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Farm to ECE On The Menu At National Indian Head Start Director’s Association Conference

NFSN Staff Thursday, July 06, 2017

By Abby Harper, Farm to School Specialist, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems

Farm to early care and education was on the menu at this year’s National Indian Head Start Director’s Association Annual Conference in Denver, Colo. in early June. The annual conference brings together leaders from all levels of management and leadership in American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) Head Start programs, and this year over 40 attendees participated in a session to learn more about farm to early care and education (ECE). The session covered an overview of farm to ECE, presented strategies and resources to support implementing different components of farm to ECE, and allowed ample opportunity for attendees to discuss interest, challenges and opportunities in their programs.

The theme of this year’s conference, Preserving Indigenous Learning, opened up space to discuss how local foods can be a tool for celebrating cultural traditions of the populations served by AIAN Head Start programs. While some may think of local foods primarily related to fruits or vegetables, participants in this session highlighted local foods like salmon, bison and chili peppers as items of highest interest in incorporating into early childhood programs. During discussion, many attendees expressed interest in using local foods to teach children about food traditions and agricultural history of the populations they serve, and creating space for family engagement around gardening and food preparation. One attendee saw an opportunity in highlighting local, traditional foods as a tool for celebrating culture and instilling a sense of pride in their young children. Building off of that idea, another attendee noted the opportunity to use local foods as a way to teach children and families – many of whom have lost a connection to tribal foods – the nutritional value and preparation methods for traditional foods.

Attendees of the session expressed general interest in purchasing and utilizing local foods in early childhood meal programs, but noted several challenges specific to their communities and to bringing tribal foods and traditions into cafeterias, classrooms and gardens. In addition to challenges related to budget, geographic location presents a unique barrier for AIAN Head Start programs, as many reservations lack access to high quality agricultural land and locations to purchase reasonably priced local foods. Additionally, some foods that are of interest to tribal communities, such as wild game, foraged foods or bison raised on agricultural land, may not qualify for reimbursement under the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

Colusa Indian Child Care Center has been incorporating local foods into its early childhood programs since 2005, as a response to parents and community members noting rising health issues due to poor diets in their communities. Director Kim Nall saw local foods as a tool for increasing access to healthier lifestyles and as part of their responsibility in caring for children. “The kids are with us 8 or 9 hours a day. This is something that we need to be invested in and it’s something that we need to take seriously.” Since then, Colusa Indian Child Care Center has taken big strides to make local foods a part of its normal operations. Program staff started by establishing several on-site gardens , which grow produce for meals and snacks. They also began purchasing a variety of foods from local farms, including developing a long-term relationship with a stone fruit grower and purchasing nuts, honey and rice from nearby tribal farmers. Early on, they encountered challenges meeting minimum orders for some area farmers, so they partnered with local schools to coordinate deliveries on the same day farmers were delivering to larger school districts. Since the beginning, they’ve involved parents in every aspect of their farm to ECE activities. Parents and families test taste new recipes, help with food preparation and attend open houses that feature local farmers and vendors.

At Colusa Indian Child Care Center, the efforts are paying off. Children have become accustomed to local, seasonal foods, and these healthy habits are now ingrained in how the children approach what they eat. The staff have also seen changes in parents, who are now more open to new menus and are taking a leading role in encouraging their children to eat healthy, local foods.  The on-site farm stand has also increased in popularity among families. The center credits a lot of its success with being active in the local food scene. By participating on local food policy councils and learning what school districts in the area are doing, Colusa Indian Child Care Center has become part of the local food conversation and gained access to important resources to support its programming. 

There are many resources to support early childhood programs serving AIAN populations. The National Farm to School Network has funded five farm to school programs in tribal communities that AIAN Head Start programs can learn from.  The USDA has provided guidance on utilizing traditional foods in child nutrition programs, bringing tribal foods and traditions into cafeterias, classrooms, and gardens, and gardens in tribal communities. Additionally, technical assistance providers looking to connect with AIAN programs can work with AIAN grantee organizations. These resources and the enthusiastic discussion at the National Indian Head Start Director’s Association’s June conference indicate a growing number of AIAN early childhood and head start programs that use local and traditional foods to improve nutrition and celebrate culture.

Photo credits: (Top) National Farm to School Network; (Bottom) Colusa Indian Child Care Center

This Week in Farm to School: 7/5/17

NFSN Staff Wednesday, July 05, 2017
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. ALDI Smart Kids Program
This program makes $100-$5K grants to organizations that promote kids being healthy and active in the geographical areas where ALDI stores are located. Applications are open Feb. 1 - Dec. 15 of each year on a rolling basis. Learn more and apply

2. Rural Seed Grant
Food Coop Initiative’s Rural Seed Grant program is designed to provide financial support during a new food co-op’s early development, backed by the advice and guidance of their development specialists, with the goal of helping  co-ops move through the startup process effectively and efficiently. Learn more and apply


Webinars
1. Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to School Partnerships with Your School Nutrition Association
TOMORROW - July 6 // 2-3pm ET
Join the National Farm to School Network to learn about partnering with your School Nutrition Association to expand your farm to school efforts. This webinar is part of NFSN’s new monthly webinar series, Trending Topics in Farm to School, which will be held the first Thursday of every month from 2-3pm ET. These webinars are open to anyone interested in learning about emerging issues and innovation in the farm to school movement. Help spread the word, and register for the July webinar here

