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Growing Healthy Eaters in Georgia

NFSN Staff Thursday, July 11, 2019
This post is part of our Farm to ECE Procurement Blog Series, which is devoted to the many ways that early care and education sites connect children and their families to local food and local food producers. Read previous posts in this series here. Have a farm to ECE procurement story to share? Contact Lacy Stephens at lacy@farmtoschool.org.


Children enjoying a radish taste test at Tee Tee’s Daycare in Valdosta, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Kim Jackson, owner of Tee Tee’s Daycare .

Guest Blog By Gina Cook, Quality Care for Children

Beans, squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes are just a sampling of the many fruits and vegetables that grow in Georgia. Because Georgia’s climate allows tremendous opportunities for farmers, just about any crop can be grown successfully somewhere within the state.

However, many children grow up in Georgia not knowing where their food comes from and how it is grown. Many childcare providers may have limited access to fresh, healthy, locally grown foods and serve only canned or frozen fruits and vegetables.  

In 2017, the formation of the Georgia Farm to ECE Learning Collaborative was made possible by a generous grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Eighteen early care providers across the state were selected to receive mini grants, resources, materials, training, and professional development opportunities to incorporate farm to ECE activities, including gardening, local procurement, and nutrition education. Here are some of the take-aways and lessons learned from the Learning Collaborative's activities. 

Overcoming Barriers to Eating Local Foods
Limited Access to Local Foods
One would think since farming is the foundation of the state’s economic well-being, there would be more locally grown produce in the stores. However, this was not always the case and providers needed support to find out where to purchase local foods. The Georgia Grown website has been helpful in identifying what is in season and finding farms and locations to purchase local foods. 

Time
Local farm stands are usually only open certain hours during the day or on the weekends. Family childcare providers cannot get away during the day since they are usually the only ones caring for the children and weekends are filled with family commitments. So running to the grocery store, which stays open late, may be the only option. Some providers have been able to find local products at the grocery stores they frequent and others have focused their attention on the foods they can grow in the garden and serve on-site as first steps for serving local foods.

Cost
The childcare providers were concerned that children would waste the food, especially if it was more expensive to purchase. Offering exposures to new foods through taste tests and gardening increase children’s acceptance of new foods and can help decrease food waste. A few of the sites have been creative in their purchasing practices to help address costs. One site was able to purchase marked-down produce by developing a relationship with a local farmer. 

Preparation
Many of the providers have commented on the time involved in the preparation of fresh, local foods.  They must spend more time washing, cutting, and cooking. It was much easier for them to open up a can or put frozen vegetables in the microwave. Several of the sites have struggled with knowing what foods to purchase, especially when it comes to picky eaters, and how to prepare. Choosing foods that are easy to prepare and broadly appealing to little ones, like cherry tomatoes, snap-peas, and strawberries, can be one initial way to overcome this challenge.  Spoilage has been a main concern since fresh food tends to go bad much quicker.  However, one provider has purchased a food storage vacuum system that allows her to freeze what she grows or purchases.  

Local Food Successes 
Gardening
All of the providers in the Learning Collaborative have planted a garden with a variety of vegetables.  Some are able serve these at meals and snacks and invite families to come and experience first-hand the garden.  Parents have shared that their children’s excitement and pride in their gardens is contagious.  Not only are the children more likely to try fruits and vegetables if they participate in the growing process, but the parents are too!  One parent remarked, “I am learning to eat red pepper because my son is eating it at school.”  

Family Engagement
The participants of the Learning Collaborative agree that behaviors around food are difficult to change.  Some of the providers have commented that getting their families to try new foods has come with some resistance.  To address this issue, providers welcome parents to cook and participate in a taste test with the children. Providers also offer dishes with familiar flavor profiles that go well will family staples like beans and rice eaten by Hispanic families served by the childcare site.  Some of the gardens produce an abundance of vegetables and the sites have given some to the families in their care along with a simple recipe to make at home. 

Despite the challenges, all of the providers agree that the successes outweigh the barriers. Children are enjoying gardening and eating what they grow.  They try more foods and actually like them! They can even tell you how seeds grow!  This enthusiasm has spread to the families at the sites and now families are becoming more aware of what they are serving at home.  One provider tells the story of the little girl who ASKS for salad now!  

You can hear more about local procurement in family child care in Georgia from Gina and family child care owner, Maria Claudia Ortega, in this NFSN webinar, Farm to Early Care and Education in Family Child Care.  

Bottom photo: Families love working in the garden together! Photo courtesy of Maria Claudia Ortega, owner of My Little Geniuses in Marietta, GA

This Week in Farm to School: 7/9/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, July 09, 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. 

