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This Week in farm to school: 5/17/16

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 17, 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. 


Webinars & Events
1. Webinars: USDA Traditional Foods in Native Communities Webinar Series
This spring, USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems is hosting a four-part webinar series focused on integrating farm to school strategies in native communities. Each webinar will feature a guest speaker who will share tips, stories and best practices for keeping local food traditions alive in child nutrition programs that serve tribal populations. The next webinar is Partnering for Success in Tribal Communities on May 18, at 3pm EDT. Learn more and register here

2. Registration Open: Southeast Regional Farm to School Conference
September 23-24, Greenville, SC
The Southeast is having a farm to school gathering and you are invited! On September 23-24, 2016 in Greenville, SC, join teachers, early childhood educators, parents, community health professionals, and child nutrition staff from across the southeast to strengthen existing programs and jump start new farm to school efforts. State networking sessions will be provided for states within USDA's SE region:  NC, SC, FL, KY, TN, GA, AL, and MS. Full information including the workshop schedule and field trip details is available on the Growing Minds website.

3. RFP Open: Fourth Annual Yale Food Systems Symposium

September 30, New Haven, CT
The Fourth Annual Yale Food Systems Symposium planning committee is now accepting submissions to present at this year's event, to be held September 30th, 2016 at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies in New Haven, CT. This year's theme surrounds the topic of "Feeding a Growing World: Perspectives in 2016." Please see their website for the full RFP and for the online form to submit proposals.


Research & Resources
1. New CACFP Meal Pattern and Best Practices Promote Local and Seasonal
In April, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service released the final Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal pattern rules along with best practice recommendations. Several of these changes and best practices create great opportunity to increase awareness and implementation of farm to school activities in CACFP programs. See a summary of the final rule and details about opportunities for farm to early care and education on the National Farm to School Network blog.    

2. USDA Factsheets Now Available in Spanish
In an effort to reach Spanish-speaking farm to school program operators, USDA recently had three of their most popular farm to school fact sheets translated into Spanish. Check them out:
3. Minneapolis Public Schools Farm to School Toolkit
Minneapolis Public Schools has released a Farm to School Toolkit – a case study detailing how their farm to school program works. Since 2011, MPS has been proudly sourcing fresh produce, meats, baked goods, and other products from local farmers and manufacturers for meals provided to the district’s 35,500 students. This toolkit is designed to describe MPS’ farm to school program and share the many useful tools, resources and documents that have been developed since its inception. View the toolkit here

4. Identifying Farm to School Barriers and Keys to Success: Perceptions of Hourly Employees
This article from the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition outlines a study focused on identifying barriers and keys to success when using local produce from farm to school programs. Semistructured Interviews were conducted with hourly school foodservice employees. Challenges included appearance, shelf life, service to students, and availability. Keys to success included exposure and support, service, and employee motivation. Results of the study are not generalizable but were used to develop a questionnaire to identify barriers among a larger sample. Read more here.

5. USDA Farm Storage Facility Loan Expanded

USDA’s Farm Service Agency recently announced that farmers can now use the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program to help finance portable storage structures, portable equipment, and storage and handling trucks; the program will also continue to support stationary crop and cold storage on-farm facilities. This expansion will provide much-needed support to fruit and vegetable farmers, and other producers, who need special equipment to transport their goods to local farmers markets, schools, restaurants, food hubs, and retail establishments. Learn more here.


Jobs & Opportunities
1. USDA Office of Community Food Systems - two positions
USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems has posted two, permanent, full-time positions. One will be charged with coordinating efforts to bring more local foods into our schools programs, while the other will manage our summer and CACFP portfolio. The deadline to submit applications is Tuesday, May 17. Learn more here


Farm to school in the news

Farms that Sell Directly to Consumers May Stay in Business Longer
Opportunities to buy food directly from farmers, in urban and rural areas, have increased considerably in recent years. The number of farms that sold food at roadside stands, farmers’ markets, pick-your-own farms, on-farm stores, and community-supported agricultural arrangements increased 24 percent between 2002 and 2012. Read more on the USDA’s blog.

Gardening Project Takes Root at Marlboro Middle School

Whitcomb Middle School in Massachusetts has installed a new school garden, and students and teachers are ready to dig in. “With the introduction of growing plants and vegetables, we are able to incorporate math, science, ELA, social studies, and social skills. From the importance of water and agriculture for ancient civilizations, quantitative measurements or the life sciences, we can incorporate this project in line with curriculum. As special educators, our goal is creating this ownership over their learning experience.” (via Worcester Telegram & Gazette)

School's Curriculum Fosters Healthful Connection to Food, Environment

Philip’s Academy Charter School in New Jersey has established a new curriculum that emphasizes healthy eating and food literacy. Its mission is to foster a future generation of environmental leaders. (via Voice of America)


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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