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Local Lunches, Apple Crunches & Proclamations: How We Celebrated National Farm to School Month 2019

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 31, 2019


By Anna Mullen, Communications Manager 

For 31 days every October, millions of students, farmers, educators, and communities across the country celebrate the movement that’s connecting kids to local and just food and supporting family farmers and local economies. Over 42,000 schools and early care and education sites across the country put farm to school into action every day, and National Farm to School Month is a time to recognize those efforts, the people who make them happen, and to energize more people in our communities to join in!

Everyone can be part of National Farm to School Month, and this year we saw lots of inspiring celebrations - from state-wide crunch events and local food days, to legislators in the lunchroom and proclamations. Here are some of the ways our farm to school friends like you celebrated this October:

Apple Crunches: Did you hear that CRUNCH? Millions of students across the country participated in state and region-wide crunch events this October. Many places crunched with locally sourced apples, including Alabama, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia. The Mountain Plaines region (Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming) held its first regional Apple Crunch Off. The Great Lakes Region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin) continued its annual Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch with more than 1.8 million (wow!) crunchers. Louisiana had the Great Louisiana Satsuma Peel. And in states like California, Florida and Hawai’i, schools picked from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to crunch and munch on local food.

Proclamations: While the federal government first recognized National Farm to School Month in 2010 (House Resolution 1655), numerous state governments recognize this annual celebration with proclamations and declarations of their own. This year, governors including Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made proclamations related to Farm to School Month and kids eating local food in schools.

Local Food Days & Weeks: Statewide local food days and weeks encourage schools and communities to be part of their local food systems. Here are few states that had campaigns to put local on kids plates: Iowa Local Food Day, the Mississippi Farm to School Challenge, New Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, Pennsylvania Preferred Day, New Mexico Grown Week, Make Your Plate South Carolina Grown Week, the Texas Farm Fresh Challenge, and Virginia Farm to School Week.


Legislators in the Lunch Room: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue kicked off National Farm to School Month at Sugar Creek Elementary School in Wisconsin. Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy visited St. Albans Town Education Center. Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry crunched into local apples with students at Clinton Elementary School. Connecticut Rep. Joe Courtney took a tour of school gardens and cafeterias at Groton public School. California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross visited several farm to school sites. Idaho First Lady Teresa Little and Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam ate with kids in school cafeterias. And Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring visited Lynchburg City Schools to see their bulk milk machines carrying single-source, local milk.

And more! Georgia schools planted, tasted, cooked with and learned about squash with the “Oh My Squash” celebration. Indiana Grown and the Indiana State Department of Health unveiled their new local food buyer's guide. Massachusetts had a farm to school awareness day and awarded its 2019 Kale Blazer Award. And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new funding to support schools purchasing locally grown food.

At the National Farm to School Network, we’ve been leading National Farm to School Month celebrations by sharing farm to school inspiration and stories from partner organizations including Farm to Cafeteria Canada, National Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, CoBank, Hawthorne Gardening Company, and Farm Credit. And on social media, we celebrated by encouraging people to share their ideas and help spread awareness for the farm to school movement using #F2SMonth and #farmtoschool. Over 6,500 social media posts celebrated farm to school this month, showcasing hundreds of activities and events. We were so inspired by the excitement for farm to school that we saw!

Farm to school is a grassroots movement powered by people like you who are working every day to ensure the health of our nation's children and to support local farmers in our communities. There are 334 days to continue growing and strengthening the movement before the 10th annual National Farm to School Month in October 2020! Help us keep the momentum going by joining our network and stay up-to-date on the latest stories, new resources, policy actions, learning opportunities – like the upcoming 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, April 21-23, 2020 in Albuquerque, NM. Healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities are worth taking action for every day!

Thank you to this year’s National Farm to School Month sponsors - CoBank and the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council - as well as Outreach Partner organizations that helped us spread the word about farm to school far and wide throughout October. And, thanks to YOU for being a farm to school champion in your community!

Welcome, Krystal Oriadha!

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 30, 2019
National Farm to School Network is excited to welcome Krystal Oriadha to our team as Senior Director of Programs and Policy! Krystal brings a wealth of experience in policy advocacy, project management, and social justice activism to the National Farm to School Network. In her new role, she’ll be leading National Farm to School Network’s overall programming and policy activities.

Krystal has over 10 years of experience working for government agencies, nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Human Resources Achievement Program, and Hewlett Packard. Most recently, she served as Policy Director for Prince George’s County (Maryland) Council Member Thomas Dernoga.

