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National Farm to School Network


This Week in Farm to School: 5/26/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 26, 2020
NEW: National Farm to School Network has launched a new weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders - similar to what is shared weekly in these This Week in Farm to School blog posts. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

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 Action for Healthy Kids: Emergency Meal Distribution Equipment Grants
These grants provide funds for additional equipment to create “grab and go” curbside meal pickups at schools and other locations within the community. School districts (not individual schools) providing meals during school closures as a result of COVID-19 may apply for as many sites/schools that can use equipment. Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis until all funds are awarded. Learn more and apply here

2. USDA AMS Local Food Grant Programs
TODAY! Deadline: May 26
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) pushed back the deadlines of its key local food grant programs by three weeks to May 26, due to COVID-19. These include Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, and Regional Food System Partnerships.

3. USDA AMS Seeks Grant Reviewers
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) seeks subject matter experts as peer reviewers to objectively evaluate grant applications against the published criteria in its competitive grant programs’ Requests for Applications. Given the sector’s great need for these resources, AMS is aiming to avoid delays on announcing its key local food grants awards, to the extent possible. They are seeking grant reviewers to assist in the upcoming review process. Learn more and apply here.

4. USDA Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Competitive Grants Program (AgVets)
Deadline: June 26
USDA NIFA's Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Program provides grants to non-profits to increase the number of military veterans gaining knowledge and skills through comprehensive, hands-on and immersive model farm and ranch programs offered regionally that lead to successful careers in the food and agricultural sector. The program encourages the development of training opportunities specifically designed for military veterans. NIFA requests applications for the AgVets to provide grants to nonprofit organizations for training programs and services to establish and enhance farming and ranching opportunities for military veterans. The close date is June 26. Learn more and apply here

5. USDA Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) Competitive Grants Program
Deadline: July 6
USDA has announced the availability of $3 million for grants through its new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. The competitive grants will support the development of urban agriculture and innovative production projects through two categories, Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. There is approximately $1 million available for Planning Projects and $2 million for Implementation Projects. The close date is July 6. Learn more and apply here.

6. COVID-19 California Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) Emergency Fund
It’s in these times of crisis that communities realize just how valuable–and vulnerable–family farmers are. CAFF's emergency fund will directly support family farmers–anchors of California's local food systems–to help ensure they make it through this crisis. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and award decisions will be made every other week based on a fixed dollar amount. Learn more and apply here.

7. COVID-19 Reinvestment Fund's 2020 Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) Targeted Small Grants Program
The 2020 HFFI round has $3 million in grant funds available ( grants from $20,000-$200,000) for food retail and food enterprises working to improve access to healthy foods in underserved areas, to create and preserve quality jobs, and to revitalize low-income communities. Funding for HFFI is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), authorized by the Farm Bill.  Reinvestment Fund will hold a webinar on June 2, 2020 at 2 p.m. EST to confirm details about the application process and answer questions. No registration is required to join and a recording of the webinar will be accessible using the same link. Learn more and apply here.

Webinars & Events
1. COVID-19 Webinar: "A Sharing of Healing Works"
May 27 // 3pm ET
This free North American Food Systems Network Good Food Talk webinar will provide a space for anyone to share creative, healing works of poetry, music, artwork, or dance that have served as their anchor, guiding star, or nurturing inspiration. We are leaning in and being in community with each other during these challenging times. Register here.

2. COVID-19 Webinar Series: Mobilizing Food Policy Councils to Support Food Workers During COVID-19
May 28 // 12pm ET
As workers from across the food supply chain risk their lives to continue feeding us, the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the harms of existing labor policies and practices. The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Policy Networks project invites you to join them for a series of webinars to discuss how food policy councils can support food chain workers during COVID-19. Register here.

