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News

This Week in Farm to School: 3/24/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 24, 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 No Kid Hungry Grants Available to Support Coronavirus Response
As coronavirus is closing schools and workplaces nationwide, vulnerable children are losing the school meals they depend on, and low-income families are struggling with lost wages. No Kid Hungry is offering emergency grants to support local school districts and nonprofit organizations in their efforts to ensure kids get the nutritious food they need. Learn more and apply here

2. COVID-19 Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation
The Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation is activating $1.25 million in emergency funding to support organizations on the frontlines of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) response. Applicants must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the health or hunger relief space providing essential services to people impacted by COVID-19. Learn more here

3. COVID-19 COVID-19 Related Funding for Nonprofits
Grant Station has compiled a list of current funding opportunities for nonprofits in the area of COVID-19, updated each business day and listed by deadline date. It includes funding available nationally as well as geographic-specific funding opportunities. Note that these funding sources cover a wide range of nonprofit functions, not just health and huger relief. See more here

4. Ben & Jerry’s Foundation Social and Environmental Justice Projects
Pre-Application Deadline: April 15
Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded to 501(c)(3) nonprofit community-organizing groups working to advance social and environmental justice and support sustainable and just food systems. Pre-applications are due April 15. Upon review, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full application. Learn more here.

5. USDA AMS: Regional Food System Partnerships
Deadline: May 11
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.

6. USDA AMS: 2020 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
Deadline: May 27
The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” The agency, commission, or department responsible for agriculture within any of the 50 States, DC and the US territories is eligible to apply directly to USDA for grant funds. Organizations or individuals interested in the SCBGP should contact their state department of agriculture for more information. Learn more here.


Webinars & Events
1. NFSN EVENT Postponed: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Given current health concerns and uncertainty around coronavirus, National Farm to School Network has made the decision to postpone the 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, originally scheduled for April 21-23 in Albuqerque, to a future date. This decision was made with the utmost concern for the health and wellbeing of our attendees in mind. We are working to announce the new conference dates as quickly as possible. Read more information on our Latest News page.

2. COVID-19 WEBINAR: Tips for Effective Communication with Your Community During COVID-19 School Closures
March 25 // 2pm EST
School Nutrition Association President Gay Anderson and the “Tips for School Meals that Rock” team of Dayle Hayes and Jeanne Reilly are hosting a webinar to share how you can communicate most effectively in this rapidly changing environment. These leaders will discuss how to address the many questions about school meals you are receiving from the community and how to promote the availability of school meals. You will walk away with practical ideas and resources from districts across the country. Register here.

3. COVID-19 WEBINAR: Food Safety in the Time of the Coronavirus: Post-Harvest Handling
March 26 // 12:30pm EST
Chesapeake Harvest and Future Harvest are hosting a lunchtime webinar to explore post-harvest handling and food safety practices that farmers in our region are using to meet wholesale requirements and comply with FSMA regulations. Food safety educators Lindsay Gilmour, Kimberly Raikes, Aleya Fraser and Elizabeth Beggins will provide lessons and examples from farms they visited in PA and MD. There will be ample time for Q&A. Register here.

4. COVID-19 EQUITY WEBINAR: Strengthening Our Food System Together in a Time of Crisis
March 27 // 12pm EST
Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network is hosting a discussion-based webinar centering women's and gender-oppressed voices designed to share relevant information and generate new ideas to address current and future food system crises. Register here.

5. EQUITY Virtual Rural Child Hunger Summit
March 31 // 10:30am - 3:15 pm EDT
No Kid Hungry's Rural Child Hunger Summit is going virtual! They will be hosting this event online on March 31. The Virtual Rural Child Hunger Summit will be a series of webinars hosted on Zoom. You can register for one webinar or for all of them. Sessions of interest to the farm to school/ECE community may be: Racial Equity and Community Resilience in Food Systems, Policy, and Program Delivery (11:15 am – 12:10 pm), The Power of Native Youth in Creating Solutions to Hunger Issues in Indian Country (12:15 – 1:10 pm), and Embracing Community Perspectives and Cultures in Program Design and Delivery (2:15 - 3:10 pm). Register here

6. EQUITY Join the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
March 30-April 19
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.


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. This page will be updated on an ongoing basis.

2. COVID-19 Coronavirus Food Systems Media Articles and Other Resources
Vanessa Garcia Polanco, a graduate student at Michigan State University's Department of Community Sustainability, is compiling a real-time list of media articles and resources about how the virus is affecting the food system. See the list here.

3. COVID-19 EQUITY Food & Land Sovereignty Resource List for COVID-19
Soul Fire Farm, Black Farmer Fund, and Northeast Farmers of Color have created a resource hub for needs and offers for specific mutual aid related to community food sovereignty and farmers. View the document here.