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to Early Care and Education State Strategic Planning 
Thursday, July 11 // 1-2 PM ET
Developing a farm to early care and education (ECE) state strategic plan can facilitate the coordinated growth, expansion, and institutionalization of farm to ECE across the state. Aligning the plan with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Spectrum of Opportunities for State-Level Obesity Prevention Efforts Targeting the Early Care and Education Setting further supports comprehensive integration of farm to ECE into existing ECE systems and structures, which can increase reach and support long-term successes. In this webinar presented by the National Farm to School Network, we’ll learn about the Spectrum of Opportunities from Nora Geary of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and hear from Erin Croom of Georgia Organics and Caliste Chong of Alabama Smart Start about the development, implementation, and impacts of state farm to ECE strategic plans in their states. This webinar will be recorded and archived for future viewing. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: State Local Purchasing Incentive Bills 
Thursday, August 1 // 1-2 PM ET
Providing an increased meal reimbursement to schools and early care and education sites purchasing and serving local foods not only increases the amount of fresh, local foods in meal program, but can provide increased revenue streams for local producers. Many states are exploring or pursuing local food incentive bills and a few states have passed and implemented successful legislation, providing important models for future legislation. In this webinar, presented by the National Farm to School Network, we’ll hear from key stakeholders about the passage and enactment of the MI Ten Cents a Meal Program and the New Mexico Grown Local Produce Grant. This webinar will be recorded and archived for future viewing. Register here.

3. School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute
January 19-24, 2020 // Santa Cruz, CA
Join 20 other School Garden Support Organization teams from across the nation to strengthen your organization’s goal of enhancing professional development and ongoing support for school garden programs in your region. Apply here by August 2, 2019. 

4. North Carolina Farm to School Summit
September 20, 2019 // Raleigh, NC
The Farm to School Coalition of NC brings together a dedicated group of farm to school stakeholders that collaborate to expand and strengthen farm to school initiatives across the state. This event serves as an opportunity to strengthen the network of practitioners committed to any and all components of farm to school—from local food purchasing to experiential learning about agriculture, gardening, food, cooking, nutrition and health. Pre-Conference trainings and workshops will take place on September 19, 2019. Learn more here.

5. Food Sovereignty Summit
September 23-26, 2019 // Green Bay, WI
First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin (Oneida) are co-hosting the national Food Sovereignty Summit, September 23-26, 2019, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Food Sovereignty Summit began in 2013. It is the undisputed national forum for sharing and collaboration to build healthy food systems within Native American communities. Hundreds of attendees come from tribal communities all over that are actively involved in food sovereignty work, including caring for our land, sustaining food systems, and strengthening tribal sovereignty and partnerships between Native nations. Learn more and register here

6. Farms, Food & Health Conference
September 26-29, 2019 // Traverse City, MI
Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities is proud to partner with Munson Healthcare, Great Lakes Culinary Institute of Northwestern Michigan College, and Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District to present the first joint Farms, Food & Health Conference. This event will highlight innovative initiatives, engage a large, diverse audience and provide much-needed technical skill-building for healthcare providers and educators. Early bird registration is now open. Learn more and register here


Resources & Research 
1. Call for Resources: Farm to School/ECE Procurement and Child Nutrition Program Resources  
In partnership with National Center for Appropriate Technology, National Farm to School Network was recently awarded a cooperative agreement with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) to develop a Farm to School Producer Training Program. Our first step is aggregating farm to school/ECE training resources that have content focused on USDA Child Nutrition Programs and local procurement. We are especially interested in content targeted at farmers and producers. Please send any and all relevant resources (name of resource and link) to Jenileigh Harris, NFSN Program Intern, at programs@farmtoschool.org.

2. EQUITY Article: How USDA distorted data to conceal decades of discrimination against black farmers
A New Food Economy investigation found that as recently as 2016, USDA promoted misleading data to depict a fictional renaissance in black farming. That narrative falsely inflated the department's record on civil rights, and ultimately cost black farmers land, money and agency. National Farm to School Network staff have been reading this well-research, long-form article and encourage others to do so to learn about recent, systemic discrimination that directly intersects with farm to school efforts. Read the article here


Policy News
1. Oregon Lawmakers Expand Farm to School Program
Oregon's Farm to School Program is poised to expand after state lawmakers approved a bill tripling the program’s budget. House Bill 2579, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously, will expand funding for the program to nearly $15 million and now include federally funded early childcare and summer food service centers, such as Head Start. Most of the money, $11 million, will go toward grants for schools to purchase Oregon-grown food. Some $2.5 million is set aside for farm and garden-based education grants. $500,000 has been allocated to the Oregon Department of Agriculture to help farmers and ranchers with farm to school market access. The rest of the money is for program evaluation, technical assistance and administrative costs. Congratulations, Oregon! Read more here

2. NFSN RESOURCE State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018
National Farm to School Network and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School are pleased to share their new State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018. The Handbook summarizes and analyzes every proposed farm to school bill and resolution introduced between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2018, from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. It enables readers to search bills by both jurisdiction and topic, and includes analysis of trends, case studies, advocacy resources and more. Explore the State Farm to School Policy Handbook here.


Job Opportunities
1. Farm to School Program Coordinator, Arkansas Agriculture Department (Little Rock, AR) 
The Farm to School and Early Childhood Program Coordinator is responsible for developing and coordinating the statewide farm to school program and for providing technical expertise and assistance to local school food authorities, local farmers, and other institutions and farm to school stakeholders. Application closes July 12. Learn more and apply here

2. Program Leader, Health and Nutrition, University of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN) 
This Program Leader position leads the Health and Nutrition program area in the Extension Center for Family Development. The Program Leader provides leadership for a dynamic team of master’s level Extension Educators located across the state who conduct innovative work through informal education, using both direct education and policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) methodology. PSE efforts include working in partnership with neighborhoods, school districts, food pantries and municipalities. Over half of the families that we serve are new immigrants, culturally diverse, economically diverse, and/or underserved audiences. Learn more and apply here

