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National Farm to School Network


2021 Transition Recommendations for USDA

NFSN Staff Monday, November 23, 2020

By Karen Spangler, NFSN Policy Director

The transition to a new Presidential administration comes with a change in leadership at important federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This moment can be an inflection point, where farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) advocates can call for new leadership in how policies and programs are administered. While the federal Farm to School Grant Program has escaped major regulatory attacks over the last four years, it relies on and supports other programs within USDA that have suffered from agency actions. A new administration, in addition to undoing harm, has the opportunity to elevate farm to school and ECE as a proven strategy aligned with USDA’s multi-faceted mission of nourishing children and families and providing economic opportunities for farmers and communities. Additionally, the following recommendations are steps to advance the strategic goal of the National Farm to School Network: By 2025, 100% of communities will hold power in a racially just food system.

Actions for the new administration specific to farm to school and ECE:
  • Withdraw the proposed rule on Broad Based Categorical Eligibility, and revisit USDA rules that may negatively impact participation in school meals. Any attempts to restrict school meal or CACFP participation should be corrected.
  • Develop more formal guidance for school food authorities (SFAs) on using a values-aligned procurement framework (in addition to strictly geographically local preference) for RFPs and the bidding process.
  • Initiate agency legal research into statutory barriers to further values-aligned purchasing.
  • Research USDA authority to issue waivers for greater cash in lieu of USDA commodity foods, if SFAs applied with proposals to increase their local and/or values-aligned purchasing.
  • Initiate research on increasing transparency within the USDA Foods supply chain, and assess what would be needed to apply more stringent conservation compliance and fair labor standards within that supply network.
  • Research barriers that prevent producers from participating as a vendor in DoD Fresh procurement. Recommend policy changes if necessary to reduce barriers for small local and regional producers, to increase the ability of SFAs to procure locally through DoD Fresh.
  • Continue and expand the AMS and FNS administered successful Pilot Project for the Procurement of Unprocessed Fruit and Vegetables, an alternative to USDA Foods and DoD Fresh for USDA purchases, authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.
  • Conduct research on administrative and overhead savings provided by pursuing a universal approach to school meal and child nutrition programs. Additionally, assess the potential economic impact of local and values-aligned procurement for the farm economy as part of such an approach.
  • Identify regulatory and other barriers related to developing farm to school programs, including direct and indirect compliance costs of production and marketing to schools and early care and education programs, barriers to local and regional market access for small-scale production, barriers to funding projects which might otherwise be eligible for a federal Farm to School Grant, barriers to funding Tribal projects under farm to school programs, and barriers to local and regional market access for Tribal farmers and ranchers.

Actions for the new administration for a just food system:
  • Resume the farm labor prevailing wage survey, and ensure that H2-A agricultural workers receive the very modest protections the program currently has.
  • Take immediate action to protect food and farm workers at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic, and enforce occupational safety and health rules in our food system.
  • Restore the antitrust and competitive practices protections in the livestock and poultry industry, which are rife with unfair practices that exploit producers and lead to more consolidation in our food system.
  • Rebuild the personnel capacity of USDA’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to collect, analyze, and release important data.
  • Work with small producers to understand and reduce the regulatory barriers of compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act.
  • Scrutinize programs that have been authorized, but not funded, to include in the President's budget request. Programs such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Account, which would provide matching savings for beginning producers, require no additional authorizing authority and could get funds directly into the hands of producers who need it most.

A PDF version of these recommendations is available here. For more information, please contact Karen Spangler, NFSN Policy Director, at or 248-535-3709.

This Week in Farm to School: Archive

NFSN Staff Thursday, November 19, 2020


We’re changing the way we do This Week in Farm to School! 

This Week in Farm to School is a weekly e-newsletter roundup of opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement.  Anyone can now sign up to receive the This Week in Farm to School weekly e-newsletter. 

Be sure to check “Weekly” for the type of email you’d like to receive (in addition to any others!) in your inbox every Tuesday. Archived copies of This Week in Farm to School are also available here. 

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. 

New Shared Metrics for Farm to Institution Tracking of Farm Impact

NFSN Staff Thursday, November 05, 2020
Photo courtesy of National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative
By National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative
As part of the National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative, the National Farm to School Network has been working with a group of farm to institution organizations across the U.S. to increase the measurement and evaluation of Farm to Institution programming.  
In 2019, the Collaborative set out to identify key farm impact metrics that can be used by farm to institution practitioners across the country. Funded by USDA AMS, the project resulted in a set of six metrics, and an accompanying set of tools and resources, to help practitioners track the impact of their local purchasing. 
The final set of metrics include: 
  • Business type: Type and Location of Business that produced the FINAL PRODUCT  
  • Ownership: Is the business woman or minority-owned? 
  • Farm impact: Percentage of the item that consisted of ingredients sourced from farm(s) within the local region 
  • Farm identity: Does the item contain any local farm sourced ingredients that are identity-preserved (can be traced back to the original farm)?
  • Product type: What is the food category? 
  • Market Channel: How was the item purchased?  
These metrics are meant to be used as an integrated suite that can assess the economic impact of farm to institution purchasing on food and farm-related businesses. Shared metrics allow farm to institution practitioners to track progress and impact, provide for consistency and transparency in reporting, support strategic development of regional value chains, and create learning across sectors. Standardized metrics can also reduce costs for distributors in tracking them, making it more likely they will do so.

These metrics are particularly important to the farm to school sector as they create opportunity to connect schools to the broader farm to institution movement, motivate and encourage districts to set benchmarks and goals around local purchasing, and will provide important data to influence future local foods and farm to school supportive policy.

Learn more about the National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative, the farm impact metrics, and how you can get involved here. Interested in applying the metrics to your institution's tracking of local food purchases? Contact Lacy Stephens, NFSN Senior Program Manager, at to learn more! 