Krystal is a recognized leader and activist for justice in Prince George’s County and the wider community. She currently serves as Vice President of Make Smart Cool, Co-Chair of Prince George’s County Education Roundtable, and co-founder of the LGBTQ Dignity Project. She’s previously held leadership roles with Prince George’s Mass Liberation Team, Progressive Maryland, and served as a Fellow for both Hilary Clinton’s 2016 and President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaigns. In 2019, Krystal was named one of Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund's Forty Under 40 Honorees and selected to serve on the Clinton Foundation’s 20|30 Leadership Council.

Krystal attended Howard University for her BBA in International Business. At Howard, she joined The International Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi, lota Rho Chapter and studied abroad in Tanzania at the University of Dar es Salaam. Krystal received her MBA from Amberton University.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with the National Farm to School Network because I believe in the mission of this organization, and my experience in understanding how to apply an equity lens to the work will help move the organization forward,” said Krystal. “I have worked for years as a justice advocate, and food justice is an area that has always been important to me. I have worked to end food deserts and food swamps in communities of color by expanding access to healthy options, and I see how the National Farm to School Network plays a significant role in bringing healthy food options to marginalized communities through the education system.”

During our interviews with Krystal, we were energized by her passion for food justice and commitment to ensuring that every voice is welcome at the farm to school table. She’s a big-picture systems thinker who’s diverse experiences and commitment to justice put her in a prime position to widen the touchpoints of our farm to school efforts and support the advancement of equity through out work.

As Senior Director of Programs and Policy, Krystal will lead the strategic direction of programming and policy advocacy of the National Farm to School Network, aimed at strengthening farm to school efforts in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories. Some of Krystal's first projects include finalizing the program lineup for the 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference (save the date! April 21-23, 2020 in Albuquerque, NM) and launching our new equity learning lab, aimed at training farm to school leaders to maximize their impact towards addressing inequities and injustices in our food system.

Krystal is based in our Washington, D.C. office. Connect with Krystal and say hello at krystal@farmtoschool.org. Welcome, Krystal!

Hydroponic garden extends growing season & nutrition opportunities at San Pedro Elementary

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Photo Credit: Sanzuma
With a goal of connecting more students across the country to indoor gardening opportunities, Hawthorne Gardening Company and National Farm to School Network have launched a pilot project to integrate hydroponic growing systems into classrooms and science curricula this school year. This is the story of how one partner school–San Pedro Elementary in San Rafael, CA–is using the hydroponic garden to give students a year-round learning experience of bringing food seed-to-table.

Guest blog written by Lori Davis, Executive Director, Sanzuma

San Pedro Elementary School, located in San Rafael, California, has 572 students. Approximately 97 percent of our student population is Latino, with cultural groups predominantly originating from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico. Sanzuma is San Pedro’s nonprofit partner that focuses on improving wellness in Marin County’s low-income schools by helping turn school gardens into productive farms that produce organic food for school meal programs. 

On behalf of Sanzuma (where I serve as Executive Director) and San Pedro Elementary School, we are thrilled to be a part of National Farm to School Network and Hawthorne Gardening Company’s hydroponic pilot project and to bring the benefits of indoor gardens to our students. The hydroponic garden is an exciting addition to the educational learning environment at San Pedro, where staff are dedicated to meeting the needs of the school's many English language learners and helping all students achieve high academic goals. We believe that understanding nutrition and where food comes from are important parts of every student’s education. We’ve selected one classroom that Sanzuma will work with to care for the new hydroponic garden. The newly developed curriculum that was designed for this pilot project will be used with students to incorporate their garden experiences into science and STEM lessons. 

One of the most exciting aspects of the new hydroponic growing system is that it will allow students to grow food that ordinarily would be out of season. Normally, we can grow tomatoes only during the summer months when the majority of students are on summer break. With the season extension offered by the indoor hydroponic system, we can grow nutrient-rich food throughout the school year–allowing students to be part of that growing process and giving more students access to this food in the cafeteria.

With the new ability to extend our growing season, we’ll also gain ample time to introduce new vegetables to students before they stop by the salad bar at lunch. We will do this by including the crops we grow hydroponically in taste tests. 

Through this project, we hope students will develop a deep understanding of the value and importance of growing food, the importance of eating healthy, and how hydroponics can be an alternative growing method to traditional gardening. This pilot program will give our students a hands-on, project-based opportunity to understand the full circle of growing food from seed to table. 

