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This Week in farm to school: 3/22/16

Anna Mullen Tuesday, March 22, 2016

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. Request Seed Potatoes for Your School Garden
Slow Food USA is excited to announce the Ark of Taste Gardens project to showcase two important initiatives: School Gardens and Ark of Taste.  The Ark of Taste is a living catalog of delicious and culturally significant foods facing extinction. By identifying and championing these foods, we keep them in production and on our plates. The Ark of Taste Gardens project will engage classrooms in growing these special seeds in order to taste the wonderful food they produce. This year, Slow Food is excited to share two different types of Ark of Taste potatoes: Makah Ozette and Bodega Red. They’ll be sending 1 pound boxes of either, or a mixed box of both.  They ask for a $5 donation to help cover the cost of the potatoes and shipping. Request your seed potatoes here

Webinars & Events
1. National Farm to Cafeteria Conference Early Bird Discount Ends March 31
Don’t miss the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Madison, Wis., June 2-4, 2016. This event is the only national gathering of stakeholders from across the farm to cafeteria movement, making it a crucial leadership development opportunity to advance community health, build economic opportunities for farmers and producers, and ensure long-term sustainability for local food efforts nationwide. Early bird registration is open now, including pre-conference short courses and field trips. Event organizers expect more than 1,500 attendees, and the last event sold out before the registration deadline, so don’t wait. The early bird discount ends March 31. Learn more at

2. Webinar: USDA Planning for Farm to School Success Series
School Gardening
March 31, 2pm ET
Hear about the different ways to incorporate school gardens into your farm to school program as well as hear how schools are successfully procuring school garden produce for their meal programs. Register here

3. Webinar: School Food FOCUS
The Raw Deal: Strategies for Handling Fresh Poultry
April 13, 1-2 pm EST
Interested in procuring fresh poultry for your PK-12 school district but not quite sure how to get started? Don't be held back from integrating fresh poultry into your menus. Learn how to create a culture of food safety and hear directly from the experts as they share tips and resources for success. School Food FOCUS is a national collaborative that leverages the knowledge and procurement power of large school districts to make school meals nationwide more healthful, regionally sourced, and sustainably produced. Register here

Research & Resources
1. 2015 USDA Farm to School Census Results - vote for “One in a Melon”
USDA has released the final results of its 2015 Farm to School Census, which indicates schools have been deepening their engagement with farm to school since the first Census in 2011-20112. Visit the USDA website to see national overview statistics, state by state summaries including the dollars invested locally in each state, and full details on every district that responded. Then, vote for a school that you believe administers a creative, innovate and/or exemplary farm to school program for the “One in a Melon” award:

2. Research: Improvements and Disparities in Types of Foods and Milk Beverages Offered in Elementary School Lunches, 2006–2007 to 2013–2014
A new study from Bridging the Gap shows that the quality of elementary school lunches improved significantly from 2006–07 to 2013-14. Elementary schools increased regular availability of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and decreased the availability of fried potatoes, regular pizza, and high-fat milks. However, significant disparities among racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups remain. Read the research here

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Kid Chefs: Join the Fifth Annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge!
First Lady Michelle Obama is teaming up with PBS flagship station WGBH Boston, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to host the fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge to promote cooking and healthy eating among young people across the nation. The challenge invites kids ages 8-12 to join a parent or guardian in creating an original recipe that is healthy, affordable, and delicious. One winner from each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia will be selected and have the opportunity to attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House where a selection of the winning recipes will be served. Learn more submit your recipe by April 4 here

Farm to school in the news
Chicago H.S. Puts Twist on Farm-to-Table With Food Lab-to-Cafeteria Harvest
Students at Schurz High School (Chicago, Ill.) spent a recent afternoon in the Food Science Lab snipping nutrient-rich microgreens — arugula, radishes and lettuce — that were destined for the next day's school lunch. "This is nutrition education, this is science, this is math, this is engineering, this is entrepreneurship.” (via DNAinfo)

West Virginia farm to school program a win-win for schools, local farmers
Cabell County Schools (W. Va.) have taken the "eat local" mantra to heart with its Farm to School initiative. Purchasing as much produce and eggs from local farms as it can, it’s a real a win-win: providing students with fresh food and providing local farmers with a steady buyer. (via The Herald-Dispatch)

Wyoming students get greens in Harvest partnership
Last week, Jackson Hole High School received a big batch of greens from a 13,000-square-foot, three-story greenhouse. Many students scooped up the fresh lettuce at the salad bar, and were excited to support local agriculture. (via Jackson Hole News & Guide)

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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