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National Farm to School Network


This week in farm to school: 11/03/2015

NFSN Staff Tuesday, November 03, 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. Educator Grants, Herb Society of America
The Herb Society of America's mission is to promote the knowledge, use, and delight of herbs through educational programs, research, and sharing the experience of its members with the community. Through the Grant for Educators program, the society will award a grant or two totaling up to $5,000 to a project(s) that enhances herbal education in school systems, communities, or in any public forum (electronic or person-to-person).Visit the Herb Society's website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.  

2. USDA funding available to support new farmer training programs
The USDA recently announced the availability of $18 million to fund new farmer training and education programs across the country. These federal grants are made available to non-profit and community-based organizations, as well as academic institutions and government entities, through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). BFRDP is the only national program that explicitly provides funding to train the next generation of farmers. Grant applications are due January 21, 2016. Learn more here

Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: USDA
New Markets & Growth Opportunities with GroupGAP
Thursday, Nov 12, 2pm EST
The Agriculture Marketing Services' Specialty Crops Inspection Division, in partnership with the Wallace Center at Winrock International, will present a webinar on GroupGAP, a new certification option for the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audit program.  This program makes GAP certification more accessible to small and medium size producers by allowing multiple growers to work together to obtain a single certification as a group.  GroupGAP certification offers growers a cost-effective means to show adherence to GAP requirements. Learn more and register here

2. Webinar: California Farm to School
Evaluating Farm to School 
Monday, Nov 16, 3:30pm CST
Join California Farm to school to learn about the National Farm to School Network’s Evaluation Framework, a tool to offer guidelines and metrics for clear Farm to School outcomes and impacts. The workshop will provide an overview of the framework as well as practical examples of how it has been used in Yolo County Farm to School programs. Register here

3. Proposals now accepted for National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Organizers of the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference are seeking proposals for workshops, posters and lightning talks to feature during the two-day gathering in Madison, Wis., June 2-4, 2016. This event is the premier gathering of individuals and organizations working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. Cafeterias in schools and early care, colleges and universities, hospitals, prisons and other institutional settings serve tens of millions of Americans every day, placing the farm to cafeteria movement at the forefront of the fight to end obesity and strengthen local food systems. The 2016 conference theme Moving Forward Together lifts up new and innovative partnerships to continue building momentum and ensure long-term sustainability in the movement. The application period is open now through Dec. 4, 2015. Learn more at

4. Save the date: Children & Nature Network 2016 International Conference and Cities & Nature Summit
May 24th – 27th, 2016, Saint Paul River Centre Saint Paul, MN
Innovation, collaboration & commitment are the key ingredients for meaningful grassroots change. Join the Children & Nature Network and leaders from around the world to learn, connect & build the future of the children and nature movement. Early bird registration closes Nov 30. Learn more here

Research & Resources
1. USDA New Farmers Tool
The USDA has announced a new, tailored web tool designed to connect burgeoning farm entrepreneurs with programs and resources available to help them get started. The new web tool is available at The site features advice and guidance on everything a new farm business owner needs to know, from writing a business plan, to obtaining a loan to grow their business, to filing taxes as a new small business owner. By answering a series of questions about their operation, farmers can use the site’s Discovery Tool to build a personalized set of recommendations of USDA programs and services that may meet their needs. Learn more here

2. Cultivating collective action: The ecology of a statewide food network
In order to continue to foster and grow a sustainable partnership with food network leaders across the state, University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition educators explored the opportunities and challenges presented by the emergence of a statewide food network in Minnesota and the role of Extension within it. This report provides a summary of the findings and highlights opportunities, challenges, and best practices that emerged through 10 categories that describe the different phases and key activities of a network. Additionally, the report findings are presented through an overarching concept of understanding networks as ecosystems, because the processes at play within food networks mimic many of those found in nature. Read the report here

3. State School Health Policy Matrix 2.0
The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, National Association of State Boards of Education and the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) have released the State School Health Policy Matrix 2.0, an updated guide to state-level school health policies in all 50 states for the following topics: competitive foods and beverages, physical education and physical activity and administration of medication in the school environment. Learn more here

4. New Harvard cost benefit study on childhood obesity interventions
The Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost Effectiveness Study (CHOICES) team at the Harvard Prevention Research Center has just released a new study highlighting the importance of prioritizing primary prevention for policy makers aiming to reduce childhood obesity. The paper identifies three interventions that would more than pay for themselves by reducing healthcare costs related to obesity: an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages; elimination of the tax subsidy for advertising unhealthy food to children; and nutrition standards for food and drinks sold in schools outside of school meals. The study also underscores the importance of maintaining policies already in place. Improvements in school meal nutrition standards and current Smart Snacks regulation make the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 one of the most important national obesity prevention policy achievements in recent decades. Read the study here

5. Food Policy Council Directory
The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Policy Networks project began surveying food policy councils (FPCs) and similar groups across North America annually in 2012. The FPC directory and map have been updated for 2015, which include updated contact information, goals, webpages and social media sites, governance structures, top priorities, and notable accomplishments for the 282 active FPCs listed across North America. Visit the directory here

6. Documentary: Food for Thought, Food For Life
Food for Thought, Food for Life is a short documentary film that educates people about the negative impact our current methods of agriculture have on the earth. In addition to providing vital information, the film gives viewers the necessary tools to make a difference in their own lives. The film is offered without a screening license fee to those who convene screening events designed to actively engage people in conversations about the food and farming sustainability issues raised by the film. Visit the Food for Thought website for a full screening kit, discussion guide, and materials.

Policy & Action
1. A National Survey of Early Care Settings: Local Procurement, Gardens and Food and Farm Education
The National Farm to School Network is currently conducting a survey of early care and education staff and providers to gain a better understanding of current farm to preschool practices as well as barriers and challenges to implementing farm to preschool/early care initiatives. Please share the following survey link with early care and education staff and providers in your networks: The survey will close November 17. Thank you for your time and assistance in capturing this important information! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact NFSN Farm to Preschool Associate, Lacy Stephens ( or Principal Investigator, Lydia Oberholzer (

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Garden Manager, Colorado Rocky Mountain School
Colorado Rocky Mountain School is accepting applications for its Garden Manager position, deadline is November 20, 2015. Applicants must possess three years of gardening, organic agriculture, and horticulture in an institutional setting including two years of supervisory experience. Learn more here

Farm to school in the news
Farm to school: the battle for healthy eating
Palm Springs Unified School District is bringing more local food into the cafeteria with the support of local farmers. Farmer Bob Knight says, ”With farm to school, there's this opportunity to keep farming here forever as a healthy economic enterprise (and) as a healthy community enterprise that will make our community so much richer." (via The Desert Sun)

500 Minnesota districts eating farm to school lunches
Students at 1,351 schools across Minnesota are eating nutritious, locally-grown meals through farm to school programs. The initiative is a welcome boost for Minnesota’s farmers, increasing farm income by an average of 5 percent. (via Fox 9)

Creative baking from Kalispell Public School Central Kitchen
A new central kitchen has increased scratch cooking at Kalispell Public Schools - and has resulted in a decrease in plate waste. The kitchen also uses creative baking to incorporate more than 400 pounds of kitchen garden produce into student meals. (via The Daily Inter Lake)

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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