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FoodSpan: Teaching the food system farm to fork

NFSN Staff Monday, March 11, 2019

Guest post by Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

While public interest in where our food comes from continues to grow, there is a dearth of resources available for teaching young people about the food system. That’s a key reason the FoodSpan curriculum created by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future has hit the mark with a lot of educators, especially those teaching social studies, science, and family and consumer sciences, but also health and language arts.

As of March 1, FoodSpan lesson plans had been downloaded nearly 57,000 times. This free online curriculum contains 17 lesson plans that span the food system from production through consumption and also includes lessons on food waste, food safety and food policy. It culminates with a food citizen action project, which gives students an opportunity to put their new knowledge to work by designing an intervention to address a food system problem.

“FoodSpan provides the materials and lessons necessary for our students to investigate critical issues surrounding public health, equity in food resources, sustainability, and the environment,” said Mike Wierzbicki, a social studies teacher at North County High School in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. “The lesson plans are filled with tremendous visuals that capture student attention and promote a deep understanding of material.”

FoodSpan dovetails well with the work of the National Farm to School Network, which works to empowers children and their families to make informed food choices.

This inquiry-based curriculum is designed for high school students but has been frequently adapted for use at both higher and lower education levels. It is written at a ninth-grade reading level. FoodSpan lessons also align with national education standards including NGSS, NCSS, CCSS for English Language Arts & Literacy, and NHES.

Teachers can use FoodSpan in its entirety, or pick and choose lessons they think will be most relevant or engaging for their students. The most downloaded lesson is the introductory “Exploring Our Food System.” It gets students thinking about food in a systemic way, for example by following food items through the supply chain, and by looking at relationships among myriad players in the food system, including people, institutions, and natural resources. Lessons on crops and on the industrialization of agriculture are also among the most popular.

The curriculum includes 140 activities, including 62 extension activities. Among many other things, students are challenged to:

  • Assess the food environment in their school
  • Create food maps
  • Devise educational and advertising campaigns
  • Develop presentations for policy makers
  • Investigate a foodborne illness outbreak
  • Debate controversial food system topics
  • Journal about their personal views after each lesson
  • Produce art projects (e.g., posters, infographics, videos)
  • Watch and discuss food-related films
Teachers who want to get up to speed on a food system topic before presenting it to their students can benefit from CLF’s Food System Primer, which offers short readings on many topics, along with links to further reading. Teachers can also point students to this resource, particularly if they have been assigned to write a report on a food system topic.

CLF also maintains a Food System Lab in a Baltimore greenhouse, providing “real-world examples of solutions to these pressing issues” in the food system, as Wierzbicki put it. The Lab uses its aquaponics and composting projects as jumping-off points to discuss larger food system topics.

The Center for a Livable Future (CLF) has been a leader in “food system thinking” for more than 20 years. CLF teaches about the food system, both at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and through online courses available to the public. It has produced a textbook called Introduction to the U.S. Food System: Public Health, Environment, and Equity.

Learn more about the FoodSpan curriculum here.

Gearing up for Child Nutrition Reauthorization in 2019

NFSN Staff Friday, March 08, 2019

By Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist 

“Our kids deserve healthy food!”
“School lunch is important because we need to eat and be healthier.”
“Feed the future with real, healthy meals!”

After having passed a farm bill and confirming this year’s budget, our congressional leaders are discussing the possible return of a major opportunity for farm to school advocates - the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization (CNR). On Jan. 28, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry announced to the National School Board Association that “if we can put politics aside...there is a clear pathway for child nutrition programs to be reauthorized yet this year.” With this announcement, we find ourselves gearing up for what could be another journey to defend nutrition standards, increase funding for school meals, and of course, pave the way for embedding farm to school practices in our food system. Here’s our reflection on where CNR stands now and what we can do moving forward as a network:

What is a CNR?
The Child Nutrition Act reauthorization (or CNR for short) authorizes federal school meal and child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, among others (see table below). The last CNR, known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, was groundbreaking for farm to school stakeholders nationwide. For the first time, the legislation supported farm to school directly by providing $5 million in annual mandatory funding for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm to School Grant Program. A major victory for the National Farm to School Network and farm to school champions across the country, this program funds competitive grants and technical assistance for farm to school activities that increase the use of and improve access to local foods in schools. Policies like this ensure more schools across the nation have a pathway to practicing farm to school, even if their local district hasn’t shown support yet.

