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This week in farm to school: 9/15/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, September 15, 2015

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. Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grant Program
Created in partnership with FoodCorps, the Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to a K-12 school, or a nonprofit working in partnership with a K-12 school, to support a new or existing edible garden on school grounds. Applications for the 2016 Garden Grant Program are now open, and close on October 31. Visit the Whole Kids Foundation website for complete program guidelines, FAQ, and the online application form.

2. Let’s Move! Child Care Celebrates 4th Anniversary - Complete an action plan to win
Let’s Move! Child Care (LMCC) gives child care and early education providers the tools to help children develop healthy habits for life. As part of the anniversary of LMCC, the program is highlighting child care centers that have not only signed up, but completed their action plans to work toward creating a healthier environment at their center. Let’s Move! Child Care is awarding healthy toolkits to enable early care and education providers to continue to meet the goals of the program. These toolkits include supplies and materials on healthy meal times, physical activity, and the importance of healthy beverages. Learn more and develop an Action Plan by September 18th for a chance to win.

Events & Webinars
1. Tweet Chat: National Farm to School Network & Slow Food USA
School Gardens & #CNR2015 : Getting Involved Now 
From containers in the classroom to multi-acre farms, school gardens are sprouting up in every type of community around the country. These green spaces are providing opportunities for kids to connect with food from the soil up, and in turn, have proven to be an effective tool for helping kids learn to try and like new foods. Simply put, hands-on agriculture and nutrition education are helping shape a healthier next generation. This month, Congress has the opportunity to show its support for school gardens and other farm to school programs as it debates Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Join the National Farm to School Network (@farmtoschool) and Slow Food USA (@SlowFoodUSA) for a tweet chat on Wednesday, September 16 from 2-3pm EDT to discuss school gardens, CNR, and how the USDA Farm to School Grant Program can support healthier kids. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #gardens4CNR

2. Webinar: Food Research & Action Center
New Spanish Language Nutrition and Wellness Resources for Child Care
Friday, September 18, 1-2:30pm EDT
Join USDA, FRAC and Robert Wood Johnson to learn how you can create healthier child care environments with the newly released Spanish language version of USDA's "Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children: Provider Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program," and other Spanish language resources, including the Look and Cook Recipe Cards and the Two Bite Club. This is an opportunity to learn and ask questions, and the webinar will be presented in English and Spanish. Register here

3. Register for the Food Day Apple Crunch on Oct. 22, 2015
On and around Food Day 2015 (Oct. 24, 2015), millions of people around the country will crunch into an apple in a unifying action to raise awareness about eating better diets for our health and the environment, access and affordability of fruits and vegetables, and supporting local farmers. Hundreds of thousands of school students will crunch into an apple at lunch time, joined by Americans at public Food Day events, in corporate cafeterias and at home. Because Food Day falls on a Saturday this year, most schools will be participating in the Apple Crunch on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Start planning now to join the Food Day Apple Crunch and register your event at the link below.
Click here to watch the Food Day 2015 Apple Crunch video
4. Save the Date: 2016 National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Save the date for the 2016 National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, to be held June 1-4, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin. The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is a biennial event that convenes a diverse group of stakeholders from across the farm to cafeteria movement who are working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. The conference is hosted by the National Farm to School Network, in partnership with local host organizations. More information to come soon. 

5. Field to Tray, Mid-Atlantic Regional Farm to School Conference, Nov 4-5, Rockville, MD
Field to Tray: Strengthening Farm to School Purchasing in the Mid-Atlantic will bring together farmers, food service directors, suppliers and other stakeholders from the region for a day of digging in to local food procurement strategies. The Mid-Atlantic region has experienced significant growth in farm to school practices over the past several years, and this conference will be a sharing, learning and networking opportunity for key farm to school players in the region. Register by September 5 to receive the early bird discount. Learn more about the conference and register here

6. Canada's first national school food conference, Montreal, Nov. 12 -14
Changing the Menu, the first-ever Canadian national school food conference aims to advance activities to get more healthy, local and sustainable food into the minds and onto the plates of students. The event will bring together a diverse group of participants from various sectors including health, education, food service, recreation, agriculture, policy and research. Some 400 people from coast to coast including members of indigenous communities are expected to attend the Montreal event. Find more information and register here.  

7. Growing Minds Farm to School Conference, Nov 14, Asheville, NC
With more than 10 years of experience in farm to school training and programming, ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School Program offers a combination of creative ideas and practical applications for school environments. This year’s conference will feature workshops focused on four specialized tracks: Early Childhood, Health and Community, Cafeteria, and Classroom. Each track features content for folks new to farm to school as well as those that want to improve their existing programs. For more information please visit the Growing Minds website.

Resources & Research
1. New USDA Farm to School Grant Program Report
Last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the release of a new report that shows that USDA’s Farm to School Grant Program, established and funded through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, has helped 12,300 schools improve nutritious meal options made with local ingredients for 6.9 million students, while expanding market opportunities for family farmers and ranchers in their communities. Through its Farm to School Grant Program, USDA has awarded 221 grants in 49 States, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands over the past three years. Fifty percent of funded projects included expanding healthy menu options offered in the cafeteria; 46 percent included training for food service staff about menu planning, meal preparation, and cooking with local and regional foods; and 65 percent included nutrition education activities. Read the full report here

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Farm to School Coordinator, Georgia Organics 
Georgia Organics is a dynamic nonprofit working to connect organic food from Georgia farms to Georgia families. The organization is currently seeking a full-time Farm to School Coordinator to work at its office in Atlanta. The Farm to School Coordinator will work directly with and provide key support to the Farm to School Director to strengthen and expand farm to school programming in Georgia in Pre-K-12 grades. Visit the Georgia Organics website for more information about this position and application instruction. 

Policy & Action
1. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 
Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit farmtoschool.org/cnr2015

Farm to school in the news
School nutrition leader sees produce mandate as essential - shoutout to NFSN Advisory Board member, Bertrand Weber! 
Bertrand Weber, director of the Minneapolis Public School Culinary and Nutrition Services, discusses how students in Minneapolis have come to love fruits & vegetables. Spurred by salad bars and the farm to school program, he says the consumption of fruits and vegetables in the Minneapolis district has more than quadrupled in three years. (via The Packer)

Fighting food insecurity in Detroit
How are programs in Michigan working to combat food insecurity & ensure our youngest eaters have healthy food to eat? Farm to school and farm to preschool practices play a large part. (via Model D Media)

Preston Elementary showcases local produce
Maryland kicked off the eighth annual Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week with a Farm to School celebration at Preston Elementary School Thursday, Sept. 10. From locally sourced lunches to taste tests and farm visits, see how schools will be celebrating local food all week. (via My Eastern Shore MD)


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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