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News

Jump with Jill Puts a Rock-and-Roll Twist on Nutrition Education

NFSN Staff Thursday, December 27, 2018


By Anna Defendiefer, Communications Intern

One of the most exciting parts of farm to school is that it looks different in every community. There are countless ways to get kids excited and help them feel knowledgeable about healthy eating and their local food systems. Here’s one creative example: Jump with Jill, a rock-and-roll nutrition show that travels across the country to show students that healthy eating is something to celebrate. I recently had the opportunity to interview the founder of Jump with Jill, Jill Jayne, who spoke with me about her beginnings in nutrition, what she’s learned through her experiences, and what she hopes her show brings to students.

Writing and performing dozens of songs about healthy foods is certainly an uncommon specialty, and I was curious as to how Jill got her inspiration. Growing up, Jill was an ambitious student, performing in her school’s musicals and running for the cross country team, while also achieving valedictorian status. After graduating, these interests merged and led Jill to pursue a nutritional sciences and theater at Penn State University. Her self-proclaimed “big break” came in 2003, when she dressed up as a cow in a video segment about nutrition. Fully embracing the silliness of the segment, Jayne realized she could use her physical humor to work with nutrition in a different way than most dieticians. She realized she had a voice that spoke to kids, and she could make a real difference in nutrition education.

It was in 2006 when the first seeds for Jump with Jill were planted. As part of her master’s thesis, Jill performed a free nutrition and rock and roll street show in New York’s Central Park. Shortly after, Jill signed a record deal and released her debut Jump with Jill album, followed by her first national tour performing for youth across the country. With silly lyrics like “when your craving is cruising for a healthy dose of got your back with that off the hook flavor” from her song “Sweet Beat,” her mix of nutrition education with humor and entertainment was a hit with students.

Until 2011, Jill and her brother performed in every single Jump with Jill show - about 300 a year. When Jill received a call from the city of Philadelphia requesting 150 shows for their students in the coming school year, she knew that she had to make changes to her business structure, quickly shifting her role from performer to businesswoman. Hiring her first Jill “doppelgangers,” she switched from a brother-sister startup to a real company. Now managing a staff of multiple “Jills” and DJ’s, she “took a step back from performing to make the mission possible.”  



Notably, Jill only hires certified teachers as performers in her show. That’s because her ultimate goal is to teach - in an unconventional way - that healthy foods can be exciting and interesting. According to Jill, students only “need ten doses of something to impact behavior.” This philosophy led Jill to create a toolkit containing lesson plans and activities that teachers can easily implement in the classroom after kids have taken part in the performance.

“Every message place counts,” Jill says. “Use watermelons in a math problem instead of pizza slices. Serve apples and cheese as a snack. Make healthy habits entertaining. Kids are learning by what they’re seeing, not what you’re telling them.” She emphasizes that teachers don’t have to make up these lessons if they’re not confident in their ability to teach about nutrition - Jill has already crafted them. The resources she provides to teachers have a 100% utilization rate after the show.

Admiring the dedication and creativity of Jill and her staff to teaching students about such a critical topic, I asked if she has one main idea she wants to convey through her performances. With no hesitation, she said that “you only get one body - one body for your entire life! You are responsible for making healthy choices for your body. You own it.”

Jill and her team have now conveyed that message over 3,000 times, and that number will only continue to grow.

Our Year of Partnership: NFSN and NEA

NFSN Staff Thursday, December 20, 2018

In 2018, National Farm to School Network selected the National Education Association (NEA) as our 2018 National Partner of the Year. As articulated in our 2017-2019 Strategic Plan, this annual designated partnership with a national organization aims to facilitate expanded engagement in farm to school and increase knowledge of farm to school in diverse sectors. NEA, which is committed to advancing the cause of public education and is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, made an exciting fit for NFSN in our efforts to become more connected to key stakeholders in the education sector. 

NEA’s three million members – from every state and more than 14,000 communities – work at every level of education, from preschool to university graduate programs. Included in NEA’s membership are nearly 500,000 Education Support Professionals (ESP) – school support staff who work to meet the needs of the whole student. Working as food service staff, custodians, secretaries, classroom paraeducators, bus drivers, and in many other jobs, these essential educators (who make up nearly one-third of the education workforce) help ensure that children are safe, healthy, well-nourished and well-educated. 