Programs Included in CNR: 
School Breakfast Program (SBP)
National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Farm to School Grant Program
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
The package of bills that make up CNR is meant to be reauthorized every five years, but irreconcilable differences between House and Senate versions of bills prevented this from happening in 2016. As the National Farm to School Network prepares for a possible return of CNR this year, we want to hear your voice! As our name implies, we are truly a national network of stakeholders, and our policy agenda is driven by advocates like you. We invite you to join one of our CNR Listening Sessions, beginning March 19, where you can weigh in on our future CNR policy initiatives. 

What Can You Do to Prepare for CNR?

Right now:
In the near future:
  • Prepare your asks - as a constituent, what actions do you want to see from your legislators as CNR is debated?
  • Cultivate your legislative champions
If and when the Reauthorization takes place:
  • Provide feedback to the National Farm to School Network
  • Contact your legislators

Have questions about CNR or want to learn more about how you can be a farm to school policy advocate? Contact Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist, at chloe@farmtoschool.org.

This Week in Farm to School: 3/5/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 05, 2019
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. Test Kitchen Grant, No Kid Hungry
Deadline: March 15
The Test Kitchen is a concept accelerator designed to help nonprofits, schools, faith organizations, and local governments turn their best ideas into validated strategies and promising practices. This year’s focus is on ending childhood hunger in the summer. Organizations selected for the first cohort will receive grants up to $10,000 and technical assistance from No Kid Hungry (NKH) to test a new model, strategy, or program designed to provide more kids with meals in the summer. Learn more and apply here

2. Native Youth and Culture Fund Grants, First Nations Development Institute 
Deadline: March 12
First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is now accepting proposals for its Native Youth and Culture Fund (NYCF) for projects that focus on youth and incorporate culture and tradition to address social issues in Native communities. First Nations expects to award approximately 20 grants between $5,000 and $19,500 each for projects of no longer than one year in length. Learn more and apply here

3. Slow Food Plant a Seed Kits
Slow Food believes biodiversity is key to a sustainable, adaptable — and delicious — future. The Plant a Seed campaign gives you the tools to get amazing flavor back on your plate. The Plant a Seed kit features six seed packets: three from the Ark of Taste, and three from Row 7. There is a limited number of free kits available for school gardens, request one here.


Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics Webinar: NFSN National Partner of the Year - Intertribal Agriculture Council
Thursday, March 7 // 1-2 PM ET
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is excited to announce the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) as NFSN’s 2019 National Partner of the Year. The IAC, a non-profit, Tribal membership organization, serving all tribal producers and communities across the country, was established in 1987 to pursue and promote conservation, development and use of Indian agricultural resources for the betterment of Indian communities. Through intentional programmatic and policy advocacy collaboration, resource sharing and cross-promotion, we aim to better connect NFSN and IAC members and continue growing farm to school in Native communities. Join this webinar to learn more about IAC and NFSN's collaboration and how members can get involved in this work. Register here.

2. Webinar: Summer Programs at School Gardens and Farms
Tuesday, March 26 // 1-2 PM PST
Looking for ideas to keep your school gardens tended and active during the summer? Are you thinking of new ways to bring garden-based learning to a community garden or farm site? Join SGSO for a webinar on the ins and outs of running kids day camp programs on educational gardens. Erin Jackson, Education Director at Gallatin Valley Farm to School, and Amy Carlson, Garden Education Director at Life Lab, will share their years of experience and resources for creating day camp programs. From promotions to post assessments and everything in between, this hour long webinar will provide you with inspiration and ideas to create or enhance summer programming on your educational garden or farm. Register here.


