The State of State Policy
By Maximilian Merrill, Policy Director
Farm to school policies have been a key strategy for making local food procurement, food education and school gardens a reality for millions of children. To support the continued growth of state policy advocacy, we’ve updated one of our signature resources that tracks how farm to school-supportive bills are strengthening the farm to school movement.
The State Farm to School Legislative Survey: 2002-2017 provides state-by-state summaries of every enacted, defeated or pending farm to school-related bill from January 1, 2002 through March 31, 2017. It also includes analysis and infographics on state farm to school legislative trends; case studies on successful farm to school advocacy efforts in Alaska, Oregon, Texas and Washington, D.C.; and, additional resources to help advocates learn about and replicate the wide variety of existing state farm to school laws, policies and programs.
The State Farm to School Legislative Survey: 2002-2017 builds on a survey that was originally released in 2011, and updated in 2013 and 2014. This most recent version reflects legislation through March 31, 2017. With this update, we’ve found that 46 states, including Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have proposed 491 bills and resolutions supportive of farm to school activities. Forty of these states, including D.C., have enacted farm to school-related legislation. Since the last legislative survey published in 2014, Louisiana, Arkansas, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona have enacted their first farm to school legislation, with only a handful of states remaining that have yet to pass farm to school policy.
In the last two years alone, over 200 farms to school-related policies have been proposed in state and territory legislatures. The most popular policy initiatives were food education, funding and promotional events. Other popular policies included price percentage preference legislation to enable schools to purchase local foods and farm to school pilot programs.
In addition to providing summaries on each of these proposed policies, the State Farm to School Legislative Survey also offers tools to help advocates advance new legislation in their states. Check out four case studies that analyze successful farm to school advocacy efforts and compare how different states have tackled farm to school policy opportunities with different approaches. While each state and territory has a different political climate, these case studies offer examples that can be replicated across the board. For example, farmer databases or local preference laws may be more attractive for a legislature concerned by budgets or boosting local jobs.
The State Farm to School Legislative Survey is designed to offer farm to school advocates like you a roadmap to learn about and compare existing, potentially replicable state farm to school laws, policies and programs in order to advance new legislation in your state. So dig in, and start exploring the opportunities!
Have questions about this new resource or need a thought partner on how to connect with your state lawmakers? Don’t hesitate to contact our Policy team for support! We look forward to hearing how your advocacy efforts continue to support the growth of farm to school, state by state.
An extraordinary 2017, thanks to you!
By Lea Madry, Development Director
It’s hard to believe that the final weeks of 2017 are upon us, and at the National Farm to School Network, we are reflecting on an extraordinary year for farm to school. For that, we have you – our members, donors, partners and friends – to thank. Your commitment to our shared mission and partnership in advancing the farm to school movement has helped support many more healthy kids, thriving farmers, and vibrant communities across all parts of the country. Together, we’re keeping the farm to school movement growing strong!
Here are several highlights of our 2017 success that you helped make possible:
200 New State & Territory Partners: Embarked on an exciting new chapter of our work with 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 and Supporting Partners.
New Strategy: Launched and began implementing our ambitious 2017-2019 Strategic Plan, which includes expanding and refining our policy advocacy, programs and partnerships to institutionalize farm to school and early care and education.
National Advocacy: Worked with bipartisan champions in Congress to introduce the Farm to School Act of 2017, which proposes an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the highly successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The Farm to School Act of 2017 would also ensure that the grant program fully includes early care and education sites, 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.
Support for Native Communities: Launched Seed Change initiatives in five Native communities as a strategy to leverage community-wide initiatives towards building food sovereignty and revitalizing use of traditional foods. Activities have focused on procurement of local and traditional foods, school gardens, and food and agriculture education in Native schools.
Expanding Farm to Early Care and Education: Enriched existing networking and collaboration opportunities among ECE stakeholders through a national listserv and quarterly webinars. We also launched a Roadmap for Farm to Early Care and Education resource and Growing Head Start Success with Farm to Early Care and Education tool, which promotes understanding of how farm to ECE can support achievement of Head Start Program Performance Standards.
Innovation Awards: Presented Innovation Awards to celebrate beginning farmers in their first 10 years of farming and farmer veterans. This year’s awards have been given to two farmers in recognition of their exemplary efforts in selling local produce to schools and engaging kids in learning where their food comes from: Dylan Strike from Strike Farms in Bozeman, Montana and Jon Turner from Wild Roots Farm Vermont in Bristol, Vermont.
National Partnerships: Facilitated expanded engagement in farm to school with a new initiative to designate a “National Partner of the Year.” In this inaugural year, we partnered with the School Nutrition Association to better connect our members and school nutrition professionals for fostering a nation of healthy, well-nourished kids.