As Tim Barchak, NEA ESP-Quality Senior Policy Analyst, explained on our recent co-hosted webinar, farm to school can benefit educators, ESP and students. With 18 percent of children under age 18 (more than 13 million) living in food-insecure households and nearly 30 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, farm to school helps ensure school meals are healthy and nutritious, setting up students for success in the classroom and beyond. But to do this, school food systems and food service members must have the right tools and skills to incorporate more fresh, local food into school meal menus. Building up a skilled school nutrition workforce and thinking more holistically about a 21st century school food system can equate to healthier school meals and more strongly invested employees. Providing trainings not only on knife and scratch cooking-skills, but also on bullying prevention, conflict de-escalation, student mentoring and cultural sensitivity give food service members the opportunity to be more fully involved and valued in the life of a school community. It’s a win for school nutrition staff and the students they serve. 

Over this past year, NFSN and NEA have worked together to widely share this vision and other opportunities that farm to school provides to educators and ESP. To spread the word, we co-hosted a webinar on Farm to School and 21st Century Food System Programs, participated in each other’s celebrations - like National Farm to School Month, American Education Week and National Education Support Professional Day - and regularly shared and cross-promoted resources, events and engagement opportunities with each other’s memberships. We presented at each other’s conferences, including at NFSN’s Annual Meeting and NEA’s ESP Conference, and participated in a school garden site visit in Massachusetts. Internally, our staff connected to discuss collaboration on policy initiatives and social justice advocacy. 

Furthermore, our national partnership has spurred new connections for our state-level partners. In Vermont, the Vermont Farm to School Network and Vermont NEA have partnered to advance their mutual interest in advocating for fresh and locally sourced food in K-12 schools. Realizing that school boards, school administrators and other decision makers may not know as much about school food programs, they've teamed up to create an informational toolkit and campaign to promote the new resource to Vermont schools. On the other side of the country, NEA New Mexico and Farm to Table New Mexico have connected to help a school district maintain a self-operated food system that prioritizes fresh, local food for students. Their partnership has continued as they together explore other food policy opportunities in New Mexico. 

This year of partnership has laid the groundwork for exciting ongoing collaboration between NFSN and NEA. To kick off 2019, NFSN is honored to receive a $2,500 donation from NEA to continue growing farm to school and serving as a resource for NEA’s affiliates. In this next year, we also plan to continue cross-promoting resources and learning opportunities that can support each other’s members, and will explore more ways to offer collaborative trainings on farm to school topics like procurement. We’ll continue to keep our members updated on opportunities to get involved, so make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter

As we close out 2018, we extend a hearty thank you to NEA for a valuable year of collaborating, thought-partnering and visioning together. Partnership like this one are what keep the farm to school movement growing strong, and we look forward to keeping the momentum going for years to come!  

You Make Farm to School Happen

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The final weeks of 2018 are upon us, and at the National Farm to School Network, we are reflecting on an extraordinary year for farm to school. For that, we have you – our members, donors, partners and friends – to thank. Together, we’re keeping the farm to school movement growing strong! 

Here are several highlights of our 2018 success that you helped make possible: 

National Advocacy: Worked with bipartisan champions in Congress to secure an additional $5 million in discretionary funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program as part of the 2018 appropriations bill. This win has made more funding available for the FY 2019 USDA Farm to School Grants

National Early Care and Education Data: Launched the 2018 National Farm to Early Care and Education Survey in partnership with Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, which heard from 2,030 respondents serving 255,257 children in 45 states and Washington, D.C. This survey has provided the only national-level data of current farm to ECE participation and trends.

Commitment to Racial & Social Equity: Furthered our commitment to advancing racial and social equity in the farm to school movement by creating new resources – like the Programs and Policy Racial and Social Equity Assessment Tool – and prioritizing equity topics and learning opportunities into programmatic content like webinars, blogs and the 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference.

National Farm to Cafeteria Conference: Brought together 930 stakeholders from across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada for three days of learning, networking and movement building. The program included 36 workshops, inspiring plenary addresses, a poster session, eight short courses, 11 field trips and countless networking opportunities.

New Resources: Expanded our resource library with new resources for helping farm to school efforts grow in all communities, including two new signature resources – State Farm to School Networks Toolkit and State Farm to School Positions Guide – and new non-English and bilingual farm to school resources

Your donations have made this work possible, and they’re crucial to helping us do more in the new year. 
After all, farm to school doesn’t happen on its own – it takes people like you championing the movement. We need your help to continue this important work. Make your end of year, tax-deductible donation today to keep this movement growing.

Your generosity is what makes our work possible - we couldn’t do it without you! Thank you for being part of the National Farm to School Network and contributing to vibrant communities, healthy kids, farms and families!

