Farm to School Month 2021: Our Food, Our Future
October is National Farm to School Month, an annual 31-day campaign to recognize, appreciate and celebrate the connections happening across the country between kids, families and their community food systems. National Farm to School Month was designated by Congress in 2010, making this year’s campaign the 11th anniversary of National Farm to School Month celebrations.
This year, our theme is “Our Food, Our Future: Youth Leadership for a Racially Just Food System.” Youth and young people (which we define as anyone under the age of 21, including children in early care and education (ECE) settings, K-12 students, and young adults) are the leaders and changemakers of tomorrow and today. As we continues our work of shifting power to cultivate a racially just food system, we strive to elevate and amplify the visions, stories, and dreams of the young people who are at the heart of why we do farm to school. Their fresh perspectives, clear-eyed optimism, and commitments to justice must be heard and celebrated. We want to know: what are their hopes and ideas for the future of our food system? What does food justice mean to them? And how can we support their leadership in moving these visions into reality? That’s why this year for National Farm to School Month, our activities are centered on amplifying youth leadership around six community values – economic and environmental justice, health, racial equity, workers’ rights, and animal welfare – for a racially just food system.
Here's are 5 easy ways you can join us this October:
(1) Amplify Youth Voices & Leadership: Throughout October, we’ll be amplifying the visions, voices and leadership of young people across the country who are forging the way forward for a more just future – in our food system and wider communities. Check out our blog, social media channels, and e-newsletters to hear their stories throughout October.
(2) Participate in our Virtual Movement Meeting, October 14: Join National Farm to School Network for a virtual Movement Meeting on Thursday, Oct.14 from 1-2:30pm ET, featuring young leaders of color working to transform their community, for deep conversation and action-oriented reflection on how the next generation is working to intersect the food movement with racial justice, environmental justice, economic justice, and other key justice-centered movements. Register here: https://bit.ly/MovementMeeting-NFSN
(3) Get Involved Locally: Explore our national calendar of Farm to School Month events to see how you can celebrate locally.
(4) Spread the Word: Shout out about farm to school and share what you’re doing for National Farm to School Month with the hashtags #F2SMonth and #farmtoschool on social media. Follow the National Farm to School Network on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Download our Sharing Toolkit for sample messages and graphics to share with your community.
(5) Donate to Support Our Work: Invest in the future of farm to school! Donate to the National Farm to School Network and support our work to shift power in communities through farm to school activities in order to cultivate a raciall just food system.
Find more action ideas, resources and printable National Farm to School Month materials here.
Happy National Farm to School Month!
Federal Budget Reconciliation Includes Wins for Farm to School
By Karen Spangler, NFSN Policy Director
Congress will continue work on a budget reconciliation package that offers new funding for a broad range of issues important to farm to school stakeholders. The House Budget Committee voted to advance the general outline of the overall $3.5 trillion budget, covering agriculture spending, labor enforcement, employment education and training, school facilities funding, higher ed, child care and pre-K, and child nutrition.
The child nutrition portion, estimated at $35 billion, contains several big wins for equity. Most notably, the bill would widely expand the Community Eligibility Provision -- a big step toward school meals for all! -- and increase funding for meals served under CEP. It also would fund expanded summer EBT, as well as school kitchen modernization and training.
Finally, it allocates $634 million to Healthy Food Demonstration Incentive grant for schools to improve school nutrition, including hands-on experiential learning, increasing scratch cooking, and procuring local, regional, and culturally appropriate foods and foods produced by “underserved” or “limited resource farmers” (as defined by USDA). The language of the grant program is broad in this legislation, leaving much up to the discretion of the Secretary. If passed, this will be an important opportunity for NFSN partners and impacted communities to give feedback on how grants can be prioritized and administered to increase racial equity. NFSN has signed on to advocate for $1 billion in funding for this grant, as originally proposed in the White House’s Build Back Better plan.
Other highlights include:
- A federal and state partnership to help parents cover the cost of child care
- Support for universal pre-K
- Funding for states to improve public school facilities
- More robust enforcement of labor standards and protections
- Investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
The House Agriculture Committee had previously voted to advance a partial proposal of $66 billion in new spending on rural development, agricultural research for climate resiliency, biofuels, and forestry. This week, the Committee finalized an additional $28 billion in conservation spending, which would begin immediate investments in programs towards President Biden’s pledge to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Committee also unveiled $2 billion in debt relief provisions and assistance to “at-risk producers,” including loan payoffs and modifications for USDA borrowers, financial assistance to producers who suffered discrimination under USDA loan programs, assistance with legal issues of land access, and outreach and mediation services. Previous debt relief targeted at producers of color was halted amid legal challenges.
This week, Congressional leadership will be working to gain the coalition of votes needed to pass both this legislation and separate infrastructure package. As part of this process, negotiators will be choosing between many high-profile priorities competing for funding. Now is the time to contact your legislators and voice your support for the measures important to farm to school stakeholders!
This was originally posted on September 14, 2021 and was updated on October 1, 2021.