More About Sanzuma 
Founded in 2012, Sanzuma calls our program “farm to student” because we emphasize nutrition education, taste tests, healthy cooking, and enhancing the lunchroom atmosphere with nutritional messaging. We also focus on school wellness policy work at the state and local level and staff wellness at the schools where our garden programs are run. The food we grow on our school farm is purchased by the San Rafael City School District and included in their salad bars. We have taught thousands of taste tests, nutrition classes, farm to table cooking classes and staff wellness workshops. We teach students (and families) from a very young age how and why to eat healthy, maintain a healthy lifestyle and always have access to healthy food. Learn more about Saunzum and our work at www.sanzuma.org


This blog is part of a series that focuses on National Farm to School Network and Hawthorne Gardening Company’s work to bring more indoor gardens to more schools. Learn more about the Gro More Good Hydroponics Pilot Project and read more blogs in this series here

This Week in Farm to School: 10/29/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 29, 2019
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. USDA 2020 Farm to School Grant RFA Now Open
Deadline: December 13
The 2020 USDA Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. With additional funding made available through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) seeks to award approximately $10 million in FY 2020 funding. Grants ranging in size from $20,000 to $100,000 will be available to schools, nonprofits, State and local agencies, agricultural producers, and Indian tribal organizations to plan and implement farm to school activities. Applications are due Dec. 13, 2019. Learn more and apply here.

2. NFSN Consultation Services to Support USDA Farm to School Grant Applicants
National Farm to School Network advocated for the establishment of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program and is committed to ensuring this funding reaches the communities that need it most. NFSN is available on a consultation basis to provide assistance during the application process (thought partnership, preparing the grant application, evaluation) and during grant implementation (needs assessment, evaluation, action plan, virtual coaching). Learn more here.

3. USDA RFA: Regional Farm to School Institutes
Deadline: December 27
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems is pleased to announce the new Regional Farm to School Institute Grant Request for Applications (RFA). This new grant for fiscal year 2020 will support the creation and dissemination of information on farm to school program development, and provide practitioner education and training, and ongoing school year coaching and technical assistance. The Food and Nutrition Service anticipates awarding at least two grants with a combined total of $150,000, to eligible 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations working regionally to promote farm to school activities and support practitioners. Learn more here.


Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Project Waste Not: A tool for improving traceability and transparency
October 29 // 2 PM ET
Project Waste Not is building access to product, price, and availability data. Attend this webinar to learn more about this open food and beverage commerce network and how it can help simplify the process to get quick, real time data while increasing your institution's local and sustainable purchasing goals. This webinar is hosted by Farm to Institution New England (FINE) and the New England Farm & Sea to Campus Network (FSCN). Learn more here

2. Webinar: The Power of Contracts for Institutional Procurement of Local Food
October 30 // 2 PM ET
One strategy to increase institutional access to local and sustainable foods is to ensure your desire for these items is integrated into any contracts with food service vendors. This approach sets clear expectations and enables vendors to function as partners with institutions in meeting their food procurement goals. This webinar, hosted by the Chesapeake Foodshed Network, will include examples of contract language used with food service management companies and other vendors. Register here.

3. Webinar: Strategies to Help Implement a Successful Farm to School Program
October 31 // 3 PM ET
More than two-thirds of school districts that engaged in Farm to School activities reported positive impacts, including increased support from parents and community members. Schools also reported that Farm to School helped lower school meal program costs. This webinar (hosted by the Institute of Child Nutrition) explores strategies and best practices on how to implement a local Farm to School program. It will highlight success stories from individuals on ways to start and sustain a lasting Farm to School program in your community. A continuing education certificate will be available after completion of the webinar. Register here.

4. NFSN WEBINAR Kids Win and Farms Win: What Do We Know About the Impacts of Farm to School
November 7 // 1 PM ET
Advocates claim that 'kids win, farmers win, and communities win' from policies, programming and initiatives that promote farm to school. However, what do we know about the extent to which this is true? Recent research funded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides interesting insights into the kids win and farms win impacts of farm to school efforts. This webinar, featuring researchers from Colorado State University and University of Illinois, will highlight recent and ongoing research and important areas for future farm to school work. Register here.

5. NFSN EVENT Scholarships Open - 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Deadline: November 1
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Albuquerque, NM, April 21-23, 2020! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene nearly 1,000 diverse stakeholders who are working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. The scholarship application is open through Nov. 1. Learn more at farmtoschool.org/conference.