This Week in Farm to School: 12/18/18

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 18, 2018
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. Katie's Krops Garden Grower Grant
Deadline: December 31, 2018
Starting a Katie’s Krops Garden is so much more than just receiving funding to grow a garden. Youth selected as Katie’s Krops Growers are empowered to grow a healthy end to hunger in their community and positively impacting the health of their cities and towns. Learn more and apply here.


Webinars & Events
1. NEW NFSN Webinar Series
Starting in 2019, the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) will host quarterly Resource Roundup webinars. These bite-sized webinars provide a brief highlight of a new or innovate farm to school or farm to early care and education resource. Featured resources will include tools and publications from the National Farm to School Network, as well as resources developed by other organizations. Webinars will take place the third Wednesday of February, May, August and November from 4-4:30 PM ET. Save the date and be on the lookout for more information about the February Resource Roundup Webinar soon.

2. Trending Topics: Youth Voice and Engagement in Farm to School
Thursday, January 10 // 1 - 2 PM ET
Engaging youth voice and leadership in farm to school initiatives is essential to advancing the movement and growing the next generation of food systems leaders. Join the National Farm to School Network and Shelburne Farms to celebrate youth engagement in farm to school projects and curriculum. Hear from educators and students from urban, suburban, and rural communities as they share how they are innovatively promoting healthier and more just food systems in their schools and communities through farm to school. Register here

3. Farm to Cafeteria Canada National Farm to School Conference - Call for Proposals
Farm to Cafeteria Canada's (F2CC) National Farm to School Conference will be held in Victoria, British Columbia, May 15-17, 2019 and we are now accepting proposals. Building on the success of the 2015 Changing the Menu conference, this event is designed to advance activity to bring more healthy, local and sustainable foods into the minds and onto the plates of students in preschools, schools (K-12) and campuses across Canada. We invite you to join your colleagues from across Canada as they INSPIRE, INNOVATE, and organize for IMPACT. Deadline to submit is December 20, 2018. Learn more here.


Job Opportunities
1. Executive Director, National Farm to School Network (Remote) 
National Farm to School Network seeks a dynamic, values-driven and collaborative leader as Executive Director. The Executive Director leads innovation and strategic growth toward accomplishing the mission of the organization. Location is flexible (anywhere within the U.S., with preference for proximity to Washington, D.C.). The deadline to apply is Jan. 7, 2019. Learn more here

2. Farm to School Director, Community Groundworks (Madison, WI)
Community GroundWorks is looking for a .8 FTE Farm to School Director. The Farm to School Director is responsible for the oversight and programming for the Farm to School and Farm to Early Care and Education programs. Our mission is to ensure that every child across Wisconsin has access to healthy, local foods, and hands-on education in nutrition, food, and agriculture. Learn more here.

3. Coalition Director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (Washington, D.C.)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is seeking an energetic, passionate, experienced and collaborative Coalition Director to provide executive-level leadership to NSAC, its staff, governing body, and membership. The Coalition Director must be deeply committed to serving the sustainable agriculture movement’s policy and grassroots work and to becoming an integral part of our high-performing, passionate, and diverse team. The Coalition Director is a full-time, salaried position and is based in Washington, DC. Learn more here

4. CRM/Database Consultant, Massachusetts Farm to School (Remote)
Massachusetts Farm to School is looking for a consultant to assess our current and projected database needs and identify and implement a new database and CRM platform to better meet the organization’s communications, development, and data management needs. Read the full RFP here.


Farm to School in the News
Making Healthy School Lunches Free for All Should Be a National Priority
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans to lower nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program and roll them back to pre-Obama era levels. A professor argues we should destigmatize and better shape school meals to provide much-needed support to children and their families. (Civil Eats)

An elementary school program is growing gardeners in Alaska
Cold, gray winter may be settling on Juneau, but kids at Riverbend and Glacier Valley elementary schools are still talking about the rainbow of fruits and vegetables they helped grow this summer. Gold and purple potatoes, purple and orange carrots, red tomatoes. (KTOO Public Media)

Illinois high tech school gardening programs teach students important life skills
Growing Healthy People, a non-profit organization, has created year-round gardening programs at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Waukegan, Lake Forest Country Day School and Bowen Park Urban Ag Lab in Waukegan. The organization utilizes cutting edge gardening technology including hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics in greenhouses to allow students to grow food year-round during the entire academic school year. (Daily Herald)

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.