3. FoodCorps Service Member, Various Locations
FoodCorps is currently accepting service member applications for the following states: Connecticut, Iowa, DC Metro, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Learn more and apply here

4. Executive Director, Gallatin Valley Farm to School (Montana) 
Gallatin Valley Farm to School is hiring an Executive Director. The Executive Director is a professional position that is accountable to the Board of Directors and is responsible for the management and oversight of all aspects of GVF2S programs and business operations. The Executive Director leads innovation and strategic growth toward accomplishing the mission of the organization, and acts to create the long-term success of GVF2S. Learn more and apply here


Farm to School in the News
Alabama students get delivery of fresh corn
The smell of sweet corn filled the lunchroom at Carbon Hill Elementary/Jr. High School Tuesday, and students had the opportunity to meet the farmer who grew it. Deemed "Sweet Corn Day," around 60 students in the school's summer program were served corn from McKenzie Farm & Forest. (Daily Mountain Eagle)

How hydroponic school gardens in New York can cultivate food justice, year-round
After a full day of school a few weeks ago, 12-year-old Rose Quigley donned gloves and quickly picked bunches of fresh lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, mint and oregano. But she didn't have to leave her school in Brooklyn, N.Y., or even go outdoors to do it. The vegetables never stop coming because the crops are grown hydroponically. The students provide weekly produce for their cafeteria's salad bar and other dishes. (NPR)

"Farm to summer" program teaches Idaho students about agriculture
An Idaho school district is partnering with the state's Department of Agriculture for its "farm-to-summer" program, in which students learn more about the fruits and vegetables produced in the state while getting a free lunch. The program serves about 1,700 lunches a day. (KMVT

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.

This Week in Farm to School: 7/2/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, July 02, 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. 

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to Early Care and Education State Strategic Planning 
Thursday, July 11 // 1-2 PM ET
Developing a farm to early care and education (ECE) state strategic plan can facilitate the coordinated growth, expansion, and institutionalization of farm to ECE across the state. Aligning the plan with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Spectrum of Opportunities for State-Level Obesity Prevention Efforts Targeting the Early Care and Education Setting further supports comprehensive integration of farm to ECE into existing ECE systems and structures, which can increase reach and support long-term successes. In this webinar presented by the National Farm to School Network, we’ll learn about the Spectrum of Opportunities from Nora Geary of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and hear from Erin Croom of Georgia Organics and Caliste Chong of Alabama Smart Start about the development, implementation, and impacts of state farm to ECE strategic plans in their states. This webinar will be recorded and archived for future viewing. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: State Local Purchasing Incentive Bills 
Thursday, August 1 // 1-2 PM ET
Providing an increased meal reimbursement to schools and early care and education sites purchasing and serving local foods not only increases the amount of fresh, local foods in meal program, but can provide increased revenue streams for local producers. Many states are exploring or pursuing local food incentive bills and a few states have passed and implemented successful legislation, providing important models for future legislation. In this webinar, presented by the National Farm to School Network, we’ll hear from key stakeholders about the passage and enactment of the MI Ten Cents a Meal Program and the New Mexico Grown Local Produce Grant. This webinar will be recorded and archived for future viewing. Register here.

3. EQUITY Webinar: Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics
Tuesday, July 16 // 3-4 PM ET
The Racial Equity in Food Systems Working Group (REFS) is a national workgroup coordinated by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. The webinar will provide an introduction to the newly published guide, Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics, including examples of metrics in four different themes and ways the guide can be used. Following this introduction, two food system leaders will share how they are using data and metrics to drive system change. There will be time in the webinar for questions, comments, and suggestions for related resources. Register here

4. Webinar: Keeping up with Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act
Tuesday, July 9 //  3-4 PM EDT
Join the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future Food Policy Networks project for a panel discussion with policy experts (including Chloe Marshall, NFSN Policy Specialist) on the process for reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. This important act legislates school meal and child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and was last reauthorized in 2010 in the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act. Learn about the process for reauthorization, what is to come in the next few months, and how food policy councils can engage in the reauthorization process. Register here

5. Louisiana Farm to School Conference
October 22-23, 2019  // Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Louisiana Farm to School Program will host the annual Louisiana Farm to School Conference on October 23, 2019 at the Pennington Biomedical Conference Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During their time in the Bayou State, stakeholders will attend a special "Meet the Buyer, Greet the Grower" event to kick off the conference and explore networking opportunities between farmers and school nutrition staff. Some of the hot topics for this event will include school gardening challenges, barriers of farm to school, and sourcing local foods in school. Save the date and make a trip to attend! Learn more here

6. 2019 Maine Farm to School Conference
October 4, 2019  // Hinckley/Clinton, Maine
With the 2019 conference theme of "Innovations in Farm to School", stakeholders from across the state of Maine and beyond will convene for a full day of learning, best practice sharing, and networking. This event will be hosted at the Kennebec Valley Community College's Alfond Campus from 8:30 AM - 5 PM. Learn more here


Research & Resources
1. Call for Resources: Farm to School/ECE Procurement and Child Nutrition Program Resources  
In partnership with National Centers for Appropriate Technology, National Farm to School Network was recently awarded a cooperative agreement with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) to develop a Farm to School Producer Training Program. Our first step is aggregating farm to school/ECE training resources that have content focused on USDA Child Nutrition Programs and local procurement. We are especially interested in content targeted at farmers and producers. Please send any and all relevant resources (name of resource and link) to Jenileigh Harris, NFSN Program Intern, at programs@farmtoschool.org.

