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National Farm to School Network

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

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 

Grants & Funding
1. COVID-19 No Kid Hungry Grants Available to Support Coronavirus Response
As coronavirus is closing schools and workplaces nationwide, vulnerable children are losing the school meals they depend on, and low-income families are struggling with lost wages. No Kid Hungry is offering emergency grants to support local school districts and nonprofit organizations in their efforts to ensure kids get the nutritious food they need. Learn more and apply here

2. USDA AMS: Regional Food System Partnerships
Deadline: May 11
USDA AMS's Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) program supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The effort is focused on building and strengthening local or regional food economy viability and resilience by alleviating unnecessary administrative and technical barriers for participating partners. Learn more and apply here.

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


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

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

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

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

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

6. EQUITY Join the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
March 30-April 19
Sign up for Food Solutions New England's (FSNE) annual 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge starting on March 30th! In its sixth year, the Challenge is a great way to learn about the history and impacts of racism on our current food system while inspiring participants with resources and tools to build racial equity in their work and lives. People from all over the country participate in the Challenge with the goal of raising awareness, shifting attitudes and changing outcomes. This year a Discussion Guide will be available for groups who want to do the Challenge together. Visit the FSNE Challenge website to learn more and register.


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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