Resources & Research
1. EQUITY Conversation Guide: Talking about Racism, Racial Equity and Racial Healing 
Many people would like to talk about the impact of racism and the need for racial healing in our country, but don’t know where to start. W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Home Conversation Guide helps frame a respectful dialogue , where people and their experiences are recognized and affirmed. Developed in collaboration with racial healing practitioners from across the country, this guide includes: sample agreements participants create together for safe, healing spaces; conversation starters; paths for deeper sharing; and, ways to encourage bravery and willingness. View the conversation guide here

2. EQUITY New Report: $23 billion gap between white and nonwhite school districts
EdBuild has released a new report which examines school district revenues based on racial and socioeconomic characteristics at the national and state level. The report finds that nationally, predominantly white school districts receive $23 billion more than their nonwhite peers, despite serving a similar number of children. White school districts average revenue receipts of almost $14,000 per student, but nonwhite districts receive only $11,682. That’s a divide of over $2,200, on average, per student. Read EdBuild's full report here. Find more background information in this NPR article

3. Call for School Garden Vignettes
Do you have a school garden story that you would like to see published in a book collection for school garden researchers and practitioners? Organizers from the University of Oregon and University of Georgia would like to hear from you! They are inviting school garden practitioners to submit vignettes (short stories, narrative essays, creative works--poems, images, visual art, etc.) that showcase something you find valuable, challenging, enriching, surprising, or important about working with learners in school gardens. Contributors can be anyone who has experience working with school gardens in a K-12 context. Accepted contributions will be included in a book that links school garden research with practice. Contact Dr. Sarah Stapleton with questions and to submit an abstract (100-200 word description) by April 1st, 2019 at sstaplet@uoregon.edu.


Job Opportunities
1. Executive Director, Grow Portland (Portland, OR) 
Grow Portland is hiring a skilled Executive Director to guide the delivery of its school garden and healthy eating programs in Portland, Oregon. Grow Portland is the leading, local nonprofit organization dedicated to school garden education with more than 15 public school partners. Learn more and apply here

2. Administrative and Program Assistant, Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network (Eugene or remote in OR) 
This position will handle a wide range of administrative and program support related tasks for OFSSGN. The position is part-time starting at 12-15 hours a week and has the potential to increase hours as the need increases. Learn more and apply here

3. Marketing Specialist, San Francisco Unified School District (San Francisco, CA)
The Marketing Specialist will help create awareness with students and adults about the District’s groundbreaking efforts to improve the school meal experience. This work includes designing menus, developing and maintaining artifacts and various social media channels within SFUSD and the broader community, and leading creative marketing strategies to help grow and support SNS programs. Learn more and apply here

4. Dining Space Redesign Project Manager, San Francisco Unified School District (San Francisco, CA)
The Dining Space Redesign Project Manager will lead the expansion of this project from pilot to a districtwide initiative, reaching all SFUSD schools. This is a creative, detail oriented role that engages with people of all ages, from students, to vendors, to construction managers. Learn more and apply here.

5. AmeriCorps - Nutrition Educator, Clark County Food Bank (Vancouver, WA)
The Nutrition Educator will work to implement hands-on, interactive nutrition education to low-income children, teens, adults and families. Through teaching topics like healthy cooking, grocery shopping on a budget, and growing a portion of your own vegetables, the Nutrition Educator will build client skills and confidence in order to empower them to pull themselves out of poverty. Learn more and apply here.