2. EQUITY Boston Brings Sustainability, Equity to Its Food Purchasing
In March, the Boston City Council unanimously passed a good food purchasing program (GFPP) ordinance. Serving 11.1 million meals annually with an $18 million food budget, Boston Public Schools (BPS) is the city’s biggest food purchaser, and the GFPP will lead to big changes in BPS’s school lunch menus. What stands out about Boston’s policy is that it not only requires the city to procure sustainably grown food, consider animal welfare and the local economy, but also to focus on racial equity in the food chain during the purchasing process. "This policy is so transformative because it impacts all of those concerns at every step—serving nutritious food that’s been grown sustainably and harvested by workers who are treated with dignity as much as possible.” Read more on Civil Eats


Policy News
1. Farm to School Act of 2019 Introduced in Congress
The Farm to School Act of 2019 has been introduced in Congress with bipartisan support by legislative champions Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), David Perdue (R-GA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH ) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). The Farm to School Act of 2019 builds on the success of the farm to school movement by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also: increase the maximum grant award to $250,000; prioritize grant proposals that engage beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and serve high-need schools; fully include early care and education sites, summer food service sites and afterschool programs; and, increase access among Native and tribal schools to traditional foods, especially from tribal producers. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2019 by signing a letter of support on behalf of your organization. Individuals can sign up here to receive campaign updates and alerts for important action opportunities. Join us in making sure Congress knows that farm to school is a powerful tool for supporting our kids, our farmers and our communities! To learn more, download this fact sheet and visit farmtoschool.org/cnr2019


Job Opportunities
1. Executive Director, Gallatin Valley Farm to School (Montana) 
Gallatin Valley Farm to School is hiring an Executive Director. The Executive Director is a professional position that is accountable to the Board of Directors and is responsible for the management and oversight of all aspects of GVF2S programs and business operations. The Executive Director leads innovation and strategic growth toward accomplishing the mission of the organization, and acts to create the long-term success of GVF2S. Learn more here

2. Garden Coordinator, Green Plate Special (Washington)
Green Plate Special (GPS) is hiring a Garden Coordinator. GPS is a rapidly growing organization that offers seed-to-table programs serving youth ages 9-14. This is an excellent opportunity for a strong organic gardener/farmer with experience working with youth in an educational setting. This position is geared for someone who is committed to inspiring young people to experience food in new ways and interested in joining a small team with big ambitions. Learn more here

3. Resident District Manager, Sodexo Schools (Massachusetts)
Sodexo Schools is seeking a Resident District Manager to oversee food operation for the Springfield Public Schools District, serving over 60 schools. The successful candidate will have strong leadership and client relations skills and possess the ability to balance multiple priorities simultaneously. Springfield Public Schools District recently completed a new commissary with the stated intention of processing and serving local food - this a great opportunity to grow new farm to school efforts. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
Maoloha on the move in Hawaii
The first time Malama Kauai fired up their new kitchen trailer was in November, on the grounds of Kawaikini Public Charter School. Since then, the school’s second-grade class named has named the trailer “Maoloha,” after the large-meshed nets used at Hawaiian makahiki ceremonies. It represents the trailer’s purpose in feeding the community. (The Garden Island)

How a garden is helping Illinois students learn English
When it comes to mastering a new language, it's often best to learn by doing. That's the real reason English Language Learners teacher Melissa Eaton planted a garden at Cowlishaw Elementary School in Naperville. (Daily Herald)

Building a garden to offer Pennsylvania students healthy eating options
A group of students and volunteers got together in Schuylkill County to put the finishing touches on a huge garden. It's designed to offer students healthier eating options, but it will also benefit the public. "I think it's terrific. It is very important that we teach our children about being able to grow plants and learning to plant and be self-sufficient and harvest what we grow," said Mary Anne Woodward, North Schuylkill School Board. (WNEP ABC)

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 Act of 2019 Introduced in Congress

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 27, 2019

Farm to school activities have been proven to help students build healthy eating habits and support family farmers by expanding market opportunities. Today, a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders demonstrated their support for growing farm to school programming across the country by introducing the Farm to School Act of 2019 (H.R. 3562, S. 2026). The bill, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), David Perdue (R-GA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), will expand funding for and programmatic scope of the highly successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program. 

The USDA Farm to School Grant Program provides funds on a competitive basis to schools, farmers, nonprofits, and local, state and tribal government entities to help schools procure local foods – including fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, dairy and other products – for school meals and to support farm to school activities like farm field trips, hands-on science classes and new food taste tests. Since making its first awards in 2013, the program has received more than 1,900 applications requesting over $141 million in support. With only $5 million in mandatory funding available annually, the Farm to School Grant Program has been forced to turn away roughly 80 percent of qualified applications. The Farm to School Act of 2019 would allow more impactful projects to be realized by:
  • Increasing annual funding to $15 million and increasing the grant award maximum to $250,000.
  • Advancing equity by prioritizing grants that engage diverse farmers and serve high-need schools. 
  • Fully including early care and education sites, summer food service sites & after school programs. 
  • Increasing access among tribal schools to traditional foods, especially from tribal producers. 
Read our full press release here.
Learn more about the Farm to School Act of 2019 here

Organizations that have endorsed the Farm to School Act of 2019 include the National Farm to School Network, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Heart Association, FoodCorps, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Education Association, National Farmers Union and Union of Concerned Scientists, among others.