2. Farm to ECE Quarterly Webinar: State Agencies as Leaders and Partners in Growing Farm to ECE

August 2 // 3:30-4:30pm ET
State agencies (including departments of agriculture, education and health) can be key leaders and partners in facilitating growth and institutionalization of farm to ECE at the state level. Join us to learn more about the variety of ways that state agencies across the country are leading the way in farm to ECE. Representatives from Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the South Carolina Departments of Health and Environmental Control and Social Services will share their innovative programs and strategic approaches to growing and supporting farm to ECE in their states. This webinar is open to all so please share widely. Register here


Action Items 
1. Seeking Non-English Farm to School Resources
The National Farm to School Network seeks farm to school related resources in diverse languages to add to our free, online resource database. We aim to connect all students and families to farm to school materials in languages that are accessible to them, and to do this, we need your help! Please send any relevant non-English farm to school resource to info@farmtoschool.org. Thank you for helping making farm to school available in many languages! 

2. SAWG Seeks Board Nominations
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Board of Directors is accepting applicants for consideration of a board appointment beginning in March 2018, and through March 2021. Application Deadline is August 15, 2017. Learn more and apply

3. Local Food Safety Collaborative Survey 
The Local Food Safety Collaborative aims to provide specialized training, education, and outreach to farmers and food processors who serve local markets. Responses to this survey will help direct their resources to best enhance fundamental food safety knowledge and help small farmers and processors comply with applicable Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations.


Resources 
1. Why We Can't Talk About Race in Food
In this CivilEats article five food writers of color share their experiences and perspectives on race as it relates to the food system. Dakota Kim, writer and food editor for Paste magazine explains, "Food is not your separate, happy, safe sphere, away from politics. Food is politics. Food is culture." Read more

2. New Farm to ECE Video

The Vermont Farm to School Network just completed a new Farm to ECE video. This three minute short is a great audio-visual summary of what Farm to ECE can look like! 

3. Food eTALK

Food eTalk is helping parents and guardians make good choices on the spot. Food eTalk is an online nutrition education eLearning program which features 10-minute interactive lessons, cooking videos, and just-in-time learning videos. 


Job Opportunities
 
1. Garden Educator, Grow Pittsburgh
Grow Pittsburgh seeks to fill a full time Garden Educator position. As a part of the Grow Pittsburgh team, the Garden Educator will be a integral part of teaching students to grow, cook and eat fresh food while celebrating the cultures and experiences of the students and the city. Read more and apply

2. Marketing and Communication Coordinator, AmpleHarvest.org
AmpleHarvest.org seeks a Marketing and Communications Coordinator. AmpleHarvest.org represents an exciting model for addressing food waste and hunger/malnutrition in the US. The idea being to move information instead of moving food. Read more and apply

3. Call for Contract Proposals for Farm to Institution Analysis

The Wallace Center at Winrock International is soliciting proposals from qualified contractors to carry out a landscape analysis of the farm to institution market in Central Brooklyn focused on how the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) can leverage and coordinate existing efforts and infrastructure to scale up local food procurement. Proposals are due July 21. Learn more


Farm to School in the News

Delaware school garden promotes real-world science instruction
“Schoolyard habitat programs like our sensory garden are part of our school’s efforts to go green,” said fourth grade teacher Leona Williams, who worked with Delaware Nature Society naturalists to help design the garden. “The sensory garden will also serve as an outdoor classroom for science, mathematics, writing, and drawing classes.” (Delaware.gov)

Kids hand out free veggies they grew at Oklahoma elementary school
"What’s so cool about it is you can harvest and give it to people who want plants and don’t have (them) in their gardens." Students also hand out recipes to give families ideas of how to use the vegetables. (Tulsa World)

Kentucky students have first garden harvest
Summer break may be in full swing, but several Conkwright Elementary students came to their school Tuesday evening for the first harvest of vegetables from a garden planted earlier in the year. (Winchester Sun)

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

This Week in Farm to School: 6/27/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 27, 2017
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. Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Grant Program 
Applications are being solicited through the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Grant Program (also known as the “2501 Program”) from community-based and non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and Tribal entities to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers.  The deadline for applications is August 7, 2017. Learn more


Webinars

1. Team Up for Farm to School Success!
June 29 // 3-4 pm ET
FNS will host the June Team Up Thursday webinar, focused on best practices for planning and organizing successful farm to school programs. The webinar will feature schools and districts who have creatively utilized Farm to School Planning Grants to grow their program. Learn more and register

2. Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to School Partnerships with Your School Nutrition Association

July 6 // 2-3pm ET
Join the National Farm to School Network to learn about partnering with your School Nutrition Association to expand your farm to school efforts. This webinar is part of NFSN’s new monthly webinar series, Trending Topics in Farm to School, which will be held the first Thursday of every month from 2-3pm ET. These webinars are open to anyone interested in learning about emerging issues and innovation in the farm to school movement. Help spread the word, and register for the July webinar here

3. NFSN Farm to ECE Quarterly Webinar: State Agencies as Leaders and Partners in Growing Farm to ECE
August 2 // 3:30-4:30pm ET
State agencies (including departments of agriculture, education and health) can be key leaders and partners in facilitating growth and institutionalization of farm to ECE at the state level. Join us to learn more about the variety of ways that state agencies across the country are leading the way in farm to ECE. Representatives from Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the South Carolina Departments of Health and Environmental Control and Social Services will share their innovative programs and strategic approaches to growing and supporting farm to ECE in their states. This webinar is open to all so please share widely. Register here