Kids counting on us: Give healthier school meals a chance

NFSN Staff Wednesday, December 12, 2018
By National Farm to School Network Staff

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a final rule that will relax nutrition standards for meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and other federal child nutrition programs that were implemented in 2012. The rule will: 

  • Change whole grain requirements so that half of the total weekly grains served in menus be whole grain-rich. Previously, all breads, cereals and pastas had to be at least 50% whole grain. Now, a school could serve foods that are not whole grain-rich, as long as at least 50% of the total weekly menu complies. 
  • Lengthen the amount of time for sodium reduction in meals, requiring Target 2 be met by School Year 2024-2015, and eliminate the Final Target. Previously, the rule was designed to meet the Final Target and cut sodium levels in half by 2022. 
  • Allow more flavored milk options - like chocolate and strawberry 1% - to be served. Previously, flavoring was only permitted in fat-free milks. 
While the final rule does not come as a surprise, it is disappointing. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 required USDA to update nutrition standards for the first time in three decades, and the healthier standards went into effect School Year 2012-2013. In 2014, USDA reported that 90 percent of schools were successfully meeting these updated nutrition standards. 

Beyond successful implementation, we know that the healthier standards can and are working to get students eating more fruits and vegetables, maintaining NSLP participation, and not increasing plate waste. But these positive impacts have taken time to come to fruition. 

At the National Farm to School Network, we know implementing healthier nutrition standards is like teaching kids how to ride a bicycle. We don’t prop them up on the seat, plant their feet on the pedals, and expect them to be able to ride on two wheels at their first go. Often times, we give them an extra set of wheels - training wheels - to teach them how to balance, feel comfortable, and catch a first thrill of self-propelled forward motion. We expect it will take a few tries before the training wheels come off, and a few tumbles before new riders are really cruising. 

Developing healthy eating habits goes much the same way. We shouldn’t expect kids to always like the taste of a new vegetable, or love whole grain pizza crust at first bite after being accustomed to white flour. That’s where farm to school makes its biggest impact. Activities like taste tests, school gardens, farm visits, and cooking demonstrations help students get excited about trying and liking new, healthier foods. This is something we hear over and over and over again, and it’s what the research tells us. Simply put, farm to school activities are the training wheels that make healthier nutrition standards stick with students

Giving kids repeated opportunities to learn about their food — by gardening, meeting farmers, cooking — and opportunities to try new foods — with Harvest of the Month, salad bars, and new menu item samples — add up to more receptiveness and enthusiasm for healthier school meals. Farm to school doesn’t guarantee that kids will like everything served to them, but it does aim to give kids every opportunity to build healthy habits that will last them a lifetime.  

Once you learn how to ride a bike, backwards is not a direction you want to move in. As our kids continue to grow accustomed to the healthier nutrition standards, now is not the time to go backwards. We owe it to our nation’s children, and they’re counting on us. With more than 30 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, it’s crucial that we continue to give them strong opportunities for a bright and healthy future. 

2018 Farm to School Story Roundup!

NFSN Staff Wednesday, December 12, 2018
by Elizabeth Esparza, Communications Intern

In 2018, farm to school and farm to early care and education activities grew strong in all 50 states, D.C., the U.S. Territories, and Native Communities. Some highlights from this year include garden workshops for teachers, cooking competitions, garden-sourced school lunches, garden growing contests, student-run garden markets, locally-sourced meals, community partnerships, and much more! Read on for a list of farm to school stories that prove farm to school is happening everywhere in 2018! 

Alabama: Students at Colbert County High School gain confidence in growing food for themselves and their school through their horticulture class. (Times Daily)

Alaska: Students at Pottsville Junior High School learned about victory gardens that were grown by Americans to help provide fresh food for their families during difficult times and built a community garden to help provide fresh food to students and families. (Courier News)

Arizona: In June, Killip Elementary School was the first school in Flagstaff to certify its school garden, using a ‘best practices’ approach to allow produce grown in the garden to be safely served in the lunchroom and at after-school programs. (Arizona Daily Sun)

Arkansas: In March, Arkansas Farm To School Summit welcomed farmers, educators, school nutrition staff, parents, distributors and value-chain coordinators to learn how to work with students during hands-on learning, serve the local food in the school cafeteria and sell products to schools. (thecabin.net)

California: Rep. Jimmy Panetta visited an elementary school in Watsonville to observe the impact of a school garden program designed to provide young children in resource challenged communities with fresh healthy food and knowledge about where it comes from. (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Colorado: Preschool students at Florence Crittenton Services have a school garden as part of a program introducing them to healthy food choices and influencing what the whole family eats at home. (CBS Denver)

Connecticut: More than 1,900 students at 18 schools throughout Stamford participated in the Eighth Annual Lettuce Challenge. Students had six weeks to grow a head of buttercrunch lettuce, with each class submitting their three best plants to be judged by local horticulture experts. (Stamford Advocate)

