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The Common Market’s Mission-Driven Response to COVID-19 Nourishes Communities

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 23, 2020

Photo credit for all images in this blog belong to The Common Market
By Jenileigh Harris, NFSN Program Associate

When the coronavirus started to spread rapidly throughout New York City in early March, Janice, a woman in her sixties from Jackson Heights signed up for a free food delivery service operated by New York City. “Some of the food I had received was poor quality, canned, and sugary,” she said. Then, The Common Market stepped in and her first Farm-Fresh Box arrived. “The box came with fresh bread, dried beans, potatoes, a beet, kale, canned crushed tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. My first thought was that someone wants me to live and it almost brought tears to my eyes.”
 
One of the many things that the COVID-19 crisis has illuminated for our country is just how flawed our food system is and always has been, particularly when it comes to accessing fresh food. This crisis has also illustrated, however, that organizations like The Common Market - with existing infrastructure, relationships and investment in community food systems - are able to adapt and respond. 
 
A mission-driven response to COVID-19
The Common Market, a mission-driven distributor of regional farm products, is partnering with farmer and grower networks, city governments, school districts and other community organizations across the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Texas regions to ensure vulnerable communities receive fresh, healthy food and producers can continue business operations, pay workers and meet community needs. 
 
The Common Market was founded 12 years ago in Philadelphia, PA as a Mid-Atlantic regional food hub and distributor to improve fresh food accessibility in lower-income communities as well as farm viability and community and ecological health. In 2016, they expanded their model to the Southeast (located in Atlanta, Georgia) and Texas (located in Houston, Texas) in 2018. 

Historically, most of their work was with institutional kitchens, including schools (including early childhood education sites, traditional public schools, public charters, and independents), hospitals, colleges and universities, eldercare, stadiums and corrections facilities. 

“Once the coronavirus outbreak really took hold in our regions, our large institutional customers began shutting down,” describes Caitlin Honan, Marketing Coordinator with The Common Market. “Some of our farmers wondered, how would they continue to work with us? How could they follow through with their crop plans?” 

Leaning on their mission to serve, The Common Market acted swiftly and pivoted to a Farm-Fresh Box model in order to keep their commitments with their farmers as much as possible, while serving communities in need. The Farm-Fresh Boxes include a variety of seasonal produce delivered in a food-safe, self-contained box that requires minimal handling and maximum efficiency. Each box is curated by Common Market staff and farmers and represents what’s in season and available locally in each region. For example, in Texas, a typical box may include cauliflower, grapefruit, herbs, button mushrooms, red onions, kale and sweet potatoes. In the Southeast region, a box may include lettuce, shiitake mushrooms, sweet potatoes, kale, asparagus, strawberries, mustard greens and in Atlanta, the boxes also include meat and eggs. And in the Mid-Atlantic region, boxes may include asparagus, apples, scallions, lettuce, radishes and tatsoi along with bread, cheese, and dried beans.


The Common Market Mid-Atlantic Farm-Fresh Box for New York recipients.
They deliver to the most convenient aggregation point for their communities such as hospitals, community centers, childcare facilities and churches. The program provides much needed revenue for their local, family farms and offers flexible pricing for their community partners. The Farm-Fresh Box program has resulted in an unprecedented number of deliveries to families and individuals. The Common Market Texas, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic regions are averaging 200-300, 6,000, and 13,000 boxes per week, respectively. 
 
Honoring existing partnerships and commitments
Trusted relationships in their regions have been invaluable to The Common Market’s ability to respond to current needs. 

The Common Market Texas partners with
  • The Texas Center for Local Food to deliver boxes for families at the Family Health Clinic in Elgin, TX, a community-based clinic that offers free services for low-income families 
  • The Harris Health System to provide fresh food access for Harris County - which includes the city of Houston - hospital staff and patients, with plans to expand into a community curbside pickup with SNAP accessibility
The Common Market Southeast partners with 
  • The Atlanta Housing Authority to deliver Farm-Fresh Boxes weekly to doorsteps of seniors sheltered-in place
  • Enrichment Service Program (ESP) Head Start in southwest Georgia to deliver 165 boxes to ESP Head Start in Columbus, GA for families with young children
  • The Community Farmers Markets (CFM) and a network of small farmers to allow Atlanta-based farmers’ markets to operate out of The Common Market’s facility
The Common Market Mid-Atlantic partners with
  • Greener Partners to distribute 3,500+ pounds of local food to more than 500 seniors and families in Pennsylvania
  • Newark Public Schools in Newark, New Jersey and Red Rabbit in Harlem, New York to distribute local apples among emergency school meals 


The Common Market Southeast Farm-Fresh box drop at ESP Head Start in Columbus, GA. 
Through these regional partnerships, The Common Market has been able to honor existing commitments with farmers and producers and help their businesses weather this crisis. Several producers who were on the brink of laying off their entire teams have been able to keep everyone employed due to the demand facilitated through The Common Market’s contracts. “We’re incredibly grateful. It’s amazing to be a part of the relief effort in New York City. Our farmers are relieved to have a pathway for our produce, to know that our instincts and our hearts were in the right place [when we decided to move forward with our 2020 crop plans],” shared a farmer partner at Sunny Harvest, located in Kirkwood, PA. 

New partnerships and collaborations
While existing relationships and infrastructure positioned The Common Market to readily respond to this crisis, it is the innovative new partnerships and collaborations that have supported their ability to scale up and meet the unprecedented and growing needs of the communities they serve. 

Before the COVID-19 crisis, The Common Market contracted with city governments in New York and Philadelphia to provide specific farm foods to their departments of corrections. For example, in New York they won the bid to provide all of the humane cage-free eggs to Rikers Island prison complex, which demanded a full truckload every other week. 