3. Online Meeting: Native Youth Food Sovereignty
May 28 // 12pm ET
Youth! You are the future and Food Sovereignty is the foundation of the future! You can be the center of making a real difference and have fun in the process! Youth are encouraged to join the Intertribal Agriculture Council for the Native Youth Food Sovereignty online meeting Thursday, May 28 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time, using this link (no registration required).

4. Virtual Conference: National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP)
May 29-June 3
Are you looking for professional development with practitioner presentations that address real community issues? Do you want to hear and discuss the implications of COVID-19 on the future of communities? Join NACDEP for 4-days of discussion (spaced for Zooming comfort!), energizing talks, and actionable ideas at Community Development in Practice: Improve Your Skills and Add to Your Toolbox. Special virtual professional development fee of $105. Use discount code: “Extension” or “Professional” and register today here.

5. COVID-19 Webinar: Liability for Transmission of COVID-19 to Customers of Farm and Food Businesses
May 29 // 4pm EST
If your actions lead to a customer contracting COVID-19, are you legally liable? Join Farm Commons for a webinar discussing whether, when, and how, legal risk could befall a farm or food business, including farmers markets and food hubs. Register here.

6. COVID-19 Webinar: Green Schoolyards In a Post COVID-19 Era
June 18 // 2pm ET
Green schoolyards are an exceptional use of public space, creating equitable access to green space, providing places to play and learn during school time, and offering community access out-of-school time. Cities Connecting Children to Nature brings together experts from the Children & Nature Network, Landscape Architecture Foundation, The Trust for Public Land, and the Austin Green School Parks program to understand what is happening with schoolyards in the face of COVID-19, and what we should aim for post-COVID-19. Register here.

7. COVID-19 Webinar Recording: USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Direct Payments
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has posted a recording of the webinar for farmers, ranchers and other producers interested in applying for direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) held Thursday, May 14. The recording is available on the YouTube channel for immediate viewing and will be posted at

COVID-19 Resources
1. COVID-19 CDC Stakeholder Resources: Schools and Childcare
View the CDC's guidance on reopening School and Childcare programs here, as well as decision trees for specific settings:
Childcare Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Youth Programs and Camps During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic

2. COVID-19 Cultivating Social-Emotional Health with Farm to Early Care and Education
Families and children are confronting stress and uncertainty in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents, caretakers, and early care and education providers may be looking for ways to encourage play-based learning that can teach children critical skills pertaining to this crisis - especially those related to social-emotional health. This resource from Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems outlines farm to ECE activities that can be helpful for continuing to cultivate young children's emotional wellness during this time. Learn more here.

3. COVID-19 Cornell Cooperative Extension Provides Online Farm to School Learning
Cornell Cooperative Extension has assembled a collection of Farm to School materials and exercises in a public Google Drive folder. Here, you can find virtual farm tours and live streams, worksheets, and hands-on learning activities that can help you teach your child these important lessons all while still at home. Read more.

4. COVID-19 Farmers Markets Respond to COVID-19 — Best Practices, Examples, and Resources
View the Farmers Market Coalition's guidance on safely operating a farmers market during the pandemic here.

5. COVID-19 National Young Farmers Coalition's (NYFC) Portable Handwashing Station
Hand washing is one of the most important food safety practices, and in important in any time of food-growing setting including school gardens. View NYFC's guidance on building portable handwashing stations here.

Research & Resources
1. Research Article: Tradeoffs in Farm to School Implementation: Larger Foodsheds Drive Greater Local Food Expenditures
Read the new Journal of Agriculture and Resource Economics article on the relationship between two supply chain indicators -- local foodshed size and length of local food supply chain-- and districts' local food expenditures. Data shows that a school districts' actions to increase student access to local foods by widening definitions of local or sourcing through intermediaries thus have the potential to reduce localized benefits to nearby farmers and community members. Read more here.