The USDA Farm to School Grant program was originally funded as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 - the last Child Nutrition Act reauthorization (CNR) to pass. This was a major victory for the farm to school movement, as it was the first time federal legislation specifically mandated funding and support for farm to school efforts. Since the creation of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, we’ve seen high interest in participating from communities across the country, and have heard many stories of how the program has helped launch new farm to school activities. We’ve also heard your feedback on how the program can be improved and expanded to continue supporting equitable and sustainable farm to school efforts. Earlier this year, we hosted a CNR Listening Session Series to capture your thoughts on policy issues like this in order to directly inform our CNR priorities. The specific policy changes proposed in the Farm to School Act of 2019 are the results of your shared feedback. 

The Farm to School Act of 2019 and the Kids Eat Local Act (also recently introduced) are two important bills that can strengthen farm to school in the next CNR. Federal policy like CNR is so important because it helps ensure that farm to school efforts aren’t a fad, but a long-term, viable strategy for ensuring the health of our nation’s kids, farms and communities. But federal policymaking can be slow moving. You may recognize that this is not the first time congressional champions have introduced a Farm to School Act - it was also introduced in 2015 and 2017. While there’s no guarantee that CNR and these bills will pass in this Congress, it’s imperative that we’re prepared to advocate for the priorities that are important to the farm to school movement. 

We need your help. Policy advocacy takes all of us, and your voice is critical in this process. Here’s what you can do today to help.  

Organizations: If you represent a school, nonprofit organization, business or advocacy group interested in supporting farm to school in the next CNR, please add your organization’s name to our organizational sign-on letter to Congress, expressing your support for the Farm to School Act of 2019 and the Kids Eat Local Act. Sign-on here

Individuals: Are you a parent, teacher, farmer, concerned eater? Sign-up to stay up-to-date on important individual action opportunities coming this summer. Add your name to our list and will let you know how you can support these important federal policy opportunities. Sign-up here

Learn more and stay engaged: Education and engagement are two of the most important factors in making our collective advocacy efforts effective. Help prepare for our big CNR advocacy push coming this summer:
Work for a government agency or university and cannot lobby? You can still make a difference! While you can’t make specific policy asks, you can (and should!) share general information about farm to school in your state and how the USDA Farm to School Grant Program has been successful. Sharing information is not lobbying - it’s education, which all of us can do! Any of the educational engagement opportunities above are a great way to be involved in CNR. 

Have questions about CNR or want to learn more about how you can be a farm to school policy advocate? Contact Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist, at chloe@farmtoschool.org.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.

This Week in Farm to School: 6/25/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 25, 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. 

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to Early Care and Education State Strategic Planning 
Thursday, July 11 // 1-2 PM ET
Developing a farm to early care and education (ECE) state strategic plan can facilitate the coordinated growth, expansion, and institutionalization of farm to ECE across the state. Aligning the plan with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Spectrum of Opportunities for State-Level Obesity Prevention Efforts Targeting the Early Care and Education Setting further supports comprehensive integration of farm to ECE into existing ECE systems and structures, which can increase reach and support long-term successes. In this webinar presented by the National Farm to School Network, we’ll learn about the Spectrum of Opportunities from Nora Geary of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and hear from Erin Croom of Georgia Organics and Caliste Chong of Alabama Smart Start about the development, implementation, and impacts of state farm to ECE strategic plans in their states. This webinar will be recorded and archived for future viewing. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: State Local Purchasing Incentive Bills 
Thursday, August 1 // 1-2 PM ET
Providing an increased meal reimbursement to schools and early care and education sites purchasing and serving local foods not only increases the amount of fresh, local foods in meal program, but can provide increased revenue streams for local producers. Many states are exploring or pursuing local food incentive bills and a few states have passed and implemented successful legislation, providing important models for future legislation. In this webinar, presented by the National Farm to School Network, we’ll hear from key stakeholders about the passage and enactment of the MI Ten Cents a Meal Program and the New Mexico Grown Local Produce Grant. This webinar will be recorded and archived for future viewing. Register here.

3. EQUITY Webinar: Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics
Tuesday, July 16 // 3-4 PM ET
The Racial Equity in Food Systems Working Group (REFS) is a national workgroup coordinated by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. The webinar will provide an introduction to the newly published guide, Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics, including examples of metrics in four different themes and ways the guide can be used. Following this introduction, two food system leaders will share how they are using data and metrics to drive system change. There will be time in the webinar for questions, comments, and suggestions for related resources. Register here

4. Webinar: Maryland Farm to School - Economic Feasibility Study
Friday, June 28 // 9-12 PM ET
The Maryland Department of Agriculture will host a webinar on June 28 from 9 a.m. to noon to present the Maryland Farm to School economic feasibility study. The webinar will focus on best practices for launching and successfully leveraging a purchasing cooperative for Farm-to-School program purchases. To register for the webinar, please email your full name, title, affiliation, email address and phone number to BEACON@salisbury.edu.

