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National Farm to School Network


This Week in Farm to School: 9/1/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, September 01, 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. 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.

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. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) 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: Opportunities for Supporting Voter Engagement as a 501(c)(3) Social Justice Organization
September 1 // 3pm ET
This webinar is hosted by the Coalition on Human Needs, Food Research & Action Center, National Low Income Housing Coalition, and NETWORK. It is the first in a series of webinars for 501(c)(3) organizations on permissible election-related activities. Register here.

2. COVID-19  Webinar: COVID-Friendly Outdoor Classroom Infrastructure and Design
September 2 // 2pm-3:15pm ET
There is an urgent need to reimagine PreK-12 schools in order to reopen safely and equitably. Repurposing outdoor spaces is a cost-effective way to reduce the burden on indoor classrooms while providing fresh air, hands-on learning opportunities, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature. Join Sharon Danks, a leader of the National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative, author of Asphalt to Ecosystems, and founder of Green Schoolyards America, to learn about her work supporting the creation of outdoor classrooms for reopening schools. This webinar is hosted by School Garden Support Organizations. Register here.

3. EQUITY Panel Discussion: Rooting out Structural Racism in American Agriculture
September 3 // 6pm-8pm ET
Join Vermont Law School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems for an upcoming virtual panel discussion to discuss Black land loss, the connection between agriculture and environmental justice, and the role of law and policy professionals in rooting out racism in the food system. Several lawyers fighting structural racism in agricultural law and policy will be featured. The event is free and no registration is required. 

4. COVID-19  Webinar: COVID's Hidden Toll: A Panel Discussion
September 4 // 7pm ET
University of California, MERCED, and Frontline present a panel discussion on the film "COVID's Hidden Toll" which examines how the COVID crisis has hit vulnerable immigrants and undocumented workers. The documentary follows the coronavirus pandemic's invisible victims including crucial farm and meat-packing workers who lack protections and have been getting sick. Please watch the film here and then register to join the panel discussion on September 4 via Zoom. 

5. Reclaiming Health Through Indigenous Food Systems: A Discussion on the Film “Gather”
September 8 // 10am ET
A unique opportunity to watch the new film, "Gather," prior to its public debut! With registration, you will have a 96 hour window to watch the film. Join Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) North America for a panel discussion with the film director and featured Indigenous figures from the film. Panelists will share their insights on the timely and critical nature of Indigenous peoples' knowledge, languages, cultures, innovation and leadership as Native communities build up their traditional food systems across North America. Learn more and register. 

6.COVID-19 Back to School 2020: Feeding Young Minds in Uncertain Times
Webinar Recording
Watch former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a panel of national school food experts discussing why no matter what schools look like – remote, in person, or hybrid – we have a responsibility to ensure every child gets the food they need. This discussion, sponsored by the National Press Club (NPC), was live streamed on August 17 and explored the important role school meal programs play in the overall health, education and wellbeing of students and will highlight current challenges schools are facing, proposed policy solutions, and the innovative approaches schools are taking during this time of crisis. Watch the recording here. 

7. EQUITY Black Farming: Beyond "40 Acres and a Mule."
September 11-12
People of African descent have a long agricultural tradition. In spite of their forced farm labor under chattel slavery in the Americas, in emancipation most African Americans returned to this tradition as independent farmers or sharecroppers. Co-sponsored with Antioch College and The National Afro American Museum and Cultural Center, this conference will be discussing the influential history of black farmers in Ohio with an emphasis on the strength of community, preparing the next generation of underrepresented farmers for the future, and cultivating the cooperative business model to promote healthy farming and sustainable businesses. There will be keynote addresses, breakout sessions, networking, a resource fair, and more! Learn more and register. 

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. USDA Launches A Resource Hub on Local Food System Response to COVID-19
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in partnership with 16 partner organizations, launched the Local Food System Response to COVID Resource Hub designed to assist local and regional food producers as USDA and its partners develop, share and assess resources on local and regional food system responses to COVID-19. This searchable database contains insights and educational material from the 16 partner organizations (including NFSN!) to help local and regional food producers and businesses adapt their market strategies in the current environment. Learn more.