The Common Market is increasingly seeking contract opportunities with government entities to provide more consistent and significant opportunities for the farmers they represent. “We see contracting with municipalities and school districts as a way to scale positive impact for both urban and rural communities,” explains Haile Johnston, one of The Common Market’s co-founders.*


The Common Market Texas Farm-Fresh Box contents.  
Now, due to an initiative from Mayor Bill de Blasio, The Common Market Mid-Atlantic has partnered with New York City to deliver meals to New Yorkers who are unable to access food on their own. The Common Market tapped into existing models to specifically address areas that already lack access to healthy and fresh food options. 13,000 Farm-Fresh boxes like the one Janice in Jackson Heights received - including a variety of produce, dried beans, cheese and fresh bread - are reaching New Yorkers weekly. 
 
The New York City contract connected The Common Market with the National Guard – a partnership to help with the last mile of direct at-home delivery and curbside pick-ups. The National Guard regularly meets up with The Common Market employees to help break down the pallets and load Farm-Fresh boxes into taxis and limos in order to deliver the fresh food to people’s homes. According to a recent Daily News article, more than 11,000 New York City taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers have become city-employed food delivery workers during the pandemic, earning a $15-an-hour salary. “It’s amazing to be contributing to such a massive effort. It’s very meaningful to be able to maintain outlets for our farmers’ harvests through this partnership” describes Yael Lehmann, Executive Director of The Common Market Mid-Atlantic. 
 

Members of the National Guard loading The Common Market boxes into vehicles for distribution throughout New York City.
Looking ahead
The Common Market has made significant changes to its model to respond to this crisis. However, there are several adjustments that The Common Market regional directors hope will continue beyond the immediate crisis. “I look forward to continuing our Farm-Fresh box program, which we launched in response to the crisis, retaining community engagement and government activity,” describes Margaret Smith, Director of The Common Market Texas. 

All of The Common Market locations have had to pivot their business model to adjust for shifting customer demands, including hiring additional warehouse staff and drivers to help with the increased workload and shifting their outreach approach to the community. “Our outreach efforts have centered around establishing and strengthening relationships with community partners who are serving the most vulnerable in our community: senior care facilities, homeless shelters, food pantries and organizations providing resources to needy families” says Bill Green, Executive Director of the Common Market Southeast.


The Common Market Mid-Atlantic Driver, Erick, wearing a Food Delivery Crisis Response team vest.
The Common Market has also seen that there is a huge role for their organization to play in serving urgent food and hunger needs. “We’ve been fortunate, and have heard directly from individuals receiving our food,” says Lehmann. “They’ve shared how grateful they are to receive high-quality, fresh, healthy and locally grown food during this time. For some of them, until they received our Farm-Fresh Boxes, they have mostly received low-quality, processed and packaged foods that aren’t the healthiest, and unfortunately this is the norm in the emergency food world.” 

Resilient food systems are community-powered 
The Common Market and its network of producers, delivery service providers and community organizations are showing just how resilient community-powered food systems are. Resilient community food systems are designed to manage crises; they have strong feedback loops and rely on strong local economies and policies, robust infrastructure, flexible distribution networks, innovative partnerships and trusted relationships. 
 
It is organizations like The Common Market who are pushing the dialogue around what food justice and health equity means and how we all can emerge from this crisis with the evidence, tools, stories and relationships to push for lasting and transformational change in our food system.

“Now, more than ever, we believe in the importance of resilient food systems that support our health and are strong enough to withstand any challenge,” says Smith. “It’s times like these when our vibrant community must shine the brightest. Our values, our networks built on mutual support, and our innovation will see us through as a community.”

*Haile Johnston, co-founder of The Common Market, is Advisory Board Chair of the National Farm to School Network.

This Week in Farm to School: 4/21/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 21, 2020
NEW: National Farm to School Network is launching a new weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders - similar to what is shared weekly in these This Week in Farm to School blog posts. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

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

Grants & Funding
1. COVID-19 AFT Farmer Relief Fund Grants
Deadline: April 23
AFT’s Farmer Relief Fund will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially, eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs. AFT envisions an initial application round extending until April 23, with grants beginning to be made by May 1. The application is available in English and Spanish. Learn more here. 

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

3. COVID-19  New COVID-19 Rapid Response Program Area for Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)
Deadline: June 4
NIFA recently added a program area to its main Agricultural and Food Research Initiative RFA. There are four areas of priority: Health and Security of Livestock; Well-being of Farm, Food Service Providers, and Rural Americans; Economic Security; and Food Safety. Applicants should focus on critical and urgent research, extension, or integrated solutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the nation’s food and agricultural system. Applications should include strategies and knowledge that can be rapidly implemented to minimize or eliminate COVID-19 impacts on the nation’s food and agricultural system. For more information and to apply, view the RFA.

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

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


Webinars & Events
1. COVID-19 EQUITY Webinar Panel: Farmworkers, COVID-19, and Our Capitalist Food System
April 23 // 1:30pm ET
Food First is hosting a webinar panel to discuss more about farmworkers and our capitalist food system during COVID-19. This webinar will bring together Edgar Franks of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, an independent farmworker union, labor and photojournalist David Bacon, and a member from Community to Community, a women-led grassroots organization dedicated to food sovereignty and immigrant rights. Food First will be moderating this event. Register here

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

3. EQUITY WEBINAR: Get The First Detailed Overview Of Work And Funding At The Intersection Of Climate Change, Health, And Equity
April 23 // 2:30pm-3:30pm EST
Learn what seven funder affinity groups found when they surveyed their foundation members and NGOs in the field—almost 200 foundations and organizations from around the country—about this rapidly growing and changing area of critical work. Register here