New Resources: Expanded our resource library with new resources for helping farm to school efforts grow in all communities, including a study of the economic impact of farm to school, an updated version of our State Farm to School Legislative Survey, and new non-English and bilingual farm to school resources.
Your donations have made this work possible, and they’re crucial to helping us do more in 2018. Make your end of year, tax-deductible donation today to keep this movement growing.
We’re on track to build on 2017 successes by expanding the farm to school movement in 2018, as part of our new strategic plan. To support our ambitious growth goals, we’ve launched the Seed Change Venture Fund so that passionate individuals like you can invest in our movement. Will you make a donation during the final months of 2017 to help sustain our movement and propel our growth?
After all, farm to school doesn’t happen on its own – it takes people like you championing the movement. We need your help to continue this important work.
With your gift, you’ll be contributing to the Seed Change Venture Fund, which supports our bold growth goals for farm to school in 2018 and beyond.
By donating, you’re helping us build strong farm to school support networks, train farm to school practitioners across the country, drive policy change and develop vibrant communities that support healthy kids and thriving farms. Give today!
Farm to School Month Roundup: 31 Days of Action for Farm to School
Photo Credit: DC Greens
For the past 31 days, millions of schools, farmers and communities across the country have been celebrating the movement that’s connecting kids to fresh, healthy food and supporting local economies. From Florida to Alaska and everywhere in between, people are recognizing the power of farm to school to benefits kids, farmers and communities. That’s what National Farm to School Month is all about!
This year’s campaign celebrated the small actions that people take every day to get involved and support farm to school and farm to early care and education in their communities. Through our Farm to School Month “Take Action Pledge,” we heard from hundreds of people across the country about the action steps they took in October:
- Invited parents to join students for a lunch of fresh collard greens and South Carolina grown sweet potatoes – South Carolina
- Worked to build an active Farm to School Committee that helps connect community entities and passionate people – Michigan
- Continued to teach my daycare center children about the importance of growing vegetables by turning a recycled crib into a raised garden bed – New York
- Incorporated produce from our own school greenhouse into school lunch menu and salad bar – Maine
- Hosted a Fall Harvest Party in the school garden, featuring tasty treats using produce from the garden, reading from a garden-themed book together, and farmers who shared their stories with students – Iowa
— MHASDLunch (@MHASDLunch) October 13, 2017
At the National Farm to School Network, we’ve been leading Farm to School Month celebrations by sharing farm to school inspiration and stories from partners organizations including Alliance for a Healthier Generation, National CACFP Sponsors Association, The NEA Foundation, School Nutrition Association, USDA Office of Community Food Systems and Youth Empowered Solutions. Thanks to special support from CoBank, we also shared several stories about how small farmers across the country are experiencing the benefits of farm to school, such as new market opportunities, expanded profit margins, and consistent buyers for their products.
On social media, we celebrated with a #FarmtoSchool101 tweet chat to spread awareness and generated new support for the movement. More than 289 people joined the conversation on social media, sharing stories about the positive impact farm to school has in their communities. On Instagram, we hosted #TakeoverTuesdays with Strike Farms, Loudoun County School Nutrition, and FoodCorps to share what farm to school looks like for the folks who do it every day!
Millions of students celebrated Farm to School Month by crunch into fresh, local food with events like the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch, Hawai’i CHOMP, Florida Cucumber Crunch and Montana Crunch Time. Policymakers from Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Vermont made proclamations declaring October Farm to School Month in their states. In Georgia, kids learned about planting, harvesting and cooking legumes with Georgia Organic’s “Make Room for Legumes” celebration. In Massachusetts, farm to school advocates gathered at the State House for a Farm to School Awareness Day and announcement of their 2017 Kale Blazer Award. In Alaska, schools celebrated farm to school every week in October by focusing on a different Alaska agricultural products, such as tubers and roots (Eskimo potatoes), meat (Caribou) and leaves (fiddlehead ferns). We could keep going!
Farm to school is a grassroots movement powered by people like you, taking small actions every day to bring more local food sourcing and food and agriculture education to students across the nation. There are 334 days to continue growing and strengthening the movement before Farm to School Month 2018! Help us keep the momentum going by joining our network and stay up-to-date on the latest stories, new resources, policy actions, learning opportunities – like the upcoming 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, April 25-27, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities are worth taking action for every day!
Thank you to this year’s National Farm to School Month sponsors - CoBank, Territory Foods, Captain Planet Foundation, Organic Valley, Perdue, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Stand2Learn and High Mowing Organic Seeds - as well as the Featured Partner and Outreach Partner organizations that are helping us spread the word about farm to school throughout October. And, thanks to you for being a farm to school champion in your community.