3. COVID-19 Call for Local Food Impact Stories
As part of a Local Food Systems Response to COVID-19 Project, Farm to Institution New England (FINE) is looking to highlight examples of institutions (hospitals, campuses, schools, etc) utilizing CSAs and pop-up grocery stores to provide local, fresh food to institutional staff and constituents during the pandemic. If anyone has examples of successful models, FINE would like to hear from you! These stories will contribute to a series of innovation briefs that highlight local food strategies employed during COVID-19. Contact Hannah Leighton (pronouns: she/her), FINE's Research & Evaluation Manager, at with questions and/or your stories.

4. 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms Framework
10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms is designed to improve daily nutrition and eating habits for Michigan children and invest in Michigan’s agriculture and local food business economy. This resource shows how the 10 Cents program works and the impacts it can have:
• A framework, based on the 2018-2019 program design, depicts how the incentive program contributes to healthier kids and stronger local economies.
• A flow chart shows the businesses, groups, and organizations involved in providing food to schools or supporting the 10 Cents program.
View the framework here. 

5. Northeast Farm to School Institute Kicks Off with STAY IN-stitute!
In the Spring of 2020, USDA awarded a brand-new grant – the Regional Farm to School Institute Grants – to two grantees: Vermont FEED, a partnership of Shelburne Farms and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of VT, to provide schools and districts in the six New England States and New York with professional development to create robust farm to school programs. In June, Vermont FEED launched the tenth annual Northeast Farm to School Institute with a first ever virtual STAY IN-stitute retreat. The institute is a unique year-long professional learning opportunity for the selected school teams that include school nutrition directors or managers, classroom teachers, school administrators, school nurses, parents, school board, or community partners. Find more information about Vermont FEED’s action planning process in this new resource, Connecting Classrooms, Cafeterias, Communities: A Guide to Building Integrated Farm to School Programs.

6. National Farmers Market Managers Survey Data Published
The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary data of the 2019 National Farmers Market Managers Survey on August 17, 2020. This project was a joint venture of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). This summary data contains a wealth of information that can be used by policy makers, economic development professionals, chambers of commerce, and the U.S. farmers market sector.  AMS will release an in-depth analysis of the survey data in spring of 2021. The full data can be found on the NASS site.

7. Farm and Energy Initiative (FEI) Website
A collaboration between the Institute for Energy and the Environment and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School have created a  new open-access resource that helps farmers, researchers, and policymakers promote sustainable energy use in agriculture. It includes toolkits and information in three main sections: The Farmland Solar Policy Project, Biogas and Organic Waste Management Project, and the Healthy Soils Law Project. View the website.

8. New Community Eligibility Provision Grouping Optimizer: Meals Count
Meals Count is a free interactive, customizable tool to help districts optimize their CEP groupings and maximize federal reimbursement. Meals Count is powered by sophisticated algorithms developed by data scientists across the country to eliminate the guesswork of grouping. Just by using Meals Count, districts have been able to optimize CEP groupings and increase expected annual reimbursement by 13% on average. For districts with 11 schools or fewer, the tool actually runs through every possible grouping scenario (of thousands possible combinations) to give the optimal scenario for maximizing expected annual reimbursement. For a quick demo on how to use Meals Count, watch this step-by-step tutorial.

Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN Sign-On To Endorse NFSN's COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
As Congress works to finalize its next COVID-19 response bill, NOW is that time to make our voices heard. 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. COVID-19 NFSN Action Alert: Senate Must Do More For Kids, Farmers & Schools
Last week, Senate leadership released their latest set of COVID-19 relief bills, a $1 trillion bundle of legislation covering business aid, money for schools and agricultural aid funding. While National Farm to School Network is glad that Senators have recognized that our schools and farmers are in urgent need of critical funding support, this proposed legislation from the Senate falls far short of targeting the actual needs of our kids, farmers, educators and school nutrition professionals. Congress should be taking bolder action to respond to this emergency, support those most impacted and help advance us towards a more equitable future for all. Read more on our blog, and take 5 minutes to call your senators using our easy call script. 

3. USDA Extends Waivers to Fill Gap for Schools Starting in September
On August 20, the USDA announced the extension of four waivers through September 30, 2020 to support continued summer meals program operations in areas where the school year begins in September. These are:
1) The non-congregate waiver for SFSP;
2) The parent or guardian meal pick-up waiver for SFSP;
3) The meal pattern waiver for SFSP; and
4) The area eligibility waiver for open summer meals site.Previously, these critical waivers expired on August 31st, which created a gap for communities where schools are starting after that date. These waivers do not change the options available to schools and non-profit operators in communities where schools have already started. The USDA has reiterated that the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option are no longer available once the school year begins, whether in person or virtually. View No Kid Hungry's updated waiver summary that also includes the waivers available to support operations during the school year.