5. NFSN EVENT Save the Date: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 20-24, 2020 // Albuquerque, New Mexico
The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 20-24, 2020! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene a diverse group of food service professionals, farmers, educators, students, representatives from nonprofits and government agencies, public health professionals and more to learn, network, and strengthen this important movement. Are you passionate about supporting local agriculture and fostering a culture of food literacy in your community? This event is for you. Visit farmtoschool.org/conference to learn more and start making plans to join us in Albuquerque!


Resources & Research
1. Call for Resources: Farm to School/ECE Procurement and Child Nutrition Program Resources  
National Farm to School Network is in the process of aggregating farm to school/farm to early care and education procurement resources and training resources providing information about USDA Child Nutrition Programs for an upcoming project. We are especially interested in content targeted at farmers and producers. Please send any and all relevant resources (name of resource and link) to Jenileigh Harris, NFSN Program Intern, at programs@farmtoschool.org

2. Online Training: Straw Bale Gardening in Child Nutrition Programs
Straw Bale Gardening in Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) course is a new online training added to the California Department of Education CNP Course Catalog. This online training is 37 minutes long and reviews the benefits of a straw bale garden in comparison to traditional gardening techniques. It will walk you step by step through the process of conditioning a straw bale so that it’s ready for planting. It also covers the supplies needed and costs to create a straw bale garden, lessons learned from a first time straw bale gardener, and numerous photographs to inspire you. Learn more here


Policy News
1. NFSN RESOURCE State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018
National Farm to School Network and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School are pleased to announce the release of the State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018. The Handbook summarizes and analyzes every proposed farm to school bill and resolution introduced between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2018, from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. It enables readers to search bills by both jurisdiction and topic, and includes analysis of trends, case studies, advocacy resources and more. Explore the State Farm to School Policy Handbook here.

2. Pennsylvania House passes legislation supporting PA Farm to School Grant Program
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a package of legislation to provide continued support for and investments in the state’s agricultural industry. In this package of legislation, House Bill 1514 was approved authorizing the creation of PA Farm to School Grant Program to improve childhood nutrition while increasing agriculture education for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. Learn more here

3. Massachusetts Report & Case Studies: Public Investment in Farm to School - Lessons from State Policies
Massachusetts Farm to School has released two new resources: “Public Investment in Farm to School: Lessons from State Policies” and a complementary set of case studies titled “The Benefits of Farm to School: Economic, Health, and Educational Impacts in Three Massachusetts Districts.” The report summarizes research conducted by MFTS in 2018 on state level policies designed to incentivize farm to school activity. The report was intended to provide an objective survey on state laws and regulations in order to prepare Massachusetts stakeholders for developing a state-level advocacy campaign. The case studies highlight three school districts – Chicopee, Somerville, and Webster – with very different but successful farm to school programs and demonstrate the impact small investments can have on catalyzing new farm to school activity. Learn more here

4. New Michigan 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids & Farms Resources
Several new resources are available about Michigan's 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids & Farms program, including: a new info-graphic one-pager that puts in graphic form some of the headings and bullets of this legislative report; a new one-pager on 10 Cents agriculture impacts; and, a blog post on where 10 Cents is at in the legislative process. Learn more at tencentsmichigan.org


Farm to School in the News
Montana FFA Takes Learning to a New Level
A new FFA program is making headlines by launching a student-run farm and meat processing lab, providing its students with a one-of-a-kind educational opportunity to truly experience the entire livestock production cycle. “On our farm, once an animal is ready for slaughter, we send them off and that is the end of the learning for our kids,” Andres says. “But by building this state-inspected meat processing plant, we can now complete the entire food cycle right here on our school farm.” (Drovers)

New York Students Get Crash Course in Farming
New York Agricultural Commissioner Richard Ball invited New York City students to his upstate farm to grow squash, to give them a glimpse of how food makes the journey from seed to harvest and beyond. Seneca County CCE educators have embarked on a similar project with all four county school districts thanks to a Farm to School grant. Called Seed to Harvest, students across the county have been planting butternut squash seeds to grow over the summer. In the fall the items will be harvested and hopefully served in school cafeterias. (Finger Lakes Times)

Illinois School Ag Program Expands to Feature Barn and Sensory Garden
Students and teachers worked in the garden plots alongside the school, while others admired the new barn and paddock behind the school, where small farm animals will be housed both for the 4H program and for the Ag Academy. The sensory garden, for example, is designed specifically for the students who can't see, or hear, or have some disability, with different textures and smells and sights and sounds so that all of those students can enjoy it. (Herald & Review)

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.

New Local Food Purchasing Guide from NC Cooperative Extension

NFSN Staff Wednesday, June 19, 2019
This post is part of our Farm to ECE Procurement Blog Series, which is devoted to the many ways that early care and education sites connect children and their families to local food and local food producers. Read previous posts in this series here. Have a farm to ECE procurement story to share? Contact Lacy Stephens at lacy@farmtoschool.org.



Guest blog by Dara Bloom and Caroline Stover

Are you ready to purchase local food for your center, but you don’t know where to start? 

