Webinars & Events
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics: Farm to Summer
July 12, 2pm ET
The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) anticipates providing more than 200 million free meals to children across the U.S. when school is out of session this summer. The seasonality and flexibility of SFSP create a perfect opportunity to highlight local products and incorporate food education. Join this webinar to learn about USDA farm to summer resources and hear about innovative farm to summer initiatives from NFSN Core Partners in Kentucky and Massachusetts. Register here.
2. NFSN WEBINAR Farm to ECE: Indigenous Foods in Early Care and Education Settings
August 2, 2pm ET
Incorporating indigenous foods into education and meals in early care and education (ECE) settings offers many benefits, including increasing children’s knowledge of tribal history and food ways and strengthening cultural, spiritual, and social connections in the community. However, ensuring indigenous foods are procured, prepared, and served in ways that align with state licensing and Child and Adult Care Food Program regulations can be challenging. Join this webinar to hear from speakers from the National Farm to School Network, the Institute for Agriculture Trade and Policy, and the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association and to learn about innovative practices and resources that help overcome these challenges and support the inclusion of indigenous foods in ECE settings and in CACFP. Register here.
3. It’s Pollinator Week!
Eleven years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. June 18-24 is Pollinator Week. Learn more here.
Resources & Research
1. New Resources: State Farm to School Networks Toolkit & State Farm to School Positions Guide
The National Farm to School Network is excited to announce the release of two new resources to support farm to school practitioners in strengthening their efforts to develop robust and sustainable statewide farm to school programs. The State Farm to School Networks Toolkit is designed to demonstrate best practices and lessons learned from 29 existing networks, and provides practitioners key strategies and approaches for developing and sustaining state farm to school networks. It includes a primer on general network models and development, a deep dive into state farm to school network best practices, case studies highlighting successful tools and tactics, and analysis of challenges for and the future of state farm to school networks. The State Farm to School Positions Guide aims to help stakeholders strategically advocate for the creation of more state agency and university Extension positions dedicated to supporting farm to school. The guide includes a list of all known existing state farm to school positions, four state case studies, an analysis of the current landscape of state farm to school positions, and sample job descriptions. Both resources can be downloaded at farmtoschool.org/resources.
2. New Report: State Policy Development for Oregon’s Farm to School Grant Program: Successes and Lessons Learned
RTI International and the National Farm to School Network have released a new study that documents and analyzes the outcomes of state farm to school legislation in Oregon. State Policy Development for Oregon’s Farm to School Grant Program: Successes and Lessons Learned describes Oregon’s farm to school legislative process, and identifies Oregon’s farm to school state policy design attributes that have successfully leveraged limited state resources to improve farm to school participation among school districts. Successes, challenges and lessons learned about the effect of policies on program implementation are shared.Farm to school policy advocates in other states and territories can learn from the findings of this study to support their policy efforts. Learn more here.
3. Washington State Department of Agriculture report examines the challenge of getting local produce to schools and other institutions
Serving local produce and minimally processed foods is a goal for many school cafeterias and other institutions, but there are challenges to reaching that end. To understand the challenges and potential solutions better, WSDA’s Regional Markets team studied supply chains in Washington state for local, minimally processed food from farm to school for 2016-2017. The study, “Value Chain Strategies for Source-Identified Minimally Processed Produce for the School Market,” was completed earlier this year. The study also sought to identify strategies for developing a “value chain” infrastructure and building relationships to help local farms meet the demand for these products from schools, hospitals, and other institutional buyers. Read more here.
4. Tracking Shows Increase in Local Food Purchasing at Michigan Schools
Since 2014, the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems has partnered with the Michigan Department of Education to track local food purchasing by K-12 schools. This short report shares the K-12 local food purchasing results from the 2017 MEGS+ application and compares these to the 2014 results. Read more.
1. Senate Agriculture Committee advances farm bill without farm to school
Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted 20-1 to pass its version of the farm bill, allowing the bill to be brought before the full Senate for a vote later this month. While none of the National Farm to School Network’s top policy priorities have been included in the Senate’s draft bill, there are a number of other provisions in the draft that support local and regional food systems, rural business development, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, and healthy eating initiatives. For example, the bill maintains the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program as fresh only, increases funding for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program, and creates a Harvesting Health Pilot Program. The National Farm to School Network Policy Team continues to look for opportunities to advocate for important farm to school priorities when the bill draft comes to the full Senate floor.
Farm to School in the News
West Virginia serves local in summer meals
School nutrition professionals in a West Virginia district are working to include local food in summer meals. "The students get to try different varieties of tomatoes, different varieties of radishes, cucumbers, carrots, everything that I can get my hands on. If they have the ability to bring it to me, then we are using it in this program,” said Kanawha County Schools Child Nutrition Director Diane Miller. (WOWK-TV)
4th Annual Northeast Farm to School Institute kicks off
Twelve Northeast school teams are gathering this summer to build Farm to School action plans for the next academic year at the Annual Northeast Farm to School Institute, offered by Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT. Over eight years, the Institute has supported farm to school programs at 74 schools and districts, reaching over 54,000 Northeast students. (Shelburne Farms)
Texas Farm Fresh program expands to summer
The Texas Department of Agriculture's Farm Fresh program, which provides locally produced food for school meals, is expanding to include summer-meal programs across the state. About 40% of Texas schools participate in the program, which is supported by the US Department of Agriculture. (KXAN-TV)