to our school meals is one of the most rewarding aspects of school food change work that the Chef Ann Foundation supports.

If your district is cooking from scratch and using salad bars, the potential for transitioning significant amounts of procurement to local ingredients increases exponentially. Of course, student participation in meal programs is key to this whole process, especially for sustaining local food purchases, so marketing farm to school to the kids provides motivation and interest for them to eat school lunch.

School districts all over the country have their favorite marketing and education techniques to engage students and develop that lifelong passion for local food. I recently queried the The Lunch Box Advisory Board to see what their favorites were and these floated to the top.

Farmers…and Stickers!
Sunny Young is one of the National Farm to School Network state leads in Mississippi and queen of all things farm to school in the Oxford School District. Young led the establishment of Good Food for Oxford Schools, which has been working to improve cafeteria menus, connect kids to food through gardening, and bring farmers to the cafeteria when their food is served on the line. When students try new foods, they are rewarded with a sticker. It’s hard to resist a “tasting” when the person who grew the crop is there and a sticker will follow! 

Harvest of the Month (HOTM)
This idea is favored by districts all over the country, and many states have programs to match their region’s growing season and primary production—be it grains, dairy, meats or produce. Montana is piloting a state version this year based on Kalispell Public Schools HOTM. Kalispell Nutrition Director Jenny Montague creates posters featuring local foods, menu calendars with farm info and recipes, and includes surveys and classroom education as part of its HOTM program. HOTM is easy for kids to connect and provides a great educational platform for local food tastings with something new and different every month.

Taste Tests, Contests and Community Events
Bertrand Weber, the Director of Minneapolis Public Schools Culinary and Nutrition Services as well as an Advisor to the National Farm to School Network, uses a vibrant collection of farm to school marketing and education to inspire kids to try new foods, including taste tests with “new name contests” where students create the best title for a dish. MPS also hosts regular community events like BBQs bringing community partners, farmers, families and nutrition services staff together to celebrate good food. Everything about MPS’s program is featured on the farm to school landing page of their website as well as promoted in social media. MPS is media savvy and is a great model to check out when designing your plan.

Minneapolis Public Schools Culinary and Nutrition Services hosts events to bring together community partners, farmers, families and nutrition staff. (Photo courtesy of Chef Ann Foundation)

Meatless Mondays
Miguel Villarreal, Director of Novato Unified School District in Novato, Calif., and Advisor to the National Farm to School Network, has been a supporter of farm to school for many years. Novato, located in Marin County, is home to many organic farms that partner with Novato Unified to provide great produce. Villarreal features their product throughout his menus and on his salad bars where students have the opportunity to select and taste new foods every day. Villarreal introduced Meatless Mondays into his weekly menu design to promote locally produced vegetables and fruits while educating the students and community about the environmental impact of sustainable farming practices and the humane treatment of farm animals.

There are so many vibrant and effective marketing ideas happening around the country to share. Visit The Lunch Box to find a recipe for your Harvest of the Month product as well as many great How-To’s for marketing farm to school in your district.


This week in farm to school: 5/5/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 05, 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. Grow your farm to school program with a Seed Change mini grant! (KY, LA, PA ONLY)
The National Farm to School Network is now accepting applications from eligible schools or school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania for $5,000 mini grants to help jump start new farm to school activities or ramp up existing programs. Grants can be used for local food for tastings, new processing equipment, hosting events, building school gardens and more. All non-profit schools and school districts in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania are eligible to apply. An informational webinar on how to apply for the Seed Change mini grants will be held on Thursday, May 21 at 2pm EST. Deadline for applications is Monday, June 15 at midnight ET. For more information and to apply now visit: www.farmtoschool.org/seedchange 

Webinars & Events
Webinar: USDA Food and Nutrition Services, May 6, 3pm EST
Summer Meals: Make Your Program the Talk of the Town!
USDA Summer Meals Program experts, partners, and special speakers will provide resources, technical guidance examples, and best practices that can make your Summer Meals Program a total success! This webinar will cover: access strategies on how to promote and increase participation through fun activities; explore how to take advantage of resources such as your local newspaper and radio; engage your community using social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! Register here

2. Webinar: New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, June 2, 1pm EST
Community Food Projects: Planning & Community Engagement Strategies
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project will be hosting a webinar for organizations interested in learning more about how to prepare for the Community Food Projects grant program. Long-range planning and community engagement are two fundamental aspects of a successful proposal, so it's important to start thinking about it now. Presenters Aley Kent from the International Rescue Committee and Tes Thraves from the Center for Environmental Farming Systems will each speak about examples from their work. Register here

3. Webinar: USDA Food and Nutrition Services
Community Eligibility Provision Webinar Series
Join USDA Food and Nutrition Services to hear the USDA, the advocacy community, and state level official share success stories and best practices for implementing CEP. All webinars are from 1-2pm EST. 
  • May 20: State and Local Education Funding
  • May 27: Administrative Review
  • June 10: Successful Implementation Strategies

4. USDA Farm to School South Regional Workshops, October - November 2015
Registration is now open for various USDA Farm to School Regional Workshops, to be held in October and November 2015 in Arkansas. Teachers, school administrators, school nutrition staff, farmers and community partners from the South Region, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Tennessee are invited to attend. More information and registration can be found 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

3. Extension of Comment Period: Child and Adult Care Food Program: Meal Pattern Revisions Related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
USDA Food and Nutrition Service invites interested persons to submit comments on a proposed rule change to the meal pattern requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to better align the meal patterns with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). If you are interested in using NFSN’s submitted comments as a template, please contact our Policy team. All comments can be submitted online here. To be assured of consideration, comments must be postmarked on or before May 27, 2015.