6. Food Solutions Forum
November 5, 2019 // Durham, NH
On November 5th, the Food Solutions Forum will bring together presidential candidates, farmers, fishermen, small business owners, workers, advocates, scientists, and the general public, to celebrate the future that is possible with food at the center of our national conversations. The Food Solutions New England network is one of more than a dozen partners helping to organize and promote this free event. Learn more here.


Research & Resources
1. EQUITY Article: Reconciliation and Resurgence Through Food
Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
The Indigenous Food Circle in Northwestern Ontario demonstrates ways that food can be used as a tool for reconciliation and resurgence. It was built on the idea that Indigenous peoples should have control of their food systems and is rooted in the theory and practice of food sovereignty—emphasizing self-determination and a reconnection to land-based food systems. Read more in this new JAFSCD article, The Indigenous Food Circle: Reconciliation and Resurgence through Food in Northwestern Ontario.

2. Call for Submission: 2020 Harkin on Wellness Report
Deadline: Nov. 1
The goal of the Harkin Institute is to facilitate collaborative, high-quality, nonpartisan, multi-disciplinary public policy research and analysis in the area of wellness and nutrition. As part of this goal, the Institute is in the process of creating its annual Harkin on Wellness Report that highlights various wellness and nutrition initiatives and programs throughout the country. Programs and organizations are encouraged to submit their work focused on promoting better health through food and nutrition, improving sustainable agriculture practices, increasing economic vitality, creating health equity, and/or supporting sustainable development. Applications will be selected through a competitive internal and external review process. All designees will be invited to attend and present at the Harkin On Wellness Symposium in Spring 2020. The Harkin Institute will cover travel costs to Des Moines, IA and give each designee at $500 honorarium and plaque recognizing your organization. Learn more here


Policy Opportunities
1. USDA Reopens Public Comment Period for Categorical Eligibility in SNAP
In recent months, the United States Department of Agriculture has proposed a change in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also formerly known as “food stamps”). This rule would amend the categorical eligibility provision that allow families whose income would typically be too high to receive SNAP benefits to qualify based on their participation in other federal benefits programs. For example, a family that qualifies for TANF would automatically qualify for SNAP (if the state chooses to use categorical eligibility). Supporters of the rule change call this a “loophole” that takes resources from needy families. National Farm to School Network views the rule change as ultimately harmful to families in need of these benefits. The rule change would take vital food assistance away from nearly 3 million people. Given that many children’s free and reduced-priced meal eligibility is tied to their SNAP eligibility, this also puts children at risk of losing access to school meals. USDA recently released a report showing that nearly 1 million children could lose access to school meals as a result of this rule change. NFSN strongly opposes the rule change because farm to school can’t happen when families can’t eat.

How you can advocate: USDA has reopened the comment period to allow people to utilize this new data to make a decision. Submit a comment opposing the rule before the new deadline of November 1. The Food Research and Action Center has great resources on how to prepare and submit comments that you can access here.


National Farm to School Month Highlights
October is National Farm to School Month! Schools, ECE sites, farms and communities across the country are celebrating the connections between students and local food this month. See highlights of how states are celebrating below. National Farm to School Network has free resources, a calendar of events, planning materials and activity ideas for ways you can get involved in October. Visit farmtoschool.org/month to find more and join us!

  • Florida Crunch!” gets kids to try fresh farm to table fruits and vegetables.
  • An Arkansas school hosted its 9th annual Local Harvest Lunch at Mcnair Middle School Friday.
  • Sierra Harvest’s Tasting Days continues celebration at Nevada schools.
  • Hartford Public Schools have been celebrating Farm to School Month in Connecticut.
  • To close out National Farm to School Month, Indiana Grown and the Indiana State Department of Health will be unveiling a local food buyer's guide.
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy announces USDA grants and celebrates farm to school month in Vermont.
  • New York school celebrates Farm to School Month with smoothies for students.

Send your Farm to School Month highlights to anna@farmtoschool.org to be included in our next edition of This Week in Farm to School!


Farm to School in the News
Nevada students hold farmers market to sell their school-grown produce More than 600 Las Vegas valley students sold veggies, fruits and herbs Wednesday morning that were grown at their schools. It took place at the largest student-run farmers market in the country. (KLAS)

Hands-on approach to nutrition education flourishes in Georgia schools
Giving the students that component can help the importance of good nutrition sink in, and it benefits them in the long run.“One way to combat chronic illness is to eat green, leafy vegetables and we grow those in our gardens,” Allen said. “We can provide a healthy lunch that meets USDA regulations.” (Albany Herald)

Missouri middle school gets first taste of local beef for ‘walking tacos’
The students at Missoula’s Washington Middle School were the first in Montana, and perhaps in the entire nation, to chow down on tacos made with beef that was locally grown, slaughtered and processed by its own local school district. (News Talk KGVO)


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.