4. COVID-19 EQUITY Coronavirus and Food Access: Four Questions Every Community Needs to Answer
For the nearly 40 million Americans struggling with food insecurity, the relatively modest inconveniences many Americans will confront due to disruptions in the food system could have catastrophic consequences. To ensure equity in our response to the coronavirus, The Rockefeller Foundation is sharing four questions that government officials, employers, businesses and community leaders across the country should be asking themselves right now. Read more here

5. COVID-19 Map of Feeding Efforts from World Central Kitchen
World Central Kitchen is mapping out all of the school districts, restaurants offering meals to those in need, and organizations working to keep people fed. School districts and community partners leading efforts at the local level are encouraged to add their activities to this map. See more here


Policy News
1. COVID-19 Urgent Policy Actions for COVID-19 Aid Package
Congress is making decisions right now about aid for people and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are some policy calls to actions shared by our partner organizations:  
Farmers and Food Systems - National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Young Farmers and Ranchers - National Young Farmers Coalition
Front Line Food Workers - Food Chain Workers Alliance
Farmers Markets - Farmers Market Coalition
Child and Adult Care Food Program - National CACFP Sponsors Association
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Food Research & Action Center
Child Care Industry - First Five Years Fund

2. COVID-19 The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Summary of Key Provisions
On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law, marking the second major legislative initiative to address COVID-19 (the first was signed on March 6 and provided emergency funding relief for domestic and global efforts). This resource from the Kaiser Family Foundation summarizes the key provisions of the Families First Act which address the domestic outbreak, including nutrition assistance for kids and families as well as paid sick leave, insurance coverage of coronavirus testing, and unemployment benefits. See more here


Job Opportunities
1. 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 Schools Race To Feed Students Amid Coronavirus Closures
Nearly 30 million children in the U.S. count on schools for free or low-cost breakfast, lunch, snacks and sometimes dinner — but most of those children are now at home. At least 114,000 public and private schools have been closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, affecting the vast majority of the nation's K-12 students, according to an ongoing tally by Education Week. And while classes may be cancelled, school leaders are working hard to make sure kids have food to eat. (NPR)

COVID-19 Op-Ed: Helping Your Kids Start a Garden Will Manage Coronavirus Impact
How do we give kids meaningful educational work to do at home when schools are closed, and help solve a potential food shortage? Have them plant a garden. (Salisbury Post)

COVID-19 Small Farms and Independent Restaurants Rally for Economic Relief
A new analysis of the impacts of COVID-19 on farms that sell into local markets - including farm to school sales, food hubs that aggregate food from small farm to sell to restaurants and other institutions, and shuttered farmers' markets - predicts a $689 million decline in sales from March to May 2020, leading to a payroll decline of up to $103 million and a total loss to the economy of up to $1.3 billion. (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.

Our Top Tips from 12+ Years of Remote Working

NFSN Staff Monday, March 23, 2020

By National Farm to School Network Staff

National Farm to School Network staff are experts in many things… including remote work! Since launching in 2007, NFSN has been a remote-based organization, with the majority of our staff working in home offices from coast to coast and many places in between. At this time, when we know many people with the ability to be able to work from home are being asked to do so, we’d like to offer up some of the tried and tested strategies we use to do our work as a remote team every day. It’s a small gesture in this unprecedented situation, but we hope that these tips might be helpful to those of you who are joining us for the first time in the “work from home” world these coming days and weeks. 

Get dressed (really). For some of you, my advice may be laughably obvious. Whereas others (including some of my co-workers) may feel that I am dead wrong: don’t spend all day working in your pajamas. Take a shower. Shave (if that applies). Put on regular clothes. Regular clothes can mean something as simple as shorts and a t-shirt, but don’t work all day in pajamas or a bathrobe. This basic level of preparedness will help focus you on the work day ahead. -Scott Bunn, Development Director (North Carolina)

Create a dedicated work space. Working in your living space can present some challenges, perhaps most commonly the uncomfortable blurring of lines between the two. I’ve found it helpful to have a dedicated work space that I stick to. I’m lucky to have a specific room for my home office. But, this could also be a desk in a bedroom or your dining room table. I’ve never had success working from the couch, but that might work for you, too! Wherever you set up shop, create a space that will put you in a work mindset. When you sit down in the spot, you’re working. And when you walk away from it, you’re not. If you’re like me, you’ll want to avoid working in the kitchen - it prompts too many snack attacks! -Anna Mullen, Communications Director (Iowa)

Pick up the phone. Email, G-chat, and Slack are all great ways to stay connected and share information with your team. But it’s easy to get stuck in a virtual world and many decisions and conversations are just made easier by talking it out. One five minute phone call can save many back and forth emails and there is the bonus of actual human interaction. A quick work or social chat can brighten your day and remind you that you are not in this alone. -Lacy Stephens, Senior Program Manager (Missouri)

Schedule time for movement. When I first started working remotely I had this fantasy that I would take multiple mini-exercise breaks throughout the day and I pictured myself in peak physical form. That might work great for some but I believe you still have to schedule it in! I find it's way too easy to push off those mini-breaks if you're engaged in a project, so now I try to exercise first thing in the morning before starting my work day. If I can get extra time for breaks throughout the day that's even better but at least I've already done something active. Also a standing desk setup is super easy to fashion out of all kinds of props you probably have laying around your home, or I have this super affordable and convertible option that helps me quickly switch setups so that I am not just sitting all day. -Tracey Starkovich, Operations and Events Manager (Illinois)

Get outside! The best part of working from home is being able to step outside as time permits, such as walking during a phone call or tending your garden while mulling over a major decision. I personally recommend pulling weeds to work out frustration or resolve a problem! You may not be able to connect with co-workers face-to-face, but connecting with the land is an excellent way to feel whole. -Jessica Gudmundson, Senior Director of Finance and Operations (Georgia)

Make yourself lunch – and eat it away from your work area. If you're working on the couch, eat at a table. If you're working at a table, eat on your couch. I often eat my lunch standing up in the kitchen or followed by a short walk around the block. Taking mandatory breaks to enjoy food and giving your body and mind a change of scenery is key to maintaining focus during critical work hours - and feeling motivated to get up and do it all again the next day! -Jenileigh Harris, Program Associate (Colorado)