Events
1. National Food Sovereignty Summit
October 2-5 // Green Bay, WI
The National Food Sovereignty Summit  is a forum for sharing and collaboration to build healthy food systems within tribal communities. This event is perfect for Native farmers, ranchers, gardeners, businesses, policymakers, tribal agriculture staff, Native nonprofits working in agriculture, small producers, tribal producers and tribal leaders. Learn more and register

2. Focusing on Food Loss and Waste: 2017 FoodTank Summit NYC

September 13 // NYC
As the inaugural NYC Food Tank Summit, the event will gather dozens of expert speakers who are top leaders across all sectors of the food industry. The entire NYC Food Tank Summit can also be viewed remotely free via FoodTank.com and Facebook Live. Apply here for tickets.  


Action Items 
1. Chef Ann Foundation Survey
The Chef Ann Foundation's Learning Lunchrooms Initiative will help schools offer learning opportunities about food and nutrition in the cafeteria, while simultaneously creating an engaging mealtime environment by redesigning front-of-house equipment, furniture, and displays; and they need your input to make it happy. Please take 5-10 minutes to complete this survey so they can better understand if there is a desire and appetite for creating a more interactive lunchroom space.

2. USDA 2017 Census of Agriculture

Make sure you are counted! New farmers or existing farmers who have not participated in a prior Census of Agriculture still have time to sign up to be counted through the end of June. 


Resources & Research

1. New Survey Report Reveals Producer Practices & Attitudes About Selling Food to Schools, Colleges & Hospitals  
Farm to Institution New England (FINE) has released the third publication in a series of research reports revealing trends in regional markets for local food at K-12 schools, hospitals, colleges, and other institutions. “Producer Perspectives: The New England Farm-to-Institution Market” presents in-depth findings and makes specific, data-driven recommendations for farmers, producer service providers, government officials, funders, and institutions.

2. Atlanta-based organization Truly Living Well is growing a healthy community 

Literally and figuratively, Rashid Nuri planted a seed that is blossoming into better food for all. “Truly Living Well has had a major influence on my students understanding the importance of food sustainability, urban agriculture, and healthy eating,” said Margul Woolfolk, principal of M. Agnes Jones Elementary. “It has taken complex concepts and textbook exposure to a higher level.” Read more

3. MSU Sending Tribal College Students on New PATHS to Food Sovereignty

The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded Montana State University $280,000 over three years to support the PATHS, or “Pathways to Agriculture and Native foods, Tribal Health and Sovereignty,” program. Principal Investigator Holly Hunts, an associate professor in Montana State University’s College of Education, Health and Human Development, said: “This is an interdisciplinary effort to look at problems and solve them. We are exponentially smarter when we work together.” The PATHS program is open to students at any tribal college. Read more


Job Opportunities 

1. Chef Manager, Ecospaces
New Jersey based Ecospaces seeks a Chef Manager to oversee all food production while abiding by the regulations of the federal reimbursable meal program (National School Lunch Program). Learn more and apply

2. Early and School Food Academic Specialist, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems

The Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) seeks an Academic Specialist to lead efforts promoting good food access and awareness in early child care and education environments (ECE) and K-12 schools. Learn more and apply

3. Director of School Nutrition, Maine Regional School Unit No. 5
Maine Regional School unit No. 5 (Durham, Freeport, Pownal) seeks a Director of Food Service to provide leadership in developing and maintaining the district’s food service program in accordance with the provisions of the National School Lunch Program. Learn more and apply

4. Development and Community Stewardship Coordinator, West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition
The West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition seeks a Development and Community Stewardship Coordinator. This position has two essential functions. The first function is helping develop and expand an inclusive membership program and the second is to coordinate development efforts, including fundraising through grant writing , corporate sponsorships and partnerships. Learn more and apply


Farm to School in the News

New York students benefit from gardening program
As seeds grow, so do the students. The time outdoors learning how to plant and tend their gardens not only inspires a newfound interest in gardening, nutrition and the environment that carries over into their home lives, it also incorporates academic subjects like math, science and writing. (Time Herald-Record)

Nebraska children dig into building a better world

“The community garden to me is a fabulous opportunity for families to talk about where food comes from, healthier eating habits, staying away from processed food. We’re in a food desert in Hastings. We don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables geographically but we have tons of fast food. I think it’s an important educational piece.” (Hastings Tribune)

Exclusive dining, excellent service at Alabama School's Spaghetti Palace

The most exclusive new restaurant in town — Spaghetti Palace — opened Thursday in the gym at Attalla Elementary School, staffed by the students involved in the school’s summer camp program. While the school’s cafeteria manager cooked the spaghetti, meatballs and sauce that were served, the students worked to prepare the salads, using items from the school’s community garden. (Gadsden Times)

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

This Week in Farm to School: 6/20/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 20, 2017
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. Voices for Healthy Kids
The goal of this grant within the Voices for Healthy Kids initiative is to make effective strategic investments in ongoing state, local, and tribal public policy issue campaigns in order to increase public policy impact on healthy weight and living among children. Applications should support one Voices for Healthy Kids Policy Levers and be submitted by the deadline of July 21, 2017 - 5 PM PST. Learn more

Webinars
1. Farm to Early Care Webinar Series Part Two: Doing it Right! Best Practices for CACFP Compliance and On-Farm Food Safety Assessment
June 20 // 10 am CDT
Many of Early Care partners are excited to start serving locally grown fruits and vegetables from farmers in their communities, but they want to make sure they are following the rules for their CACFP food program and best practices to make sure the food is as safe as possible for the kids in their program. Learn more and register.

