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Seeds Farm Reaps Rewards with Farm to School

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 19, 2017


By Hannah McCandless, Network and Partnership Fellow 

With a mission to produce wholesome, quality food, Seeds Farm in Northfield, MN finds that farm to school initiatives are boosting their sales while bringing the community together. Becca Carlson, the founder of Seeds Farm, is extremely passionate about feeding her community farm fresh products and sees farm to school as a way to pursue this passion while preserving land for future farmers and bringing communities and families together.
Becca started Seeds Farm in 2010 with the motivation to connect more closely with her environment and to help her community eat in a more constructive, rather than destructive, way. Since then the small farm has blossomed. 

Since Seeds Farm began participating in farm to school initiatives, a number of things have changed and taken hold on the farm. On top of growing more food for schools and adding to the farms profit margin, Becca has found that schools are very understanding of potential mishaps on the farm, such as an early frost or a smaller yield than anticipated. Although the volume of food is not always large, the contracts have remained consistent. Often, contracts are set in the winter and delivered on in the fall, making schools a reliable market for small farms like Seeds Farm. Overall, Becca reports that the small increase in sales to schools has increased sales overall.

By becoming certified to sell to schools in Minnesota, Seeds Farm has been able to sell their products to schools and expand their wholesale contracts with other potential buyers. A number of contacts and potential contracts have been explored because of this new level of documentation, allowing for the farm to expand even further than before. 

As Becca looks back on her time participating in farm to school initiatives, she has some advice for farmers or food service directors on how they can get involved. For farmers, her greatest advice is to start early. There is some documentation to get squared away, a bidding process, and contracts to be decided on in the winter months for the following fall. Becca says, “It’s not hard or easy, it takes time, planning ahead, and forward thinking. Very achievable.” 

Concerning food service directors new to the movement, Becca says, “Farm to school is the whole package for kids,” and to remember that they are not only bringing healthy produce to students, but they are telling the story of where food comes from and the farmers who grew it. Helping kids view healthy, local food as fun and cool is the key to getting kids more involved. 

Like a number of farms across the country, Seeds Farm will continue to grow and thrive as they bring their communities together and provide healthy food, while growing their business and prospering as an organization. 

A new report from the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University, Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools, offers additional insight into the potential for farm to school procurement to economically benefit farmers and the broader community. Using a survey and case study approach, this study aimed to fill this knowledge gap by documenting economic impacts of farm to school procurement and developing a standardized framework for farm to school impact analysis. 

Survey Findings
Most surveyed farmers started selling to schools after 2011 and all farmers planned to continue to sell to schools in the future. Farmers were most satisfied with delivery requirements, prices, reliable payments, delivery logistics, time commitment, and ease of communication. The biggest challenge identified by farmers was the volume of sales to schools. 

Case Studies
This economic analysis is unique in its rigor as it uses information from the farmer survey and information from previous studies (including the USDA Farm to School Census and the USDA ARMS data) to construct a model for farm to school economic impact. Unlike previous studies, this economic impact analysis takes into account reported farmer expenditures, direct to school and intermediary sales to schools (food hubs, processors, etc.) and opportunity costs of local sales. Researchers used this model to present farm to school case studies for Minneapolis Public Schools (MPLS) and the State of Georgia.


Case Study Findings
Farm to school farms purchase more inputs locally, keeping more money in the local economy: 
  • For every $100 spent, MPLS farm to school farms keep $82 in the region (vs. $70 for non-farm to school farms). 
  • For every $100 spent, Georgia farm to school farms keep $82 in the region (vs. $79 for non-farm to school farms). 
Without considering opportunity cost, for every additional dollar of final demand for farm to school farm products: 
  • An additional $0.93 is generated in related sectors in MPLS.
  • An additional $1.11 is generated in related sectors in Georgia.
Economic output multipliers and employment multipliers for farm to school farms from the case studies are larger than the more traditional fruit and vegetable production sector: 
  • Economic Output Multipliers – Minneapolis = 1.45, Georgia = 1.48
  • Employment Multipliers – Minneapolis = 1.96, Georgia = 3.35
This study offers a replicable survey tool and framework that stakeholders can use to implement their own farm to school economic impact assessments in their communities. While the two case studies in this study clearly demonstrate that farm to school farms purchase more inputs from the local economy per unit of output, which results in positive local economic impact, additional research and support is needed to better understand the benefits of farm to school and to reach more stakeholders with this information. This will fill an important gap in knowledge and open new opportunities for farm to school implementation and advocacy and build more opportunities for farmers like Becca to benefit from farm to school sales. 