Feedback is critical. Working in an office provides for multiple opportunities for feedback including both verbal and non verbal cues that are necessary for moving projects along. When you are home working alone, you may find yourself wondering if you’ve completed a task as expected or if your work overall is up to par. Supervisors should take more care to give employees feedback on their work, and employees need to feel empowered to speak up about their questions and needs. -Jessica Gudmundson, Senior Director of Finance and Operations (Georgia)

Set boundaries, and stick to them. When you work from home, it’s easy to let work creep into your home life. A good way to mitigate the constant feeling of being on (and not letting that actually happen) is to set boundaries and stick to them. Don’t just map out your work time, calls, and projects. Also map out when you’re going to exercise, eat lunch, take breaks, and end your workday. Build in time to take care of yourself. Turn off notifications during your off hours. And remember that if you don’t stick to this, it has a ripple effect on your colleagues. Ultimately, we cannot show up as our best selves at work if we do not take care of ourselves as whole people, where work is but one part of who we are. -Helen Dombalis, Executive Director (Colorado)

Monitor morale. In general, and especially while we are feeling the impacts of COVID-19, it’s important to keep a pulse on staff morale. Working remotely can create new and exacerbate existing morale issues. Make dedicated space to address staff concerns on an ongoing basis, whether it be through group video meetings, HR services or one-on-one check ins. -Jessica Gudmundson, Senior Director of Finance and Operations (Georgia)

Working from home has its benefits too! #1 - flexibility! Don’t hold yourself to unnecessary rules and take advantage of your new work environment. Enjoy having your dog, cat or other pet keep you company during the day. Enjoy more casual office attire. Enjoy moving and stretching throughout the day without feeling self conscious, because no one is watching. Enjoy taking some of your calls al fresco. We find that the more flexible we are with our time and resources, the better we perform.

We know that there are millions of American who are not able to transition their work to the dining room table - including many who work in the food and school systems. This health crisis has put a spotlight on the many inequities in our current economic system that have shown these members of our communities to be disproportionately impacted. Here are some ways you can support them, too

Need more ideas for successful remote working? Drop us a note! We’re happy to help in whatever ways we can. 

Supporting Our Community: Farm to School and COVID-19

NFSN Staff Thursday, March 19, 2020

By Helen Dombalis, Executive Director, and Anna Mullen, Communications Director

At its core, farm to school is all about community: when schools, farms, children, families, organizations and businesses come together in mutual support for mutual wellbeing, there’s inherent strength and resilience. That’s the power of community and the power of farm to school. And during this challenging and unexpected moment, it’s the energy of collective community that’s keeping us going. While many public spaces have been closed and our daily routines altered, we know that many of National Farm to School Network’s Partners, Advisors and members across the country are working harder than ever to care for those most impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis. Your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed - thank you for all you’re doing. You are the people that make our communities strong. 

As a national organization partnering with communities across the country, NFSN is adapting internally as a staff and externally in the work we do day-in and day-out to keep supporting you, the farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) community, in this rapidly changing and challenging environment. 

How we’re approaching our work

NFSN is committed to centering our work in racial and social equity, and that need is especially urgent now. This means shifting our energy to focus on advocacy efforts that can help address inequities that directly intersect with farm to school and ECE and are made more glaring in this current health crisis. It also means adjusting some of our other planned work, like postponing the 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, a decision made through a health equity lens; reprioritizing projects to give Partners more time and space to take care of themselves, their families and communities; and supporting our staff - who already work from home - with additional flexibilities to do what they need to take care of themselves and those closest to them.

We’ve also been listening to our state and national Partners about what support they need during this time. The situation has been fast moving and the needs, strategies and concerns of the farm to school and ECE community are fluid and still evolving. We’ve received questions about resources for helping school meal and child nutrition programs and other feeding efforts respond to the most urgent needs - see our compiled list of resources here. We’re also receiving questions about what the rapid changes to meal programs means for farmers, food producers, food hubs and others who rely on school markets as part of their business plans. Like many small businesses, this is an incredibly difficult situation for them. Our team is working right now to identify helpful information, strategies and tools that can address this sudden change in farm to school practices. If you have ideas or recommendations for this, please contact Lacy Stephens, Senior Program Manager, at lacy@farmtoschool.org. More coming soon. 

Advocacy opportunities for action now

In the meantime, there are actions we can take right now to keep supporting our community in the coming days and weeks. In particular, we know that this health crisis is exposing numerous inequities that intersect with farm to school and ECE – including millions of children living with the daily reality of not knowing where their next meal will come from, if not from school or early care. As a systems change anchor and advocacy organization, here are some relevant action opportunities we want to share that prioritize supporting those most vulnerable in our farm to school and ECE community: 