National Farmers Union is Celebrating National Farm to School Month

NFSN Staff Monday, October 28, 2019
Guest blog by the National Farmers Union - Aaron Shier, NFU Government Relations Representative and Josie Krogh, NFU Intern


John Peterson, Owner and General Manager of Ferndale Market, raises pastured turkeys in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Ferndale turkey is featured on school food menus throughout Minnesota.

This blog is cross-posted on the National Farmers Union website - read it here.

October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate connections happening all over the country between schools, food, and local farmers, ranchers, and fishers!

Over the past decade, the farm to school movement has boomed across the United States, reaching millions of students in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. Farm to school – which includes kids eating, growing, and learning about local foods in schools – is an important tool in the fight against childhood obesity and food insecurity. In addition to improving student health, farm to school presents an important financial opportunity for farmers by connecting them to a profitable institutional market. According to the USDA Farm to School Census, schools reported spending $789 million on food from local farmers, ranchers, fishers and food processors during the 2013-14 school year. 

Many National Farmers Union members are involved in farm to school efforts. And National Farm to School Month seemed like the perfect time to highlight some of their great work. 

Minnesota Farmers Union member John Peterson is a third-generation turkey farmer who has been selling his free-range, antibiotic-free turkey to local school districts for over a decade. Their family farm Ferndale Market started off selling turkey to a few school districts that were able to handle and cook raw turkey, but when Minneapolis Public Schools decided to bring locally produced foods into all their cafeterias, the school district became a major buyer of Ferndale turkey.

Peterson said there has been a lot to learn about what products schools are able to work with. “Some districts handle raw protein, but certainly not all. Many schools don’t have traditional cooking facilities. So working with processors has been crucial.” Most of what Ferndale Market sells to schools are value-added, ready to cook products like turkey hotdogs and fully-cooked burgers.

Working with Minneapolis Public Schools has benefited their business by allowing them to utilize all parts of the turkey and by stabilizing demand. “The world of turkey suffers from a seasonality problem, especially because of Thanksgiving through retail outlets,” said John. “So, farm to school programs provide good year-round stability for us by helping smooth out demand.” 

Aside from being good for business, Peterson said he takes pride in knowing they’re providing clean, healthy products to nourish students in their community. Ferndale often does events at schools where their turkey is served, which helps students get a better understanding of where and how their food is raised. “It’s common sense on so many levels,” he said. “It’s one of those things where everyone involved benefits. Farmers, students, the local economy. A win-win-win.


Anthony Wagner (far right) pictured during a farm to school group tour on his farm and orchard in Corrales, New Mexico.

Another farm to school success story can be found in New Mexico, where dedicated farmers such as Danny Farrar of Rancho La Jolla Farm and Orchard and Anthony Wagner of Wagner Farms (who are also Farmers Union members), have been major champions of farm to school efforts in the state. Danny and Anthony, in addition to growing fruits and vegetables for schools, have participated in legislative hearings, advocated for a statewide farm to school program, and have provided numerous farm tour opportunities for school food service directors.

Danny and Anthony are also board members of the organization Farm to Table in New Mexico, a Core Partner of the National Farm to School Network (NFSN). Farm to Table has focused on farm to school issues for more than twenty years and in partnership with Farmers Union and other national, regional, and local organizations, has been pivotal in advancing policy and capacity building around farm to school. For example, Farm to Table and its partners helped pave the way for the establishment of the USDA Farm to School Grant program. And subsequently, in part thanks to USDA grants and the leadership of the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, they were able to establish a state farm to school program as well.

Pam Roy is the Executive Director and Co-founder of Farm to Table and the Government Relations Director in New Mexico for Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (which covers the states of Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming). Pam explained that “Farm to Table and its partners recently helped establish the New Mexico Farm to School Program in the Public Education Department and secured permanent funding of $510,000 per year for the program.” This program helps schools purchase New Mexico-grown produce. “We are so glad to report that the program helped generate more than $879,000 in locally grown fruit and vegetable purchases by New Mexico Public Schools during the 2017-18 school year, not including grant funding,” said Pam.