The National Farm to School Network thanks CoBank for their generous support of this blog and our 2017 National Farm to School Month celebrations!

This Week in Farm to School: 10/17/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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 FY 2018 Farm to School Grant RFA 
The USDA FY 2018 Farm to School Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. Applications are due Dec. 8, 2017. More information about the grants is available here. The National Farm to School Network is available on a consultation basis to provide assistance to potential applicants in the areas of: planning and preparing the application, customized support for Native communities, evaluation, and focus on early care and education/pre-K. Learn more here

2. Local Foods, Local Places
Local Foods, Local Places supports locally led, community-driven efforts to protect air and water quality, preserve open space and farmland, boost economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses, improve access to healthy local food, and promote childhood wellness. Communities are invited to apply for a new round of planning assistance from Local Foods, Local Places. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on October 25, 2017.

3. Whole Kids Foundation's School Garden Grant

Created in partnership with FoodCorps, the Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to support a new or existing edible garden at either a K-12 school, 501(c)(3) Non-profit working in partnership with a K-12 school, or 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The application period is open September 1, 2017 through October 31, 2017. Learn more here

Webinars & Events
1. October is National Farm to School Month!

National Farm to School month is here! The National Farm to School Network has free resources, planning materials, activity ideas and a new calendar of events for ways you can get involved in October. Visit farmtoschool.org/month to get involved. 

2. Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) Webinar: National Farm to School Month: Early Care Education Edition
October 17 // 12-1:15pm ET
October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate the connections happening all over the country between children and local food. It is also a great time to learn more about farm to early care and education (ECE), a suite of activities and strategies that entails three core elements, including the use of local foods in meals and snacks, gardening opportunities, and food-based learning activities implemented in the ECE setting. Join speakers from the National Farm to School Network and Arizona State University to learn about opportunities to celebrate National Farm to School Month and to learn more about the vast array of benefits of farm to ECE for children, families and communities. This webinar is free and open to the public. Register here

3. Food Sovereignty Prize
October 17 // 12pm  ET
The Food Sovereignty Prize is awarded annually by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. A U.S. and international winner will be celebrated during the ceremony. The US Food Sovereignty Alliance works to end poverty, rebuild local food economies, and assert democratic control over the food system. We believe all people have the right to healthy, culturally appropriate food, produced in an ecologically sound manner. Register here to virtually attend this event. 

4. Value-Added Producer Grant Program 

October 18 // 1:00pm ET
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development team will present a webinar introducing producers to the Value Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG). The webinar will help family farmers and ranchers to determine if applying for the competitive grant program is the right fit for their operation. Register here


Action Items
1. Call for Workshop & Poster Proposals - 9th Farm to Cafeteria Conference

The 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Cincinnati, OH, April 25-27,2017! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene more than 1,000 diverse stakeholders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. Conference organizers are seeking workshop and poster proposals from individuals and organizations working to improve our food system, strengthen community health, empower youth, advance equity and increase opportunities for farmers. Learn more information about proposal submissions here. Proposals are due no later than 8pm ET on Nov. 14, 2017.

2. National Farm to School Month's Take Action Pledge
Celebrate National Farm to School Month by adding your name to the National Farm to School Network's Take Action Pledge! Sign the pledge and you’ll be entered to win our Farm to School Month sweepstakes! Ten winners will receive a prize package that includes: assets from the Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden™ program, a Stand2Learn student standing desk, and a collection of seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. No action is too small – take the pledge now! 

3. 2018 National Health Outreach Conference: Proposal Submission
Proposals are now being accepted for the 2018 National Health Outreach Conference (NHOC) May 2-4, 2018, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Mall of America in Bloomington, MI. Read more here. Proposals must be submitted by October 30, 2017. 