  • Support Hungry Kids and Families: Encourage legislators to take action to support families that rely on breakfast and lunch from school and early care settings. See six recommendations from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) here
  • Support Child Nutrition Programs and Staff: School nutrition professionals are doing extraordinary work to ensure ongoing access to child nutrition programs during school closures. Community partners can help support these efforts in numerous ways, including amplifying the message about sites that they are operating. FRAC has more information here
  • Support Early Care and Education Providers: Child care is essential and this crisis has shown that early childhood educators are a crucial part of our nation's fabric. The National Association for the Education of Young Children has 10 steps that states and districts should take to support child care here, and you can ask lawmakers to take federal action here.
  • Support Local and Regional Food Systems: Farmers and food producers are under strain. There are actions that Congress and USDA can take now to unlock already-appropriated funding to support them. Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition have an overview of these actions here. Additional information about mitigating immediate harmful impacts on those selling through local and regional food markets is available here
  • Support Family Farmers: In addition to school and institutional markets, many family farmers rely on direct-to-consumer sales for their livelihood. Most farmers’ markets are still open and they are taking extra precautions to help family farmers keep providing fresh, local food to their communities. Be sure to support them! See more from the Farmers Market Coalition here. Additionally, National Young Farmers Coalition has a "Call to Action" to urge your Members of Congress to keep young farmers and ranchers at the forefront of their relief efforts here.
  • Support Native Communities: Native communities and economies are in serious danger under this current health crisis, and ensuring food access in tribal communities is a top concern. The Native American Agriculture Fund, Seeds of Native Health, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and the Intertribal Agriculture Council are partners actively working on these issues. We are in touch with them, and will share actions that can be taken to support Native and tribal communities in the coming days and weeks..
  • Support Your Local Community: Get in touch with your NFSN State Partners to see how you can support local efforts with donations, volunteering or other efforts.  

Onward

In the immediacy of COVID-19, NFSN is here to support any and all efforts to ensure food reaches all children, families and communities. Please reach out to our team if there are ways we can support you. And, join our network to stay informed on our activities and actions in the weeks ahead.

Despite the extreme difficulties and pain that our global community is facing, we remain hopeful that this is an opportunity to unite in strengthening a just and equitable food system. We’re seeing in real time just how important this work is. While we may be physically distanced, we can spend this time virtually connected and planning and preparing to leverage farm to school and ECE to rebuild community food security and reinforce community connection. Community is at the heart of farm to school. And it’s community that will carry us forward through this time. 

In health, solidarity and community, 
Helen, Anna and the NFSN team 

This Week in Farm to School: 3/17/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 17, 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 No Kid Hungry Grants Available to Support Coronavirus Response
As coronavirus is closing schools and workplaces nationwide, vulnerable children are losing the school meals they depend on, and low-income families are struggling with lost wages. No Kid Hungry is offering emergency grants to support local school districts and nonprofit organizations in their efforts to ensure kids get the nutritious food they need. Learn more and apply here

2. USDA AMS: Regional Food System Partnerships
Deadline: May 11
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 and apply here.

3. USDA AMS: 2020 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
Deadline: May 27
The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” The agency, commission, or department responsible for agriculture within any of the 50 States, DC and the US territories is eligible to apply directly to USDA for grant funds. Organizations or individuals interested in the SCBGP should contact their state department of agriculture for more information. Learn more and apply here.


Webinars & Events
1. NFSN EVENT Postponed: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Given current health concerns and uncertainty around coronavirus, National Farm to School Network has made the decision to postpone the 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, originally scheduled for April 21-23 in Albuqerque, to a future date. This decision was made with the utmost concern for the health and wellbeing of our attendees in mind. We are working to announce the new conference dates as quickly as possible. Read more information on our Latest News page.

2. COVID-19 Webinar: Serving Students School Meals During COVID-19
Wednesday, March 18 // 2pm ET
Join SNA, USDA, and FRAC for the latest updates on guidelines for serving students school meals when schools are closed or dismissed. School nutrition operators will also provide practical ideas for how to provide meals to students in partnership with their communities, state agencies, and other partners. Register here

3. COVID-19 Webinar: Serving Meals During COVID-19: Out-of-School Time Partners
Thursday, March 19 // 2pm ET
Out-of-school time program providers and non-school meal sponsors can work collaboratively with districts to ensure access to meals when schools are closed or dismissed. Join this webinar to hear the latest updates on guidelines and opportunities for providing meals during COVID-19 for out-of-school time programs. Register here

4. EQUITY Webinar: Leveraging Juvenile Justice Food Environments to Advance Health Equity
March 19 // 11am PDT
This webinar shares new research from ChangeLab Solutions and RTI International on the policies and practices shaping food environments in residential juvenile justice facilities and how those policies and practices might address diet-related health inequities. Register here.

5. Webinar: Food Towns: Revitalizing Communities Through Food
March 24 // 12pm CST
In this webinar with ioby, Sarah Reid of Flavorful Creations in Detroit will discuss her ioby funded project, from idea to reality, and the way it's transforming her community. Moderator Mark Winne will give a brief presentation on the transformations that he saw across his travels while writing his book, "Food Town, USA: Seven Unlikely Cities that are Changing the Way We Eat." Brooke Harris, Detroit Action Strategist from ioby, will share how her organization is helping drive community-led positive change through crowdfunding. Register here.

6. EQUITY Join the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
March 30-April 19
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.


Research & Resources
1. COVID-19 Coronavirus Food Systems Media Articles and Other Resources
Vanessa Garcia Polanco, a graduate student at Michigan State University's Department of Community Sustainability, is compiling a real-time list of media articles and resources about how the virus is affecting the food system. See the list here

2. COVID-19 Emergency Meal Service Toolkit
Lunch Assist has just released an Emergency Meal Service Toolkit. School districts can use this free resource for planning and modifying their operations in response to COVID-19, which includes answers to frequently asked policy questions, helpful templates, and safety tips and procedures to protect nutrition services staff and the families they serve. Please note that this resource was developed by school nutrition professionals in California. While much of the information will be relevant across the US, always refer to guidance from your State Agency. Download the toolkit here

3. SNA Research Shows the Benefits of Serving Universal Free School Meals Will Eventually Outweigh the Costs
A new study shows that in the long run, the benefits of feeding kids free school meals would outweigh the costs. While the research still needs to be peer-reviewed, the top-line message was the benefits of a universal free meals program will outweigh the costs—in time. Before child nutrition advocates get too excited about the results, there are some clarifications and hurdles that will have to be addressed. Read more here.