Farm to School in the News
African Day of School Feeding: Investing in Nutrition Education
An international example of farm to school! The fourth edition of the African Day of School Feeding was celebrated in Abidjan under the theme “Investing in home-grown school feeding for achieving Zero Hunger and sustaining inclusive education for all, including refugees, returnees and internally-displaced persons in Africa”. Around 200 representatives of governments, civil society, and UN agencies participated in the event, including 14 ministers and deputy ministers. (World Food Program)

Montana students grow veggies, meet farmers
A Montana school is serving fresh produce and herbs grown in on-campus garden beds as part of a farm-to-school program. The school also started a monthly "Farmer in the Classroom" series, which brings in local people involved in agriculture to speak to students. (Sidney Herald)

Oklahoma elementary students taste vegetables grown in tower garden
Freedom Elementary’s student council has been growing vegetables and herbs in the school’s tower garden. This is the third year they have had the tower garden at the school. (KSWO)
  
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: 2/26/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, February 26, 2019
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. Test Kitchen Grant, No Kid Hungry
Deadline: March 15
The Test Kitchen is a concept accelerator designed to help nonprofits, schools, faith organizations, and local governments turn their best ideas into validated strategies and promising practices. This year’s focus is on ending childhood hunger in the summer. Organizations selected for the first cohort will receive grants up to $10,000 and technical assistance from No Kid Hungry (NKH) to test a new model, strategy, or program designed to provide more kids with meals in the summer. Learn more and apply here

2. Native Youth and Culture Fund Grants, First Nations Development Institute 
Deadline: March 12
First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is now accepting proposals for its Native Youth and Culture Fund (NYCF) for projects that focus on youth and incorporate culture and tradition to address social issues in Native communities. First Nations expects to award approximately 20 grants between $5,000 and $19,500 each for projects of no longer than one year in length. Learn more and apply here


Webinars & Events
1. Farm to School Resource Roundup
Wednesday, February 27, 3-4 PM ET
Join us for the first ever National Farm to School Network (NFSN) Farm to School Resource Roundup Webinar. The February webinar will feature three new resources from NFSN that aim to increase equitable access to farm to school initiatives, including the NFSN Programs and Policy Racial and Social Equity Assessment Tool; Supporting Farm to School with Non-Profit Hospital Community Benefit Dollars; and City & School District Farm to School Policy Opportunities. Register here.

2. Trending Topics Webinar: NFSN National Partner of the Year - Intertribal Agriculture Council
Thursday, March 7 // 1-2 PM ET
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is excited to announce the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) as NFSN’s 2019 National Partner of the Year. The IAC, a non-profit, Tribal membership organization, serving all tribal producers and communities across the country, was established in 1987 to pursue and promote conservation, development and use of Indian agricultural resources for the betterment of Indian communities. Through intentional programmatic and policy advocacy collaboration, resource sharing and cross-promotion, we aim to better connect NFSN and IAC members and continue growing farm to school in Native communities. Join this webinar to learn more about IAC and NFSN's collaboration and how members can get involved in this work. Register here.

3. Northern Nevada School Wellness Conference
Saturday, March 16 // Reno, NV
The Nevada Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Division is excited to host its second Northern Nevada School Wellness Conference in Reno on March 16, 2019 at the Truckee Meadows Community College Dandini Campus. All administrators, school wellness coordinators, teachers, food service staff and community stakeholders are encouraged to attend! Register here.


Research & Resources 
1. Slow Food Plant a Seed Kits
Slow Food believes biodiversity is key to a sustainable, adaptable — and delicious — future. The Plant a Seed campaign gives you the tools to get amazing flavor back on your plate. The Plant a Seed kit features six seed packets: three from the Ark of Taste, and three from Row 7. There is a limited number of free kits available for school gardens, request one here.


Job Opportunities
1. Education Director, Lexington Community Farm Coalition (Lexington, MA)

The Lexington Community Farm (LexFarm) is seeking an Education Director to manage education programs. The Education Director will operate, implement, and teach education programs during the 2019 farm season in accordance with LexFarm’s calendar of programs and corresponding curricula. The Education Director will manage online sign-ups, day-of set up, scheduling, and instruction of farm and garden classes for a variety of ages. The Education Director will communicate with specialty program instructors to set up and schedule specialty programs. Learn more here.