Policy News
1. Local FARMS Act introduced to help farmers meet growing demand for local food

Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) have introduced HR 3941, the Local Food And Regional Market Supply Act (Local FARMS Act).  The Local FARMS Act builds on the success of local and regional food economies by helping farmers tap into growing markets and helping consumers access healthy food. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Among other provisions, the legislation would provide schools more resources to purchase food locally. Learn more here

2. California Gov. Jerry Brown signs Farmer Equity Act
California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that would require California officials to focus on and address the challenges facing farmers of color in the state by making access to  state and federal resources more equitable. This comes at a critical moment as the current generation of farmers is retiring and new farmers are increasingly represented by people of color, including immigrants and refugees. The Farmer Equity Act, AB 1348 directs the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to better provide resources, outreach, technical assistance, and decision-making power to “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,” so called because they have been subjected to historic racial discrimination. Read more here


Resources & Research
1. Planning for Equitable Urban and Regional Food Systems

How does and can planning and design enhance the freedom and wellbeing of marginalized actors in the food system – low-income residents, people of color, small-holder farmers, and refugees – the very people the alternative food movements purport to serve? The eleven articles and two publication reviews featured in this free issue of the journal Built Environment cover a range of topics such as the importance of addressing inclusion in planning and design processes, the potential benefits of urban agriculture, and the effects of rapid urbanization on food retail and food waste in the Global South. Read more

2. Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus: Addressing Practices, Political Economy, and Power Relations to Build Healthier Food Systems

A new report by international experts draws significant linkages between industrial food and farming practices and many of the “severest health conditions afflicting populations around the world,” from respiratory diseases to a range of cancers and systematic livelihood stresses. Read more here


Job Opportunities
1. Executive Director, Food Systems Leadership Fellowship

The Food System Leadership Fellowship has begun its search for the fellowship’s first Executive Director. The Executive Director will lead a bold new national fellowship program for some of the nation’s most effective leaders working at the intersection of food, agriculture, climate, public health, community development, and social justice working to create a more sustainable and equitable food system. Learn more here

2. Farm Business Specialist, The Intervale Center
The Intervale Center seeks a  Farm Business Specialist to join their team in Burlington, Vermont. For almost 30 years, the Intervale Center has led a community food revolution that sustains farms, land and people. The Farm Business Specialist delivers high quality, custom farm business planning services that enhance the viability of Vermont’s food system. Learn more and apply

3. Visiting Assistant Professor, Indiana University

The Department of Geography invites applicants for a Visiting Assistant Professor position in Critical Food Studies and Environmental Change to begin on January 1, 2018. The position is for one semester with the potential for renewal for the 2018-2019 academic year. Learn more and apply


Farm to School in the News
Our Community: Farm to Preschool in New York 

Check out this video featuring a Long Island based farm to preschool program funded through SNAP ED through the New York State Department of Health . This Farm to ECE program aims to increase access to local and fresh produce in underserved areas of Long Island while also providing nutrition lessons to preschool students. (FiOS 1 News)

Local Produce and Good Nutrition for South Dakota Students 
National Farm to School Month is upon us, and the Huron School District Nutritional Department is making great efforts as usual to educate and provide students with local, fresh produce. “What’s not to like about kids and local produce,” said Carol Tompkins, Food Service Director at the Huron School District, “It helps everybody, the local farmers and economy, and the kids like the locally grown produce.” (Huron Plainsman)

Arkansas Elementary School Students Grow Their Own Food

Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed October Arkansas Farm to School Month. It's a nationwide effort to connect schools with local farms and the goal is to provide children healthy meals in cafeterias while improving nutrition. (THV 11)

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.

Healthy Eating Starts Early: Growing Healthy Kids with CACFP and Farm to ECE

NFSN Staff Monday, October 16, 2017
Photo credit: Kelly Rood
By Alexia Thex, National CACFP Sponsors Association

Every single day, child care providers across the nation are growing healthy kids. These unsung heroes work tirelessly day in and day out caring for our children’s minds and bodies. The National CACFP Sponsors Association (NCA) believes that healthy eating starts early and considers it paramount to support these providers in building healthy habits. 

This month we are proud to be a Featured Partner for National Farm to School Month and support providers with tools to support their local farm to school initiatives. “The USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is an indicator of quality childcare and goes hand in hand with farm to school initiatives. “As the founder of Taking Root Tennessee, I have seen first-hand the difference it makes when we get children involved in growing their own food,” shared Senta Hester, NCA President and Founder of Taking Root Tennessee. “This is why we are honored to have the National Farm to School Network as one of our National Allies.”  

We love sharing our CACFP provider farm to early care and education (ECE) success stories.  Kelly Rood, a CACFP participant in Arlington, TX, knows that teaching nutrition isn’t always easy. Through her gardening efforts, she has created a learning environment that encourages teamwork and nurtures responsibility.  As they tend their summer and winter gardens, not only are the children learning about healthy foods, they are also growing their sense of pride.  Parents are excited to see their children trying new fruits and vegetables and the children are all smiles when they see their hard work result in a something ‘yummy.’ 