Policy News
1. COVID-19 Actions for Congress and USDA to Support Local and Regional Food Systems During COVID-19
To help policymakers consider measures to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, Harvard Law School's Food Law & Policy Clinic and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition have released an issue brief highlighting several legislative and administrative actions that Congress and USDA can take. These changes can unlock already-appropriated funding to ensure that the local and regional food system is supported amidst the public health response. These proposals redirect funds that will go underutilized, supplement funds to help farmers cover the gap, and allow existing programs greater latitude to adapt to the evolving situation. Read more here.

2. COVID-19 Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The House has passed H.R. 6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act and it is now before the Senate. This bill contains important provisions to give families and children some critically important resources to help put food on the table and stay safe during the COVID-19 emergency. This is a promising first step toward ensuring that low-income and vulnerable people are not disproportionately impacted by this public health crisis. Congress is expected to move additional coronavirus package(s) in the coming days and weeks to address other urgent needs. Find action opportunities and learn more with these resources from FRAC

3. COVID-19 NAEYC: Ten Steps States and Districts That Are Closing Public Schools Can Take for Child Care 
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has shared 10 steps that state and districts that are closing public school can take for child care. Read more here


Farm to School in the News
COVID-19 If Coronavirus Closes School, Who Gets Paid and How?
As the novel coronavirus spreads into more American communities, these are some of the biggest questions that don’t yet have clear or uniform answers. (Education Week

What Does the 2020 Census Have to Do With School Lunch?
On “Why 2020 Matters for Schools,” the Census Bureau outlines a raft of reasons schools might want to get on board with the census. This includes funds for special education, Head Start, after-school programs, classroom technology, food assistance (free and reduced-price school lunches), maternal and child health programs and more. (School News Network)

Teenage Teachers Help Young Students Learn More About Montana Grown Foods
Culinary students at a Montana high school meet regularly with students from an area elementary school to teach them about the different foods grown in the state. During a recent meeting, students shared information about grains, including wheat and barley, and made pancakes. (KTVH-TV)

From School Garden to School Cafeteria
More than $70 million is spent annually on school lunches in Kansas, with, in 2014, slightly less than $2 million being reinvested in the community through Farm to Plate. A high school in Haven, Kansas is trying to change that. What some agriculture students grow in their high school’s greenhouse, they and their friends eat for lunch in the cafeteria. (The Hutchinson News)

This Week in Farm to School: 3/10/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 10, 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. Ben & Jerry’s Foundation Social and Environmental Justice Projects
Pre-Application Deadline: April 15
Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded to 501(c)(3) nonprofit community-organizing groups (with an annual budget of $500,000 or less) in the United States working to advance social and environmental justice and support sustainable and just food systems. Priority strategies identified by the foundation include community and ally outreach; leadership development; constituent empowerment and decision-making; popular education; root cause analysis; power analysis; campaign development; mobilizing constituents and allies; coalition building; and direct action. Pre-applications are due April 15. Upon review, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full application. View the RFP here.

2. Action for Healthy Kids Grants
Deadline: April 3
Action for Healthy Kids is accepting applications for school grants for the 2020-2021 school year to help students thrive. Schools may apply for Game On grants to fund physical activity, nutrition, or social-emotional learning (SEL) initiatives. Parents and parent groups can apply for Parents for Healthy Kids grants to bring health and wellness programs to their children’s schools while also promoting parent engagement. The application deadline is April 3. Learn more here. 


Webinars & Events 
1. NFSN EVENT Register Today! 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 21-23 // Albuquerque, NM
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is less than two months away, and now is the time to get your tickets! With 40 skill-building workshops, 10 experiential field trips, inspiring keynote addresses, valuable networking time, and a showcase of New Mexico’s vibrant local food culture, this biennial event hosted by the National Farm to School Network is an unparalleled opportunity to learn and network with food systems leaders from across the country. Visit farmtoschool.org/conference to learn more.

2. 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 on if food system educators are making progress in reaching equity goals and how to overcome limitations in utilizing an equity lens in your work. Register here.

3. EQUITY Join the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
March 30-April 19
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.


Research and Resources 
1. Farm to Summer Resource Guide
The Center for Ecoliteracy's summer planning guide distills tips and best practices to help support the success of farm to summer planning and increase the number of summer meals programs. Check out the Farm to Summer Resource Guide here.

2. School Lunch Survey Resource Guide for Grades 6-8
In this solution-oriented lesson by the Center for Ecoliteracy, students learn how to conduct a school lunch survey to gather ideas and then present recommendations for improving their school district’s lunch offerings. Through this process, students learn effective ways to bring about change in their school community and help increase healthful eating and reduce waste. View the resource guide and lesson plan here.


Policy News 
1. Virginia State Bill Passed to Allow Excess Food to be Served to Eligible Students
In an effort to provide another meal to students, the Virginia General Assembly has passed a bill that will allow schools to distribute excess food to eligible students. Read more here.

2. Utah Legislature to Hear Bill on Expanding School Breakfast
The Utah legislation would require schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program to also offer breakfast or breakfast alternatives. Currently, only about 40 percent of Utah students receiving free and reduced lunch are also receiving breakfast. Read more here.