Meet Our 30 Community Food Champions

NFSN Staff Friday, October 30, 2020

(Top Left to Right) Serena Padilla, Joëll Edwards, Corey Banks, April Smith
(Bottom Left to Right) Gale Livingston, Kadeesha Williams, Disha Patel, David Gardner
As National Farm to School Month comes to a close, we are thrilled to share with you the second round of our 2020 Community Food Champions! This year’s National Farm to School Month theme of It Takes a Community to Feed a Community has been all about recognizing the individuals who make farm to school work - day in and day out - and who have gone above and beyond this year, especially, to keep our kids and their families connected to community food systems.

We called on people like you to nominate your Community Food Champions - the people whose efforts may often go unnoticed, but whose work is absolutely essential to keeping our communities fed - for recognition and a $500 honorarium from the National Farm to School Network as a small token of appreciation. We received more than 200 nominations from across the country, representing nearly every role in the school food and farm to school ecosystem. After announcing our first round of 13 selected Community Food Champions early this month, we’re excited to share with you 17 more Community Food Champions, to round out our 30 awardees for National Farm to School Month 2020. They are:

Amber Woitalla - Community Food Advocate, Cheyenne River Indian Reservation - “Amber harvested 1043 pounds of produce and 169 cups of herbs to share with community members this summer. She recruited numerous youth to help plant and nurture the produce and taught lessons about the health benefits, Lakota and Dakota languages, and Dakota perspectives of the historical value of this food. Knowing that many families have been isolated due to a variety of restrictions, Amber packed up and took the harvest around the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation to many families.”

April Smith - SNAP-Ed Nutrition Coordinator, Minnesota - “Since COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd, April has been a leader in food distribution at four encampments within Minneapolis which impacted over 150 families. April has also partnered with Master Gardeners and a local food hub, the Good Acre, to distribute food from BIPOC farmers to 55 native elders and families. April exemplifies what it means to be a community food hero and has demonstrated unwavering commitment to her community.”

Chester Williams - Founder, A Better Chance A Better Community, North Carolina - “Chester Williams is doing exciting work to uplift the youth and communities in Halifax County and the Roanoke Valley in Northeastern North Carolina, creating opportunities for the youth to shape a healthier world in their own communities and beyond. Before and since COVID, Chester works beside young people to respond to urgent needs of the whole community, foster food sovereignty in his area, and nurture leaders and collaborations that move us toward the world we want for all our people.”

Corey Banks - Operations Associate, The Common Market Southeast, Georgia - “For the past 3+ years, Corey has been a pivotal, behind-the-scenes player in ensuring our fresh, nutritious food reaches our food service teams, students and partners alike safely and smoothly. His contagious positive attitude, resilient spirit, and direct action ensures safe, clean, beautiful food gets picked up from our farms, gets inspected for safety and quality, and ultimately reaches our region's schools and beyond.”

David Gardner - School Nutrition Professional, Cambridge Public Schools, Massachusetts - “David has always been an integral part of our school food services team. However, once the pandemic hit he had to adapt nearly every aspect of our meal service. His responsibilities of managing inventory, coordinating drivers, collaborating with vendors for orders which had been historically stable interactions were now impacted by so many forces out of anyone's control. As district staff was cut in half, use of 13 kitchens was consolidated to 2, on site meal preparation transitioned to contactless delivery to 8 different sites through the city, David was always a beacon of calm.”

Disha Patel - Food Justice Educator, Common Ground, Connecticut - “Disha is a pioneer for food justice, land sovereignty, youth opportunity, farm and labor rights, and so much more. She started a mutual aid fund with other social justice organizations like during the pandemic, hand delivering food boxes grown on her school farms to families. She also works with students as an educator implementing the most culturally aware lesson plans that I've seen, including the Black Panther Smoothie lesson, and Common Grounds infamous cooking club that is vegan, allergen free, delicious, and each month they visit a new culture and tradition!”

Gale Livingston - Farmer, Deep Roots Farm, Maryland - “Gale's dedication to building a healthier and more just food system are unparalleled. She is a hands-on farmer, maintaining 500 acres of land, with a mission for her farm space to become a place where there is equitable access to quality organic produce. She also works with local schools like Kimball Elementary to provide produce through weekly farm shares, which are used to teach family cooking classes. Her hands may be dirty from being immersed in soil all day but her heart is golden.”

Jay Holly - Afterschool Educator & Community Food Advocate, Virginia - “In addition to being an inspiring and tireless afterschool educator for local youth, Jay is also an excellent chef and has consistently supported and championed efforts to provide students with summer field trips to our farm, "Young Chefs" cooking classes, veggie tastings, take-home snack packs for students using local produce, and a Youth-Run Farm Stand in the Boys and Girls Club parking lot. Most recently, Jay supported an online video series called "Super Summer Chefs" we launched to connect with students during the pandemic.”

Joëll Edwards - Farm to School Hui Project Manager, Mālama Kaua’i, Hawai’i - “Joëll is a true unsung hero in the local Kauaʻi food community. When COVID began to shutdown our island, Joëll sprung into action. She began managing all of the intake calls for families and kupuna (elders) who were most in need of food through Malama Kauaʻiʻs CSA bag program so that local produce was delivered to their homes. She coordinated various avenues of food distribution for the USDA Farm-to-Families program through 10 sites across the entire island, which allowed over 15,000 local produce bags to be given out to families for free. Through her personal connections and ability to navigate through adverse situations, Joëll has shown us how much our community can accomplish together with a shared vision.”

Kadeesha Williams - Community Horticulturist and Urban Agriculturist, NYBG’s Bronx Green-Up, New York - “I have learned so much from Kadeesha about providing nutritious food to my community. She has even opened doors for me to gain employment in this field that I grew to love and want to be part of. She is self-taught and very knowledgeable about urban farming and how to help people become sustainable and teach others.”