Joy Parks, a CACFP Home Child Care Provider in Charlotte, NC, gets her kids involved in the food preparation, such as snapping green beans, to make them feel part of the process. She often uses the herbs from their garden to make the ‘final touches’ on their meal. She incorporates learning about new foods in their daily lessons using food cards to teach kids about what they are eating.  “We love promoting the great work of our CACFP providers who are already implementing the 2017 New CACFP Meal Patterns which are the building blocks for teaching healthy eating habits. The new meal patterns focus on the increased consumption of vegetables by separating the fruit and vegetable components, and what better way to increase consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetable than to get the kids involved in the planning, growing, preparing and serving process,” Senta noted.  

As we celebrate National Farm to School Month, we encourage providers to TAKE ACTION by incorporating one or more farm to school activities into your child care program.  Check out the NEW! Child Nutrition Today section of our website. Here you will find kid-friendly, nutritious #cacfpcreditable recipes that incorporate items from your community gardens along with fun activity sheets to incorporate into your lesson plans. Happy Growing!  

Engaging youth as leaders and stakeholders to grow farm to school

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 12, 2017

By Katie Warner, YES! Team Lead and Co-Founder

Young people under the age of 18 make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population, yet their potential as a generation to contribute to a better society is systematically ignored. Our nation is suffering economically, creatively, and civilly as a result. Empowering young people to participate in effective youth-adult partnerships is a proven, replicable approach to solving community problems. Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) has developed a nationally-recognized model of social change through youth empowerment and works to leverage the unique skills and power of young people. 

YES! is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization centered on the idea that real community change cannot take place without the contributions of young people. Using the YES! Youth Empowerment Model®, YES! works with youth to develop a deep critical awareness about the root causes of the issues that impact them, then works with them to develop the skills necessary to understand these complex issues, and engage in collaboration to effectively identify and advocate for solutions to those issues.

YES! also centers our work on capacity-building and support of adults and organizations as they navigate news systems and structures to understand the importance of youth empowerment and build their own capacity to work with youth in ways that support their mission. By engaging youth in our work, organizations and communities become more creative, resourceful, tech savvy, powerful, and successful at creating meaningful and sustainable solutions for community challenges.

YES! has been applying the YES! Youth Empowerment Model® to food access and food justice work since 2008. Our efforts have primarily focused on southern rural communities as we have built and tailored our approach to empower and meet the needs of youth of color, of low-wealth or living in a rural community. Over the past four years, YES! has mobilized a network of more than 350 teams of Youth and Adults that work locally on policy, system and environmental changes that increase access to healthy affordable food. In our home state of North Carolina, we have been able to galvanize partners statewide to move state level policy to support a Healthy Corner Store initiative. 

As YES! continues to grow, we are adding more partners to the YES! Youth Network, engaging with new stakeholders, training new partners, supporting their farm to school efforts at the local level and lifting up the stories of youth and adults across the country doing phenomenal work to increase access and education around healthy food, food justice and youth empowerment. 

YES! is excited to be partnering with the National Farm to School Network to celebrate National Farm to School Month and want to take the opportunity to share a few partner highlights to showcase their efforts and successes.  

Neighborhood garden transforms community Pinehurst, North Carolina
Yolonda Moore of the Sandhills Cooperation Association saw her family, friends, and neighbors eating only processed foods. Yolonda moved from Durham where she was involved in the local community garden scene, to a 0.5 acre plot in Pinehurst, NC and decided that she was going to start growing her own produce to offset the high cost of fresh fruits and vegetables sold at stores in her community. After a few years of successfully growing food for her family, Yolonda saw a real need to bring education around growing food to her neighborhood, so she teamed up with youth in her community and YES!. Together, with a small mini grant and training and support from YES!, the youth-adult team started spreading the word about food deserts and how this small neighborhood garden could transform the community. More and more community members got involved and Yolonda’s family garden became a community garden where the team of youth and adults now teach educational classes about growing food and nutrition and host cooking demos using produce grown in the garden. This community garden is also used by local homeschool families for educational purposes. Yolonda and the youth that participate in gardening activities estimate that they donate excess produce to around 50 people each growing season. Because of training provided by YES!, the youth from Pinehurst also participated in several advocacy activities, including attending a Youth Advocacy Day at the NC General Assembly to advocate for state level policy to decrease food deserts across NC. 



