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Farm to school is taking place in all 50 states, D.C. and U.S. Territories! Select a location from the list below to learn more or contact a Core Partner. 

National Farm to School Network

News

Celebrating 10 Years and 200 Partners

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 13, 2017

As the National Farm to School Network celebrates our 10-year anniversary, we embark on an exciting new chapter of our work to strengthen and expand the farm to school and early care and education (ECE) movement. It is with great excitement that we announce the selection of nearly 200 partner organizations across all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and, for the first time, U.S. Territories, to serve as our 2017-2019 Core Partners and Supporting Partners.  

Representing non-profits, state agencies, school districts, farms and universities, these partner organizations will work in collaboration with NFSN to advance the farm to school and ECE movement at the local, state and national levels. Serving as the primary contact for farm to school and ECE in their state, D.C. or Territory, Core Partners will take the lead on building capacity and support for farm to school and ECE, and serve as liaisons for information, resources, needs and opportunities with NFSN. Each Core Partner is supported in these activities by up to four Supporting Partner organizations. Together, NFSN’s Core and Supporting Partner organizations are recognized leaders in farm to school and ECE, and we are thrilled to be collaborating with them for the next phase of farm to school and ECE growth and evolution. 

You can connect with your state, D.C. or Territory Core and Supporting Partners here: farmtoschool.org/ournetwork

The selection of Core and Supporting Partners comes at an important juncture in NFSN’s work. The first decade of our efforts focused on developing a strong network of partnerships across sectors, building awareness and increasing activities at the state and regional levels through training, capacity building and policy advocacy. This approach resulted in unprecedented growth for the farm to school movement, with farm to school activities now reaching more than 42,000 schools across the nation. Since 2011, we’ve prioritized ECE settings as touch points for expanding our network and activities. Our 2015 Survey of Early Care and Education Providers indicates farm to ECE activity in 850 sites covering 48 states and Washington, D.C.

While this growth is impressive, we recognize that there remain significant hurdles to expanding access to farm to school and ECE so that it is a norm in all K-12 schools and ECE settings, and its benefits are available to all children and all communities. In the next phase of our work, advancing farm to school and ECE in areas of high-need – including locations with high poverty and obesity rates, high free and reduced price meal eligibility, lack of policy support, weak or nonexistent state networks, and minimal funds to support farm to school and ECE efforts – will be a priority. 

As our name implies, the National Farm to School Network is truly a network – a connected and collaborative group of passionate people working to make healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities a reality in all places across our country. Our network is made up of Core and Supporting Partners, national staff, an Advisory Board and you - our 15,000 members. (Not a member? Sign up here!) We believe that robust movement building is possible only when we work collaboratively across all sectors and locations. So dig in! Meet your Core and Supporting Partners, learn what’s happening in your community and get involved. Get started by visiting our network map and selecting your location. With your engagement, the National Farm to School Network is Growing Stronger Together!

2016 Innovation Awardees

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 12, 2016

As the backbone organization for the U.S. farm to school movement, the National Farm to School Network has the privilege to work with some of the country’s most enthusiastic, invested and creative organizations and individuals toward a future where all children, farmers and communities have the opportunity to benefit from farm to school activities. Our Core Partners are the farm to school leaders bringing these strategies into schools and communities at the state and regional level, expanding our capacity to keep this grassroots movement growing across the country.

With funding support from Newman’s Own Foundation and Farm Credit, the National Farm to School Network presented Innovation Awards in February 2016 to three new projects by our Core Partners in Georgia, the Great Lakes and the Northeast in celebration of their efforts to advance farm to school and to share their knowledge with practitioners. This year’s theme, Engaging Farmers and Producers in Farm to School, inspired projects that will use creative approaches to outreach and resource development to bring new farmers and producers into the farm to school movement.  

Projects will take place throughout 2016, and each will result in the creation of shareable information resources for farmers and farm to school practitioners about innovative strategies to engage farmers that can be used across the country. From sustainable fisheries to preschool pop-up markets, the following projects will highlight creative farm to school approaches that can inspire new opportunities in your community:

Sea to School in New England
Maine Farm to School, Massachusetts Farm to School, New Hampshire Farm to School
Award: $5,000 // Estimated completion by October 2016
Three Northeast states will create a Sea to School resource guide based on New England efforts including: case studies, best practices, recipes and an educational video appropriate for elementary school classrooms about sustainable fishing and aquaculture in the Gulf of Maine. To the extent possible, farmers/fishers will be engaged in this project and sea to school work through state and regional conferences and events throughout 2016. 
 
Growing Farm to School by Sharing Farmer Stories

University of Wisconsin, Madison - Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
Award: $5,000 // Estimated completion by October 2016
The six Great Lakes states will team up to develop a series of short videos featuring conversations between regional farmers and food service directors who have good working relationships. This series of professionally filmed and edited videos will highlight a diverse collection of farmers, production methods, success stories and relationships between farmers and food service directors.