Kena and Mark Guttridge - Farmers, Ollin Farms, Colorado - "Kena and Mark demonstrate a passion for and commitment to growing nutrient dense, high quality produce for children across Boulder County. When the pandemic hit, we asked if they would be willing to double the number of CSA shares they had initially agreed to provide for our child care programs and they agreed without giving it a second thought. They also helped us strategize safer models for the in-person farm trips and nutrition education classes they provide Farm to ECE participants."

Lenny Xiong - Farmer, Cannon Falls, Minnesota - “Lenny grows strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, eggplant, sugar snap peas, and more to Minnesota schools and early care and education centers. In the spring, Lenny via the Good Acre supplied schools in Robbinsdale, MN with local strawberries and rhubarb for a strawberry-rhubarb sauce kit that contained a recipe and video tutorial for children in the Robbinsdale Area district. Just this month, he grew loads of colorful carrots for schools in Roseville, MN - a great way to celebrate National Farm to School Month! We are so grateful for local partners such as Lenny who go the extra mile to provide delicious produce for students.”

Malcolm Snead - Food Service Director, Creede Consolidated Schools, Colorado - “Chef Malcolm is committed to making his school lunch program the best rural meal program in the state! He is constantly exposing his students to new cuisines and exciting flavors; things that are not very common in their tiny mountain town. It's common to find Colorado-grown produce on his menu - he has even managed to incorporate Colorado Quinoa into a burrito! He is a leader in this space when it comes to making the procurement of local foods look normal. On top of his amazing meals, he also started a culinary program for 8th and 9th graders. He is doing whatever he can to ensure that the children in his community are well-fed and truly nourished.”

Patricia Cain - Second Grade Teacher, New Mexico - “Mrs. Cain is a second grade dual language teacher at James Elementary and leader of the school/community garden, which has 224 raised beds. Despite COVIE-19, Mrs. Cain still made sure the garden was planted, maintained, and watered so the students would have fruits and vegetables when they returned to school. Unfortunately, the students haven't returned yet, so the produce has been donated to community partners and frozen so the students will be able to do cooking and nutrition activities when they return. She is truly our garden angel.”

Samantha Oster - Farm to Preschool Coordinator, New York - “Samantha adapted Grow it, Try it, Like it food lessons, recorded, edited and uploaded those lessons to Youtube so the pandemic didn't stop nutrition education in our daycare center. She also helped coordinate fresh food boxes to be sent home with families, and recorded recipie demonstrations for how families could use this food. I believe that by implementing Farm to Preschool remotely, she helped continue to provide safe nutrition lessons to children and parents without compromising the safety of our staff nor the families we work with.”

Sarah Nesky - School Nutrition Professional, Suttons Bay Schools, Michigan - "Sarah has been working tirelessly since the pandemic started, providing 200 breakfast and lunch bags for our students 5 days a week that were delivered from March 16th until school started this September. Plus we also had the summer GSRP group and the other student programs on site at the school including driver's education training. She even worked during the spring break to make sure the students didn't go hungry. Sarah really cares for the children of our area, and works long hours to make sure they are taken care of and get the freshest produce we can purchase."

Serena Padilla - Newburgh Program Manager & Garden Educator, Land to Learn, New York - “Serena leads an empowered learning community of students who explore their school garden, discovering its diverse habitat, observing how plants work, understanding where food comes from, creating artwork, practicing literacy skills, and harvesting veggies to make healthy snacks. This gardening season, as schools are closed due to the pandemic, Serena contributed to the 200 pounds of produce that Land to Learn donated to food relief efforts and also participated in the formation of networks that are helping people feed themselves. She has stayed engaged with her students by offering them garden-at-home kits, producing educational videos, and hosting virtual lessons. Serena is a dedicated champion of food education and food system justice!”

(Top Left to Right) Lenny Xiong, Samantha Oster, Amber Woitalla, Chester Williams
(Bottom Left to Right) Sarah Nesky, Jay Holly, a Malcolm Snead school lunch, Patricia Cain
In addition to these Champions, meet the first 13 Champions we announced here. We are so inspired by and grateful for all 30 of these individuals who make strong, resilient food systems work and keep their communities nourished. THANK YOU for all you do!

Special thanks to CoBank and Carton2Garden for sponsoring our National Farm to School Month campaign and making our 2020 Community Food Champion recognitions possible!

Supporting Farmers & Vibrant Rural Communities: CoBank and National Farm to School Network

NFSN Staff Friday, October 30, 2020

Farm to school is all about relationships and partnerships. We often hear about the relationships between farmers and schools – a literal farm to school kind of relationship. But there are many other types of partnerships, collaborations and support networks in the background that make the farm to school movement thrive. One of those important partnerships is between National Farm to School Network and CoBank, which have a shared goal of growing farm to school to support farmers and vibrant rural communities. CoBank, one of the nation’s largest providers of credit to the U.S. rural economy, has been a financial supporter of the National Farm to School Network for more than six years, making important farm to school projects – like data research and evaluation, national networking events, National Farm to School Month celebrations, and so much more – possible.

Since 2014, CoBank has been a sponsor of National Farm to School Network’s biannual National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, which has brought together thousands of stakeholders from across the country to network, learn, and collaborate on advancing farm to school and wider cafeteria efforts, including expanding new market opportunities for farmers and agricultural producers and strengthening rural economies.

In 2017, CoBank and fellow Farm Credit bank AgriBank sponsored the development of National Farm to School Network’s “Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools” report, which quantified the financial benefits to farmers when schools source food locally. The report found that not only were surveyed farmers satisfied or very satisfied with most aspects of farm to school sales, but farms participating in farm to school tend to purchase more inputs from the local economy, which results in positive overall local economic impact. 