Community gardens lead to advocacy
Springfield, Missouri
Through the Healthy Eating Active Living grant with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department has been piloting a new youth-led effort: the Youth Health and Wellness Council.  The council has worked with local organizations, such as the Springfield Community Gardens (SCG), to influence change in the community around nutrition and food access. Over the last two years, the Youth Health & Wellness Council worked with SCG to increase awareness, knowledge and engagement within the gardens through designing and providing name and welcome signs for each garden, purchasing bus advertisements to promote the gardens, and hosting a Family Fun Day event at one of the local gardens.  This year, the Health Department is partnering with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield to continue work around policy and environmental changes in the community around healthy eating, active living, and tobacco.  This year’s Youth Health & Wellness Council kicked off with a YES! Advocacy 101 Youth Training!

Second Chance Breakfast to Increase Food AccessAsheville, North Carolina
Asheville High School (AHS) is home to roughly 1,400 students and the school itself stands out in many ways because of outstanding academic and athletic programs, but additionally because it houses a high population of students on free and reduced lunch. The campus is large, with students reporting a 15-20 minute walk from one side to the other, and there are transportation issues that often force students to take city buses to get to and from school. These issues add up to quite a few students missing breakfast. After researching many options, youth from AHS’s Student Government Association (SGA), partnered with YES!, and the school nutrition director to bring Second Chance Breakfast to their campus. After several months of work, in which students surveyed their peers to gather support and determined what types of foods students would purchase most often, they spoke directly with decision makers at the school, the decision was made to purchase a food cart to sit in the middle of campus for students to pick up a quick and nutritious breakfast on their way to class. Students on free and reduced lunch were able to use this benefit at the breakfast cart or in the cafeteria, depending on which best fit their schedule. The SGA also successfully advocated for a longer break between classes to give students extra time to stop by the cart. YES! supported AHS’s SGA by providing guidance with action planning for this project, and helping strategize and prep for meetings with key decision makers at the school. Data collected by the school nutrition program showed that Second Chance Breakfast served nearly 200 students every day and increased the number of students eating breakfast at the high school by 26.5%. To read more, download your free copy of the Second Chance Breakfast Change Chronicle here

Take Action: Learn about the USDA Farm to School Grant Program

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Photo Courtesy: USDA Food and Nutrition Service
By Christina Conell, USDA Office of Community Food Systems

National Farm to School Month is not just a time for celebration. It’s also a time to take action. This October, USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems invites you to learn more about the USDA Farm to School Grant Program.  

In 2010, the Farm to School Program was established by law to assist eligible entities – through grants and technical assistance – in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in schools. To fulfill this commitment, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides $5 million on an annual basis to support these grants.

Just in time for Farm to School Month, the fiscal year 2018 Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications was released last week! Designed to increase the availability of local foods in schools, grants can help new farm to school programs get started or expand existing efforts. Funds support a wide range of activities from training, planning and developing partnerships to creating new menu items, establishing supply chains, offering taste tests for children, purchasing equipment, planting school gardens and organizing field trips to agricultural operations.

To date, the USDA Farm to School Grant Program has provided more than $25 million for 365 farm to school projects to increase the amount of healthy, local food in schools across all 50 states, plus the Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. 

Reaching more than 29,000 schools and approximately 13 million students in the past five years, the Farm to School Grant Program is an effective mechanism for increasing local foods in schools and creating new markets for producers. In looking at baseline and final reports from fiscal year 2015 and 2016 grantees, it’s evident that these efforts are making a difference. From the start of their grant period, grantees report increased garden activities, taste tests, farm field trips and more farm to school concepts embedded in schools’ curriculum.

Take action and learn more about the USDA Farm to School Grant Program with these resources:


This Week in Farm to School: 10/10/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 10, 2017
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 FY 2018 Farm to School Grant RFA 
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems has released the FY 2018 Farm to School Request for Applications (RFA). The purpose of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is to assist eligible entities in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. Interested in applying? Complete applications must be submitted on grants.gov by 11:59pm ET on December 8, 2017. Check out our resources for applicants and see a list of awardees since the release of the first RFA in 2013. 