2. Program Director, Edible Schoolyard (Berkeley, CA) 
The Edible Schoolyard Project is looking for an Program Director to oversee the management of the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley. The role will develop systems, procedures and structures that enable the team to provide the highest quality instruction to our diverse students. In addition, the Program Director will provide day-to-day direction for the Kitchen and Garden Managers and play a key role in the planning and execution of educator trainings and outreach. Learn more here.


Farm to School in the News
Tennessee schools serve their own meat products
Pork produced at Central High School was served by students in every McMinn County School cafeteria on Tuesday, February 19. Specifically, 100 students from the county’s FFA chapters were present at all nine schools not only serving the locally raised and made sausage, but also educating their peers about the process. (The Daily Post-Athenian)

Kentucky students use aquaponics to “food deserts”
Students at a Kentucky middle school are maintaining an indoor aquaponics system where they can grow vegetables while learning about agriculture. The initiative is part of a student-led project to think of solutions for "food deserts" -- communities that are far from grocery stores and have limited access to fresh food. (Courier Journal)

New York school gets creative with local food in recipes
Students at a New York state school recently tasted muffins made from locally-produced beets as part of the district's farm-to-school program. School nutrition professionals prepare the local fare in creative ways, and previous recipes have included a kale apple salad, kale pesto and butternut squash macaroni-and-cheese. (27 East)

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 ECE in Family Child Care

NFSN Staff Wednesday, February 20, 2019
By Elizabeth Esparza, Communications Intern

Farm to early care and education (farm to ECE) is a group of strategies and activities that offer increased access to healthy, local foods, gardening opportunities, and food-based activities to enhance the quality of educational experience, while also expanding healthy food access and family engagement. Nearly one quarter of children spend time in family child care homes before they reach kindergarten. Because farm to ECE adapts readily to diverse settings and ages and abilities of children, farm to ECE is a great fit for family child care homes. 

In North Carolina, the Wake County Smart Start Farm to Child Care program is a collaboration of multiple organizations that work together to support child care facilities in Wake County that serve low-income families and children. The Farm to Child Care program supports ECE providers, children, and families in accessing  healthy, nutritious food. Comprised of Wake County Smart Start, Advocates for Health in Action, NC Cooperative Extension, and Shape NC, the Farm to Child Care program works together to support the almost 170 family child care home facilities in the county.

The program holds training to help child care providers better understand how to use what’s in season and to give them the skills to be able to move from canned to fresh and local food. Because family child care facilities don’t buy their food in large quantities, the Farm to Child Care program’s training focuses on diverse ways that family child care providers can obtain local foods, including directly from a local farmer and from an onsite garden. Overall, the program focuses on trainings that encourage family child care home facilities that want to focus on healthy living to make their programs holistic, incorporating the core elements of farm to ECE - local procurement, gardens, and food and nutrition education -  into multiple aspects of their program. 

In 2017, grants from the WK Kellogg Foundation brought together five organizations to form the Georgia Farm to ECE Learning Collaborative. Comprised of Georgia Organics, Quality Care for Children, Little Ones Learning Center, Voices for Georgia’s Children, and The Common Market, the collaborative partnership works to provide mini grants, free resources, materials, training, and professional development opportunities to early care providers interested in incorporating farm to ECE activities into their ECE environments, including educational activities and  meal services. 

Of the 18 Learning Collaborative sites throughout Georgia, eight are family child care homes. With support from the learning collaborative, these family child care homes create farm to ECE action plans, and receive on-site technical assistance in classrooms, training and professional development, menu consultation, and other resources to utilize in their programs. The Learning Collaborative sites are able to use the mini grants they receive to pay for books, materials, and professional development, offering them the opportunity to implement successful farm to ECE strategies into their programs.