CoBank has also been a significant supporter of National Farm to School Network’s National Farm to School Month celebration campaigns in October. This year’s theme of It Takes a Community to Feed a Community honors all of those who contribute to feeding our kids and communities – including farmers, harvesters and food hub distributors, school nutrition professionals, educators, garden coordinators, bus drivers and more. Among this year’s campaign activities has been the nomination and selection of 30 Community Food Champions from across the country for special recognition of their important efforts to keep kids and their families fed, especially during this difficult year. CoBank’s sponsorship has allowed National Farm to School Network to specifically recognize the exceptional efforts of five farmers, producers and agricultural community leaders:
  • Kena and Mark Guttridge - Ollin Farms, Longmont, CO - Kena and Mark grow high quality produce for schools and early care and education centers across Boulder County. They also offer farm trips and educational classes to teach and excite students about where their food comes from.
  • Lenny Xiong - Farmer, Cannon Falls, MN - Lenny grows and delivers strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, eggplant, sugar snap peas, and more to Minnesota schools and early care and education centers. Just this month, he grew loads of colorful carrots for schools in Roseville, MN - a great way to celebrate National Farm to School Month!
  • Mateo Carrasco - Food Justice Organizer, Albuquerque, NM - This summer, through his work with the Southwest Organizing Project, Mateo partnered with Cornelio Candelaria Organics to harvest and distribute more than 1,000 pounds of fresh, local produce to families from Whittier Elementary School in Albuquerque.
  • Josefina Lara Chavez - Farmer Advocate, Davis, CA - Josefina works with Latinx growers on the California Central Coast to coordinate and aggregate their agricultural products for sales, including to school districts, and during the pandemic, to emergency meal programs and food banks. She has helped facilitate thousands of dollars of fair price sales for Latinx growers, who sometimes have otherwise faced language, financial, and other barriers in selling their products.
  • Lauren Jones - Urban Farmer, Shreveport, LA - Lauren, through a partnership with Shreveport Green and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is leading the establishment of a multi-acre urban farm in the heart of downtown Shreveport that will feed 150 families, teach gardening and nutrition education, and foster leadership development opportunity for youth.
Looking forward, National Farm to School Network and CoBank’s partnership is continuing in the coming months with the launch of a new quantitative and qualitative analysis of the producer and supply chain impacts of Washington, D.C.'s Healthy Tots Act, which includes a local procurement incentive program for child care programs purchasing from local farmers and producers. This evaluation will provide valuable data on the impacts of procurement incentive programs and will inform new policy advocacy tools to help elected officials and decision-makers explore and implement policies that support new economic opportunities for farms and increased access to healthy, nutritious food for kids. Stay tuned for more on this new project coming in 2021!

“CoBank’s partnership with National Farm to School Network supports creating new markets for local farmers,” said Sarah Tyree, Vice President, Policy and Public Affairs of CoBank.

“National Farm to School Network is grateful for CoBank’s partnership and investment in our efforts to strengthen farm to school across the country, which is providing new opportunities for farmers, strengthening rural economies, and fostering vibrant and healthy communities,” said Helen Dombalis, Executive Director of National Farm to School Network. “CoBank’s commitment to supporting our mission has been instrumental in allowing us to expand our reach, deepen our impact, and move closer to turning our vision of a just food system that corrects inequities and benefits everyone into reality.”

Meet Our First 13 Community Food Champions

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 22, 2020

Meet our first 13 Community Food Champions! These pictures are ordered to follow the stories below, starting top row left to right, followed by middle row left to right, etc.

October is National Farm to School Month. And this year, we're approaching our celebrations of National Farm to School Month with a theme of "It Takes a Community to Feed a Community." We've always known that farmers, farmworkers, harvesters, food distributors, school nutrition professionals, teachers, garden coordinators, bus drivers, school volunteers, and many others are the people who make farm to school work – day in and day out – and they've had to go above and beyond this year, especially, to keep our kids and communities connected to community food systems. 
So throughout October, we're honoring them with activities that express appreciation, amplify underrepresented voices, and shift power – all in an effort towards creating a more equitable and just food system.
One of the cornerstones of our campaign is recognizing the individuals who go above and beyond to keep their communities fed. So we've been asking folks like you to nominate your Community Food Champions for recognition and a $500 honorarium as a small token of appreciation for their efforts. 

Last week at our 2020 Movement Meeting, we were excited to announce the first 13 selected Community Food Champions. Let us introduce you to them!
Debra WadeECE Food Service Manager in Michigan - “Debra is the Child Development Center Cook at Baxter Community Center - we call her Grandma Dee. Everyday 70+ children are fed FROM SCRATCH nutritious hearty meals. Whether it is pizza or collard greens from our garden, Grandma Dee is picking, cleaning and making the dough. Even our infants are eating homemade baby food! Not only does Grandma Dee help grow vegetables in our greenhouse and garden, she nurtures the staff and students and serves with so much love. Her heart is huge and her love is contagious.”

Imelda RodriguezCommunity Food Advocate in California - “Imelda is an incredible force in our community. She founded Cosecha A Mesa, which is dedicated to empowering students to use gardening, food, and plants as a form of healing. She is always trying to tackle systemic problems with food education and food justice, and her work has directly addressed the systemic issues that have been highlighted recently to give students tools to help their families during times of need. Imelda is creating a space for students to feel empowered.” 

Curt CanadaGarden & Food Literacy Teacher in Washington, DC - “Curt is the Garden and Food Literacy Teacher at Stoddert Elementary School, where students spend at least 12 hours throughout the year in the garden learning how to dig, plant, see, taste, smell, harvest, question and more. During the pandemic, Curt has continued teaching by filming instructional videos for the students so they could see their harvest, the garden and continue learning. He has also posted weekly to his Facebook for students, families and the greater community to visit the garden and pick up seedlings to start their own gardens.”

Kim LeungFood Service Director in California - “Kim has a strong dedication to making sure children are fed well during this pandemic. As Food Service Director at Goleta Union School District, she has led her team in continuing to provide scratch-cooked homemade meals – like pozole, pineapple kahlua pork bowls, homemade mac and cheese (made with carrots), teriyaki bowls, and more – to children throughout the school year and summer.  She has also worked with organizations to obtain local produce that may otherwise go into the trash to feed children and families in her community.”