Pop-Up School Market: Engaging Farmers at Preschools
Georgia Organics
Award: $5,000 // Estimated completion by December 2016
This project will pilot 10 pop-up farmers markets at childcare facilities across Georgia as direct marketing opportunities for small/medium family farmers, while engaging parents in farm to school through incentives to purchase, cook and eat healthy farm fresh food at home. Nutrition education and cooking demonstrations will be provided at the pop-up markets, and to the extent possible, farmers will be able to accept WIC vouchers. A shareable guide to pop-up markets will be produced as part of the project.

View an overview of the 2016 and 2015 Innovation Awards here

Help support more innovative ideas like these by making a donation to the National Farm to School Network. Your donations mean more healthy meals for students, more opportunities for farmers and more communities connecting around local food.
 
Help farm to school grow by making a donation today! 

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Share your story: 5 tips for building better media relationships

Stacey Malstrom Wednesday, January 14, 2015

By Stacey Malstrom, PR & Outreach Manager

Today I’m giving a presentation at the 24th annual conference of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) about how to grow awareness for your farm to school program through targeted media relations. Incredible farm to school work is happening all across the country. School lunch programs are sourcing from family farms, students are working in school gardens and asking their parents to make kale salad at home, and local economies are benefiting. But does your broader community know what’s happening before the bell and beyond the classroom? 


Students in Louisiana enjoy strawberries from their garden. When you pitch to the media, make sure they know the story will have engaging visual elements, like kids in a garden. 

At its core, good media relations is about RELATIONSHIPS. Editorial staffs are shrinking, and journalists are being asked to take on more responsibilities. Their time and attention is limited; now more than ever, media need savvy sources that they can depend on. Follow these five tips to start building better media relationships and engage a wider audience in your work:

  • Stop blasting your entire media list: The quickest way to end up in someone’s junk folder is to send information that is not relevant to them or their audience. For example, a writer who only covers politics at the state capitol should not receive an event announcement for a farm field trip unless there is a policymaker attending. Narrow your media list to those contacts that you genuinely think will be interested in covering this piece of news, based on their outlet, section or personal interests. 
  • Make a connection: Media are people too, and a little attention goes a long way. Read their work, research their recent articles and follow them on twitter. Then shape your pitch for each individual. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it will be worth it when you land that feature on the front page of your regional newspaper. 
  • Be there when they need you: You may not always hear back in response to your story ideas. Don’t get discouraged and be patient—remember how busy they are? But when they’re on deadline, responding quickly and being a resource on more than just your organization is a great way to establish trust. And before you know it, they’ll start responding to your emails and ideas more often. 
  • Send good story ideas: Not every event, report or new resource produced by your organization is media-worthy. Think about what is interesting to their readers and be selective about what you pitch. Some news is better suited for your own newsletter or social media channels. At the end of the day, it’s still the NEWs, and timely, relevant and unique stories always win.
  • Put it in context: Make it easy for media to see the story and how it connects to the bigger picture or their audience. Localize national news or trends by connecting it to your community and your work. Tell them why your program is different than others, what makes the story new now, and who else is working on similar issues. 

Join us for our next Lunch Bites webinar on Feb. 10, at 1 p.m. EST to learn more about storytelling best practices and media relations. And download the Media Tip Sheet from my SSAWG presentation here. 

Farm to school in the news

SimpleFlame.com Admin Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Preschool teacher honored in Virginia 

Today is Farming in the City Day in Harrisonburg, Virginia, an annual celebration started by preschool teacher Lauren Arbogast (pictured above), who also has the honor of being this year's Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year in Virginia.

Arbogast teaches preschool at W. H. Keister Elementary School in Harrisonburg and integrates agriculture into not only her own classroom but also the entire school. [….] She and her husband, Brian, and their two sons, Brandon and Jackson, live on a multi-generational farm where they produce beef, poultry and crops. She blogs about her life on the farm at paintthetownag.com.


USDA pilots new farm to school programs 

On Civil Eats, National Farm to School Network policy director Helen Dombalis weighed in on how the new Farm Bill supports farm to school through a new pilot program: 

Starting next school year, these programs would provide local fruit and vegetables for at least five, and up to eight, pilot schools across the country, with at least one state in each of the five main regions of the country (the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, the South, the West, and the Midwest). (The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expected to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) in the coming months.) 

Along with school gardens and food systems education, the National Farm to School Network’s (NFSN) Policy and Strategic Partnerships Director Helen Dombalis says “local procurement is the third key piece of farm-to-school.” NFSN advocated for the pilots along with National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and Dombalis sees them as an important start. 

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