We are excited to share a new resource from the Kellogg-funded Farm to Early Care and Education project in North Carolina all about local food purchasing! This NC Cooperative Extension publication will be useful for child care centers and technical assistance providers who are trying to figure out the best way to purchase local food for meals and snacks for their centers. We based this publication off of the experiences of the 12 child care centers in 10 counties that participated in the North Carolina Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ Farm to ECE project in 2017. Working with these centers, we found that there was no “one size fits all” answer to how to most easily purchase local food for meals and snacks. Each center completed a self-assessment to determine what was most important to them, and used new or existing partnerships within their community to figure out what local food options were available to them. The result was a variety of different ways to purchase local food, depending on their priorities and local context.

It can be hard to provide guidance to centers and technical assistance providers about local food purchasing when it depends so much on their context and what their priorities are, but we took what these centers learned and created a short guide that walks you step-by-step through what to think about as you start to purchase local food. Here are some highlights of the tips and resources that we share:

How do you define “local”? 
Since there’s no set definition for local, we encourage centers to first think about what they value most about purchasing local food to help them create a definition. It’s also a good idea to engage parents and staff in determining what will count for local for you. For example, you might want to stick with farmers within your community, or you might feel comfortable with a more regional definition or statewide. Some centers choose to support certain types of farmers with their purchases based on race or gender. Whatever you choose, make sure you communicate your definition to your community and your vendors.

What local food option is best for you?
We’ve developed a decision tree along with a description of several different types of vendors who sell local food to help you decide which vendor works best for you based on your capacity, needs, and preferences. The decision tree asks you to consider whether you need food for meals or just snacks and taste tests, how many children are in your center, what your storage capacity is, and whether you want to have a direct relationship with your farmer or you’re comfortable working through a third party to purchase local food. For centers who don’t want to create a new purchasing account, we encourage them start where they already purchase, whether that’s a distributor or grocery store. But remember, purchasing local food is going to require some relationship-building and investment no matter what vendor you choose!



How can you expand the market for local farmers?
Sometimes centers order very small volumes of produce, especially when they choose to start small and only need enough for snacks or taste tests. While this is a great strategy to help centers get their feet wet with local food purchasing and integrate it into their kitchens and classrooms, these small volumes aren’t enough to support a farmer in the long run. In addition, farmers may not want to go out of their way to deliver a small volume, since it doesn’t make much sense for them economically. However, there are a lot of ways that you can work to help make the market more profitable. For example, if you can work with other centers and place orders together, you can order higher volumes. Don’t forget that you can also advertise to parents and staff as another potential market. This may mean offering your center as a CSA drop-off point (Community Supported Agriculture, see https://www.localharvest.org/csa/ for more information).  It can also help a farmer if you advertise who you purchase from so that parents can look for those farmers in other markets. Finally, consider talking to your local farmer about purchasing “seconds”, or smaller sized products that they might have a hard time selling in other markets.

To see the full guide and the decision tree, as well as other resources, check out: go.ncsu.edu/f2ecelocalfoodpurchasing.

This Week in Farm to School: 6/18/19

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 18, 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. 

Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to Early Care and Education State Strategic Planning 
Thursday, July 11 // 1-2 PM ET
Developing a farm to early care and education (ECE) state strategic plan can facilitate the coordinated growth, expansion, and institutionalization of farm to ECE across the state. Aligning the plan with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Spectrum of Opportunities for State-Level Obesity Prevention Efforts Targeting the Early Care and Education Setting further supports comprehensive integration of farm to ECE into existing ECE systems and structures, which can increase reach and support long-term successes. In this webinar presented by the National Farm to School Network, we’ll learn about the Spectrum of Opportunities from Nora Geary of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and hear from Erin Croom of Georgia Organics and Caliste Chong of Alabama Smart Start about the development, implementation, and impacts of state farm to ECE strategic plans in their states. This webinar will be recorded and archived for future viewing. Register here.

2. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics in Farm to School: State Local Purchasing Incentive Bills 
Thursday, August 1 // 1-2 PM ET
Providing an increased meal reimbursement to schools and early care and education sites purchasing and serving local foods not only increases the amount of fresh, local foods in meal program, but can provide increased revenue streams for local producers. Many states are exploring or pursuing local food incentive bills and a few states have passed and implemented successful legislation, providing important models for future legislation. In this webinar, presented by the National Farm to School Network, we’ll hear from key stakeholders about the passage and enactment of the MI Ten Cents a Meal Program and the New Mexico Grown Local Produce Grant. This webinar will be recorded and archived for future viewing. Register here.

3. EQUITY Webinar: Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics
Tuesday, July 16 // 3-4 PM ET
The Racial Equity in Food Systems Working Group (REFS) is a national workgroup coordinated by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. The webinar will provide an introduction to the newly published guide, Measuring Racial Equity in the Food System: Established and Suggested Metrics, including examples of metrics in four different themes and ways the guide can be used. Following this introduction, two food system leaders will share how they are using data and metrics to drive system change. There will be time in the webinar for questions, comments, and suggestions for related resources. Register here

4. Webinar: National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative Webinar Series: Cultivate Michigan – Reflections and Lessons
Tuesday, June 25 // 3:30-4 PM ET
In this new series, each webinar will feature a different Collaborative member and a tool or program they have used to measure farm to institution efforts. In the next webinar in this series, Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist with the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and Coordinator of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN), will reflect on Cultivate Michigan, a member-based campaign launched with the network in 2014. Designed to help member institutions find, buy, promote, and track more local foods as they work toward the Michigan Good Food Charter goal of 20% Michigan foods by 2020, Cultivate Michigan has also proven to be an important platform for communication, gathering information, and network organizing. Register here

5. 27th Annual Children and Youth Garden Symposium
July 10-13, 2019 // Madison, WI
The 2019 event will take place July 10-13 in Madison, Wisconsin, hosted by Community Groundworks, the University of Wisconsin’s Environmental Design Lab, and the Wisconsin School Garden Network. At the core of the symposium are peer-led educational sessions that focus on relevant, thought-provoking topics, provide attendees with practical knowledge and skills, and appeal to attendees representing a variety of experience levels, educational settings, and youth audiences. Learn more here.