Lauren JonesUrban Farm Educator in Louisiana - “Lauren has worked tirelessly to make environmental changes throughout our city since she started with Shreveport Green nearly 5 years ago. In that time, I have witnessed her establish solid foundations to increase food security by providing gardening and nutrition education to students at over 20 schools and recreation centers in the parish. She has also managed and trained 80 AmeriCorps members, who teach and assist with this work. Recently, she has started a new project to establish a multi-acre urban farm in the heart of our downtown that will feed 150 families, teach gardening & nutrition education, and incorporate the involvement of youth in our community.”

Mateo CarrasacoFood Justice Organizer in New Mexico - “This summer, with the help of a team of volunteers and youth interns at Cornelio Candelaria Organics, Mateo and farmer Lorenzo Candelaria distributed almost 1,000 pounds of fresh produce to families in the International District Neighborhood through a partnership with Albuquerque Public Schools’ Whittier Elementary and their community school team. Every week, Mateo and his team assembled fresh food boxes for families to pick up through grab-and-go food distribution pick up at the school.”

Dawn BauerElementary School Secretary & Food Pantry Supervisor in Montana - “Dawn is our elementary secretary and supervises our school pantry. Since March 16th, Dawn has coordinated the donation of over 10,000 lbs of pantry food items, 100s of personal hygiene products, over 2,000 weekend backpack meals, and thousands of coats, shoes, socks, hats, gloves, jeans, shirts, socks, underwear, and backpacks for students and their families. Dawn also created a Crockpot Club for elementary students, where kids were given crockpots and then taught how to assemble meals in them as part of an afterschool program. Dawn's spirit and creativity are indefatigable!” 

Lachelle CunninghamCulinary Education Manager in Minnesota - “Lachelle is a local foods rockstar! This year, Lachelle championed a new culinary program that will teach culinary skills, school nutrition guidelines and kitchen safety. After 8 weeks of classroom and lab work, our school district will be hosting these students as interns in our school kitchens, with the hopes of hiring them. Lachelle has also been committed to equity by partnering with local nonprofits who serve refugees, immigrants and women to prepare them for the application with this program. She brings excitement to the kitchen, enthusiasm for good food, and a commitment to teaching. Lachelle is helping to shape the future of school foods in Minnesota.”

Maggie NowakFarm to School Manager in Massachusetts - “Maggie has been working on the front lines throughout the pandemic, alongside the Lowell Public Schools cafeteria staff, to provide food for the community. She has also consistently pushed forward new programming to distribute food to people in need. She managed a program this summer to produce food in four of our school gardens and distribute that food for free to community members. She has also been running a bi-weekly food bank at school food distribution sites. Maggie has diligently served our community without hesitation in the face of a very high infection rate and constantly shifting planning.” 

Jesse PadronSchool Food Service Director in Oneida Nation - “Jesse is an amazing food service champion, providing meals and food education in Oneida. Not only does he do great farm to school work in the school meal programs, but he has also created great programs (gardens, farms, etc) to engage students in growing food and learning about food sovereignty.”

Lauren LittleCommunity Food Advocate in Connecticut - “Lauren's commitment to Hartford's youth is both impressive and inspiring to me. She is someone who doesn't only talk - she acts! Which is empowering for not only the students she teaches, but for the educators she works with. She is always showing up to do the work of connecting kids to healthy local food in a new and innovative way, but she's committed to something greater too - to growing a sense of self-worth and interconnectedness in her students. Her energy is a reminder of why I got into any of this farm to school stuff in the first place - because food is representative of something much larger and deeper. It's a force of connection.”

Josefina Lara ChavezFarmer Advocate in California - “Josefina has been working with Latinx growers on the California Central Coast to coordinate product volumes and aggregate, connect them with emergency meal programs, and sell to school districts, food banks, and other emergency routes during COVID. She has helped facilitate thousands of dollars of sales for Latinx growers at fair prices. These Latinx growers often face language barriers, financial barriers, and face additional barriers if they are undocumented. Josefina has been a voice for these farmers and has been passionate about representing these growers.”

Ángeles MartínezSchool Garden Coordinator in Oregon - “Angeles started a parent volunteer at her children's school, Powell Butte Elementary, in the Portland area. Now, she runs the school garden with Growing Gardens and cultivates a large plot of the adjacent community garden to donate fresh produce to school families. She also teaches cooking demos in the classroom at several schools, like teaching students how to use a tortilla press or making fresh salsa verde. During Covid, she has helped pass out garden kits so that students can continue hands-on learning at home, as well as grown many pots of strawberry starts and big sunflowers to share with families who came to the school's food distribution. Angeles’s big smile, friendliness and enthusiasm create bridges between communities.”
We are so inspired by and grateful for all of these individuals who make strong, resilient food systems work and keep their communities nourished. THANK YOU for all you do!

We also have one more round of Community Food Champions Nominations still open - submit your champions by Oct. 22 at 11:59pm ET

Special thanks to CoBank and Carton2Garden for sponsoring our National Farm to School Month campaign and making our 2020 Community Food Champion recognitions possible!

Farm to School Month 2020: It Takes A Community to Feed A Community

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 01, 2020
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 10th anniversary of National Farm to School Month celebrations. However, this October is looking very different than the previous nine years.

It Takes a Community to Feed a Community, and that’s been especially true this year. As our schools and early care and education sites, communities and food system continue to be impacted by the pandemic, we are approaching this October as an opportunity to honor all those who contribute to feeding our kids and communities – from farmers, harvesters and food hub distributors, to school nutrition professionals, educators, garden coordinators, bus drivers and more. This year, it’s been made very clear that the workers who keep our kids fed – many of whom are Black, Latino, Indigenous and other people of color – are often unseen, underpaid and undervalued for the contributions they make in our communities. Yet they’ve always been essential, and we know farm to school wouldn’t exist without them.

That’s why this October, we’re focusing on expressing appreciation and amplifying underrepresented voices in order to shift power to these essential workers and create a more just food system.