Delaware: Agriculture students from William Penn High School learned about farming at Historic Penn Farm, where they plan, sow, and gow a variety of fruits and vegetables on four acres of land. (Delaware Greenways)

District of Columbia:
High-school students who are part of Mighty Greens, a youth-led cooperative in Washington, D.C., help educate the community about healthy eating and last year produced 1,200 pounds of fresh food, which is sold or donated. (PBS)

Florida: This year a new, almost 5,800 square foot greenhouse at Vanguard High School in Ocala produced its first batch of hydroponically-grown vegetables. The Marion County Hospital District plans to open new greenhouses at all seven public high schools in Marion County over the next three years. (Ocala Star Banner)

Georgia: Completely run by students, the Garbage-to-Garden program at Athens Intermediate School reduces major food waste. With more than half of waste reduced, the whole school is on board! (WHNT News)

Guam: Guam Department of Education was awarded a Farm to School Grant by the USDA. The department aims to encourage students to consume locally grown fruits and vegetables by working with schools to sustain school garden projects, integrate agriculture and nutrition education into existing curriculum, and implement innovative student learning activities. (USDA)

Hawaii: Hawaii public schools celebrated the holiday season with an Okinawan sweet potato pie as part of November's Aina Pono: Harvest of the Month program in more than 200 cafeterias statewide. (Khon 2)

Idaho: Boise schools celebrated National Farm to School Day with Harvest Day at Grace Jordan Elementary School, featuring a lunch menu that included Idaho-based food such as local bread, cheese, sweet corn, and grapes, as well as herbs and tomatoes grown by the Boise High community garden. (KTVB)

Illinois: An agriculture program at Freeport High School in Freeport provided students with jobs and customers with fresh vegetables. In its sixth year, the program gives about 15 students each year the chance to learn self-sufficiency and business schools through growing vegetables and operating a market. (Journal Standard)

Indiana: Indiana Grown teamed up with Purdue Extension, the Indiana State Department of Health, and the Department of Education to make a resource guide to connect Hoosier farmers to Indiana Schools. (WTTV)

Iowa: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offered a five week School Garden 101 course to help local schools start or expand their school gardens, teaching participants how to build a compost bin, test soils, plant seeds, and incorporate garden produce into classrooms and cafeterias. (Morning Ag Clips)

Kansas: In April, Kansas City Chiefs tight ends teamed up with Kansas City Community Gardens at Luff Elementary in Independence to help plant vegetables in the school’s gardens. (The Kansas City Star)

Kentucky: Fifth-graders in economics class at Latonia Elementary gained real-life lessons in growing plants and selling them. Every students has a job to do, from monitoring the plants to marketing and sales. (WCPO 9)

Louisiana: The garden at F.K White Middle School in Lake Charles worked with students who might have behavior problems in other areas to help them gain pride in their work in the garden. (KPLC TV)

Maine: In April, students and food service staff from all over Maine took part in the second regional farm to school cook off to recognize school nutrition staff and students for their skills while promoting food that is grown, raised, caught, or made in Maine. (WABI 5)

Maryland: Students at Urbana High School piloted a composting program aimed at reducing school cafeteria waste. The program, led by students in an environmental science class, involves students sorting recyclables, food scraps, trash, and liquids. (The Frederick News-Post)

Massachusetts: Students at Framingham High School work in the cafeteria and Flyers Farm in a youth program called the Partnership for Skilled Workforce. The produce is used to help make 1,000 meals per day for the Framingham Schools Food Service. (Metrowest Daily News)

Michigan: This year, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians teamed up with TCAPS’ Central Grade School to grow the student’s knowledge of ancient gardening techniques. Members of the Grand Traverse Band spoke to students about the significance of their three sisters garden and gave students rare ancient squash seeds to use. (Up North Live)

Minnesota: Middle and high school students in a Minnesota district learned about agricultural careers at a camp hosted by the Minnesota State Engineering Center of Excellence. Students learned about animal and food science, and they made and took home a small hydroponics system (The Free Press)

Mississippi: Tupelo Public School District worked to expose its pre-K and elementary students to healthy food sources and eating habits with and combat the state’s obesity crisis with the help of the district’s fifth FoodCorps volunteer. (Daily Journal)

Missouri: Columbia Public Schools and the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture teamed up to create a new farm to school coordinator position to help encourage third to fifth grade students to eat more fruits and vegetables. (Missourian)

Montana: At Helena Flats School, a section of the school’s garden contains only plants that are native to the state to bring awareness of native ecosystems into school curricula. (Flathead Beacon)

Native Communities: This year, a group of Democratic senators and representatives pushed for federal legislation to allow for tribes to administer free federal food and nutrition programs to school children. (Associated Press)