2. NFSN Farm to ECE Quarterly Webinar: State Agencies as Leaders and Partners in Growing Farm to ECE

August 2 // 3:30 – 4:30 ET
State agencies (including departments of agriculture, education and health) can be key leaders and partners in facilitating growth and institutionalization of farm to ECE at the state level. Join us to learn more about the variety of ways that state agencies across the country are leading the way in farm to ECE. Representatives from Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the South Carolina Departments of Health and Environmental Control and Social Services will share their innovative programs and strategic approaches to growing and supporting farm to ECE in their states. This webinar is open to all so please share widely. Register here

Events
1. 25th Annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium
July 12-15 // Portland, OR area
Join the American Horticultural Society and local host Oregon Department of Education at the only national event of its kind for educators, garden designers, community leaders, and others dedicated to connecting kids to plants. Online registration open until June 22. Learn more.

2. Closing the Hunger Gap: Moving the Hunger Relief System from Charity to Social Justice

September 11th-13th // Tacoma, WA
This conference will introduce you to new ideas, people, and strategies dismantling racial and economic disparities in our food system. Save $40 when you buy early bird tickets before August 1st! Learn more.

3. The Carolina Meat Conference 
September 25-26 // Winston-Salem, NC
The Carolina Meat Conference is the largest gathering of pastured meat-makers in the country! Farmers, chefs, butchers, and industry leaders convene for two days of unparalleled networking, hands-on training, and technical and business assistance. This conference supports a growing community committed to advancing market opportunities and increasing customer access to pasture-based meats. Learn more and register

Action Items 
1. School Gardens Survey
Students at Lehman College, CUNY are interested in learning from your challenges to implementing and sustaining school gardens. Take part in their research survey here

Resources & Research
1. Local Food for Little Eaters: A Purchasing Toolbox for the Child and Adult Care Food Program
This procurement toolbox from the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems is designed to help early childhood programs purchase local food. The tools included provide step-by-step instructions for purchasing from a variety of local food sources and provide highlights from successful early childhood local purchasing initiatives throughout the country.  Access the toolkit here

2. Native Youth Learning to Integrate Local Foods into Daily Lives
More than 80 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native adults are overweight or obese, and half of American Indian children are predicted to develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes. “Some Westernized foods and medicines are not best for tribal people,” says Carolyn Angus-Hornbuckle, director of public health policy and programs at the National Indian Health Board. “These health disparities are happening throughout Indian Country, and we could see positive health impacts if Blackfeet chose to share [Researcher Abaki Beck’s] report and their knowledge with other communities.” Read more

3. Systems Approaches for Healthy Communities
Systems Approaches for Healthy Communities is a professional development program, designed for SNAP-Ed implementing agencies, that promotes the integration of policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) interventions with educational strategies. The final version will be available starting October 2017. Learn more

4. Association Between Indulgent Descriptions and Vegetable Consumption: Twisted Carrots and Dynamite Beets
Giving a vegetable dish a creative name — like “zesty ginger-turmeric sweet potatoes” instead of just plain “sweet potatoes” — resulted in 25 percent more people choosing the vegetable. But 35 percent more customers chose the zesty label than the health-positive “wholesome sweet potato superfood,” and 41 percent more chose it than the scolding “cholesterol-free sweet potatoes.” Read more

5. Active Role States Have Played in Helping to Transform the School Wellness Environment through Policy

This report provides historical data on state wellness policy-related laws (SY 2006-07 through 2014-15), baseline information on state laws related to the first year of Smart Snacks regulation (SY 2014-15), and insights as to how state laws align with the provisions of the USDA’s wellness policy final rule given the forthcoming implementation date (SY 2017-18). In addition, an assessment of the scope and intensity of requirements included in state laws governing the local wellness policy environment for all years, across all topic areas, and by selected state characteristics is included. See more here

6. Working on Wellness: How Aligned are District Wellness Policies with the Soon-To-Be-Implemented Federal Wellness Policy Requirements? 

Nationwide Baseline Information from the 2014-15 School Year
This report provides data on district wellness policies in effect at the start of the 2014-15 school year, including: insights as to district policy readiness for or alignment with the provisions of the USDA’s wellness policy final rule given the forthcoming implementation date (SY 2017-18); baseline information that tracks the incorporation of Smart Snacks standards into district wellness policies during the first year of implementation (SY 2014-15); and an assessment of the scope and intensity of wellness policy provisions in district policies within and across all topic areas and by selected district characteristics. Learn more

Job Opportunities 
1. Policy Advocate, National Family Farm Coalition
NFFC seeks an Interim Policy Advocate (with the potential to become a permanent position) to bring the concerns of NFFC member organizations to Capitol Hill and the Administration and to track family farm-related legislation, including the next Farm Bill. Learn more