Here's are 5 easy ways you can join us this October:

(1) Nominate a Community Food Champion: Who are your community members – farmers, cafeteria workers, teachers, gardeners, bus drivers, volunteers, advocates, and others – that are feeding children and families, supporting local food systems, and going above and beyond in 2020? Nominate them to receive a $500 honorarium and be named a National Farm to School Network Community Food Champion! Learn more and submit your nominations here.

(2) Participate in our Virtual Movement Meeting, October 14: Join National Farm to School Network for a virtual Movement Meeting on Wednesday, Oct.14 from 1-3pm ET, featuring Karen Washington, food justice activist, for deep conversation and action-oriented reflection on shifting power and racial justice in the farm to school movement and wider food system. Register here.

(3) Take Action for Change: Throughout October, we'll be sharing ideas, opportunities and resources for engaging in advocacy to amplify underrepresented voices and shift power to create a more just food system. Save the date for a Twitter Chat we’re co-hosting with FoodCorps on Oct. 21 about these topics, and check-in for more updates throughout the month.

(4) Get Involved Locally: Explore our national calendar of Farm to School Month events to see how you can celebrate locally.

(5) 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.

Find more action ideas, resources and printable National Farm to School Month materials here.

Lastly, special thanks to CoBank and Carton2Garden for sponsoring our 2020 National Farm to School Month campaign!

Happy National Farm to School Month!

This Week in Farm to School: 9/30/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, September 29, 2020
SIGN UP: National Farm to School Network has 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. Food 4 Families Initiative: Youth Funding Opportunity
The Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) in partnership with Farm-Aid, Indian Land Tenure Foundation, and First Nations Development Institute is proud to announce the “Food 4 Families” initiative. While funds last, IAC is awarding coupons to cover processing fees of eligible show animals. Are you a Tribal youth that is an active 4H/FFA member in Indian Country? Did you have a recent COVID-19 related cancellation of your local live auction prevent you from marketing your 2020 4H/FFA Livestock Animal? If you answered YES to both questions, you qualify to apply! Learn more and apply.

2. Cigna Foundation's Healthier Kids For Our Future Grant Program
Deadline: September 30
Cigna Foundation is looking to partner with school systems and surrounding communities — including clinicians, local and national nonprofits — to supplement existing mental health programming and help close gaps both within and outside the school environment to address loneliness, anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention. To that end, it will fund programs that foster collaboration between various stakeholders, including school administrators and teachers, clinicians, and local and national nonprofits. The grants are up to $65,000 grants per year for two years. Learn more and apply.

3.  Voices for Healthy Kids' Policy Campaign Grant
Short Form Application Deadline: September 30
The Policy Campaign Grant is designed to support strategic issue advocacy campaigns supporting Voices for Healthy Kids policy priorities with a focus on health equity. Applications must be specific to an individual campaign for public policy change in one state, city, town or county, or tribal nation. Applications should focus on public policy changes to reduce health disparities for children in urban, suburban or rural settings who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, and Alaskan Native or from families who have low income. To learn more about the Voices for Healthy Kids policy areas - please review the descriptions in the policy lever agenda. Applications can be submitted for $50,000 - $200,000 for a duration of up to 18 months and can support non-lobbying and lobbying activities. Learn more and apply.

4. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Call for Proposals: Community Solutions for Health Equity
LOI deadline: October 7
With Community Solutions for Health Equity, RWJF seeks to make local health care systems more responsive to the needs of the community by elevating the voices, stories, priorities, and knowledge of people of color, and others who are left out of policy decisions. The Foundation's funding will provide community organizations with grant support to help increase their ability to organize members, build partnerships with other constituencies, and develop effective communication-all of which are critical to shared decisionmaking. Nine organizations will be given $300,000 each over the course of three years as part of the program. The Foundation is interested in engaging diverse groups and organizations, including those that have limited experience receiving grants of this size. Learn more and apply.

Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Elections 2020: What's Food & Agriculture Got to Do With It? a Teach-in on Electoral Strategy to Reshape Our Food & Farm Systems
September 29 // 2pm ET
Join HEAL Food Alliance in what’s sure to be an energizing session where we’ll learn about how elections shape our food and farm systems - and how people who care about food and farm systems can shape the election. Participants will learn to build their individual or organizational voter mobilization strategy. Organizations will also receive a brief explainer on the limits and possibilities around electoral organizing as a 501c(3). Register here.

2. Webinar: Farm to Food Bank Projects in California & Arizona: The Impact on Farmers and Hunger Relief
September 29 // 3pm ET
Since the start of the pandemic, many social entrepreneurs have focused on linking surplus food from farmers with hunger relief efforts. New programs have begun, and existing ones have been expanded.  In the second part of this webinar series, ECO Farm will host a panel to examine the practicalities and politics of these farm to food bank programs. Explore whether these are good markets for farmers, and ultimately whether they make for good nutrition assistance as well. Learn more and register.

3. Sustainable Business Network (SBN) of Massachusetts' Virtual Seafood Throwdown
September 29 // 7pm ET
Join SBN for a virtual celebration of local seafood and ingredients! Joined by Chef Annabel Rabiyah of Awafi Kitchen and Chef Ricardo Monroy, the two chefs will face off against each other in a chef throwdown that will feature the use of fresh local seafood and local ingredients. Learn more and RSVP. 

4. Louisiana Farm to School Conference: Virtually Everywhere
September 30, October 1, 7, & 8 // 11am ET
The fifth annual Louisiana Farm to School Conference will be held entirely online, free of cost. The theme for the 2020 conference is “Virtually Everywhere,” and will occur in 2-hour sessions from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. CT on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 7 and 8. The event will emphasize the three main components of farm to school — education, school gardens and local food procurement. Hear from speakers, Helen Dombalis with the National Farm to School Network and Sunny Baker with the Mississippi Farm to School Network. Learn more and register. 