4. NFSN New Dates: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 27-29, 2021 // Albuquerque, New Mexico 
National Farm to School Network is pleased to share the new dates for our 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference (originally scheduled for April 21-23, 2020): this event will now be held April 27-29, 2021 in the same location, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Current ticket holders will have their registration transferred to these new dates, with an option to change their registration status. Registration for new tickets will open in Fall 2020. Learn more here


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

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

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

4. COVID-19 Farmer's Guide to Direct Sales Software Platforms
This National Young Farmers Coalition guide is intended to help farmers compare the software platforms that support various kinds of online sales, without endorsing any product in particular. See more here

5. COVID-19 IPES' COVID-19 and the Crisis in Food Systems: Symptoms, Causes, and Potential Solutions
View the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems' (IPES) analysis of the impact COVID-19 has had on spotlighting the gaps and inequalities in our food system and potential solutions to move toward a more just food system together. Read the analysis here

6. New Study Released on Oregon’s Farm-to-School Program
In a new JAFSCD article, "Farm-to-School Grant Funding Increases Children’s Access to Local Fruits and Vegetables in Oregon," the study's results show that adapting and implementing similar programs nationwide could be a successful tool for increasing program participation among low-income school districts with high minority populations. Read more here.

7. SEEDS Gardening Activities for Kids
Gro More Good Learning Activities is a series of 72 free lessons focused on the four seasons of a garden. Each activity is fun, hands-on and perfect for getting your kids outside, exploring and learning. The activities are based on early childhood education best practices and developed in partnership with the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center. View the resource here.

8. Find a Farm Credit Lender
Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with credit and financial services, today and tomorrow. Farm Credit stands with America’s farmers and ranchers during these challenging times. Learn more here


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

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

3. COVID-19 Strengthening School Nutrition in the Face of COVID-19
Karen Spangler, Policy Director of the National Farm to School Network, and Kumar Chandran, Policy Director of FoodCorps, discuss the importance of school meals in the wake of COVID-19 and offer responses to USDA's proposed changes to school nutrition standards. "When school cafeterias reopen, we must ensure school nutrition staff are equipped with the tools they need to serve a variety of healthy choices for our students. The USDA’s decision will play a critical role in making that future a reality." Read more here. (via Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity)


Farm to School in the News
COVID-19
The Scramble to Feed the Kids Left Hungry by the Coronavirus Crisis
Cafeteria workers and school nutrition directors from five districts across the country explain how meal programs are working now. (Vox)

COVID-19 Arizona School District Offers Virtual Gardening Lessons, Food Demos During School Closings
Through virtual gardening, Prescott Unified School District is encouraging students and their families to create their own gardens at home. The team has created videos and shared tips on how to plant a garden from seed, offered food demonstrations and offered tips on how to make such things as fresh yogurt and kale smoothies. (The Daily Courier)

COVID-19 Schools Transform Into ‘Relief’ Kitchens, but Federal Aid Fails to Keep Up
Many school cafeterias are now operating more like community soup kitchens, even though the federal school meals program won’t reimburse districts for meals served to struggling adults. (New York Times)

COVID-19 EQUITY Coronavirus Is Creating a Food Security Crisis in Indian Country
The coronavirus is devastating Indigenous communities, long shut out of food supply chains and infrastructure development. In addition to limited medical resources, and escalating mortality rates, many Indigenous communities are facing drastic food and water shortages. (Civil Eats)

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.

Reflections from our Executive Director: Farm to School & COVID-19

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 16, 2020
 
"There's beautiful resiliency in the community food systems that have been built... and we also know that there's a lot of work left to be done. I'm committed to responding to this moment in ways that are going to set us up for a more just food system tomorrow." - Helen Dombalis, Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network

Celebrating the Week of the Young Child with Farm to ECE - Social Distancing & Family Friendly Activities

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 14, 2020

By Sadé Collins, Programs Fellow

We recognize that during this unprecedented time, early care and education providers are making adjustments to meet the demand of local COVID-19 response efforts. That may mean limiting the number of children sites serve, changing activities to adhere to safety and social distancing guidelines, or halting business altogether, but providing families with tools and resources to support young children at home. With this in mind, National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is committed to supporting you and providing resources to help you think of ways to stay engaged. In our Week of the Young Child celebration recommendations, we’ve identified activities that are appropriate for safety and social distance measures during this time (SD Friendly) and also activities that work well to support families with resources or education activities (Family Friendly).

The Week of the Young Child™ (April 11-17, 2020) is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The purpose of the Week of the Young Child™ (WOYC) is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. National Farm to School Network is excited for another fun-filled week celebrating young children and their families! See below opportunities for farms to ECE activities during WOYC that support ECE providers in creating learning environments that align with NAEYC Program Standards and can be social distancing (SD) and family friendly.

Kick-Off Saturday: Host a collaborative kick-off.  Share ideas and prepare for a week of celebration.
  • Establish your site as an access point for families to purchase and learn about healthy, local foods by becoming a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)/food box pick-up site. (Family Friendly) 
  • Join an on-line learning and discussion community to share ideas and find support from others in the ECE community. (SD Friendly)
  • Replenish your arts and crafts supply for Artsy Thursday. (SD and Family Friendly)

Music Monday: Turn gardening into a routine. 
  • Turn on the music and start every garden time with a musical warm up. Simple garden activities can be set up as an obstacle course using old plant pots and then have students weave in and out of the pots. (SD and Family Friendly) 
  • Encourage children to engage in “seed yoga” to music. Invite children to curl into a ball to pretend to be a seed, then guide them through movements of unfurling and stretching along with the rhythm as they “grow roots,” “send out leaves,” and “grow flowers and fruit”.  (SD and Family Friendly)