2. Farm to School Procurement Specialist, LSU Extension

The Farm to School Procurement Specialist (Extension Associate) will perform work related to the procurement of locally grown products for Louisiana farm to school programming; act as a main contact for Louisiana school food and other institution authorities for individual technical assistance and to help comply with federal, state, and local procurement regulations; develop training materials aiding school food authorities in the procurement process. Learn more

Farm to School in the News
Montana School program raises rainbows — trout and chard
While farm to school programs are taking root throughout Montana and exist in all 50 states, the program at Park High School remains an innovator and one of very few nationally that raises edible fish in an aquaponics system to be featured in school meals. (Missoulian

West Virginia students help community garden flourish
A community garden tended by students at Edison Middle School in West Virginia is expected to produce a bumper crop this year, enough to distribute vegetables to hundreds of area families. Students have been working to establish the community garden for nearly two years as part of the school’s STEM program. (The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Tennessee STREAM Camp focuses on environment, Giving Garden

“We began the week looking from a global perspective about our impact on the plant. We then narrowed the focus to the distribution and harvesting of food. Students studied aquaponics and hydroponics and designed floating gardens that would allow life to be sustained in countries that are plagued with flooding such as Bangladesh.” (Times News

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

Reflections On My Year As A Farm to School Fellow

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 13, 2017

By Ariel Bernstein, Farm to School and Education Fellow
I began my journey at the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) twelve months ago in June 2016, and this jam-packed year has flown by. I was placed at NFSN’s Washington, D.C. office through a fellowship with the Newman’s Own Foundation. The program recruits recent college graduates, creates a cohort, and places fellows at various non-profit organizations across the country for a year of valuable, real-world experience in the philanthropic sector. Though I knew I was interested in working in food systems, NFSN has opened my eyes to the expansiveness of the field, making it my most transformative experience yet. I never thought that all of the curriculum development and garden-based learning I initiated at a small elementary school during college would lead to me advocating for local food and healthy school meals at the national level. But, it did, and I could not be more thrilled by the direction my passions have taken me.

As the Farm to School and Education Fellow, my scope of work at NFSN has centered around education. I have rotated through the organization’s various teams, experiencing all of the moving pieces of pushing farm to school forward as a national movement. With the Communications Team, I created content for National Farm to School Month and learned how to strategically manage a national campaign and utilize communications to promote and advocate for a cause. With the Programs Team, I helped implement a new organizational structure of state and territory partners, teaching me how to create and maintain relationships with key stakeholders. I attended Capitol Hill and coalition meetings with the Policy Team, exposing me to the world of food and nutrition policy that I have developed a deep passion for. I created and updated NFSN signature resources (like the Benefits of Farm to School Fact Sheet and an ESSA Toolkit), and presented about them to national audiences. Throughout the year, I learned how teamwork and self-motivation are key ingredients for accomplishing our goals. Additionally, the Newman’s Own Foundation provided my cohort with numerous workshops and trainings on topics such as team-building, workplace behavior styles and career coaching. This further enhanced my personal growth and professional journey, and added value to the way I approached my work at NFSN. 

While working at NFSN, I have seen first-hand how passion for food justice issues and farm to school, combined with tenacity and organization, can drive the coordination of a national movement that is growing exponentially and creating grassroots change across the country. Watching this has fueled my passion for this work and solidified my desire to continue advocating for local food, child nutrition, and other aspects of food systems reform. I never suspected I would want to stay in DC to work on food and nutrition policy, or go back school so soon to gain more insight on how to catalyze food system reform. But because of my time at NFSN, a new world has opened its arms and invited me in, and I finally feel like I know what I need to be doing.

As I reflect on my year’s work at NFSN, all of these things come to mind. I think about my jump from grassroots school garden work to national farm to school movement coordination. I think about knowledge I have gained and the learning process I have gone through. I think about the projects I have completed and how my work has impacted the organization. I think about the meetings I have attended and the connections I have made. Though my work has been varied and my takeaways are diverse, there is one thing that ties everything together, making it the most impactful part of my experience: the NFSN staff team. This team has given me knowledge in situations where I had room to grow, support when I needed lifting up, guidance when I felt lost, and humor when all I needed was a good laugh. It is this type of working environment that creates a productive, efficient and cohesive staff, and it has been an absolute honor to have been included in such a special team. 

To the NFSN staff: I cannot thank you enough for inviting me into your work, and guiding me though this year and into my future. You are a team of passionate warriors fighting the good fight, and I can’t wait to see where your hard work will continue to take the farm to school movement! 

This Week in Farm to School: 6/13/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 13, 2017
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. USDA Rural Development: Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grants program
USDA-RD is now accepting applications for the Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grants program. The primary objective of this grant is to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups through cooperatives and Cooperative Development Centers. Learn more here


Webinars
1. Webinar series: Farm to Early Care 
June 13-27, 10am CST
The Minnesota Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has distilled their farm to ECE training into four basic webinars to give background to anyone planning their own Farm to ECE program. Learn more and register here
 
2. Getting Prepped to Visit Lawmakers: Tips and Guidance on Meeting with Policy Makers on the Importance of Nutrition Education
June 13, 3pm EST
This year, the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior's (SNEB) annual conference is located in our nation's Capitol. With looming cuts to important social programs, what better opportunity could there be to gather support and educate our elected officials on the importance of nutrition education in our country? Register here