5. Virtual Listening Session for Illinois Farmers and Ranchers Selling to Local Food Markets
September 30 // 9pm ET
Are you a farmer, rancher, or urban farm in Illinois selling products to the local food market? Do you have concerns about crop insurance or ideas on how it should be reformed to meet your unique needs? Join USDA's Risk Management Agency's final listening session will focus on how existing crop insurance programs can be improved, as well as exploring the possibility of a new crop insurance program. The feedback received will help identify potential changes and/or additions to insurance options for producers supplying local markets. Learn more and access the Zoom link.

6. Webinar: Financing and Land Access Inequities
October 1 // 12pm ET
Join Penn State Extension for the third part of four-part webinar series: Exploring Racial Equity and Access in Our Food System. The series will cover the many ways that racism and injustice impact farming and food systems in the United States. In this webinar we will examine the history of agricultural land ownership disparities and historical lockouts of financing with private institutions and the USDA.  Panelists will speak on their own experiences with operating a farm project, funding, and financing a farm startup. Register here.

7. Webinar Training: Make Yourself Obsolete: Shifting Power from Non-Profit Leadership to Community Leadership
Oct. 1 & 8 // 3-4:30pm ET
Wondering what the right role for your community based nonprofit is? Or what it might look like to transfer power and ownership to the community you’re serving? Join the Wallace Center’s Food Systems Leadership Network and Kitchen Table Consulting, LLC for a two-part, interactive training on strategies that non-profit leaders can use to transfer decision making power and sovereignty to the communities in which they work. Register here.

8. Webinar: Get Out the Vote: Opportunities to Mobilize People
October 6 // 3pm ET
Join Coalition on Human Needs, Food Research & Action Center, National Low Income Housing Coalition, and NETWORK for a webinar focused on elevating ideas on how and why 501(c)(3) organizations can support -- in nonpartisan ways that are mission-aligned -- voter registration, voter mobilization, and voting. Identify strategies, tools, and resources that social justice organizations can use to support this vital work, especially in the time of COVID-19 when people and organizations are particularly stretched from responding to unprecedented needs. Register here.

9. Virtual 2020 Urban Food Systems Symposium
Every Wednesday in October
In response to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 Urban Food Systems Symposium: Nourishing Cities in a Changing Climate, hosted by the Kansas State University and K-State Research and Extension, has been modified to an online format scheduled for each Wednesday in October from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. CDT. Live keynote speakers will be featured each Wednesday accompanied by breakout discussions and poster sessions. Cost for access to all live and recorded presentations is $100 for professionals and $50 for students (includes AmeriCorps and FoodCorps members), with a price increase after September 18. Recorded sessions will become available next week. Learn more and register. 

10. NFSN Food Justice is Racial Justice: National Farm to School Network Movement Meeting
October 14, 1-3pm ET (Virtual)
How can we shift power in our communities to create a more just food system? What community capital and resources can help us create systemic change in the ways we grow, prepare and eat food? Join National Farm to School Network for a virtual Movement Meeting on Wednesday, Oct.14 from 1-3pm ET, featuring Karen Washington, food justice activist, for deep conversation and action-oriented reflection on racial justice in the farm to school movement and wider food system. You’ll connect with fellow farm to school and food justice advocates from across the country, dig into conversations about what it means to shift power, and help shape the next steps of progress towards our vision of a just food system for all. This free, virtual Movement Meeting is open to everyone - no prior knowledge of farm to school needed. Register here.

Research & Resources 
1. COVID-19 NFSN National Farm to School Network - 2020 Back to School: Farm to School/ECE and COVID-19 Resource List
National Farm to School Network is compiling back-to-school resources that will be relevant to farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. See the resource list. Have resources to suggest? Please email us at 

2. COVID-19 Regenerative Agriculture and COVID-19 Capital Needs: Assessing Needs in the Regenerative Meat and Grain Sectors to Direct Capital Flows
To better understand and capture capital needs of current operators in the agricultural value chain during the pandemic, Croatan Institute conducted original research focused on the regenerative livestock and grain sectors. The latest Croatan Institute White Paper, Regenerative Agriculture and COVID-19 Capital Needs, presents an analysis of the survey results, combined with findings from in-depth interviews with individuals representing farming to processing to distributions interests. It highlights the greatest needs in the regenerative meat and grain sectors to direct the capital flows required to support the growth of these emerging sectors. Learn more.

3. COVID-19 Considerations for Outdoor Learning Gardens and Community Gardens
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges across the United States. Access to healthy food options and nutrition are an important part of health and well-being. Outdoor learning and community gardens help fill nutritional gaps in places where access to healthy food may be limited, provide recreation and stress reduction opportunities, and provide a safe outdoor learning environment, external icon especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Garden managers should consider the recommendations to help ensure a safe learning environment and access to healthy food, while helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

4. Documentary: Kiss the Ground
Recently released on Netflix, Kiss the Ground is an optimistic climate documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson that argues for the healing power of soil, which could offer a solution to the climate crisis. Read a review from The New York Times and view the trailer. You can view this recently released film on Netflix.

Across the globe, the shift has begun. Crops forgotten over the past half-century are being reawakened. Farmers are learning that many of these undervalued crops have the power to combat hunger, respond to climate change, promote biodiversity, provide women with livelihoods, and support healthier and more secure food systems. To share this story, the Lexicon formed the REAWAKENED FOOD INITIATIVE (RFI) with support from dozens of companies, government agencies and NGOs including Crop Trust, Crops for the Future, Food Forever, Bioversity International, GFAR, and Slow Food. 

6. 2021 Northeast Farm to Institution Summit Call for Proposals Now Open
Deadline: November 23
The biennial Farm to Institution Summit gathers hundreds of stakeholders working across the food chain to transform our regional food system. The Summit is a place to share innovative ideas, strengthen relationships, create collective action, brainstorm solutions, and nourish the network. Submit a proposal idea that brings the Northeast together to build a just and sustainable food system with the power of our institutions. All kinds of sessions are welcome: traditional workshops, roundtable conversations, lightning talks, stories, cooking demos, tours, recreational and healing activities (games, yoga, meditation!). Learn more.