Job Opportunities 
1. Communications Coordinator, Louisiana Farm to School / LSU Extension (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) 
The Louisiana Farm to School/Institution Program seeks a Communication Coordinator (Extension Associate) to coordinate and support its communications efforts. This is a grant-funded position with 100 % time allocation to the USDA funded Louisiana Farm to School Program. Application deadline is March 23. Learn more here.

2. FoodCorps Service Member Application Closes March 13
Applications are now open for the next class of FoodCorps AmeriCorps service members. Service members connect kids to healthy food in school, from the classroom to the garden to the cafeteria. Applicants are encouraged to apply early; applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the deadline of March 13. Learn more here.


Farm to School in the News 
What coronavirus means for kids who rely on school meals
Missing school can mean more than lost instructional time; it can also deprive children of critically needed nutrition. More than two-thirds of the 31 million students who regularly eat school lunch are economically dependent upon school meals. So what will happen to at-risk children if this school-based social safety net falls prey to the growing pandemic? (Civil Eats

Whole Foods Charity, Teens to Grow Tons of Produce for NYC Schools
A group of New York City teens grew enough food in an indoor hydroponic farm to feed more than 2,000 students at lunch, with the help of a Whole Kids Foundation partnership with Teens for Food Justice. One of the goals of this farm is to encourage students to transform their relationship with food, instilling a lifelong understanding of healthy eating habits and sustainability. (The Packer)

PODCAST: Low Wages of Cafeteria Workers Go Hand in Hand With Quality of School Lunches
Thirty million children participate in the nation’s school lunch program. Jennifer E. Gaddis shows that the missing ingredient in the recipe of its success is the school lunch lady in her book, “The Labor of Lunch.” (KCRW)

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.

Honoring Black History and Leadership in Farm to School

NFSN Staff Friday, February 28, 2020

By Anna Mullen, Communications Director

February is Black History Month, a dedicated time to pay attention to the power and resilience of the Black community and to celebrate the many Black leaders on whose shoulders we stand. For the National Farm to School Network, it’s also a time to recommit ourselves to being honest about the racism and inequities that persist within our field of work, and to reaffirm our commitment to working towards a vision of equity and justice. Listening, learning and reflecting on the histories, stories and wisdom of Black leaders in the food movement is one step in this journey, and we invite you to join us. Here are a few recommendations to get you started: 

EXPLORE: Black History Month Food and Farm Justice resource lists - HEAL Alliance

READ: Black Farmers Are Embracing Climate-Resilient Farming, by Leah Penniman - Civil Eats

WATCH: Malik Yankini on Food, Race and Justice - TEDxMuskegon

LISTEN: Karen Washington on Food Justice, Land Stewardship and Legacy Work - WhyHunger

MEET: The Black farm to school pioneers, leaders and kids in the picture above!

Top row:
  • Betti Wiggins, Officer of Nutrition Services at Houston Independent School District and former NFSN Advisory Board member.
  • Students at Kimball Elementary School in Washington, D.C. growing hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes.
  • LaDonna Redmond, founder and executive director of The Campaign for Food Justice Now.
  • A young gardener picking peas at the former K Street Farm in Washington, D.C.

Middle row:
  • Students enjoying a taste test at John Adams Elementary School in Riverside, Calif.
  • Glyen Holmes, founder of the New North Florida Cooperative, and a farm to school movement trailblazer. He's been helping small farmers in Florida sell to schools since the 1990s!
  • A little gardener learning about plants in Tennessee.
  • Rodney Taylor, director of Food and Nutrition Services for Fairfax County Public Schools, pioneer of "farm to school salad bars" in the 1990s, and former NFSN Advisory Board member.

Bottom row:

These are just a few of the many Black trailblazers, innovators and movement makers who are helping power farm to school efforts nationwide. There are many more - including on our staff, Advisory Board, in our network of Core and Supporting Partners, and others - who we also celebrate this month. 

While there are just a few days left of Black History Month 2020, our commitment to listening to and lifting up Black voices and leadership in farm to school doesn't stop at the end of February. Every day is the right day for being honest about and addressing the racism and inequities in our work. (You can read more about National Farm to School Network's commitment to centering our work in equity here.) In March and April, our staff will be participating in Food Solutions New England's 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge - sign up to join us. And, we encourage you join us in continuing to honor the Black leaders who have given, and continue to give, boundless wisdom, vision, creativity and commitment to the farm to school movement.

Learning How to Gro More Good Indoors: An Update on Our Pilot Project

NFSN Staff Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Students at Amidon-Bowen Elementary in Washington, D.C. excited about the fast growth of their salad greens.
By Jenileigh Harris,  Program Associate
With a goal of connecting more students across the country to indoor gardening opportunities, the Scotts-Miracle Gro Foundation, Hawthorne Gardening Company and National Farm to School Network have launched a pilot project to integrate hydroponic growing systems into classrooms and science curricula this school year. 

Halfway into the pilot year the hydroponic gardens are overflowing and teachers, students and families are seeing the positive impacts in and outside of the classroom. Students are demonstrating an increased interest in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) concepts, as well as an increase in applying critical thinking skills. The hydroponic systems have also enhanced family and community engagement and fostered student behavioral and social-emotional development. 