6. Green Schools Conference
August 1, 2019 // Milwaukee, WI
The Green Schools Conference provides inspirational examples of green & healthy schools and eco-literacy in the Milwaukee area. Attendees have an opportunity to connect with schools and supporting organizations through presentations, workshops, an exhibitor hall, school and garden tours, and networking opportunities. The conference is open to all and is an excellent opportunity to get engaged with green & healthy schools! Learn more here.


Resources & Research
1. NFSN RESOURCE State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018
National Farm to School Network and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School are pleased to announce the release of the State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018. The Handbook summarizes and analyzes every proposed farm to school bill and resolution introduced between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2018, from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. It enables readers to search bills by both jurisdiction and topic, and includes analysis of trends, case studies, advocacy resources and more. Explore the State Farm to School Policy Handbook here.


Policy News
1. Kids Eat Local Act Introduced in Congress
The Kids Eat Local Act (H.R. 3220, S. 1817) was introduced in Congress last week by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Josh Harder (D-CA), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). By including the Kids Eat Local Act in the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, schools would be given a new, easier to use local product specification option through which they could specify “locally grown,” “locally raised” or “locally caught” in their procurement language, and then make the award to the lowest bidder who can meet that product specification. The addition of local product specification would substantially improve opportunities for local producers by providing more flexibility for school districts. National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition thank the bill sponsors in both the Senate and House for introducing the Kids Eat Local Act and paving the way for increased healthy food in schools and new economic opportunities for local farmers. Learn more here

2. Minesota's Farm to School Bill Signed
Minenesota helps kids, farmers, and communities win with the recent signing of the Farm to School and Early Care Act. This bill dedicates up to $400,000 for Farm to School initiatives that will help bring fresh, healthy foods to Minnesota children and supports the creation of a marketing position that will help farmers and school districts build the needed relationships. Learn more here


Job Opportunities
1. Community Food Systems Program Manager, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension (Wisconsin)
The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension seeks applicants for the Community Food Systems Program Manager position. The Community Food Systems Program Manager works with faculty, staff, and partners to develop needed community food systems program activities and manages the Community Food Systems Extension Program. This position manages and supports outreach educational programs designed to build the capacity of community residents, leaders, organizations and First Nations to build and enhance place-based food systems to improve community health and well-being. Learn more here


Farm to School in the News
Young Children in Alaska Can Grow A lot in One Square Foot of Dirt
One square foot of dirt sounds like a small amount of space, but children at Ray’s Child Care and Learning Center in the Mat-Su Valley are making the most of it. Children at the center are growing vegetables, herbs and flowers in their own one square-foot garden box. “Farm to ECE activities set up young children for a lifetime of healthy habits,” said Johanna Herron with the Alaska Division of Agriculture. “It helps kids develop an appreciation for local food; knowledge of good food choices; and a connection to their environment, land, and their community.” (Alaska.gov)

Virginia students channel their inner chef at Farm to Table Cooking Camp
Area children can expand their palates and develop their social skills at a Farm to Table Cooking Camp. This experience includes children making their own meals throughout the day from fresh ingredients as they do farm chores and take part in numerous hands-on activities. (The Roanoke Times)

Sarasota County Schools Celebrate Florida Food
Students in central Florida schools spent a day full of exposure to their statewide food system. A long-term goal of this event is to expose young people to the wide variety of foods grown in Florida. The hope is that students will become familiar with and accustomed to reaching for these healthy foods, and take those habits with them as they enter adulthood. (Central Florida Ag News)

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 Eat Local Act" Introduced in Congress

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 13, 2019

Institutional markets represent some of the most lucrative and dependable options for America’s family farmers and ranchers – unfortunately, they can also be among the most challenging to break into. The Kids Eat Local Act (H.R. 3220, S. 1817), introduced today by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Josh Harder (D-CA), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), would help to break down barriers between school food purchasers and family farmers by simplifying local purchasing guidelines for school meal programs.

By including the Kids Eat Local Act in the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, schools would be given a new, easier to use local product specification option through which they could specify “locally grown,” “locally raised” or “locally caught” in their procurement language, and then make the award to the lowest bidder who can meet that product specification.The addition of local product specification would substantially improve opportunities for local producers by providing more flexibility for school districts. The Kids Eat Local Act would also allow schools flexibility in determining the definition of “local” that best suits their needs.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition thank the bill sponsors in both the Senate and House for introducing the Kids Eat Local Act and paving the way for increased healthy food in schools and new economic opportunities for local farmers. We urge all members of Congress to support this simple, yet significant change and look forward to continue working with our partners and allies as this bill and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization move forward.

Read our full press release here.
Learn more about the Kids Eat Local Act here.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2019 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.
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