Jackson Child Care uses their Farm to Table program to ensure that their children are ready for kindergarten, recognizing that 3-5 year olds are at the perfect age to use farm to ECE activities to align with standards. With the Creative Curriculum© as a foundation , the Farm to Table program uses farm to ECE activities to meet Virginia’s early learning standards for math, language/reading, art, and physical and cognitive development. A large part of Jackson Child Care’s program involves bringing the children out in the community and using community connections to help children learn about their food system and gain support and resources to make Farm to Table successful. Through field trips to local grocery stores and farmers markets, children are able to see and hear where their food comes from and interact with the people who grow and sell their food.

To learn more about the opportunities and benefits of farm to ECE in family child care homes, watch a recording of our February 2019 Trending Topics Webinar: Farm to Early Care and Education in Family Child Care.  Also check out USDA Team Nutrition's new version of it's popular Grow It, Try It, Like It! nutrition education materials, specifically for family child care homes. The resource has been updated and customized with posters, fruit and vegetable cards and recipes for for use by family child care homes. Download the resource here. Learn more about farm to ECE and Creative Curriculum© in Policy Equity Group’s A Guide to Using the Creative Curriculum to Support Farm to ECE Models

This Week in Farm to School: 2/19/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to School Resource Roundup
Wednesday, February 27, 3-4 PM ET
Join us for the first ever National Farm to School Network (NFSN) Farm to School Resource Roundup Webinar. The February webinar will feature three new resources from NFSN that aim to increase equitable access to farm to school initiatives, including theNFSN Programs and Policy Racial and Social Equity Assessment Tool; Supporting Farm to School with Non-Profit Hospital Community Benefit Dollars; and City & School District Farm to School Policy Opportunities. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics Webinar: NFSN National Partner of the Year - Intertribal Agriculture Council
Thursday, March 7 // 1-2 PM ET
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is excited to announce the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) as NFSN’s 2019 National Partner of the Year. The IAC, a non-profit, Tribal membership organization, serving all tribal producers and communities across the country, was established in 1987 to pursue and promote conservation, development and use of Indian agricultural resources for the betterment of Indian communities. Through intentional programmatic and policy advocacy collaboration, resource sharing and cross-promotion, we aim to better connect NFSN and IAC members and continue growing farm to school in Native communities. Join this webinar to learn more about IAC and NFSN's collaboration and how members can get involved in this work. Register here.


Research & Resources 
1. EQUITY 3 Hard Truths that will Help Your Organization Undo Racism, FoodCorps
"We will only get so far if we don’t explicitly and intentionally commit ourselves to undoing racism because it is the foundation upon which extreme economic disparities exist - the very disparities that explain why some children don’t have access to healthy food." Tiffany McClain, Director of Organizational Equity and Inclusion at FoodCorps, shares three steps organizations can take to undo racism and create sustained systemic change. Read more here.

2. Grow It, Try It, Like It! Fun with Fruits and Vegetables at Family Child Care, USDA Team Nutrition
Grow It, Try It, Like It! Fun with Fruits and Vegetables at Family Child Care is designed to help Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) operators provide garden-based nutrition education for children ages 3 through 5 years old in family child care settings. Through the activities in Grow It, Try It, Like It!, children touch, smell, feel, and taste new fruits and vegetables. Children also learn how fruits and vegetables grow. Planting activities help children connect the delicious food choices at the table with the farm, orchard, or garden. Read more here.

3. Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act Case Study, Center for Science in the Public Interest
This case study developed by CSPI provides insights into policy strategy and advocacy best practices that resulted in passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). The case study outlines key lessons to help inform nutrition and public health policy initiatives, as well as continued implementation and defense of school nutrition. It describes how advocates used research to develop and advocate for policy change, compromises that were needed to advance the policies, changes in attitudes about school food policy over time, framing and messaging, the role of state and local policy that laid the groundwork for national change, and how challenges were resolved between stakeholders. Read more here


Policy Updates
1. FY 2019 Funding Bill Includes $5 Million for Farm to School
The government funding bill signed by the President last week included a bright spot for the farm to school movement. Thanks to the leadership of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the bill included an additional $5 million in discretionary funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, which doubles the annual available funding for this highly impactful and important program for one year. This is a significant win for the farm to school movement. Demand for the program is more than four times higher than available yearly funding, and this additional discretionary funding will help make the program accessible to more schools, farmers and communities across the country. Read more on our blog

2. Minnesota Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Support Farm to School
New, bipartisan legislation introduced in Minnesota last week would set aside a $2 million annual grant program to reimburse schools and early child care providers for getting food from local providers. Both schools and farmers would also get the technical assistance required to make this relationship work -- like complying with food safety ordinances, sticking to federal food guidelines, and figuring out how to prepare available veggies for elementary school kids. Read more here.


Job Opportunities
1. Program Director, Edible Schoolyard (Berkeley, CA) 
The Edible Schoolyard Project is looking for an Program Director to oversee the management of the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley. The role will develop systems, procedures and structures that enable the team to provide the highest quality instruction to our diverse students. In addition, the Program Director will provide day-to-day direction for the Kitchen and Garden Managers and play a key role in the planning and execution of educator trainings and outreach. Learn more here.

2. Grassroots Intern & Policy Intern, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (Washington, D.C.)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is currently seeking a Policy Intern and a Grassroots Intern for the summer term beginning in late May 2019 and lasting until mid-August 2019. These positions are paid, full-time, and located at NSAC’s Washington, D.C. office on Capitol Hill. Learn more and apply here.

3. Better Selves Fellowship, Knoll Farm (Waitsfield, VT)
The Better Selves Fellowship is born out of the belief that the challenges facing our communities are so vast that more work, more information, faster and longer hours cannot be the only answer; what's needed is space to remember and be our better selves: clear-headed, compassionate, courageous, wise. This year we will award 60 seven-day fellowships at the Refuge at Knoll Farm. The fellowship allows time to work on a specific project that needs your focus, to write, to brainstorm solutions, or simply to get your head back on straight by walking and living on a healthy working farm. Learn more here.


Farm to School in the News
Large to small growers move crops with farm to school movement
Providence Farm is a small vegetable-and-livestock operation in Michigan, with a community supported agriculture (CSA) program and a roadside market. But owners Ryan and Andrea Romeyn say direct sales to schools have led to the “dreamy” experience of doing a profitable higher-volume business in carrots. They harvest more than 20 acres of carrots, boxing them and shipping them out. (Vegetable Growers News)

New York district honored for incorporating farm produce into kids’ meals
Southampton Union Free School District has been honored for its work to integrate local farm products into its school meal program. Both the Southampton Union Free School District and the East End Farm to School Project were recently awarded the Farm to School Partnership Award for finding and incorporating local produce into kids' meals at the Southampton, Bridgehampton and Tuckahoe school districts. (Patch)

New Jersey students enjoy salad bar with their school-grown produce 
Memorial School 7th and 8th graders who are part of the STRIVE Gifted and Talented Program on Feb. 8 enjoyed pizza and a salad bar which utilized the first cut growths off their Tower Garden, a vertical, aeroponic growing system which enables the growing of up to 20 items in less than three square feet, indoors or out, at a time. (TapInto)

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.

Building Farm to School Advocacy Skills in New Mexico

NFSN Staff Monday, February 18, 2019

By Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist

A few weeks ago, the National Farm to School Network Programs and Policy Team visited Santa Fe, NM to connect with each other and to see the amazing work of our partners in the New Mexico Farm to School Alliance.* As a humble Midwesterner, having been no further than the Mississippi river, I entered what felt like a different world when I landed in Santa Fe. It was my first time in the “Land of Enchantment.” Both Farm to Table New Mexico and the National Education Association (who served as NFSN’s 2018 National Partner of the Year) welcomed us to their annual advocacy trainings where they trained local partners on how to advocate during the state’s intense and short legislative session. Advocacy hardly sounds like an enchanting activity, but something about the passion and dedication of the folks that I met was certainly magical and the results tangible. New Mexico partners have successfully passed bills that appropriate funding for the use of NM-grown produce in school meals and establish a Food and Farms Day; advocates are currently working on passing legislation that builds on these success.