Nebraska: In March, Fairbury Public Schools kicked off their Farm to School Lunches, for the first time ever serving hamburgers raised and processed in Jefferson County. (KWBE)

Nevada: Two nonprofits in Las Vegas partnered together to create a STEM curriculum for the Clark County School District. The curriculum, which is being used by more than 3,000 teachers at more than 100 CCSD  schools aims to promote healthy living by taking classroom lesson plans for kindergarten through fifth grade out into the garden. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)                                                                                                                
New Hampshire: LEAF Charter School in Alstead ran a Food and Garden program where students grow their own food and prepare healthy meals every day at school. (Sentinel Source)

New Jersey: The Princeton School Garden Cooperative was awarded “Top Tomato” status by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture for its work familiarizing local school children with locally grown produce. (Town Topics)

New Mexico: The New Mexico Public Education Department announced that it is investing in a statewide initiative to promote farm to school produce for meals in local schools. More than $400,000 is being spent to serve some 250,000 students nutritious fruits and vegetables from local farms. (KSFR)

New York: New York State announced it would invest $1.5 million in additional funds in Farm to School lunch programs in efforts to bring fresh, locally grown farm products to public schools in the 2018-19 school year. (U.S. News)

North Carolina: Wake County School system and the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle partnered to launch an after school gardening program called Sprout Scouts at Bugg Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, where students learn how to grow their own healthy food and think about where their food comes from. (WRAL)

North Dakota:
Bismarck Public Schools launched its own farm to school initiative this year, partnering with a local farmer who provides 75 pounds of cucumbers each week to the district’s elementary schools. (The Bismarck Tribune)

Ohio: A partnership between Badger Schools and Red Basket Farm in Kinsman worked to change the perception of school lunch in their area. They started out with greens for salads, then expanded to apples, cantaloupe, cucumbers, and peppers. (WFMJ 21)

Oklahoma: Oklahoma had over 98 school districts that participated in the farm to school, working to improve the health of school children and help local farmers. (Oklahoma Farm to School Network)

Oregon: Corvallis School District’s Urban Farm, which gives students struggling in traditional classrooms an environment where they can learn through hands on work on the farm, also gave four students the chance to have jobs on the farm during the summer. (Corvallis Gazette Times

Pennsylvania: In January, students at Patton Middle School grew vegetables in the middle of winter in their indoor Tower Gardens. The towers were in addition to the school’s FCS Garden Initiative, which already included 30 raised beds outside the school. (Chester County Press)

Puerto Rico: A Puerto Rican high school student founded E-Farm, a digital platform that connects farmers across the island with consumers to help bring products that are both healthy and good for the environment. (NBC News)

Rhode Island: The University of Rhode Island’s Cooperative Extension School Garden Initiative (SGI) helped to set up a garden at Narragansett Elementary School. The SGI is a plan which seeks to set up gardens in voluntary schools to expose students to the benefits of such space. (The Narragansett Times)

South Carolina: The Florence chapter of Eat Smart Move more received grants from the city to design and construct garden beds at a handful of Florence schools and churches. The local chapter of Eat Smart Move More is a coalition dedicated to reducing obesity by promoting healthy eating and exercise. (SC Now)

South Dakota: Every elementary school classroom in the Vermillion School District received a visit from the Coordinator of Sanford FitKid, who brings them the Produce of the Month program. The program helps introduce the students to new fruits or vegetables each month. (Vermillion Plain Talk)

Tennessee: At Kingsbury High School in Memphis, the garden program has been around since 2013, but this year is the first time that students were able to work in the garden over the summer and get paid. (WMC5)

Texas: A garden program at Pre-K 4 SA in San Antonio helped picky eaters grow their curiosity for nutrition by engaging all of their senses. Some of the student’s families planted seeds at home and learned new recipes from school demonstrations. (KENS 5)

U.S. Virgin Islands: After last year’s hurricanes, staff, former students, and other volunteers worked to resurrect the Farm to School program. (The St. Thomas Source)

Utah: Provo City School District made every effort to use local products, using signs highlighting the local farms to show students where their food comes from and bringing in whole pumpkins during Farm to School Month to show students what the inside of the food looks like. (Daily Herald)

Vermont: Students throughout Vermont traveled to Essex Junction in March to take art in the 11th annual Junior Iron Chef Vermont Competition. Junior Iron Chef VT is a statewide culinary competition organized by Vermont FEED. (Bennington Banner)

Virginia: During Virginia Farm to School Week in October, students at Charlottesville High School welcomed people from Casa Alma to discuss urban farming with its garden to market class to help the students develop an appreciation for where food comes from. (NBC 29)