3. Webinar: Blueprint for a National Food Strategy
June 15, 2pm EST 
The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School and Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic teamed up to create an interactive Blueprint for a National Food Strategy. Check it out and join the Blueprint authors for a national webinar. Register here

4. Webinar: Developing Your BFRDP Project
June 20, 1pm EST
This webinar hosted by New Entry Sustainable Farming Project will focus on developing your project for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) application process. Register here


Events
1. NESAW Conference: Call for Session Proposals
November 9-11 // Baltimore, MD
The Call for Proposals is open for the 2017 Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) conference, which will be held November 9-11 in Baltimore, MD. Now in its 24th year, NESAWG’s It Takes a Region conference brings together farm and food systems leaders from across the Northeast to learn, network, and collaborate.  In 2016, over 400 attendees from 12 states joined us for workshops and networking sessions on race and equity; farm and food business practices; fisheries; youth leadership; and much more. Click here to learn more and submit your proposal! Submissions due by June 28th at 9am. 

2. Community Food Systems Conference
December 5-7, 2017 // Boston, Massachusetts
The Community Food Systems Conference will explore the intersection of food security, social justice, and sustainable agriculture as well as address common underlying themes between food security, social justice and sustainable agriculture. Register here


Action Items 
1. The Healthy Food Policy Project: Case study nominations 
The Healthy Food Policy Project is currently seeking nominations for case studies of local initiatives and laws relating to supporting or promoting access to healthy food, and that also contribute to strong local economies, an improved environment, and health equity, with a focus on socially disadvantaged and marginalized groups. If you have any questions regarding this project or the nomination process, please contact Sally Mancini (sally.mancini@uconn.edu). Apply here by June 15. 

2. New Opportunity to Influence Farm Policy at the Local Level

Stakeholders interested in being involved in federal decision making without taking a trip to Washington D.C., should explore the possibility of participating in their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee. Whether you choose to run as a candidate, or simply exercise your right to vote, engaging with your local FSA County Committee is a good way to ensure your voice is heard on important farm policy decisions. Learn more here

3. USDA: 2017 Verification Response Rate Challenge 
School food authority (SFA) and State agency staff have until June 15th to share their ideas for increasing response rates in the annual school meals verification process. Simply describe how you have increased response rates in a few sentences, and you’re done. Participate here


Policy News
1. Vermont Governor Signs Bill to Strengthen Farm to School
Last week, Governor Phil Scott signed S.33, the Rozo McLaughlin Farm to School bill, which will further enhance Vermont’s Farm to School programming. With the signing of the bill, Vermont’s early childhood education centers are now eligible for state farm to school grant funding. The bill also sets new statewide goals for farm to school: By 2025, 75 percent of schools will engage significantly in farm to school programing, and 50 percent of school food will be purchased from local or regional sources. Read more here


Job Opportunities 
1.Conference Coordinator, Southern SAWG 
Southern SAWG (Sustainable Agriculture Working Group) is seeking an experienced Conference Coordinator to manage and carry out the 2018 Southern SAWG Conference. The Conference will be held January 17-20, 2018 in Chattanooga, TN. Learn more and apply here

2. Elementary Teacher of Agriculture Projects, Maine Regional School Unit #3
Maine's RSU 3 seeks an Elementary Teacher of Agricultural Projects. This new position will support classroom teachers with the integration of curriculum into an outdoor, experiential learning setting; will manage the gardens and outdoor learning spaces at our elementary schools; lead integrated lessons with grades K-5 students; organize and oversee greenhouse and garden programming; and work with the district nutrition director to increase local sourcing. Learn more here

3. Policy Advocate, National Family Farm Coalition
NFFC seeks an Interim Policy Advocate (with the potential to become a permanent position) to bring the concerns of NFFC member organizations to Capitol Hill and the Administration and to track family farm-related legislation, including the next Farm Bill. Interested parties should send cover letter, resume, salary requirements and three references to familyfarmcoalition@gmail.com at their earliest convenience.


Farm to School in the News
USDA Announces Farm to School Grant Awards; Projects Nationwide Chosen
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the projects selected to receive the USDA’s annual farm to school grants designed to increase the amount of local foods served in schools. Sixty-five projects were chosen nationwide. (USDA)

School in the Virgin Islands Reaps Abundant Sweet Potato Harvest
The harvest was impressive, as was made evident by the barrowload of sweet potatoes collected. Mr. McGregor said some of the potatoes would be shared among agriculture students as well as the school’s cafeteria to be used as part of a meal. (Virgin Islands Consortium

Virginia First Graders Compete in Friendly 'First Peas to the Table' Contest
First grade students from all six Charlottesville public elementary schools planted English Peas in their gardens this spring. Students measured their peas growth every week, and this year's First Peas to Table competition ended in a tie. (Charlottesville Tomorrow

Ohio Families Keep Garden Growing in Summer

This spring, Waterville Primary students planted a garden behind the school, as they have for many years. Now, with the kids out for the summer, families are volunteering to care for the plot through the break so the students return to a garden in full bloom. “In order to maintain it, it takes a lot of different stakeholders,” Waterville Primary School Principal Jamie Hollinger said. (Toledo Blade

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

This Week in Farm to School: 6/06/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 06, 2017
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
 
