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This Week in farm to school: 3/15/16

NFSN Staff Monday, March 14, 2016

Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 


Grants & Funding
1. USDA Team Nutrition Training Grants Available 
USDA's Team Nutrition initiative provides technical assistance, training, and nutrition education resources for schools and child care providers participating in USDA's child nutrition programs. Grants through this program are intended to conduct and evaluate training, nutrition education, and technical assistance activities to support the implementation of USDA nutrition standards for snacks and meals, like school breakfast. These grants can also be used to support farm to school! For example, in 2014 Montana was awarded a Team Nutrition Grant to build statewide support for nutrition education, school wellness policy implementation, and farm to school programs in school and child care environments. Learn more about the grants and apply here

2. USDA SPECA Challenge Grants Program
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has announced more than $850,000 to support the Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom (SPECA) Challenge Grants Program. The purpose of the grant program is to address educational needs, as determined by each institution, within a broadly defined arena of food and agricultural sciences-related disciplines. Applications are due March 18.  Find more information here

3. USDA Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program Grants 
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is making over $26 million in grant funding available to strengthen local and regional food systems through the Farmers Market (FMPP) and Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), and hosting a series of webinars to help potential applicants with the grant process. FMPP grants support direct producer-to-consumer marketing projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands, and agritourism.  LFPP funding supports projects that develop, improve, and expand local and regional food business intermediary supply chain activities. AMS will host a webinar on March 24 at 2pm ET for FMPP and LFPP applicants. More information about the webinars and grant application are available here

4. T&L Foundation Mini Grants for Child Care Community
A request for applications for mini-grants has been announced by the T&L Foundation in celebration of CACFP Week. This is an effort to support the implementation of goals for child health and wellness in the child care environment. Family child care providers on the food program (up to $250) and CACFP sponsoring organizations (up to $500) are eligible. The application process closes April 13. Learn more here

5. Healthy Eating Research Releases 2016 Call for Proposals
Healthy Eating Research is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program supports research on environmental and policy strategies with strong potential to promote healthy eating among children to prevent childhood obesity, especially among groups at highest risk for obesity: black, Latino, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander children, and children who live in lower-income communities. Findings are expected to advance RWJF's efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, eliminate disparities, and help all children achieve a healthy weight. This call for proposals (CFP) is for two types of awards aimed at providing advocates, decision-makers, and policymakers with evidence to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. The award types are: Round 10 grants and RWJF New Connections grants awarded through the Healthy Eating Research program. Approximately $2.6 million will be awarded under this CFP for the two award types. More information is available here

6. National Black Farmers Association Scholarship Program
Applications for the National Black Farmers Association Scholarship Program are now being accepted. Deadline to submit is May 2, 2016, or when 100 applications have been received, whichever comes first. The scholarship provides up to $5,000 to students pursuing agriculture-related studies at an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school. Learn more here


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

2. Webinar: USDA Planning for Farm to School Success Series
Promoting Your Farm to School Program
March 17, 2pm ET
You’ve put in so much hard work! Now, how do you promote your farm to school program to ensure student, school, and community engagement? Hear about programs that have successfully promoted farm to school programs while managing a tight budget. Chef Ann Cooper, Food Service Director for Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, joins us with tips and tricks for successful promotion. Register here

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

3. Webinar: Food Policy Networks
Mobilizing for Policy Action
Tuesday, March 29, 2:30-3:45pm EDT
Food policy councils across the nation are digging in and turning their ideas into action. There is no magic formula to get policy passed however, there are common elements that can help set up your food policy council for success. Learn to determine which policy intervention will have the most success; explore opportunities to build a public support for your policy proposal; and discover how to garner the support of key decision makers. Participants are invited to share in the stories of successes of fellow food policy councils. Speakers include NFSN Southwest Regional Lead Pam Roy, Executive Director of Farm to Table and Director of New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council. Register here