Farm to school enriches the connections communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing education and food purchasing practices at schools. By encouraging school districts to purchase food from within their local community, farm to school increases farmer incomes and strengthens rural economies.

Bridging The Farm To School Gap

NFSN Staff Friday, October 25, 2019


Guest blog by Farm Credit 

This blog is cross-posted from Farm Credit's blog. Read the original post here. National Farm to School Network thanks Farm Credit for being a supporter of our work.

Many of today’s young people are more accustomed to playing on iPads than playing in parks. The first step in educating such a generation about agriculture may be by simply getting them outside. The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) strives to close the gap between youth and the food that they eat through outdoor garden education, classroom learning focused on food and farming and local food procurement in school cafeterias. 

In the School
Sam Ullery, school garden specialist for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in Washington, D.C., visits schools across the nation’s capital that are interested in teaching their students about the farm to school mission. 

Sam recently visited Maurey Elementary where he taught a group of kindergarteners about how to use their senses to observe the natural world. Students collected objects that were shiny and dull, round and flat, scratchy and smooth. They then shared what they found with their peers, discussing what senses they used to categorize their newfound treasures. While this activity didn’t focus directly on food production or the agriculture industry, it got students thinking about the earth in a new, hands-on way. 

“Farm to school is very theoretical to those who aren't familiar with it. However, if a teacher came into a classroom and said, ‘we're taking the kids to do a lesson outside on this beautiful day,’ that's farm to school too,’” he said. 

Changing Mindsets
Sam makes sure to teach lessons from NFSN’s public curriculum database when he visits D.C.’s schools. He hopes to demonstrate how easy it is to engage students in learning farm to school concepts and encourage teachers to utilize the vast array of NFSN’s online, public resources to do just that.

“The biggest challenge is getting teachers to be comfortable teaching beyond their comfort zone by taking kids outside of the classroom. It’s been a fun challenge to do that, to change the mindset of teachers and administrators,” he said. 

Not something extra 
Often, Sam accomplishes this is by showing teachers how the farm to school curriculum is designed to connect to teachers’ existing learning goals for their students. “We’re showing how the garden isn't something extra, but it's something that can support what students are learning in the classroom,” he said.  For example, Sam’s kindergarteners practiced exploration skills useful for future science experiments and they learned new descriptive words important for the language arts. 

NFSN and Farm Credit are united in our missions to support farmers and rural communities. This means ensuring that future generations of Americans feel connected to the food they eat and understand it is produced. Farm Credit is proud to support NSFN during National Farm to School Month and every month as they educate young people about food and nutrition in the garden, the cafeteria and the classroom.

This Week in Farm to School: 10/22/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 22, 2019
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. USDA 2020 Farm to School Grant RFA Now Open
Deadline: December 13, 2019
The 2020 USDA Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. With additional funding made available through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) seeks to award approximately $10 million in FY 2020 funding. Grants ranging in size from $20,000 to $100,000 will be available to schools, nonprofits, State and local agencies, agricultural producers, and Indian tribal organizations to plan and implement farm to school activities. Applications are due Dec. 13, 2019. Learn more and apply here

National Farm to School Network advocated for the establishment of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program and is committed to ensuring this funding reaches the communities that need it most. NFSN is available on a consultation basis to provide assistance during the application process (thought partnership, preparing the grant application, evaluation) and during grant implementation (needs assessment, evaluation, action plan, virtual coaching). Learn more here


Webinars & Events
1. EQUITY Webinar: Uprooting Racism in the Food System: Seeding Sovereignty for Black and Brown Farmers
October 23 // 3:30 PM ET
This webinar, “Uprooting Racism in the Food System: Seeding Sovereignty for Black and Brown Farmers,” seeks to expand perspectives and provide information on institutional and grassroots approaches to engaging socially disadvantaged groups in farming and food systems. This webinar is part of the NAFSN Good Food Talk webinar series, hosted by North American Food Systems Network. Learn more here

2. Webinar: Strategies to Help Implement a Successful Farm to School Program
October 31 // 3 PM ET
More than two-thirds of school districts that engaged in Farm to School activities reported positive impacts, including increased support from parents and community members. Schools also reported that Farm to School helped lower school meal program costs. This webinar (hosted by the Institute of Child Nutrition) explores strategies and best practices on how to implement a local Farm to School program. It will highlight success stories from individuals on ways to start and sustain a lasting Farm to School program in your community. A continuing education certificate will be available after completion of the webinar. Register here

3. NFSN WEBINAR Kids Win and Farms Win: What Do We Know About the Impacts of Farm to School
November 7 // 1 PM ET
Advocates claim that 'kids win, farmers win, and communities win' from policies, programming and initiatives that promote farm to school. However, what do we know about the extent to which this is true? Recent research funded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides interesting insights into the kids win and farms win impacts of farm to school efforts. This webinar, featuring researchers from Colorado State University and University of Illinois, will highlight recent and ongoing research and important areas for future farm to school work. Register here.