1. Webinar: How to Use the "Candidates Forum Toolkit"
June 7, 1pm ET
In recent years, food councils in North Carolina have hosted candidates forums with key policy makers to both educate them on their communities' food system needs and to connect citizens directly with their law makers. Join members of the Community Food Strategies team as we walk you through the steps outlined in our Candidates Forum Toolkit that explain how to successfully organize a candidates forum. Based on our own work with food councils and policy makers, we will share tips on candidates forum planning, logistics, and promotion. Participants will leave with the tools and confidence to organize their very own candidates forums in their communities. Register here

2. Webinar: Developing Your BFRDP Project

June 20, 1pm EST
This webinar hosted by New Entry Sustainable Farming Project will focus on developing your project for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) application process. Register here

Events
1. Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior's (SNEB) Annual Conference
July 20-24 // Washington DC
Join SNEB for their 50th Annual Conference. Learn more and register here. Additionally, all nutrition educators are invited to a pre-conference, in-person workshop: "Nutrition Educators as Advocates: A Day on Capitol Hill" - a chance to learn the latest on the political landscape and visit with your member(s) of Congress. Learn more here

2. Ku Aina Pa Garden Teacher Workshop

July 24–27 // Honolulu, HI
Navigating the Hawai‘i School Garden Curriculum Map and Creating a Standards-Based Garden Program for Your Classroom is a four-day workshop for Hawai‘i’s K–8 teachers to connect school garden activities to federal and state education standards. $200 scholarships to attend are available through the Kokua Foundation. 3 PD credits available. Learn more and apply here

3. Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) Annual Conference
November 2-4 // Madison, WI
Did you know that the Women, Food and Agriculture Network is 20 years old in 2017? It's true—so let's celebrate. Join WFAN for the longest, biggest Annual Conference yet! The conference theme is "Rooted in History, Growing for the Future", and the keynote speaker is LaDonna Redmond. Learn more and register here.

4. Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) Conference
November 9-11 // Baltimore, MD
NESAWG’s It Takes a Region Conference brings together practitioners, leaders, and advocates working to create a just and sustainable food system for all. This conference features the work of farm and food systems leaders in the region while generating conversation about systemic issues in food systems work with the goal of brainstorming collaborative ways forward. Early bird registration opens in August. Learn more and submit your innovative, instructive, and inspiring session ideas for consideration here

Resources
1. New Resource: A Roadmap for Farm to Early Care and Education
National Farm to School Network is please to share it’s new resource, A Roadmap for Farm to Early Care and Education: A guide to understanding farm to school opportunities in early care and education settings. This resource is intended for use by stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to facilitate a shared understanding of the early care and education sector and the natural opportunities to integrate farm to school initiatives into early care and education settings. This shared understanding can support enhanced connectivity between the local food and early care and education communities in order to advance farm to early care and education across the country. This resource includes a basic overview of the early care and education sector, information for getting started with farm to early care and education, and a list of state early care and education agencies and contacts. Explore this new resource here

2. Get it Toolgether: Assessing Your Food Council's Ability to Do Policy Work

Researchers from the Food Policy Networks program at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future released a new online resource for food policy councils (FPCs). This advocacy capacity toolkit is designed to help FPCs assess their current capacity to work on advocacy and policy and provide them with appropriate recommendations and resources to reach their strategic goals. Learn more about the toolkit here.

3. Lessons Learned from Mississippi Farmer Ben Burkett

Ben Burkett is a fourth-generation farmer and legendary farm advocate.  In this article, he shares lessons learned from his decades on the farm, the changes facing small farmers, and why to continue pushing for change. Read more here

4. New Orleans schools adopt trauma-informed model
Post-traumatic stress disorder among children in New Orleans is more than three times the national rate, according to the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies. Five schools have adopted trauma-informed teaching methods to help address such students' unique needs. Read more here

Job Opportunities 
1. Executive Director, Organic Association of Kentucky
The Organic Association of Kentucky seeks an executive director who will help the organization achieve its mission of helping organic farmers be more successful while helping consumers learn more about and access more organic food. Learn more here

2. Education Manager, Farmshare Austin
Farmshare Austin is currently seeking a full-time Education Manager. The Education Manager will lead the signature Farmer Starter program as well as develop and implement a curriculum of community education classes and workshops. Learn more here

Farm to School in the News
Four Georgia Nonprofits Receive $1.45M to Help Youngest Children Eat Farm-Fresh Food

Through a new national investment, four partner organizations are launching an effort to promote access to local, healthy foods for young children in Georgia’s early learning environments.  The statewide public-private partnership will be led by The Common Market Georgia, Georgia Organics (NFSN Georgia Core Partner), Voices for Georgia’s Children and Quality Care for Children. (Metro Atlanta CEO

California district switches to local and organic meals, cuts carbon footprint – and saves money

Now, five years after the district responded by overhauling the menus at its 100-plus schools – serving less meat and adding more fruits and vegetables – a new report has revealed some surprising results. The study by the environmental nonprofit, Friends of the Earth (FOE), found that the district’s Farm to School initiative not only provided its 48,000 or so students with access to healthier foods, but that between 2012 and 2015 its overall food costs declined and its carbon footprint shrank. (Nation of Change