Tasty Tuesday:  Conduct a taste testing activity to allow children to try new or unfamiliar food. 
  • Set up taste tests of local ingredients and food from the garden or local grocer and try a new recipe at home. (Family Friendly)
  • Create a recipe book using images the children draw and share the book with family. (SD and Family Friendly)
 
Work Together Wednesday: Build together, celebrate together.*
  • Engage in self-initiated sensory table play with a variety of kitchen tools (e.g., measuring cups and spoons, colanders, sifters). Be sure to sanitize tools. (SD and Family Friendly)
  • Create a space for tiny helpers to make cooking with toddlers easy and fun. (Family Friendly)
  • Children can work together in small groups with sanitized tools and help with starting a vegetable garden. (SD and Family Friendly)

Artsy Thursday: Grow green thumbs with simple gardening crafts. 
  • Children can draw pictures about their time in the garden or a farm field trip and create class books about their experiences. (SD and Family Friendly)  
  • Provide clothing, props, and puppets that allow children to transform themselves into roles such as farmers, gardeners, and grocers. (Family Friendly)
  • Create handmade books to document stages of plant growth, areas of the garden during different times. (SD and Family Friendly)

Family Friday: Promote and enhance family and parent engagement. 
  • Send recipes home (via email) to engage families; highlight a seasonal fruit or vegetable. (SD and Family Friendly)
  • Consider hosting a virtual event where parents can learn about how to cook or prepare food with children at home by using local produce. (SD and Family Friendly)
  • Invite parents and family members to share their experience and expertise in farming, gardening, cooking, and other food and agriculture related activities via a newsletter. (SD Friendly)

While farm to ECE initiatives are an impactful approach for programs and educators, local-level and state-level farm to ECE initiatives can also support policy, system and environmental change. Building opportunities for farm to ECE initiatives can align with NAEYC state affiliate strategic plans and goals. Read more about how partner states are leveraging farm to ECE in our 2019 WOYC blog.

Now more than ever, we hope that we can all take this important week to recognize and celebrate the important role that ECE, particularly ECE providers, take in our community and find new and innovative ways to support young children and their families. You can find more resources to celebrate Week of the Young Child from NAEYC and can find more ways to grow farm to early care and education from the National Farm to School Network.

*Per CDC guidelines, “Do not share toys with other groups of infants or toddlers, unless they are washed and sanitized before being moved from one group to the other.”

This Week in Farm to School: 4/14/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 14, 2020
NEW: National Farm to School Network is launching a new weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders - similar to what is shared weekly in these This Week in Farm to School blog posts. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

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

Grants & Funding
1. COVID-19 AFT Farmer Relief Fund Grants
Deadline: April 23
AFT’s Farmer Relief Fund will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially, eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs. AFT envisions an initial application round extending until April 23, with grants beginning to be made by May 1. The application is available in English and Spanish. Learn more here. 

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

3. Carton 2 Garden Contest
Deadline Extended: May 1
Apply for Evergreen Packaging and KidsGardening.org's sixth annual national Carton 2 Garden Contest! Open to public and private schools, contest winners will be selected based on their implementation of an innovative garden creation featuring creative and sustainable uses for repurposed milk and juice cartons. Fifteen (15) entries will be selected to receive award packages for their efforts. Learn more and apply here.

4. USDA AMS: Regional Food System Partnerships
Deadline Extended: May 26
USDA AMS's Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) program supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The effort is focused on building and strengthening local or regional food economy viability and resilience by alleviating unnecessary administrative and technical barriers for participating partners. Learn more here.

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


Webinars & Events
1. April 11-17: Week of the Young Child
The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Knowing that circumstances are different for everyone, this year's celebration focus on providing resources you can use wherever you are celebrating young children. National Farm to School Network has a new blog sharing social distancing & family-friendly farm to ECE activity ideas to help little ones engage in gardening, cooking & healthy eating every day of the week. Read more here

2. COVID-19 Weekly Virtual Gatherings: School Garden Support Organization Network
April 15 // 2-3pm EST
Starting April 15, the School Garden Support Organization Network will begin hosting weekly gatherings on topics related to supporting school gardens during closures and social distancing. Register for the first virtual gathering here. Learn more about other upcoming gatherings here

3. EQUITY WEBINAR: Racial Equity in the Food System: Perceptions, Reality, and the Road Ahead
April 15 // 3-4pm EST
In this webinar sponsored by the Racial Equity in the Food System (REFS) workgroup, you'll learn provocative findings from a national survey of REFS webinar registrants that will ground a thoughtful discussion of these questions. To catalyze the discussion, members of the REFS national committee and a leader of a Toronto-based food system non-profit will offer insights into what the findings may be telling us, and share examples where projects and organizations are operationalizing equity in their everyday work. Learn more and register here.

4. COVID-19 WEBINAR: Online Discussion: U.S. Food System & COVID-19
April 15 // 4-6pm EST
Join The New School for a discussion with Vanessa Garcia Polanco and Leah Douglas to explore the implications of the current COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing on the food system in the U.S. Comments and questions from viewers throughout the session are welcome. Learn more here.