2. Value Added Producer Resource Grants
The Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Learn more  by attending the October 18th webinar and apply here

3. Local Foods, Local Places
Local Foods, Local Places supports locally led, community-driven efforts to protect air and water quality, preserve open space and farmland, boost economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses, improve access to healthy local food, and promote childhood wellness. Communities are invited to apply for a new round of planning assistance from Local Foods, Local Places. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on October 25, 2017.


Webinars
1. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to ECE Quarterly Webinar: Farm to Early Care and Education in Head Start – A Natural Alignment

Tuesday, October 10, 3-4 PM ET
Explore the National Farm to School Network’s exciting new resource, Growing Head Start Success with Farm to Early Care and Education, and hear from Head Start practitioners about best practices and successes in implementing farm to ECE in the Head Start setting. Register here

2.  NFSN WEBINAR Webinar: Economic Impacts of Farm to School
Wednesday, Oct. 11 // 12-1pm ET
This webinar is part of a wider effort to promote the release of the associated report Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools (a collaborative project of the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University). Panelists will discuss findings of the new report, highlight the use of two key resources for conducting economic impact studies of food system initiatives and their application to farm to school economic impact assessment, and discuss continuing work to better understand the impacts of farm to school activities. Additional panelists include representatives from  USDA Office of Community Food Systems, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and Cornell University. Register for the webinar by submitting this form

3. Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) Webinar: National Farm to School Month: Early Care Education Edition
Tuesday, October 17 // 12-1:15pm ET
October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate the connections happening all over the country between children and local food. It is also a great time to learn more about farm to early care and education (ECE), a suite of activities and strategies that entails three core elements, including the use of local foods in meals and snacks, gardening opportunities, and food-based learning activities implemented in the ECE setting. Join speakers from the National Farm to School Network and Arizona State University to learn about opportunities to celebrate National Farm to School Month and to learn more about the vast array of benefits of farm to ECE for children, families and communities. This webinar is free and open to the public. Register here

4. Special Session on Soil Health

Wednesday, October 25 // 9:30 am -11:30 am ET
Organized by the Organic Farming Research Foundation, this special session on Soil Health Research is applicable to both organic and conventional practices, providing production systems to improve sustainability and profit. Presenters will discuss effects of cover crops, compost, and rotation, as well as the influence of soil management practices on economic returns. Register here or plan to watch the archived recording here

Events

1. October is National Farm to School Month!
National Farm to School month is here! The National Farm to School Network has free resources, planning materials, activity ideas and a new calendar of events for ways you can get involved in October. Visit farmtoschool.org/month to get involved. 

2. National Farm to School Month Tweet Chat
October 12 // 12-1pm ET
Every October, communities across the country come together to celebrate the connections happening between children and local food. Come celebrate with us during a live chat on Twitter! Ask your farm to school questions, hear from movement leaders, share resources and tell us about your favorite examples of farm to school in action. Join the National Farm to School Network (@FarmtoSchool) and special guests for a #FarmtoSchool101 tweet chat onThursday, October 12 from 12-1pm ET to discuss how farm to school supports healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities. 

3.  National School Lunch Week 2017

Oct. 9-13 is National School Lunch Week! During this annual weeklong celebration, School Nutrition Association members and students around the country celebrate in their cafeterias with decorations, special menus, events, and more. The 2017 NSLW theme is “School Lunch: Recipes for Success”, and it’s all about showing off the secrets to your school lunch success in your schools and districts—fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and of course, our students. Learn more and find resources to celebrate here

4. Summit for Beginner Farmer Service Providers
January 11, 2018 // Hyattsville, MD
This summit brings together beginning farmer service providers from across the region to discuss best practices, policy, and emerging trends in beginning farmer training. This one-day summit is held annually. Register here

Action Items

1. 9th Farm to Cafeteria Conference: Call for Workshop & Poster Proposals 
The 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Cincinnati, OH, April 25-27,2017! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene more than 1,000 diverse stakeholders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. Conference organizers are seeking workshop and poster proposals from individuals and organizations working to improve our food system, strengthen community health, empower youth, advance equity and increase opportunities for farmers. Learn more information about proposal submissions here. Proposals are due no later than 8 pm ET on November 14, 2017. All questions should be sent to conference@farmtoschool.org

2. National Farm to School Month's Take Action Pledge

Celebrate National Farm to School Month by adding your name to the National Farm to School Network's Take Action Pledge! Sign the pledge and you’ll be entered to win our Farm to School Month sweepstakes! Ten winners will receive a prize package that includes: assets from the Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden™ program, a Stand2Learn student standing desk, and a collection of seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. No action is too small – take the pledge now! 