4. COVID-19 Program Created to Help Schools Purchase Iowa-Grown Produce
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced the creation of a Local Produce and Protein Program today. Gov. Reynolds has allocated $500,000 through CARES Act funding to help Iowa schools purchase locally-grown products from Iowa farmers impacted by COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions. The funding will be awarded through three grant programs administered by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Learn more.

5. School Leaders Fear That Stricter Lunch Program Eligibility in the Fall Could Make It Harder for Students to Eat
When the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools across the country, the Agriculture Department — the federal agency overseeing the nation’s school lunch program — made temporary changes to the program, including enabling families like Johnson’s to pick up multiple meals at one site. But some of those changes are set to expire in September, and school districts are bracing for more restrictions on who can pick up free meals at schools and where. Read more. 

Job Opportunities
1. Communications Coordinator, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (Massachusetts/Remote)
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) is a nonprofit that works with hundreds of local farms and the community to get more local food onto people’s plates. The Communications Coordinator supports the Communications Manager in implementing communications and educational activities that support the mission of the organization. This includes: supporting CISA’s online presence (website and social media); writing and creative development; creation and management of community event(s); and maintaining communications systems. The Communications Coordinator manages the day-to-day activities for this work and collaborates with the Communications Manager to set strategic goals and develop new program strategies and activities. Learn more and apply.

2. Food Access Program Director, Farm Fresh Rhode Island (Providence, Rhode Island)
Deadline: September 6
 Farm Fresh Rhode Island is seeking a Food Access Program Director who is responsible for the oversight of all Farm Fresh RI Farmers Market and Food Access programs. Currently Farm Fresh RI manages 9 seasonal farmers markets and supports a network of over 20 partners in facilitating Food Access programs at farmers markets, farm stands, and CSAs statewide. Farm Fresh Food Access programming includes efforts to increase the affordability and availability of fresh, local foods for all residents of Rhode Island. The Food Access Program Director will bridge the gap between agriculture and public health by developing and maintaining key partnerships and programs, seeking new connections, and ensuring Food Access programs are meeting community needs. Learn more and apply.

In The News
School Food Politics: A Conversation with Jennifer Gaddis
Dr. Gaddis is an assistant professor of Civil Society and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In this podcast, hear her discuss the politics of participatory research, the centrality of racial justice organizing to the success of the food movement, and the stunning connections between school food and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and uprisings against white supremacy in the United States. (Edge Effects)

Twenty Recognized as Emerging Leaders in Food and Ag
Emerging Leaders in Food & Ag is a national initiative that aims to develop, build community amongst, and celebrate visionary leaders across the agriculture supply chain in order to ensure that the enormous challenges facing food and agriculture today are addressed by a new generation of innovative, engaged leaders. Emerging Leaders in Food & Ag unveiled their inaugural Top 20 Award winners at a virtual event on August 17. The 2020 award winners included farmers and people in various levels of the food and agriculture value chains across the U.S. and Canada. One of the 20 award recipients is our fearless leader, Helen Dombalis! Congrats to Helen on this recognition! View the awards programs here and learn more about Emerging Leaders in Food and Ag here.

'Make Farmers Black Again': African Americans Fight Discrimination To Own Farmland"
Lenders tend to be less hesitant to lend certain amounts of money to people based on their preexisting financial conditions, which are determined by what opportunities and privileges people have had in the past to get to the point where they can purchase that land.." (NPR)

The Iowa Derecho Put Refugee Food Workers at Even Greater Risk
The hurricane-force winds that leveled Cedar Rapids have impacted hundreds of refugees who were considered ‘essential workers’ at meatpacking plants and supermarkets. (Civil Eats)

Middle Schoolers Get Their Hands Dirty Remotely
The Grow It Know It (GIKI) Summer Camp, offered through University of Georgia’s Office of Service-Learning, is typically a weeklong experience at Clarke or Hilsman middle schools. This year, it was offered virtually, educating participants about agriculture, plant science and nutrition, while providing fun, hands-on activities that the students could do at home. (University of Georgia

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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