5. COVID-19 WEBINAR: Possibilities Through Partnership During COVID-19
April 16 // 3-4pm EST
Ensuring access to nutritious meals during COVID-19 requires collaboration on every level. Join FRAC and guest speakers to learn about promising partnerships between state agencies, school districts, program providers, food banks, and others that result in more children being reached by the child nutrition programs. Register here

6. COVID-19 WEBINAR: Serving Meals During COVID-19: Sharing Promising Strategies, Tips and Tricks
April 21 // 2-3pm EST
Join this webinar to hear from program operators that are continuing to provide meals in this ever-changing climate, despite school closures, shelter-in-place policies, procurement challenges, and more. We'll share wins and lessons learned, and we'll have an honest discussion about the challenges we face to make sure that kids still have access to nutritious meals during this pandemic. Register here

7. NFSN New Dates: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 27-29, 2021 // Albuquerque, New Mexico 
National Farm to School Network is pleased to share the new dates for our 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference (originally scheduled for April 21-23, 2020): this event will now be held April 27-29, 2021 in the same location, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Current ticket holders will have their registration transferred to these new dates, with an option to change their registration status. Registration for new tickets will open in Fall 2020. Learn more here


Research & Resources 
1. COVID-19 NFSN COVID-19 Resources for Farm to School and ECE
National Farm to School Network is compiling resources related to COVID-19 that will be relevant to the farm to school and farm to early care and education community. View the list here. We're also launching a new weekly e-newsletter to highlight newly available resources and information relevant to the farm to school and ECE community. Anyone can sign up for this free weekly e-newsletter here

2. COVID-19 EQUITY Intertribal Agriculture Council: COVID-19 Survey
During these unprecedented times, while our country battles the COVID-19 pandemic, the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) seeks to gather information to help understand how the crisis has affected Indian country. Information gathered will be utilized to inform IAC's programmatic responses and the guidance it offers the USDA Office of Tribal Relations and its valued partners. Stakeholders can provide feedback here

3. COVID-19 EQUITY Talking About Coronavirus: Centering Language around Inclusion, Empowerment, and Justice
This resource from The Opportunity Agenda offers guidance for how to talk about coronavirus using VPSA (Value, Problem, Solution, Action) framing with language centered in empowerment, inclusion and justice. See more here

4. COVID-19 USDA "Meals for Kids" Interactive Map
USDA's “Meals for Kids” interactive map directs people to local sites where kids can get free meals. The site finder currently lists more than 20,000 meal sites from 23 states, and more sites will be added as states submit data each week. The map is available in both English and Spanish at www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids.

5. New Report Shows Schools Can Be On Frontline Against Food Waste
The World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Food Waste Warriors report provides the results of a food waste analysis conducted in 46 schools across nine U.S. cities in spring 2019. WWF provided classes in the participating schools with lesson plans and other resources on how to reduce food waste and the importance of food waste reduction. The lessons include training students on how to conduct food waste audits in the cafeteria. Read more here.


Policy News
1. COVID-19 Michigan is First State to Provide Food to Families Affected by School Closings Caused by COVID-19
Michigan has become the first state in the country to gain federal approval of a program that will provide nutritious food to children who were affected by school closings due to COVID-19. The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) provides temporary funding to address emergency food needs and avert financial hardship for families affected by the pandemic. Read more here.

2. Court Strikes Down Rollback of School Nutrition Rules
A federal district judge has ruled that the Agriculture Department’s 2018 regulation easing sodium and whole-grain standards in school meals violated regulatory law. Read more here


Job Opportunities
1. National Director, Farm to Cafeteria Canada (Burnaby, BC)
Deadline: April 30
Farm to Cafeteria Canada (F2CC) and the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) seek an experienced National Director to represent F2CC, providing strategic direction, leading the F2CC team, and effectively managing our programs and services. Learn more and apply here.

2. Associate Director of Legislative Affairs, The Good Food Institute (Washington, D.C.)
The Good Food Institute's (GFI) Associate Director of Legislative Affairs will have the opportunity to promote a healthy, sustainable, and just food system. This position is responsible for managing GFI’s legislative initiatives/team and using state/federal legislation to remove hurdles and leverage resources to promote progress on alternative proteins. Learn more and apply here.


Farm to School in the News
COVID-19 Social Media Snapshots of School Lunch Superheroes in Action During Coronavirus Pandemic
School food social media feeds prior to the coronavirus pandemic were filled with images of traylines with awesome fresh food. Almost overnight, those same feeds have taken a different tone, as school nutrition workers found themselves on the frontline, helping their communities survive in a whole new reality. (Food Management)

COVID-19 EQUITY Groups Provide Relief To Indian Country As Coronavirus Cases Climb
For years, Tyrone Thompson has taught his neighbors in Leupp, Arizona how to grow their own food. Since COVID-19 has people stockpiling groceries and preparing for the worst, Thompson has taken to social media to teach the masses. He said the quarantine reminds people that food doesn’t come from the grocery store. It comes from the land. And traditionally Navajos subsisted off of the land. “Being sheltered in place it allows us to reconnect to who we are,” Thompson said. “We’ve forgotten so it’s really important that we get back to the way we used to do things.” (Fronteras)

COVID-19 Farmers Scramble to Stay Profitable Amid Disruptions to the Food Industry
Many farms around the country are still producing plenty of product, only now, there are fewer places to sell it. Listen to an interview with Joe Del Bosque, president of Del Bosque Farms, and Becca Jablonski, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University, for perspectives. (The Takeaway)

COVID-19 EQUITY Farmworkers like me are always the last to be protected in a crisis
Agricultural worker and organizer Lupe Gonzalo shares why workers (and, in turn, our food supply) are so vulnerable during the coronavirus. (Fast Company)


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: 4/7/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 07, 2020
Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 

Grants & Funding
1. COVID-19 AFT Farmer Relief Fund Grants
Deadline: April 23
AFT’s Farmer Relief Fund will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially, eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs. AFT envisions an initial application round extending until April 23, with grants beginning to be made by May 1. The application is available in English and Spanish. Learn more here. 

2. Carton 2 Garden Contest
Deadline Extended: May 1
Apply for Evergreen Packaging and KidsGardening.org's sixth annual national Carton 2 Garden Contest! Open to public and private schools, contest winners will be selected based on their implementation of an innovative garden creation featuring creative and sustainable uses for repurposed milk and juice cartons. Fifteen (15) entries will be selected to receive award packages for their efforts. Learn more and apply here.