3. #RealSchoolFood Campaign

It’s easy! Post a #RealSchoolFood selfie to social media throughout the month of October, and our generous sponsors will donate $1 to the Chef Ann Foundation. Make sure your post includes #RealSchoolFood, a call out to @ChefAnnFoundation , and make it public so it's counted! Post as many times as you want, each post gets us a $1 donation to help schools serve healthier food to kids.

4. Call for Nominations: 2018 School Nutrition Heroes
School Nutrition Association is seeking nominations of SNA members who go above and beyond their responsibilities to make a difference in the community for SNA's 2018 School Nutrition Heroes awards. To tell them about the individual that you think should be recognized as a School Nutrition Hero, fill out the Online Nomination Form. All nominations are due no later than Friday, October 27, 2017.  

Resources & Research

1. Johns Hopkins' FoodSpan Curriculum  
The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future has developed a curriculum for high school students on the food system.  The curriculum, called FoodSpan, is highlighted in this Baltimore Sun article. 

2. FoodTank's List of 18 Farm-to-School Initiatives Making an Impact
Food Tank is celebrating farm-to-school month by featuring 19 inspiring and innovative farm-to-school programs from around the world. These programs are making a demonstrated difference in child health, school attendance rates, food security, and farmer livelihoods in many communities. The National Farm to School Network was honored to be included on the list. Read about all 18 of the farm to school programs that made the list. 

Job Opportunities
1. Public Health Nutritionist, Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD)
The CPHD seeks to hire a Public Health Nutritionist to develop, implement and coordinate activities in Cambridge to promote healthy eating and active living with a focus on policy, practices, systems changes to create an environment that promotes healthy choices. Learn more here

2. Executive Director, National Farm Farm Coalition (NFFC)
NFFC seeks to fill the role of Executive Director to engage its diverse and dedicated membership to influence national farm and fisheries policy, magnify its fundraising capacity, and expand relationships with allies, potential allies and legislators while serving as a public face of the coalition. Read more here

3. Operations Manager and Culinary Manager, San Francisco Unified School District 
San Francisco Unified School District has two open management positions within Student Nutrition Services. Both are great opportunities to drive innovation and create change within a large school district's school meals program. Learn more about the Operations Manager role as well as the Culinary Manager

Farm to School in the News

Student-grown salad in the school cafeteria? These D.C. kids dig it
At Horace Mann Elementary School in Northwest D.C., instruction isn’t confined to a few cedar-raised beds. After leafy vegetables are planted and cared for, students harvest the crops, chop them up and serve them to more than 400 of their peers for lunch. (WTOP)

Local Food Hub brings apples to Virgina Elementary for "Crunch Heard 'Round the Commonwealth"
For Virginia Farm to School Week, the Local Food Hub is supplying cafeterias in six public school districts and one private school with fresh, fruits, vegetables, meats, and other products grown by Virginia family farms. In total, the schools purchased over $10,500 in local products. (Charlottesville Tomorrow)

Pennsylvania elementary students sow seeds for hydroponic garden business

The agricultural team planted 100 strawberries and is breeding tilapia as part of the project. The technology team works with tools to gather data, and the business team is tasked with creating a logo and marketing the shop. (Triblive


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.

Locally Grown Food: A Key Ingredient in School Lunch Recipes

NFSN Staff Monday, October 09, 2017

By Dr. Lynn Harvey, RDN, LDN, FAND, SNS
School Nutrition Association President 
Chief of School Nutrition Services for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction


October is ripe with reasons to celebrate – school cafeterias are recognizing National Farm to School Month and National School Lunch Week (NSLW - Oct 9-13). The overlap is especially fitting since schools are increasingly turning to Farm to School activities to help promote the healthy, local choices available on school lunch menus.
 
In my home state of North Carolina, school nutrition directors can order locally grown produce and have it delivered right to the district through our Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The department even supplies educational and promotional materials to help students learn about the healthy offerings in the cafeteria that have been grown in their communities. During the 2016-2017 school year, the program generated nearly $1.3 million in produce sales with participation by 79 school districts statewide.
 
But North Carolina’s approach is just one of a multitude of successful Farm to School models and initiatives across the country. As School Nutrition Association (SNA) president, I am inspired by my peers every day as I witness the creative strategies they employ to connect students with more fresh, local foods.
 