Washington: This spring, fifty-two volunteers brought more than 1,500 students into their gardens through the Walla Walla Valley Farm to School Program, offering class lessons and after-school and recess garden clubs where students who planted crops in the garden got to taste the fruits of their labor. (Union-Bulletin)

West Virginia: With funds from Intel and a grant from the State farm Youth Advisory Board, Crellin Elementary School was able to construct a barn and a greenhouse for the school’s farm, Sunshine Farm, where agriculture is included in everyday lessons and students are responsible for daily chores on the farm. (The Garrett County Republican

Wyoming: Students at Summit Innovations High School in Jackson have their own organic farm enclosed in a small greenhouse to the side of the school, where they grow produce to sell at a farmers market. (Gillette News Record)

This Week in Farm to School: 12/11/18

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 11, 2018
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. Katie's Krops Garden Grower Grant
Deadline: December 31, 2018
Starting a Katie’s Krops Garden is so much more than just receiving funding to grow a garden. Youth selected as Katie’s Krops Growers are empowered to grow a healthy end to hunger in their community and positively impacting the health of their cities and towns. Learn more and apply here.


Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics: Youth Voice and Engagement in Farm to School
Thursday, January 10 // 1 - 2 PM ET
Engaging youth voice and leadership in farm to school initiatives is essential to advancing the movement and growing the next generation of food systems leaders. Join the National Farm to School Network and Shelburne Farms to celebrate youth engagement in farm to school projects and curriculum. Hear from educators and students from urban, suburban, and rural communities as they share how they are innovatively promoting healthier and more just food systems in their schools and communities through farm to school. Register here

2. EQUITY Webinar: Building Racial Equity Within Cooperative Extension
Dec. 13, 2-3:30pm ET
This webinar will highlight tools, strategies, and takeaways from a panel that participated in the “Coming Together for Racial Understanding” week-long workshop in August 2018. We will also learn about the work of eXtension Foundation’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion fellow and a new fieldbook resource. Many people are looking for a place to start including racial equity in your work and/or making connections with those who have had multiple learning experiences with racial equity and are already using it as a programming lens. The majority of the webinar time will be used to field participant questions and insights about integrating a lens of racial equity in the work of food systems, agriculture, health, and related content areas. Register here.

3. Farm to Cafeteria Canada National Farm to School Conference - Call for Proposals
Farm to Cafeteria Canada's (F2CC) National Farm to School Conference will be held in Victoria, British Columbia, May 15-17, 2019 and we are now accepting proposals. Building on the success of the 2015 Changing the Menu conference, this event is designed to advance activity to bring more healthy, local and sustainable foods into the minds and onto the plates of students in preschools, schools (K-12) and campuses across Canada. We invite you to join your colleagues from across Canada as they INSPIRE, INNOVATE, and organize for IMPACT. Deadline to submit is December 20, 2018. Learn more here.

4. Save the Date: 2019 Community Food Systems Conference
December 9-11, 2019 // Savannah, GA
The 2019 Community Food Systems Conference will address common underlying themes between food security, social justice and sustainable agriculture including obstacles in urban and rural environments and fostering community empowerment to create and sustain resilient local food systems. Hosted by New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and Georgia Farmers Market Association. Save the date and learn more here.


Research & Resources
1. RWJF Interdisciplinary Leaders Application Opening Soon 
Applications for the next cohort of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders open January 11, 2019! RWJF is looking for teams of two researchers and one community partner who are using the power of applied research—research that informs and supports critical work being done in communities—to improve health and equity. Let us know (email lacy@farmtoschool.org) if you are interested in exploring farm to school/ECE opportunities for this research partnership. 

2. Local Food for Little Eaters: A Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Guide to Local Food Purchasing
Local food purchasing is one component of farm to early care and education (ECE), which also includes on-site gardens and food, nutrition, and agriculture education. This guide, developed by Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, is designed to help Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs increase the amount of local foods they purchase and use in their early care and education (ECE) programs serving children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Read more here.