3. USDA AMS: Regional Food System Partnerships
Deadline Extended: May 26
USDA AMS's Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) program supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The effort is focused on building and strengthening local or regional food economy viability and resilience by alleviating unnecessary administrative and technical barriers for participating partners. Learn more here.

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


Webinars & Events
1. EQUITY Join the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
March 30-April 19
It's not too late! Sign up for Food Solutions New England's (FSNE) annual 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge starting on March 30th! In its sixth year, the Challenge is a great way to learn about the history and impacts of racism on our current food system while inspiring participants with resources and tools to build racial equity in their work and lives. People from all over the country participate in the Challenge with the goal of raising awareness, shifting attitudes and changing outcomes. This year a Discussion Guide will be available for groups who want to do the Challenge together. Visit the FSNE Challenge website to learn more and register.

2. WEBINAR: How Can We Make Farm Work Healthier?
April 20 // 6:30PM PDT
Join Zócalo in the heart of California’s Central Valley, to consider how to make farm work healthier. Hear from organic farmer and artist Nikiko Masumoto, Huron Mayor Rey León, health researcher Chia Thao, and Tania Pacheco-Werner, co-assistant director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute. Register here

3. April is Kids Garden Month 
Each April, KidsGardening celebrates the joy and wonder of gardening with children with Kids Garden Month. This year, our ways of connecting with one another have rapidly changed, and KidsGardening invites families to share how they #GardenTogetherAtHome. If you are gardening with your kids, or trying any garden-based activities or lessons, enter their contest for a chance to win one of many cool prizes! Teachers, are you able to incorporate any gardening activities or lessons in your remote learning plans? Do you have ideas for families at home? Share what you’re doing and learn from others. It’s a great way to lift up, encourage, and virtually create community with other families and educators. We’re in this together. Let’s #GardenTogetherAtHome. Learn more here

4. April 11-17: Week of the Young Child
The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world's largest early childhood education association, with nearly 60,000 members and a network of 51 Affiliates. Knowing that circumstances are different for everyone, this year's celebration will focus on providing resources you can use wherever you are celebrating young children. Visit the WOYC site for additional resources, support and inspiration. Learn more here


Research & Resources
1. NFSN Farm to Early Care and Education Research and Literature
New literature and research has been added to the compiled list of Farm to Early Care and Education Research and Literature in the NFSN Resource Database. Collated by the National Farm to School Network’s Farm to Early Care and Education Working Group, this compilation of literature promotes increased access to and awareness of the research and evidence base around farm to early care and education. Any content we missed? Send suggested additions to Sadé Collins, NFSN Program Fellow, at programs@farmtoschool.org.

2. COVID-19 NFSN COVID-19 Resources for Farm to School and ECE
National Farm to School Network is compiling resources related to COVID-19 that will be relevant to the farm to school and farm to early care and education community. View the list here. This page will be updated on an ongoing basis.

3. COVID-19 Diversity Dashboard's Covid-19 Diversity & Inclusion Resources
Check out the Diversity Dashboard's resources to help diversity professionals through the COVID-19 pandemic. View the resources here.

4. COVID-19 USDA "Meals for Kids" Interactive Map
USDA's “Meals for Kids” interactive map directs people to local sites where kids can get free meals. The site finder currently lists more than 20,000 meal sites from 23 states, and more sites will be added as states submit data each week. The map is available in both English and Spanish at www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids.

5. COVID-19 No Kid Hungry: Texting Hotline to Provide Info on Emergency Meal Sites for Kids
No Kid Hungry is activating a texting hotline (FOOD/COMIDA to 877-877) to provide information about emergency food distribution sites in communities where schools have been closed due to coronavirus pandemic. To make it as effective as possible, they need your help! They're asking for data from state agencies, school districts, and food banks about when and where emergency food distribution sites are in operation. Program sponsors and administrators can submit site data at freemealsforkids.com.

6. COVID-19 Call for Food Service Video Footage
Schools across the country are figuring out how to continue getting essential food to kids. Food Insight Group (FIG) is collecting video footage of how school districts are procuring, preparing, and distributing meals to better understand what’s working and what’s needed. If you work in school foodservice, are volunteering to distribute meals, are receiving meals yourself or for a family member, or are otherwise looking for ways to help, you can send a video to FIG here.

7. Research: The Impact of a Multipronged Intervention to Increase School Lunch Participation Among Secondary School Students in an Urban Public School District
Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) and UC Berkeley School of Public Health researchers published a new study in partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) on the impact of a multi-component intervention to increase students' lunch participation in SFUSD public middle and high schools. Read more here.


Policy News
1. COVID-19 Farm to Fork Initiative's Letter to Congress on COVID-19 Response
National Farm to School Network joined 25 other organizations in calling on Congress to act in the best interest of the people who grow, deliver and serve our food. Our best bet through this crisis will be working together and supporting the people our food systems rely on, from farm to fork. Farm to Fork is calling for a #CrisisProofFoodSystem for all. Read the Farm to Fork letter here.

2. COVID-19 Sign-On Letter to USDA on Direct Farmer Aid in the CARES Act
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is leading a letter to USDA that outlines specific priorities for disbursing aid to farmers and ranchers impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. The letter asks USDA to ensure that the billions aid funding in the CARES Act is distributed equitably, reaches farmers selling into local and regional markets, is delivered in a simple and accessible manner, and goes to producers, not corporate agribusiness. National Farm to School Network has signed on to this letter, and other organizations are encouraged to sign on as well. The deadline is Wednesday, April 8 at 6pm ET. Sign on here


Job Opportunities
1. National Director, Farm to Cafeteria Canada (Burnaby, BC)
Deadline: April 30
Farm to Cafeteria Canada (F2CC) and the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) seek an experienced National Director to represent F2CC, providing strategic direction, leading the F2CC team, and effectively managing our programs and services. Learn more and apply here.