4. NFSN EVENT Scholarships Open - 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Deadline: November 1
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Albuquerque, NM, April 21-23, 2020! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene nearly 1,000 diverse stakeholders who are working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. The scholarship application is open through Nov. 1. Learn more at farmtoschool.org/conference.

5. 2020 Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Conference
February 12-13, 2020 // Silverton, OR
The Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Conference will be held February 12-13, 2020 at The Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon. This will be a two day event with workshops, speakers, resources and networking opportunities. Wednesday, February 12 will be focused on farm and garden based education. Thursday, February 13 will be focused on incorporating local food into school meals. Conference organizers are now accepting proposals for workshops. Proposals are due Nov. 1. Learn more here.


Research & Resources
1. EQUITY Articles: Indigenous Food Sovereignty in North America
Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
JAFSCD has two new "Voices from the Grassroots" articles on the topic of Indigenous Food Sovereignty in North America. In Reviving and Reclaiming Our Native Food System: Leadership Experiences of a Research Project's Community Advisory Board, members of a community advisory board on the Wind River Reservation reflect on their struggle to serve a strong role in reclaiming sovereignty over the community's traditional foods and local food system. In Northwest Tribal Food Sovereignty Coalition: An Intertribal Collaboration, the Northwest Tribal Food Sovereignty Coalition shares how it's building a strong network of tribal nations, tribal organizations, and allied partners to work effectively toward true tribal food sovereignty. Read more here

2. Call for Submission: 2020 Harkin on Wellness Report
Deadline: Nov. 1
The goal of the Harkin Institute is to facilitate collaborative, high-quality, nonpartisan, multi-disciplinary public policy research and analysis in the area of wellness and nutrition. As part of this goal, the Institute is in the process of creating its annual Harkin on Wellness Report that highlights various wellness and nutrition initiatives and programs throughout the country. Programs and organizations are encouraged to submit their work focused on promoting better health through food and nutrition, improving sustainable agriculture practices, increasing economic vitality, creating health equity, and/or supporting sustainable development. Applications will be selected through a competitive internal and external review process. All designees will be invited to attend and present at the Harkin On Wellness Symposium in Spring 2020. The Harkin Institute will cover travel costs to Des Moines, IA and give each designee at $500 honorarium and plaque recognizing your organization. Learn more here


Policy Opportunities
1. USDA Reopens Public Comment Period for Categorical Eligibility in SNAP
In recent months, the United States Department of Agriculture has proposed a change in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also formerly known as “food stamps”). This rule would amend the categorical eligibility provision that allow families whose income would typically be too high to receive SNAP benefits to qualify based on their participation in other federal benefits programs. For example, a family that qualifies for TANF would automatically qualify for SNAP (if the state chooses to use categorical eligibility). Supporters of the rule change call this a “loophole” that takes resources from needy families. National Farm to School Network views the rule change as ultimately harmful to families in need of these benefits. The rule change would take vital food assistance away from nearly 3 million people. Given that many children’s free and reduced-priced meal eligibility is tied to their SNAP eligibility, this also puts children at risk of losing access to school meals. USDA recently released a report showing that nearly 1 million children could lose access to school meals as a result of this rule change. NFSN strongly opposes the rule change because farm to school can’t happen when families can’t eat.

How you can advocate: USDA has reopened the comment period to allow people to utilize this new data to make a decision. Submit a comment opposing the rule before the new deadline of November 1. The Food Research and Action Center has great resources on how to prepare and submit comments that you can access here


National Farm to School Month Highlights
October is National Farm to School Month!
Schools, ECE sites, farms and communities across the country are celebrating the connections between students and local food this month. See highlights of how states are celebrating below. National Farm to School Network has free resources, a calendar of events, planning materials and activity ideas for ways you can get involved in October. Visit farmtoschool.org/month to find more and join us!