Native plant site in Washington public school garden

Master Gardeners planted Cascade Penstemon, Flowering Red Currant, Kinnikinnick, and Sea Blush alongside fourteen other plants native to Washington state to help grow out a school's garden. The plants were chosen for their identification and educational opportunities, significance to Native American culture, and to most please the children, many of the plants will have edible fruit. (Islands Sounder

Pennsylvania school starts weekly farm-to-table lunch program

Deer Lakes school district has implemented a new “Comfort Food Thursdays” farm-to-table program in partnership with Mish Farms Meat Market. Joe Beaman, director of food services at Deer Lakes, is on a mission to provide students with more locally sourced foods and less processed meals. (TribLive)

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: 5/30/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 30, 2017
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. USDA Community Development Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is inviting applications for grants to support economic development in rural communities. USDA is making grants available under the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) program to strengthen the rural economy. For more information on how to apply, see page 24281 of the May 26 Federal Register. The deadline to submit paper applications is July 25, 2017.

Webinars 
1.Webinar: Farm Bill 101
May 31, 3-4:30pm EST
There’s much buzz about the 2018 Farm Bill, but what exactly is the Farm Bill? Union of Concerned Scientists invites you to a webinar about the basics of the Farm Bill, from its origins, to its impact on what we eat and which programs it funds. Register here

2. Webinar: Developing Your Project
June 20, 1pm EST
This webinar hosted by New Entry Sustainable Farming Project will focus on developing your project for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) application process. Register here

3. Webinar Recording: Farm to Early Childhood: Building the Movement through Multi-Sector Partnerships
Hosted by the Food Trust, this webinar reviews and explores how state agencies, in partnership with the business sector, nonprofits and early childhood providers, can support expansion of farm to ECE practices and programs. View this recording here

4. Webinar Recording: How to Bring Farm Fresh into Schools with New USDA Meal Pattern Recipes
The Chef Ann Foundation launched fifty new, tried-and-true, farm-to-school recipes to bring farm fresh meals to your students. This webinar features new recipes and menu cycles, and discusses how they credit toward the school and child care meal patterns. View this recording here

Events
1. Slow Food Nations
July 14-16 // Denver, Co
This free festival will combine the energy of a street food fair, the rigor of an academic conference, and the inspiration of a cultural exchange. Slow Food Nations connects farmers and families, leaders and eaters to share our stories and shape the future of food. Learn more about this event here

2. School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute
January 21-26, 2018 // Santa Cruz, CA
Join over 20 School Garden Support Organization teams from across the nation to strengthen your organization’s goal of enhancing professional development and ongoing support for school garden programs in your region. Apply by July 20 here

Resources
1. #GirlsAre: Empower Girls to Move and Celebrate Their Athleticism
Girls today are far less likely than boys to achieve recommended amounts of physical activity. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Clinton Foundation are joining forces to shine a spotlight on the disparities between girls’ and boys’ physical activity rates and inspire a new generation of strong, active women. The National Farm to School Network is proud to be a partner in the #GirlsAre campaign to empower girls and women to move and celebrate their athleticism. Read how farm to school activities are helping girls get active in this blog. Learn more about the #GirlsAre campaign here

2. Food Tank’s Summer Reading List: 17 Books to Beat the Heat
Whether it’s tackling challenges like climate change and hunger, or working with the soil (and worms!) to grow healthier food, this list offers something to inspire all kinds of readers hoping to contribute to a better food system. Learn more here

Job Opportunities 
1. Executive Director, Schoolyard Farms
Schoolyard Farms in Portland, Oregon is currently seeking its next Executive Director. With previous experience working with and fundraising for underserved communities, this individual will be able to bring a diverse skill set and viewpoint to the discussion table around social and racial justice. Learn more here.  

2. Child Nutrition Director, Nevada Department of Agriculture
The Nevada Department of Agriculture seeks a Child Nutrition Director. This position is located in Sparks, NV. Learn more here

3. Director of Dining Services, Mount Holyoke College 
Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts seeks to hire a Director of Dining Services. Application review beginsJune 5. Learn more here

Farm to School in the News
Texas' Gregory-Lincoln Education Center grows budding culinary stars
The Cultivated Classroom at Gregory-Lincoln began with eight garden beds in an unused plot on the north side of the school; it now has 16 beds, a 27-tree orchard and a chicken coop with egg-laying hens. On almost a monthly basis, students bring their school-garden bounty to a local restaurant and learn from chefs how to create meals. (Houston Chronicle

A Sustainable School Garden in a Former Brooklyn, NY Parking Spot
When parents at PS 516, a small elementary school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, started looking for ways to create a school garden two years ago, the church next door granted them the use of a single parking spot in its lot. The Rainbow Garden that they built there must now be the most water-wise, sustainable patch of asphalt in the five boroughs. (Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

Washington school kids, community build garden
"The little kids in kindergarten and first grade drew pictures of the veggies, the second- through fourth-graders wrote lots of letters to businesses asking for support, and the fifth-graders drew on graph paper plans to scale, measuring the area and coming up with cost estimates,” (Kitsap Sun)

Re-Imagining School Lunch on Martha's Vineyard

All fifty students from kindergarten to the 5th grade, teachers, staff and lots of parents, came together to cook and eat a locally sourced, seasonal meal. There was plenty of time to eat - more than the national average of 15 minutes. Food was served family style. Conversation was encouraged and it was a no pressure, no shame meal for the kids. If they didn’t want to try something, they didn’t have to. (WCAI

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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