2. Associate Director of Legislative Affairs, The Good Food Institute (Washington, D.C.)
The Good Food Institute (GFI) is at the forefront of the movement to use food technology and markets to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. The Associate Director of Legislative Affairs will have the opportunity to promote a healthy, sustainable, and just food system. This position is responsible for managing GFI’s legislative initiatives/team and using state/federal legislation to remove hurdles and leverage resources to promote progress on alternative proteins. Learn more and apply here.


Farm to School in the News
OpEd: Cafeteria Workers Need Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Jennifer Gaddis and Amy Rosenthal share why school nutrition professionals need to be recognized with labor protections for risking their own health to continue serving free meals to students. (USA Today)

The Moment for Food Sovereignty is Now
From panic planting to cooperative gardens, farmers focused on equity and food justice know that ‘if you can feed yourself, you can free yourself.’ “Whether we’re talking about community gardens, home gardens, or school gardens—we just really need to localize our food and include more people in these relocalized food systems,” says Leah Penniman. (Civil Eats)

With Schools Closed, Some Districts are Feeding More People than Food Banks
Schools are more than education centers - they've become an essential lifeline for millions of children, families & community members. As more Americans are struggling to afford food, some of the nation's largest school districts are offering to feed anyone, no questions asked. (Civil Eats

Podcast: School Lunches Are As Important As Ever
On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Dani interviews Mara Fleishman, CEO of the Chef Ann Foundation, about the vital need to feed food insecure children during school closures. “When chefs are able to see that they can be creative with school food and they can help change the palates of our youngest generation – I think it brings more culinary talent into this field,” says Fleishman. Listen here.

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

Farm to School Efforts During COVID-19 Highlight Resilient Community Food Systems

NFSN Staff Monday, April 06, 2020

Local apples and pears being packed with school meals in West Virginia. 

By Jenileigh Harris, Program Associate, and Lacy Stephens, Senior Program Manager

During this devastating crisis, we are witnessing the opportunity and strength of resilient community food systems. Communities with strong local foods infrastructure and relationships already in place are able to respond and adapt to this crisis. NFSN Partners and farm to school advocates are speaking up about how they’re supporting farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) efforts by working to feed and educate children and youth while supporting local farmers and supply chains.

Every community is finding what works best for getting meals to students and families while supporting local producers. In some cases, school meals are being packaged and provided to students via school bus delivery routes while others are offered as a grab-n-go and curbside pick-up option at community sites such as schools or churches. In rural areas, some school districts are experimenting with at-home deliveries. Many farm to school state networks are using technology and social media like Slack and Facebook to connect and support producers in accessing additional markets.

The Common Market, a mission-driven distributor of regional farm products, is partnering with farmer and grower networks, school districts and other organizations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas to provide local food to sites serving grab-n-go feeding offerings to children and youth as well as seniors, families and communities in need. In New York, they partnered with Red Rabbit, a meal provider to New York City and surrounding areas, to deliver local apples to Harlem school meal sites. In New Jersey, they partnered with Newark Public Schools to deliver 160 cases of Frecon Farms apples to Newark school meal sites.


The Common Market preparing Farm Fresh Boxes for New Jersey communities. 
In West Virginia, the Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition has been working with local producers to disseminate local apples and pears to counties administering school meals. That includes meals served at over 505 school and community center sites across the state and meal delivery along school bus routes. Local producers send a list of available items to the Office of Child Nutrition on a weekly basis which is then sent to all 55 counties. Within the last week, West Virginia has relied on strong existing relationships to establish an extremely responsive local food system feedback loop. When a county ran out of fruit last week, a local food distributor was able to drop off local apples the next day.

In Alabama, the Farm Food Collaborative has been working with schools and producers to ensure the bounty of local strawberries is incorporated into grab-n-go school meals. One school district has already committed to serve local strawberries in their bagged meals and the Farm Food Collaborative is working on contracting with seven more districts.

NFSN Partners have also been working to ensure gardening as well as food and agriculture education continue while students are at home. Several states, including Ohio, North Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin are sending donated seed packets and grow kits home with kids in coordination with the emergency feeding programs. At some school meal pick-up locations in West Virginia, SNAP-Ed educators are dropping off grow kits with food service staff to get packed with the lunches while mailing seed packets to families based on requests gathered on Facebook. In Vermont, seed packets are being distributed along with meals and a list of aggregated resources from KidsGardening to parents and educators who may be looking for garden-based activities to tackle with their kids and students. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association is supplying seeds to open ECE sites along with additional growing supplies, instructions and an idea sheet for ECE educators.


Microgreen grow kits prepared by West Virginia SNAP-Ed educators to be included with school meals. 
In Montana, teachers are encouraged to use the state’s Harvest of the Month videos to supplement students’ at-home gardening and agriculture lessons. And, at one school in Oregon, a webcam has been set up on the school’s chicken coop and bee hives with live broadcasting on the school website to support teachers leading lessons virtually.

While every state and locale has their own set of practices that works best for their community’s needs, a few key takeaways have emerged from our Partners. States are having success incorporating local food into emergency feeding programs when existing relationships between schools and producers are strong and when lines of communication remain open between both parties. Many Partners describe functioning as a liaison between food service staff and producers, ensuring both know what is available and what is needed on a weekly basis. When incorporating local food into grab-n-go meals, Partners have learned it is easiest to source products that require minimal prep and limited refrigeration such as strawberries, apples, oranges, pears, cherry tomatoes, peas, or carrot sticks.