Both advocacy trainings provided a wealth of information and facilitated some exciting connections. Before we stormed the halls of the state’s capitol building (the “roundhouse” as they call it), we learned everything from the basics of engaging elected officials to the nuances of New Mexico politics. We learned the history and context of the current policy priorities, including details of past successes and failures. Facilitators from different organizations shared personal experiences and even had us role play different scenarios to prepare. We listened to the inspiring words of Mr. Regis Peco, co-director of the Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School - “There is no greater privilege than guiding the hearts and minds of children.” We collaborated and communed with local activists who taught us the vision and values of New Mexicans (and helped us test run our Racial and Social Equity Assessment Tool!) We joined a celebration of the grassroots leaders and elected officials who work tirelessly to make farm to school the norm. We even feasted at San Ildefonso Pueblo with the family of our own Alena Paisano, NFSN Program Manager, who allowed us a glimpse into indigenous culture and how it endures despite centuries of efforts to silence Native people.

In each of these experiences, I got to see the very real impact farm to school advocacy has in people’s lives. Students lined up in the roundhouse ready to advocate for themselves, empowered by the educators who made farm to school their mission. That same day, in that same building, state legislators honored farm to school champions from around the state for their dedication to the work. Farm to school is not just an idea in New Mexico, it’s a whole movement built on the belief that our children, farmers, and communities deserve better.

To learn more about farm to school in New Mexico, click here.

* New Mexico Farm to School Alliance partners:
Farm to Table New Mexico
New Mexico Public Education Department
New Mexico Health Department
University of New Mexico Community Engagement Center
New Mexico Student Nutrition Association

FY 2019 Funding Bill Includes $5 Million for Farm to School

NFSN Staff Friday, February 15, 2019


The funding bill passed by the Senate and House this week, and signed by the President on Friday, included a bright spot for the farm to school movement. Thanks to the leadership of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the bill includes an additional $5 million in discretionary funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, which doubles the annual available funding for this highly impactful and important program for one year. This is a significant win for the farm to school movement. Demand for the program is more than four times higher than available yearly funding, and this additional discretionary funding will help make the program accessible to more schools, farmers and communities across the country. 

Please join us in thanking Sen. Leahy for this win and for helping make healthy, local food in schools a reality for millions of children across the country. You can send him a thank you on social media (@SenatorLeahy) or give his office a call at (202) 224-4242 to let him know that you appreciate his ongoing efforts to strengthen and support farm to school. Sen. Leahy championed a similar funding win in the 2018 appropriations bill. As a result, approximately $7.5 million will be awarded in FY 2019 and FY 2020 USDA Farm to School grants. 

National Farm to School Network has been advocating for an increase in funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program for several years. This important program increases the use of and improves access to local foods in schools – thus boosting farm income and economic opportunities – while also fostering experiential food education for our nation’s children. Since the first cycle of grants in 2013, USDA has received over 1,900 applications requesting more than $141 million, though has only been able to make 437 awards from the $30 million available. 

While the additional $5 million in discretionary funding included in the FY 2019 funding bill is a big boost for the program, this funding is temporary. It’s important that we continue to advocate for a more permanent solution for sustaining the USDA Farm to School Grant Program and its impact for communities with high-need across the country. National Farm to School Network continues our advocacy work to ensure that farm to school opportunities are accessible to every student, farmer and community across the country. Stay tuned to our blog for more policy news, updates and opportunities to join us in this advocacy and make your voice heard. 
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