7. Application open for 2020 REGENERATE Conference HERD Fellowship Program!
Deadline: September 30
The Quivira Coalition, Holistic Management International, and American Grassfed Association are pleased to announce a call for applications for the 2020 REGENERATE HERD Fellowship, which provides scholarships for beginning agrarians, land stewards, and students in related fields to attend the virtual 2020 REGENERATE Conference from October 26-November 20! Learn more and apply.

8. The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) Launches New Online Climate Change and Food System Innovation Hub
On this website, you’ll find information about how CEFS initiatives and research programs are working to address climate change, specific strategies to increase the resiliency of farms and food systems, and a list of other organizations working on climate change in the food system. Learn more.

Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN Sign-On To Endorse NFSN's COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
National Farm to School Network's 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. Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020
In June 2020, U.S. Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which will break down barriers for farmers and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets so they can be rewarded for climate-smart practices. Stakeholders around the nation have come together to draft a sign on letter and factsheet to address some of the limitations of the Act and how it could wind up being more harmful than helpful.

3. COVID-19 House of Representatives Takes Important Steps to Address Childhood Hunger in Continuing Resolution
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT), which provides families an EBT card to purchase food to replace the school meals their children are missing while learning remotely, has been extended through Fiscal Year 2021. The Continuing Resolution makes a number of improvements to P-EBT including: providing benefits to children who have a reduction in the number of days or hours they are physically in school or child care; allowing Puerto Rico and other territories to implement P-EBT; and providing funding to cover states’ administrative costs. Read more.

4. 10 Cents a Meal: Michigan Legislature Passes Statewide Expansion
The Michigan Legislature on Wednesday passed the 2021 state budget and included expansion of 10 Cents a Meal so that it is available for grant applicants statewide! It included $2 million in funding for the program and also made it available to early child care centers for the first time. The bill is waiting for the Governor's signature. Learn more.

Jobs & Opportunities
1. NFSN Program Manager, National Farm to School Network (Remote) 
The Program Manager will manage a portfolio of farm to school projects and ensure the project goals align with National Farm to School Network's mission and strategic priorities. The current portfolio program areas include Native Communities and agricultural producers. This is a full-time (40 hours per week), exempt position that includes benefits. Open until filled. Learn more and apply here.

2. NFSN Program Associate, National Farm to School Network (Remote, Part-Time)
The Program Associate will implement National Farm to School Network's Seed Change in Native Communities project to scale up and institutionalize culturally significant farm to school programs throughout the entire school environment and ultimately improve the nutritional health and wellness of Native youth. The Program Associate will work at the local level to expand farm to school activities: Procurement of local and traditional foods, school gardens, and agriculture and nutrition education. This is nonexempt, part-time (20 hours/week) position with a limited term ending 3/31/22. Learn more and apply here.

3. CDC Food Insecurity - Nutrition and Obesity Fellowship (Atlanta, GA)
A fellowship opportunity is currently available with the Obesity Prevention and Control Branch in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) within the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) located in Atlanta, Georgia. This fellow will receive training and gain experience in DNPAO’s policy, systems, and environmental approach to promoting healthy food access and reducing food and nutrition insecurity. The application deadline is Sept. 25 at 3pm ET. Learn more and apply here

4. Policy Specialist, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities (Michigan) 
Deadline: September 30
Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities in Michigan is seeking a Policy Specialist to carry out its 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms outreach and advocacy initiative. The ideal candidate will be passionate and knowledgeable about the value of getting locally grown food to children in school and early childcare settings; experienced in public policy advocacy, networking, and facilitation; and wake up every day thinking about how to embed 10 Cents a Meal and the value of investing in healthy, locally grown food for children in school and early child care into Michigan’s identity. Learn more and apply here.

5. Advisors for Institutional Investment Accelerator Program, Wallace Center
Deadline: Oct. 12, 6pm ET
The Wallace Center is launching a new initiative aimed at catalyzing and increasing institutional investment to accelerate the development of more equitable food systems. At the core of this initiative is a cohort of six teams doing this work in their communities. As part of this program, Wallace Center is seeking advisors to support the development of the program and work with cohort team. Advisors should have deep experience working with teams and knowledge of one or more of the following areas: Institutional procurement, value chain coordination, financing food businesses and infrastructure, and developing cross-sector partnerships. The advisors would bring an anti-racist lens to their work, with a demonstrated track record of working with leaders of color and centering racial equity. Engagement for this project is November 2020 - July 2022. Applications are open through Oct. 12. Learn more here

6. Local Foods Specialist, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) (Butte, Montana)
NCAT is seeking a Local Foods Specialist to work on local food projects with partners around Montana. NCAT works to foster and promote sustainable technologies and systems, especially for the benefit of economically disadvantaged individuals and communities. NCAT’s work includes nationally recognized projects in food, agriculture, and energy. The Local Foods Specialist will be a regular, full-time position based at NCAT’s headquarters in Butte, Montana. The position will be working to grow Montana’s farm-to-institution movement by collaborating with a statewide network of foodservice professionals, farmers and ranchers, and leaders in the local food movement. Apply here.

In the News
Marion Nestle Imagines an ‘Enlightened’ Approach to National Food Policy
In her latest book, ‘Let’s Ask Marion,’ Nestle answers all your burning food policy questions—and makes a case for a singular national food policy agency. (Civil Eats)

Opinion: The Federal Government Is Failing Communities Suffering From Food Insecurity
Food insecurity is not an acute emergency, but rather a chronic condition for low-income Americans that existed long before the current public health emergency. (The Appeal)

Neftalí Durán is Using Indigenous Wisdom to Educate Eaters and Address Inequity
The food activist and co-founder of the I-Collective sees the work of his elders as the foundation for promoting economic, racial, and environmental justice. (Civil Eats)

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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