Research & Resources
1. 2015 USDA Farm to School Census Results 
USDA has released the final results of its 2015 Farm to School Census today, which indicates schools have been deepening their engagement with farm to school since the first Census in 2011-20112. School districts across the country doubled their local food purchases and nearly tripled the number of school gardens since the first Census, and they are seeing more students participating in school meals, greater acceptance of healthy meal standards and reduced food waste because of it. Visit the USDA website to see national overview statistics, state by state summaries including the dollars invested locally in each state and shout outs to select high performing school districts, full details on every district that responded, grab and go graphs and charts, a photo gallery of USDA Farm to School grantees, and a contest to nominate your favorite farm to school program: https://farmtoschoolcensus.fns.usda.gov

2. Chop! Chop! Culinary Skills for Locally-Grown Produce in School Meals
“Chop, chop!” Hear that sound? It’s the sound of School Child Nutrition Directors who have a new way to help students eat more locally grown vegetables and grains.  This six-part series of free videos demonstrate to food service staff how to work with specialty crops. These free training videos will help you and your school food service staff use more locally-grown fruits and vegetables—and whole grains—in your school meal program by introducing new foods, recipes and culinary skills. These videos focus on root vegetables, dark leafy greens, brassicas, tomatoes and peppers, winter squash, and whole wheat flour and grains. Each training covers culinary preparation techniques such as hand chopping, pureeing and freezing, and offers ideas for incorporating local produce into school salad bars and menus. In addition, the videos feature discussions with farmers and their school partners  on the farm and in the school kitchen. Watch the Chop! Chop! videos and learn more here

3. Survey Open: Midwest Land Access Survey

The National Young Farmers Coalition and Land Stewardship Project are working together to better understand how to help farmers in the Midwest navigate the process of accessing land. The goal is to identify the land access challenges that beginning farmers are facing, what resources are most helpful to them, and what their suggestions are for areas where more could be done to assist them. If you are a farmer in the Midwest, please take the survey here.

4. Brief: School Fundraisers: Positive Changes in Foods Sold, but Room for Improvement Remains
This brief reviews the evidence on food-related fundraising in schools and changes to the school food environment over the past decade, providing new data from the Bridging the Gap research program’s 2013-14 school year national survey data. Read more from Healthy Eating Research here

5. Journal Article: Forging links between food chain labor activists and academics 
Interest in food movements has been growing dramatically, but until recently there has been limited engagement with the challenges facing workers across the food system. Of the studies that do exist, there is little focus on the processes and relationships that lead to solutions. This article explores ways that community-engaged teaching and research partnerships can help to build meaningful justice with food workers. Read the article here


Jobs & Opportunities

1. Campaign Manager, Healthy Schools Campaign
Healthy Schools Campaign seeks a Campaign Manager or Director. This key position will oversee the development and implementation of policy campaigns and key programs at the state and local levels. More information and the application can be found here.

2. FoodCorps Service Member Application Open
Are you a leader passionate about healthy food, farms and kids? Become a FoodCorps service member! FoodCorps recruits talented leaders for a year of paid public service building healthy school food environments in limited-resource communities. Applications are due by March 31, 2016 at 6pm PT. Learn more and apply here


Farm to school in the news
Farm to Institution: Mainstreaming Local Foods - shout out to Sarah Elliot, Vanessa Herald & Anupama Joshi! 
Institutional kitchens have the potential to make huge economic impacts for local foods in any state. Thanks to the National Farm to School Network, the USDA and hundreds of partner organizations around the country, farm to school is today the best supported of all institutional local food activities. (via Edible Madison)

Farm to School Growing healthy lifestyles
Thanks to a Seed Change mini grant awarded by the National Farm to School Network to Zachary High School, first- and second-graders at Rollins Place Elementary have been tasting various fruit and vegetable recipes, learning how to cultivate their own gardens and picking up tips about how to live a healthy lifestyle. (via The Advocate)

Maui School Gardens: The Future of Farm to Cafeteria

The future of school gardens looks bright in Maui, Hawaii. Last year, Governor David Ige signed the Farm to School Act. A Maui nonprofit, Grow Some Good, is in its eighth year of nailing down strategies for sustaining school gardens. And today, Maui County’s school garden network has 45 gardens on Maui and one on Lanai. (via MauiTime)

Read past editions of This Week  for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country. 

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