By Tomas Delgado, NFSN Program Manager

National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is excited to share a new project we’re working on to support four state cohorts of grassroots community groups, nonprofits, and farm to school stakeholders in convening across issue areas and identifying shared goals for food justice policies and programs in their communities. This “State Values-Aligned Working Groups” project is in support of  our Call to Action that 100% of communities will hold power in a just food system by 2025. Towards that goal, we will work with these participating state groups to shift power to the most impacted stakeholders in their communities at the nexus of education, nutrition, agriculture, community health, and the environment.

What Do We Mean by “Values-Aligned”?

We believe that farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) can be a vehicle to advance racial equity, economic justice, environmental justice, respect for workers and educators, and health equity for children. (Read more about our six community values here.) We aim to support other groups who are aligned with these same values, both in the farm to school movement and in the wider community. We’re advancing this at the national level through our call for a policy that would provide school meals to all children that promote these values in our food and educational systems.

Where Are We Working?

We have recruited four place-based cohorts to support their capacity for action planning and mobilization for policy and/or program innovations that advance equity. Our cohorts hail from:

  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • New York City, New York
  • United States Virgin Islands

What We Will Do
By the end of 2021, each group will have formed connections across their disparate sectors to:

  • Identify and share the most pressing barriers to racial equity as experienced by their communities,
  • Explore policy and advocacy solutions for these issues at the local, state, and national level,
  • Identify common goals and values for shared policy and/or programmatic development and mobilization,
  • Create concrete objectives for a cross-sector advocacy campaign or innovative program to advance their shared goals, and  
  • Deliver an action plan for implementation in 2022.

NFNS will support planning through 2021, during which groups will outline fundraising needs to put their campaign or program into action in 2022, and identify where NFSN can support that fundraising capacity. We plan to support participants with a stipend for their time and expertise advancing this work. NFSN has secured funding for $10,000 per cohort through 2021 for action planning, and has offered Year 2 seed funding for implementation. We prioritized stipends for grassroots groups led by people of color and organizations who may not have resources to support dedicated staff time on this work. We thank the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Campbells Soup Foundation for making this funding support possible.

Stay tuned for updates on this project over the coming months. Have questions? Connect with our Programs Team to learn more.