Communities have had success supporting families and educators in their efforts to continue food and agriculture education by leveraging existing farm to school/ECE resources, partnerships and infrastructures for resource compilation and dissemination. NFSN continues to update our compiled list of resources as they are shared with us. Please contact Lacy Stephens, Senior Program Manager at lacy@farmtoschool.org or Jenileigh Harris, Program Associate at jenileigh@farmtoschool.org to share what is working in your communities to continue farm to school efforts and support local producers.

This Week in Farm to School: 3/31/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 

Grants & Funding
1. COVID-19 AFT Farmer Relief Fund Grants
Deadline: April 23
AFT’s Farmer Relief Fund will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially, eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs. AFT envisions an initial application round extending until April 23, with grants beginning to be made by May 1. The application is available in English and Spanish. Learn more here

2. Carton 2 Garden Contest 
Deadline Extended: May 1
Apply for Evergreen Packaging and KidsGardening.org's sixth annual national Carton 2 Garden Contest! Open to public and private schools, contest winners will be selected based on their implementation of an innovative garden creation featuring creative and sustainable uses for repurposed milk and juice cartons. Fifteen (15) entries will be selected to receive award packages for their efforts. Learn more and apply here

3. USDA AMS: Regional Food System Partnerships
Deadline Extended: May 26
USDA AMS's Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) program supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The effort is focused on building and strengthening local or regional food economy viability and resilience by alleviating unnecessary administrative and technical barriers for participating partners. Learn more here.


Webinars & Events
1. COVID-19 Virtual Conversation with State Food Councils and Networks on Response to COVID-19
April 1, 2-3:30pm EST
Join the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Policy Networks project for a conversation with food systems councils and networks working at the state level about their response to COVID-19. Share what is happening in your state to support local and regional food systems, including policies being proposed, debated and passed. Learn how states are convening local councils and partners and setting policy priorities in response to the pandemic. This discussion will be recorded and posted to YouTube afterward. Register here

2. EQUITY Join the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
March 30-April 19
It's not too late! Sign up for Food Solutions New England's (FSNE) annual 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge starting on March 30th! In its sixth year, the Challenge is a great way to learn about the history and impacts of racism on our current food system while inspiring participants with resources and tools to build racial equity in their work and lives. People from all over the country participate in the Challenge with the goal of raising awareness, shifting attitudes and changing outcomes. This year a Discussion Guide will be available for groups who want to do the Challenge together. Visit the FSNE Challenge website to learn more and register.


Resources & Research
1. COVID-19 NFSN COVID-19 Resources for Farm to School and ECE
National Farm to School Network is compiling resources related to COVID-19 that will be relevant to the farm to school and farm to early care and education community. View the list here. This page will be updated on an ongoing basis.

2. COVID-19 EQUITY Racial Equity & Social Justice Resources
Racial Equity Tools has created a COVID-19 Racial Equity & Social Justice list that includes information that will help communities and activists as they work to understand and respond to the moment and for the long haul. These COVID-19 Resources are arranged in categories to help you sift through the material: Analysis, Resources & Tools, Healing & Community Care, Organizing & Solidarity, Resource Building & Rapid Response, Virtual Work & Online Engagement, and List of Lists. See more here.

3. COVID-19 No Kid Hungry: Texting Hotline to Provide Info on Emergency Meal Sites for Kids
No Kid Hungry is activating a texting hotline (FOOD/COMIDA to 877-877) to provide information about emergency food distribution sites in communities where schools have been closed due to coronavirus pandemic. To make it as effective as possible, they need your help! They're asking for data from state agencies, school districts, and food banks about when and where emergency food distribution sites are in operation. Program sponsors and administrators can submit site data at freemealsforkids.com.

4. COVID-19 Call for Food Service Video Footage 
Schools across the country are figuring out how to continue getting essential food to kids. Food Insight Group (FIG) is collecting video footage of how school districts are procuring, preparing, and distributing meals to better understand what’s working and what’s needed. If you work in school foodservice, are volunteering to distribute meals, are receiving meals yourself or for a family member, or are otherwise looking for ways to help, you can send a video to FIG here


Job Opportunities
1. Associate Director of Legislative Affairs, The Good Food Institute (Washington, D.C.)
The Good Food Institute (GFI) is at the forefront of the movement to use food technology and markets to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. The Associate Director of Legislative Affairs will have the opportunity to promote a healthy, sustainable, and just food system. This position is responsible for managing GFI’s legislative initiatives/team and using state/federal legislation to remove hurdles and leverage resources to promote progress on alternative proteins. Learn more and apply here.

2. Farm to School Coordinator, University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (Molokai, Hawai’i)
University of Hawai’i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH-CTAHR) is hiring a Farm to School Coordinator on the island of Molokai to provide educational support for farm-to-school activities in Molokai schools. This individual will serve as an extension agent and will be housed at the Molokai Cooperative Extension Service Office in Ho’olehua. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
COVID-19
As Rural Schools Close, Some Hungry Kids to Get a Box of Processed Food
Ensuring that children are fed, during the COVID-19 crisis and in the future, is at the top of many minds. Lacy Stephens, National Farm to School Network's Senior Program Manager, talks with Civil Eats about goals for connecting more local producers into the emergency feeding system. (Civil Eats

Inspiration: Inside the Pioneering Fresh Pasta Program at Waconia Public School District in Minnesota
Here’s how it’s possible to make and serve fresh spaghetti, ravioli, ramen and more in a K-12 setting; it just takes some ingenuity, dedication and a strong farm grandma’s can-do spirit. (Food Management)

COVID-19 Iowa School District's Community Garden Has Added Meaning Amid COVID-19
Since 2000, Iowa resident Mary Hawley has helped keep up the Iowa Community School District's community garden. At the beginning, it was a way for kids in kindergarten through third grade to have something to do but bloomed into something for everyone. And now, at this present moment, it's a way for even more people to get involved. (Globe Gazette)


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

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