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Culinary Farmer, SAS Institute Inc., Cary, North Carolina
This individual will be responsible for hands-on involvement of all aspects of gardening, farming, instruction and product demonstration for SAS and/or other SAS related business. Responsibilities include creating a clean, organized and efficient garden/farm. Applicants should have an associate’s degree in Horticulture or two years of related farming experience. Full job description and application can be found here

2. Call for breakout proposals, Southern Obesity Summit
The Southern Obesity Summit Planning Committee invites proposals for breakout sessions for the 9th Annual Southern Obesity Summit. The breakout sessions at the Summit will help attendees develop strategies and provide resources and tools to use in their work to reverse the obesity epidemic through working together with other southern states. These workshops should showcase effective strategies that are scalable, evidence-based or promising practices that have application across a broader population base. The Summit will be held November 15-17 in Jackson, Miss. For more information, click here

Farm to school in the news
The farm-to-school movement finds fertile ground in Colorado
Late last month, USDA Farm to School program grantees gathered in Denver to discuss strategies for improving and strengthening farm-to-school efforts. Here are some of their success stories. (via Westword)

Planting seeds: Young students in Brooklyn learn to grow and sell foods in school gardens 
Brooklyn’s farms may be long gone, but one school is giving students a chance to delve into the city’s agricultural roots. Kids at Public School 216 in Gravesend learn to grow, cook and even sell fruits, vegetables and herbs in a half-acre garden oasis in the school’s backyard. (via NY Daily News)

Seed to Table program lets Sisters students grow, eat local
Sisters Middle School in Oregon takes its sixth graders on a field trip to a local farm to teach nutrition science by growing and eating local. (via The Bulletin)

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. 

Sharing stories of success on Capitol Hill

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 30, 2015
By Helen Dombalis, NFSN Policy Director, and Eugene Kim, NSAC Policy Specialist  

“Thank you to everyone who participated in the National Farm to School Network’s first D.C. fly-in. Policy is all about storytelling, and your stories and your experiences are why we come to work every day. You are the face of farm to school.” 
-Helen Dombalis, Policy Director



Left: Senator McConnell (KY) with Bill Jackson of Jackson's Orchard and Tina Garland, NFSN State Lead and Kentucky Dept of Agriculture; Top Right: Jason Grimm, founder of Iowa Valley Food Co-op and family farmer, pictured with Senator Grassley (IA); Lower Right: Senator Thune (SD) with Jim Stone, Executive Director of the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council and NSAC Senior Policy Specialist Juli Obudzinski. (Photo credit: NSAC)

This week, 24 farmers, school nutrition directors, extension agents, tribal representatives and farm to school advocates from 17 states across the country descended on Capitol Hill to share their farm to school experiences with their members of Congress. We met with 35 Congressional offices from both sides of the aisle, including Congressional leadership, the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. And what we heard was resounding acknowledgement that farm to school programs are working to improve healthy eating in schools and create opportunities for farmers. 

In a House briefing on Monday, speakers testified to the benefits for farmers, impact on students, increased job satisfaction in school nutrition services, community connection and how a USDA Farm to School grant would help their work:
  • “The farmers have been so thrilled with the program that they have been calling to see what else they can grow for us.  What they like most is that they know they can sell large quantities and they don’t have to go very far to deliver it. … We are applying for a USDA Farm to School implementation grant for equipment so that all the farmers in the area could use it to cut up fruit and vegetables so they can sell to not only our district, but surrounding districts as well.” –Donna Martin, Burke County, Ga., School Nutrition Director
  • “I think the largest benefit [of farm to school] is the community pride and social capital that is created. I can’t believe the amount of support and encouragement I get from my community by selling to my old school where I grew up. … Statewide, groups in Iowa have submitted 11 applications for USDA Farm to School grants but only two have been awarded funding. We need larger pots of farm to school funds to build the foundation. These types of long term changes take multiple years to build and implement.” –Jason Grimm, Iowa Valley Food Co-op Founder and Grimm Family Farm
  • “Farm to school matters. It is a win for all involved. Students do recognize the importance of what is being done. They are starting to see that cafeterias are a place to learn as well. Farm to school helps us to educate where the food comes from, encourages students to try different foods and empowers students to learn to make food choices that help their bodies feel good.” –Karra Hartog, Elementary Cook Manager at Gideon Pond Elementary, Burnsville, Minn.
  • “Buffalo is a cultural icon for tribes, and we're using it to break the path for other traditional foods in school lunch programs. … The purpose of the support services grant is to help figure out the capacity for schools to accept local food, transport it, etc. We work in 19 states, but our grant is specific to South Dakota. Only nine out of my 60 tribes are being supported [by this grant]." –Jim Stone, Inter Tribal Buffalo Council Executive Director