Policy Updates
1. USDA Publishes School Meals Final Rule
Last week, USDA announced a final rule that will relax nutrition standards for meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and other federal child nutrition programs. The rule will allow schools to offer 1% milk in flavors, maintain (rather than reduce) sodium levels in school food, and requires that only half of the grains used in menu items must be whole grains. Read more here


Job Opportunities
1. Executive Director, National Farm to School Network (Remote) 
National Farm to School Network seeks a dynamic, values-driven and collaborative leader as Executive Director. The Executive Director leads innovation and strategic growth toward accomplishing the mission of the organization. Location is flexible (anywhere within the U.S., with preference for proximity to Washington, D.C.). The deadline to apply is Jan. 7, 2019. Learn more here

2. Executive Director, Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (remote)
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) is seeking to hire an entrepreneurial, visionary leader and fundraiser to serve as Executive Director. The Executive Director will be responsible for leading the organization in its work of increasing the collective power of the sustainable agriculture movement in 13 southern states by building knowledge, awareness, and community amount farmers and their key partners. Must reside in one of the 13 southern states SSAWG serves. Application deadline is December 31, 2018. Learn more here.  

3. Farm to ECE Program Coordinator, University of Idaho (Blaine County, ID)
University of Idaho Extension, in partnership with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW), has received a Maternal and Child Health Services Title Block Grant to develop and implement a pilot program of Farm to Early Childcare Education in up to 10 preschools throughout South Central Idaho. Learn more and apply here


Farm to School in the News
Farm to School Back on Menu at Minnesota State Capitol
When the 2019 session convenes next month, Minnesota legislators will hear about the success of farm-to-school programs and how they could be improved with a centralized approach and additional state funding. Relying on locally sourced food would mean small farms can sell their crops, the local economy benefits and kids eat better. (Public News Service)

New robot to help New Hampshire students learn science
Soon, student at Monadnock Regional Middle/High School will reap more than knowledge. The school will be unveiling its new FarmBot - a farming machine that automatically plants and cultivates crops, and is programmed using open source software. Students in woods, metals, and robotics classes have been working to assemble and program the FarmBot. (Sentinel Source)

Massachusetts school holds community lunch
Students at a Massachusetts school recently held a lunch for their community, including local leaders. The farm-to-school meal included locally produced chicken and campus-grown kale and herbs, and was served by the school's sixth-grade students. (Vineyard Gazette)

 
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.

A Grateful Farewell to Anupama Joshi, Executive Director

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 04, 2018
A letter from Miguel Villarreal, Advisory Board Chair, and the National Farm to School Network Advisory Board


After elevens years of leadership, visioning and dedication to growing the farm to school movement, Anupama Joshi is stepping down from her role as Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network. Anupama announced her departure in September, and her last day is Wednesday, Dec. 5.  

We invite you to join us in taking a moment to celebrate Anupama's contributions since she co-founded the National Farm to School Network in 2007, and to reflect on the incredible growth and success of farm to school over the past decade. 

During her tenure, Anupama has played a pivotal role in pioneering and shaping a national movement of communities working to bring local food sourcing, school gardens and food and agriculture education into schools and early care and education settings. Under Anupama’s leadership, the National Farm to School Network has: 

  • Grown a robust, cross-sectoral network that includes over 200 nonprofits, government agencies, and academic institutions, and more than 20,000 individual members across the country. 
  • Advocated for the recognition and institutionalization of farm to school at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has disbursed $25 million in federal farm to school grants over the past 5 year, developed the Farm to School Census, and created national and regional farm to school staffing within USDA. 
  • Developed innovative resources such as Evaluation for Transformation, Benefits of Farm to School, State Farm to School Legislative Survey, State Farm to School Positions Guide, and State Farm to School Networks Toolkit.
  • Hosted National Farm to Cafeteria Conferences, bringing together thousands of stakeholders from across the movement for collaborative learning, networking and movement building. 
  • Prioritized early care and education settings (ECE) and Native communities as touch points for expanding and strengthening farm to school activities.  
  • Solidified farm to school as a ubiquitous part of food systems change work

We are grateful to Anupama for her years of dedication to the National Farm to School Network, and wish her all our best as she begins her new role as Executive Director of the Blue Sky Funders Forum. Please join the Advisory Board in celebrating and thanking Anupama by making a donation in her honor to the National Farm to School Network, and leave your own farewell note for her on the National Farm to School Network’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram

Jessica Gudmundson, current Senior Director, Finance and Operations, will serve as Interim Executive Director following Anupama's departure. We are currently accepting applications for Executive Director. There is great opportunity for the next leader to continue to advance the work of the National Farm to School Network. Read the full position description and learn more here. The deadline to apply is Jan. 7, 2019. 

As the National Farm to School Network begins its next chapter, we are well equipped and excited to continue innovating, strategizing and strengthening this important movement. Staff are already preparing for a busy and exciting 2019, including updating the Benefits of Farm to School resource and State Farm to School Legislative Survey, launching a new monthly webinar series, and making plans for the 2020 National Farm to Cafeteria Conference. 

We thank you for your support during this transition, and for your ongoing partnership in growing healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities. 


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