Alabama Crunch Day is Oct. 24.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared October Arkansas Farm to School Month on Oct. 15.
California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross visited Julien Elementary School, Turlock High School, the Child Nutrition Education Center and the Turlock Unified School District’s farm as part of Farm to School Month.
Louisiana is celebrating Farm to School Month with a Great Louisiana Satsuma Peel.
The Mountain Plains Crunch Off (Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming) is Oct. 24.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed October as Farm to School Month. The North Carolina Crunch is Oct. 23.
South Carolina is celebrating "Make Your Place SC Grown" week, Oct. 21-25.
Tennessee Crunch Day is Oct. 23.
Canada celebrates National Farm to School Month in October, too! Read more on the National Farm to School Network's blog

Send your Farm to School Month highlights to anna@farmtoschool.org to be included in our next edition of This Week in Farm to School!


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.

Farm to School Without Borders: Canada’s Farm to School Story

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Guest blog by Farm to Cafeteria Canada

The Canadian Context 
Founded in 2011, Farm to Cafeteria Canada (F2CC) is a pan-Canadian organization that was formed to work with partners across Canada to educate, build capacity, strengthen partnerships, and influence policy to bring local, healthy, and sustainable foods into all public institutions.

Across Canada we’re seeing and celebrating so much exciting activity to bring the local harvest into school classrooms and cafeterias. Just like in the US, farm to school in Canada is about closing the distance between field and fork and cultivating a generation of healthy eaters and critical thinkers who understand and value food and its role in personal, cultural, and planetary health. 

Some communities use the term Local Food to School (LF2S), where “local food” can include seafood, game and other “wild” foods, that connect schools with fishers, elders and other knowledge keepers who can harvest and prepare these foods safely and in a culturally meaningful manner. Check out this short video to see LF2S in action in a remote Indigenous community. 



Inspired by the US National Farm to School Network, the Canadian farm to school network championed by F2CC is over 5,000 members/followers strong, with representatives from nearly every province and territory. To date, 1,219 schools and campuses have shared their farm to school activity with F2CC so that it can be tracked on the Canadian Farm to School Map. Institutes report they are providing 864,579 students (about 10% of the national youth population, ages 5-24) with an opportunity to experience growing, harvesting, preparing and eating healthy local foods at school. We know there is much more grassroots activity happening and expect this number to grow as more become aware of the map. We’re also learning from the US and hoping to get farm to school questions embedded into our agricultural census. 

Farm to school has drawn the eye and support of the Canadian government. Since 2016, the federal government has partnered with F2CC, investing nearly $2 million in a pan-Canadian farm to school initiative - F2S: Canada Digs In! (F2SDCI). Federal funding has been matched by multiple partners, including Whole Kids Foundation. Thus far F2SCDI has enabled the development of pilot programs in nearly 100 schools, affording more than 35,000 students to experience farm to school. (Read / watch some of their stories here.) This project is significant in that it represents the largest ever federal investment in school food to date, and for the first time ever it has allowed us to evaluate the impacts of farm to school in Canada!


We’re working to paint a new chapter! 
As an interesting bit of context about Canada - many schools - especially at the elementary and middle school level - do not have cafeterias, and often lack cooking facilities of any sort. Instead, farm to school program are creative and unique to each and every school, often championed by dedicated teachers, school administrators and parent/community volunteers. Our work at F2CC is building on the amazing efforts of schools and communities at the grassroots level by evaluating and supporting schools to implement best practices in farm to school.

To do this, F2CC has been developing a Canadian farm to school framework and articulating the farm to school approach, within which there are multiple models

F2CC is not alone in our quest to paint a strong future for school food in Canada. There are many provincial and national groups with brush in hand. The Coalition for Healthy School Food representing more than 80 organizations, is advocating for a federal investment in a national school food program that would eventually ensure that all students have access to a healthy meal or snack at school every day. Many farm to school champions are at that table influencing the development of a set of strong principles that align with those underpinning the farm to school approach (including the need for such a program to be universal, community-driven, and include conflict of interest standards). In addition to ensuring that students can access a meal so that they are ready to learn at school, farm to school champions seek a program that closes the distance between students, their food, and their land while supporting the sustainability of regional food systems.  

Our vision? Every child has an opportunity to experience the joy of farm to school! The momentum is building!


Resources of Interest
Farm to Cafeteria Canada has developed a number of resources that may be of interest.


Farm to School Month!
And how are we celebrating Farm to School Month? Our theme in Canada this year is Healthy People Healthy Planet. To help our schools celebrate we’ve launched a Zero Food Waste Challenge. Visit our Farm to School Month website to check it out! 


Top photo: A student at Kinkora Regional High School, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Photo Credit: Amanda Kingman

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