For example, the School District of Holmen, WI, hasn’t let a short growing season limit their Farm to School efforts. With the help of school nutrition professionals and guidance from science and math teachers and the Future Farmers of America, students raise their own chickens, grow their own crops on donated land and harvest from hydroponic greenhouses. The 2016-2017 school year marked the fourth year students in the district helped raise chickens, nurturing and caring for them from day-old chicks to mature chickens. Students enjoyed the fruits of their labor during a “Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner” event, with enough baked chicken for 3,000 servings. To learn more about this project and Holmen’s crop of 2,500 asparagus, visit SNA’s Tray Talk blog

This year, as SNA members celebrate NSLW, we look forward to seeing how schools use the School Lunch: Recipes for Success marketing campaign to show off the many locally sourced ingredients in their recipes. SNA’s recently released 2017 Trends Survey revealed that 61% of responding districts have increased scratch preparation of school foods to meet sodium limits for school meals. Scratch preparation also allows schools to utilize more healthy, local foods into dishes.

Nearly 60% of districts surveyed report offering new menu items this school year that feature international flavors. Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern and other ethnic recipes help schools appeal to diverse student communities - and incorporate local foods. Douglas County School District, CO, serves Salvadorian pupusas, handmade locally using all Colorado ingredients. The dish was first served as a special feature on Colorado Proud School Meal Day but was so popular with students that pupusas are now menued year-round.

I am also glad to report that nearly 70% of school districts surveyed utilize salad/produce bars or made-to-order salads to give students more choices when it comes to selecting their fruits and vegetables. We love to see schools create delicious salad creations – especially when the incorporate student grown produce, like this colorful organic Green Swiss Chard salad from Arlington, VA. 

SNA hopes schools and their partners will continue to share the good news about all the creative, positive Farm to School efforts in their communities!

School Nutrition Association is the National Farm to School Network’s 2017 National Partner of the Year. Read more about our partnership here

Photo credit for all photos: School Nutrition Association

Too small for grocery stores, but just right for schools

NFSN Staff Friday, October 06, 2017
Clearview Farm’s farm to school story

By Molly Schintler, Communications Intern
Clearview Farm has been in Rick and Diane Melone’s family for 265 years. In fact, this century farm - two times over - was the inspiration for the classic children’s poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Situated just outside of Boston in Sterling, Mass., Clearview Farm’s 85 acres grows a diverse array of produce for diverse markets, including local schools.

The farm includes apple and peach orchards for a u-pick operation, as well as hosts school tours that bring hundreds of students at a time to the farm. Additionally, the farm grows twenty acres of pumpkins, along with diversified vegetable production for an on–site farm stand. Rick has always seen diversity as essential to the farm’s operation. When Rick and Diane moved to the farm in 1989, it was all apples, so they diversified by planting peaches. Today, they sell those apples and peaches to the Worcester Public Schools, the third largest school district in the state, by the truckload.

Clearview Farm has been engaged with farm to school for eight years, and Rick explains that selling to schools has provided his farm a valuable and necessary market. “I’m too small to work with huge markets like Whole Foods and other grocery store whole-salers," he says. "But I can bring a truck load of apples in (to schools) and they will use them that day. We also sell veggies to the school’s summer feeding program.” Prior to selling to Worcester Public Schools, Clearview Farm’s relied more heavily on selling to medium sized grocery stores, but with so many other farms selling in that same market, competition was heavy. In addition, Rick added that a few years ago his farm stopped selling at the Boston farmers markets after seeing several years of declining sales. It's schools that have become one of his most reliable and valuable customers.

Before working with schools, Clearview Farm did not have a market for selling small peaches and apples. But as it turns out, smaller sized fruit is perfect for students. “There are so many schools and kids who need lunches and also farmers who need to move product. Children deserve better (lunches)!” Rick and Diane are proud of the fresh, healthy, and local produce they are able to provide the students of Worcester. In the end farm to school is not only a win for Clearview Farms. It’s a win for students too! 

Learn more about the economic impacts of farm to school and benefits to farmers in our new “Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools” report. This new report, a collaborative project between National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University, with generous support from CoBank and AgriBank, examines the economic impact of local purchasing and provides new insight into the potential for farm to school procurement to positively impact local economies. Explore the report and register for an upcoming webinar here

The National Farm to School Network thanks CoBank for their generous support of this blog and our 2017 National Farm to School Month celebrations!
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