Donna Martin, Jason Grimm, Karra Hartog, and Jim Stone testifying at Monday's House briefing on the Farm to School Act of 2015. (Photo credit: NSAC)

These speakers and their peers walked the halls of Congress Tuesday to tell stories of how their school can’t order enough fruit and vegetables because student consumption is up so much; how the local grocery store runs out of products that are featured in school that week; how farm to school inspires creativity in school kitchens; how farm to school involves farmers, fishers and ranchers; the challenges of navigating procurement regulations across different types of schools, especially in tribal communities; how schools are a great market for number two products that can’t be sold to grocery stores; how the need for intermediary food processing is creating new jobs; and more examples of how farm to school is a win for kids, a win for farmers and a win for communities. 

Thank you to all of the Representatives and Senators and their staff members who welcomed our farm to school crew to Washington, D.C., and listened with interest to how the bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2015 could transform their communities and bridge some of the challenges facing school nutrition in the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization (CNR). We hope to secure broad support as both the House Education Committee and Senate Ag Committee prepare to take up CNR in the coming months. 

Have you already added joined our citizen and organizational sign-on letters, and you want to do more? Contact the National Farm to School Network Policy team, and we’ll walk you through making a phone call to your elected officials to get their support. 


Clockwise: Bob Bell with the Northeast Arkansas Education Cooperative meets with Senator Boozman (AR); Rep. Guthrie (KY) with Tina Garland and Bill Jackson; April Nujean, a community educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension, with Rep. Gibson (NY); Lindsey Scalera of Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy, Rep. David Trott (MI), and Doreen Simonds, Waterford School District Food Services Director (Photo credits: office of Rep. Trott & NSAC)

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.

This week in farm to school: 4/28/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 28, 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: Slow Food USA, May 7, 2pm EST
May School Garden Webinar: The Edible Schoolyard
The Edible Schoolyard Network is an online community for educators and advocates working to transform how children eat and learn. This session will highlight how to use the Edible Schoolyard Network as a tool to map your program, connect with peers around the world, and contribute to an edible education curriculum for grades preK through 12. Join from your computer, tablet or smartphone at 
Research & Resources

1. Study finds healthier school lunches offered

More elementary schools are offering healthier meals and less high-fat pizza, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has said in a three-page brief released this month. Read the “Improvements in School Lunches Results in Healthier Options for Millions of U.S. Children” brief here


2. Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement

Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement, a report by the Illinois Public Health Institute and Crossroads Resource Center, highlights practical, effective strategies for communities to add locally sourced food to their institutional food systems; recommends ways to conceptualize and measure economic and health impacts; suggests effective funding strategies; and includes Critical Analysis of Economic Impact Methodologies, which discusses the literature on the economic impact of local foods. Read the report 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. Nutrition Policy Associate, Center for Science in the Public Interest
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on nutrition and food safety. The Nutrition Policy Associate advocates for improved nutrition and health policies with local, state and federal policy makers and engages health professionals, academics and concerned citizens in supporting nutrition policies. For more information or to apply, visit CSPI’s website
2. Farm Aid hiring Farm Advocate and Program Manager positions
Farm Aid is a national nonprofit 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. 
3. Executive Director, Food and Child Nutrition Services, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Under the direction of the Chief Operating Officer, this position will oversee all aspects of the district’s Child Nutrition Program (CNP) operation. The job functions include administrating, planning, directing, assessing, implementing and evaluating the program in order to meet the nutritional needs of CMSD students, as they relate to the CNP. The Executive Director shall partner with others in the CMSD and community to support a sound nutrition food program and nutrition education program while following federal, state, and local guidelines. The CNP is to provide an environment that supports healthy food habits while maintaining program integrity and customer satisfaction. Position is open until filled. Cleveland is an active farm to school district and currently part of the School Food FOCUS Upper Midwest Learning Lab. Click here for more information.

Farm to school in the news
Search for antibiotic-free chicken a struggle for schools
Two businesses and two Oregon school districts are teaming up, all in the name of chicken. They want to serve healthier chicken that’s raised without antibiotics, bought at a fair cost, and locally grown in Oregon. KGW
Farmers are banding together to form food hubs and compete against the big players
A movement toward more fresh produce has spawned food hubs that buy from local growers and sell to schools, hospitals and restaurants. The result in Minnesota has been Sprout, which by last year was supplying five area school districts, three hospitals, an assisted-living facility and several restaurants with more than 100,000 pounds of produce from 47 growers. Star Tribune
Voice for Education, Prof. Olivia Thompson
An interview with College of Charleston professor Olivia Thompson, who heads up a farm to school initiative in South Carolina that creates school-based gardens that provide learning opportunities, along with fresh and nutritious food, for students. Voices for Education: South Carolina School Boards Associate

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. 
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