Across all pilot schools, the hydroponic systems are encouraging students from pre-school to middle school to take ownership over the garden, deciding what to grow, monitoring the system daily, and leading care and harvest. According to teachers, student ownership of the hydroponic units has translated into improved attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors related to healthy eating, improved their knowledge about gardening, agriculture and food systems and provided valuable opportunities for peer learning. 

Most classrooms are using their pepper, tomato, herb and salad green harvests in taste tests while teachers are incorporating plant parts, hydroponic vs. soil garden needs and life cycle lessons into existing STEM, food system, and/or nutrition curricula. At Kimball Elementary School in Washington, D.C., students in a FoodPrints classroom and lab incorporate their hydroponic produce into meals and snacks they prepare as a part of their cooking and gardening STEM curriculum. Recently, students used their hydroponically grown tomatoes to create a salsa for sweet potato quesadillas. “Our special education class has taken ownership of the hydroponic grow station. They put it together, take care of it and monitor the growth. It’s been a great experience for them,” describes Kimball Elementary School.

At P.S. 214 in the Bronx, New York sixth grade students had the opportunity to teach second grade students about the hydroponic garden. The sixth graders did a shared reading about plants as a system, and then created hydroponic bags to observe the growth of a lima bean. 


A classroom lesson, “Donde esta la tierra?” (“Where is the soil?”), at Tubman Elementary School in Washington, D.C. in which students compared and contrasted plant needs in a soil-based garden versus a hydroponic garden in both English and Spanish.

One of the things that makes the hydroponic systems such a great learning and teaching tool for plant life cycles and other STEM concepts is that they provide relatively instant results for both students and teachers. “Students can see the plants from seed to plant in record time. Seeds produce plants [which] produces tomatoes. They know that but to see it without waiting months is amazing. They run to the grow station every time they enter the classroom,” describes Kimball Elementary School.

And students’ general inquiry and interest in scientific process is increasing. “I have heard very fascinating ‘what if’ questions from my students like ‘what if we can grow a whole farm of vegetables just like this?’ which has led me to incidental exploration of other science avenue topics such as sustainability, pros vs. cons, and water as a resource,” reports Amidon-Brown Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

At Kimball Elementary, students counted the yellow flowers on their tomato plants in anticipation of the plant’s fruits. “They are very excited to see if we can produce as many tomatoes as predicted,” describes a Kimball Elementary teacher.
 
Students at Kimball Elementary School in Washington, D.C. taking care of their hydroponic tomatoes.

Many of the schools have had success engaging families and community with the hydroponic systems. Some schools have included families in the harvesting and tasting of the hydroponic plants while others have placed the unit in a shared space where the whole school community can observe, ask questions, and share in the excitement with the students. “We teach a family cooking class on Monday afternoons. Parents who might not have ever seen a garden or be interested in growing plants ask so many questions about the hydroponic system. It sparks conversations about the plants we are growing, healthy eating and how to cook those plants in a non-threatening informative way,” describes Kimball Elementary School.

Teachers have noticed marked changes in their students such as increased overall awareness and attentiveness to academic responsibilities as well as demonstration of social-emotional development. NFSN staff observed a young student at Tubman Elementary School in Washington, D.C. who had been struggling to concentrate in the classroom become much more engaged when the class visited the hydroponics unit, eagerly asking and answering questions.  At Sunrise Middle School in San Jose, California, students have started managing the hydroponic care schedule and consistently remind their teacher who is on deck to be the weekly garden helpers. 


 
Students at Community School 134 in the Bronx, NY taste testing and measuring their recently harvested greens.

Once spring arrives, many classes have hopes to transplant their tomatoes and peppers to outdoor gardens while others are planning to plant a new round of hydroponic pods at the same time they plant seeds, creating additional opportunities to explore STEM concepts, to encourage family and community engagement and support continued social-emotional development. 

Teachers anticipate the positive impacts to grow as they continue to integrate the hydroponics systems into lessons and families become more engaged in the delicious results.

This Week in Farm to School: 2/18/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, February 18, 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. FY20 Team Nutrition Training Grants for School Meal Recipe Development
Deadline: April 3
A Request for Applications for the FY 2020 Team Nutrition Training Grant for School Meal Recipe Development is now available through Grants.gov. FNS expects to award approximately $5.2 million to state agencies (up to $300,000 per state) that administer the National School Lunch Program. The FY 2020 Team Nutrition Training Grant for School Meal Recipe Development will assist states in helping schools offer meals supported by recipes that utilize local agricultural products and reflect local food preparation practices and taste preferences. Using grant funds, state agencies will be able to develop nutritious and tasty recipes that utilize local agricultural products and reflect local food preparation practices and taste preferences. View the Request for Applications here

2. Action for Healthy Kids Grant
Deadline: April 3
Action for Healthy Kids' (AFHK) is providing schools the resources for students to eat better, stay physically active and be better prepared to learn. AFHK is offering two grant opportunities: Game on Grants for $1,000-$2,500 and Parents for Healthy Kids Grants for $1,000. Learn more and apply here


Webinars & Events
1. NFSN EVENT Register Today! 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 21-23 // Albuquerque, NM
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is just three months away, and now is the time to start planning! With 40 skill-building workshops, 10 experiential field trips, inspiring keynote addresses, valuable networking time, and a showcase of New Mexico’s vibrant local food culture, this biennial event hosted by the National Farm to School Network is an unparalleled opportunity to learn and network with food systems leaders from across the country. Early Bird registration is NOW OPEN!! Save $50 on regular registration pricing and secure a seat on your first-choice field trip! Visit farmtoschool.org/conference to learn more. 