2. Farm to Early Care and Education: Toward a Shared Language
Farm to early care and education (ECE) happens where early care and education and food systems meet. Although we are often working towards the same goals, it can be difficult for food systems and early care and education to communicate because there is not a shared language. This resource from Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems aims to begin a conversation between early care and education providers and food systems practitioners to work towards developing a shared language and fuller understanding of the common purpose we are working towards. Learn more here.

3. Farm to Fork Strategy – for a Fair, Healthy and Environmentally-Friendly Food System
View the European Commission's Farm to Fork Strategy that aims to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly. The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to accelerate the transition to a sustainable food system that should ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food among other things. Read more.

4. Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) Editorial: Food Waste in K-12 Schools — an Opportunity to Create More Equitable and Sustainable Food Systems
Institutions such as K−12 schools, which operate on large scales and feed hundreds of children, are ideal settings to implement system changes to reduce food waste. A recent systematic review of food waste in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) found that approximately 30% of food served is wasted. Read more here.

Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN Sign-On To Endorse NFSN's COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
National Farm to School Network's response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic are grounded in a central goal of continuing to advance towards strong, just local and regional food systems. There is a need for immediate relief to the people most impacted by this crisis, while building towards longer-term policies that strengthen a resilient, just food system. As Congress works to finalize its next COVID-19 response bill, NOW is that time to make our voices heard. Our federal policy platform calls on Congress to strengthen its support for school meal and child nutrition programs, farmers and those who feed us, Native communities, essential workers, children and families, and others who have been historically underserved and underrepresented. Please add your voice by endorsing our federal COVID-19 policy platform, and help us advocate for key food systems priorities on Capitol Hill. Sign on here.

2. COVID-19 Take Action to Support CACFP in The HEROES Act
Send a letter to the Senate and the White House to support provisions that would provide financial relief for the CACFP Community including child care providers, centers, afterschool programs, emergency shelters, and sponsoring organizations. Take action here.

3. COVID-19 Farm to Family Food Box Distribution
The USDA Farm to Family Food Box program has selected distributors to purchase produce, dairy, and meat products from farmers and producers and distribute them to families through partnerships with local non-profit organizations (including food banks, schools, and community sites). If your ECE site or non-profit organization has the operational and financial capability to receive, store and distribute requested food items, contact an awarded distributor.

4. COVID-19 USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program
On May 19, the USDA announced further details on the direct assistance to producers that it will provide in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Applications will open on May 26. These direct payments will compensate a variety of producers for losses they suffered by April 15, 2020, as a result of the pandemic. To find out more about the program, and how to apply, you can visit their website at

5. COVID-19 Georgia’s CAPS Program Expands Child Care Assistance to Essential Services Workforce Serving During COVID-19 Pandemic
Georgia’s Childcare and Parent Services, or CAPS Program, is expanding its new priority group for the Essential Services Workforce during COVID-19 to include those who work within the food supply chain like grocery stores, farming, and food delivery and pick-up. CAPS provides scholarships to help with the cost of child care so parents can work or attend school. Read more here.

Farm to School in the News
With Schools Closed, Their Gardens Take on a New Role
It’s clear now that schools around the country will be closed until at least next fall, but that hasn't stopped school gardens. “I want people passing by on their daily walks to see that [the garden] is still growing and that our community still grows and continues,” says FoodCorps member Tara McDaniel. (Civil Eats)

Supporting Local Farmers to Feed Children in Hawaii
During the COVID-19 health crisis, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), school districts, and communities across the country have been working tirelessly to ensure that children have access to food. In Hawaii, one community college professional found a way to pull resources together for a common cause and help feed Hawaii's keiki. (USDA)

As the Coronavirus Pandemic Strains Supplies, Native Americans Fight Food Insecurity
A "Seeds and Sheep" project in Utah is one of many innovative programs seeking to help Native communities become more food sovereign and self-reliant. (NBC News)

Op-Ed: While Food Supply Chains Snap, a Solution Is on the Table
Supporting local farmers can help build resilience in our food system. (The Hill)

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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