2. Applications Open: Unlocking Our Food Systems Change Capacity: A Systems Leadership Retreat
Deadline: February 24
Hosted by the Wallace Center's Food Systems Leadership Network, the Food Systems Leadership Retreat is a 2.5 day facilitated convening of food systems leaders from April 27-30 in Canby, Oregon. The retreat convenes food systems leaders to reflect and dig deep into the tools of systems leadership and systems thinking for social change. Participants are guided through hands-on, experiential workshops that will strengthen leadership skills, offer new tools for mapping and finding the change levers in the systems they are working on, and support their growth as effective facilitators of community change processes.  Click here for more information and to apply. Contact Annalina Kazickas at annalina.kazickas@winrock.org with questions.

3. EQUITY Registration is Open! 2020 Racial Equity Challenge!
March 30-April 19
Sign up for the 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 for more information or to register.

4. EQUITY Webinar Recording: The Roots of Injustice in Our Agricultural System
A conversation with key leaders in the farm workers movement to share how and why farm worker issues have historically been left out of U.S. labor law protections, and how farm workers are building powerful movements that integrate an analysis toward climate, migrant, food, and worker justice. Jeannie Economos (Farmworkers Association of Florida), Mily Treviño-Sauceda (National Alliance of Farmworker Women) and Diana Tellefson Torres (United Farm Workers Foundation) share their experiences from decades of organizing. They will also highlight upcoming campaigns and policy fights in 2020 that are critical to the building power over the longer term. View the recorded webinar here.


Research & Resources  
1. EQUITY February is Black History Month
February is Black History Month, a dedicated time to pay attention to the power and resilience of the Black community. Throughout February, National Farm to School Network is sharing stories, resources, articles and more that highlight histories and narratives that often go overlooked. This week, we encourage you to explore how communities of color are coming together to take a stand and reclaim their health while creating a just and intersectional food system in M. Jahi Chappell's Beginning to End Hunger: Food and the Environment in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and Real Food Media's podcast of the book here

2.  NFSN National Calendar of Farm to School Events
The National Farm to School Network hosts a national calendar of farm to school events, conferences and networking opportunities. Events are added on an ongoing basis. Submit your farm to school event to the calendar by clicking the green "Submit Event" button. To be considered, events should be open to the public and specifically related to farm to school content. View the calendar and submit events here.


Policy News
1. U.S. Senators Cory Booker and John Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand School Nutrition Education
U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Cornyn (R-TX) today introduced a bipartisan bill to establish a new pilot program to fund nutritional education in schools. The Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act of 2020 would allocate federal funding for projects that educate students while connecting them to healthy food practices, with a priority given to schools in neighborhoods with high rates of childhood diet-related illnesses and those in which 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced meals. The National Farm to School Network alongside many other leaders in the food systems community support this legislation. Read more here.

2. Legislative Spotlight on Farms Could Help Save an Industry in Wisconsin
State lawmakers in Wisconsin on both sides of the political aisle are talking about helping farmers and producers of agriculture products. When it all shakes out, legislators hope to see both short-term relief for farmers across the state and long-term initiatives that will help shore up the industry. Among Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers' policy proposals to be introduced t support farmers includes: Giving school districts that have a high percentage of low-income students priority in the awarding of state farm to school grants that help get locally grown produce food into school lunches. Read more here.


Job Opportunities
1. Food Systems Specialist, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (East Lansing, MI)
Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems is seeking a full-time Specialist - Outreach to support capacity-building among and facilitate technical assistance to Michigan local food councils, Michigan food and health organizations, and countrywide grantees in the federal Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). The full position description is available on the MSU Careers website by searching for posting #636431. Applications will be accepted until March 10, 2020.

2. FoodCorps Service Member Application Now Open
Applications are now open for the next class of FoodCorps AmeriCorps service members. Service members connect kids to healthy food in school, from the classroom to the garden to the cafeteria. Applicants are encouraged to apply early; applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the deadline of March 13. Learn more here.


Farm to School in the News
Students in Louisiana show off healthy cooking skills in annual 'On Cuisine du Jardin Cook-Off'
The goal of the cook-off is to provide local youth hands-on experience using vegetables grown from their school gardens and/or local produce and knowledge of healthy food choices.Charles Hebert, LSU AgCenter County Agent, explained, "Many of them are taking those concepts home now and starting vegetables with their parents or grandparents at home. They're learning how to get back together as a family and cook their own produce that they're raising at home, and they're also cooking that produce in the school." (KATC 3)

One on One With: Broome Tioga’s Board of Cooperative Educational Services' Mark Bordeau on Building Successful Teams and Farm to School Programs in K-12 School Food Service
After nearly 30 decades in child nutrition, Mark Bordeau, senior food service director of the Broome Tioga BOCES in upstate New York has learned many lessons. He’s created a highly successful school food program that manages cafeterias in 15 districts, with a combined purchasing power of $18 million. He developed the Rock On Café a marketing program to promote fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk. Listen to the podcast here.

Food Waste in Maryland Public School System Could Be Lowered With the Idea of Giving Back
As food waste continues to be a problem in Frederick County Public Schools, Alysia Mason-Feuer, director of Farm to School in Frederick County, helped start the project of a share table in mid-January to help provide food that would otherwise be thrown away to those in need.. Her main objective has been working to get local fruits and vegetables into school cafeterias, but after seeing the amount of food thrown out, Mason-Feuer developed a plan to reduce waste. (The Frederick News-Post)

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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