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National Farm to School Network


This Week in farm to school: 6/28/16

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 28, 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. Early Head Start Grants as Opportunity for Farm to ECE Funding
The Administration for Children and Families has announced approximately $135 million in funding available to expand access to high-quality, comprehensive services for low-income infants and toddlers and their families. This funding will support the creation of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships and the expansion of Early Head Start services to children and families. ACF solicits applications from public entities, including states, or private non-profit organizations, including community-based or faith-based organizations, or for-profit agencies that meet eligibility for applying as stated in section 645A of the Head Start Act. Explore available funding opportunities here

Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Integrating Local Foods into Child Nutrition Programs
Thursday, June 30 // 3-4pm ET
Fruits and vegetables, milk and cheese, whole grain breads and pastas, beans, meats, seafood, and poultry - the opportunities for serving local foods in child nutrition programs are abundant! In the webinar Integrating Local Foods in Child Nutrition Programs, USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems will highlight the variety of ways districts across the country are incorporating local foods. In addition, districts from Vermont and Colorado will share how they started adding local foods to their meals and how seasonal cycle menus are now mainstays in their districts. Register here

2. Workshop: Using Gardens to Teach Summer Institute

August 23-25 // Poughkeepsie, NY
The summer institute is designed to help educators integrate gardens into their teaching. It cover topics in literacy, social studies, science, math, and nutrition, as well as build knowledge about sustainable agriculture, food systems, social justice, and ecological gardening practices. Workshop is hosted at Poughkeepsie Farm Project. Learn more and register here.

Research & Resources
1. Findings of the 2015 National Food Hub Survey
Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems has released the Findings of the 2015 National Food Hub Survey, produced in collaboration with the Wallace Center at Winrock International. This is the only study of its caliber to track nationwide data on food hubs over time. Overall, the 2015 National Food Hub Survey indicates that the food hub model can be financially successful across a variety of legal structures and geographic or customer markets. See the findings here

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Project Coordinator, Community Food Systems, The Food Trust
The Food Trust seeks a Project Coordinator to support projects related to healthy early care and education policy, farm to school and other related child nutrition programs. The coordinator will support the day-to-day management of several project focused on improving farm to early care best practices, both through policy change and through programming. Learn more here.

2. Director of Education, Stone Barns Center
Supervised by the Director of Programs, the Director of Education will manage and lead teacher and youth programs, including Mobile Kitchen Classroom, Farm Camp and other strategic educational initiatives. The Director of Education is responsible for developing and assessing strategies for achieving specific educational outcomes related to our mission. These include knowledge, skills and values related to agroecology (sustainable agriculture principles demonstrated at Stone Barns), farm-driven cuisine and making connections across the food system. Learn more here

Farm to school in the news
Schools make cafeteria connections - shoutout to Bertrand Weber, NFSN Advisory Board! 
School districts across the country are engaging parents with kitchen tours, smartphone apps and social media to persuade them that today’s school meals are nothing like the sometimes unhealthy foods they remember from their own childhoods. (via District Administration)

Gardening camp teaches problem-solving skills
A summer camp in Newark, N.J., offers students the opportunity to tend a school garden, feed chickens and do garden crafts. One students favorite part? "I like when we have a big root and we finally get it out after we've been working on it for so long. You get a victory." (via Newark Advocate)

Healthy Cuisine for Kids workshop touts importance of food preparation, palatability

About 30 school cafeteria managers from across Alabama are spending their summer learning from culinary experts how to best prepare and present nutritious food to students. Managers are learning new culinary techniques, recipe preparation, and the nutritional value of the food they serve. (via Times Daily)

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: 6/21/16

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 21, 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. Webinar: Regional Farm to Institution Insights: Learnings from Stakeholders Across the Value Chain
Wednesday, June 22, 1-2pm ET
Sharon Feuer Gruber and Wendy Stuart, co-founders of the consulting firm Food Works Group, and Jamie Moore, Director, Sourcing & Sustainability at the Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, will be presenting about regional Farm to Institution in the Chesapeake Bay foodshed and recommendations to advance these efforts. The recommendations were born out of a stakeholder needs assessment that Food Works Group conducted to support the Chesapeake Food Leadership Council in identifying strategies to propel forward F2I across the region. Learn more and register here

2. Webinar: Garden to Cafeteria: Successes, Challenges and Models from Across the U.S.
Thursday, June 23 // 3pm ET
Have you ever wondered what it takes to get your school garden produce into the lunchroom? This month, SlowFood USA will be discussing the concept of Garden to Cafeteria, which serves as an incredible educational opportunity for students and can greatly contribute to changing a school food culture.  Slow Food USA will describe their successes working with the county health department and food service to develop a robust Garden to Cafeteria program in Denver, CO, and you will hear about other exciting models from across the U.S. Learn more and register here

3. National Children & Youth Garden Symposium
July 13-16, 2016 // Columbia, SC
The 24th annual NCYGS invites you to network with like-minded teachers, garden designers, community leaders, program coordinators, and others involved with connecting kids to the natural world. Explore topics ranging from curriculum to program management to garden design and maintenance during three dynamic days of educational sessions, field trips, and expert keynote presentations. Please register for NCYGS 2016 by Wednesday June 22, 2016. There will be limited on-site registration available in Columbia, South Carolina. Learn more here

4. Massachusetts Farm & Sea to School Conference: Call for Workshops
November 4, 2016 // Leominster, Mass. 
Massachusetts Farm to School will hold its fourth statewide conference, Growing Together: The Massachusetts Farm & Sea to School Conference this November. The conference brings together farm and sea to school advocates from pre-school, K-12, and college environments for a daylong event with workshops and panel discussions addressing a wide variety of topics. The planning committee is accepting workshop proposals through July 10. Learn more here

5. Life Lab: Educator Workshops at the Garden Classroom
Santa Cruz, Calif. 
Life Lab offers trainings and workshops for educators in their Garden Classroom on the UCSC CASFS Farm. Upcoming trainings this summer and fall include: Sowing the Seeds of Wonder (PreK-K), The Growing Classroom 2-Day Intensive (K-6) and Plant It, Grow It, Eat It (K-8). Learn more and find additional training opportunities here

Research & Resources

1. 2015 USDA Farm to School Census: Raw Data Released
Today, USDA released the raw data from its 2015 Farm to School Census. Information is available from all 12,585 respondents that completed the 2015 Census. At the respondent level, the spreadsheet contains secondary data, including matched data from the Common Core of Data. A separate excel file is also available at the state and national level for state and national level analysis. Later this summer, USDA will release a new data explorer tool so users can more easily explore the 2015 data and complete customized searches. Explore the raw data here

Jobs & Opportunities
1. School Garden Programs Director, The Kohala Center
The Kohala Center’s Farm to School programs are an integral component of its ‘āina-based education and food self-reliance efforts. The Director will be responsible for coordinating the Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network and FoodCorps Hawai‘i, working with the Hawai‘i Farm to School and School Garden Hui, as well as creating and leading (and/or working with staff to lead) after-school and school vacation STEAM education programs for middle-school students on gardening, agriculture, Hawaiian field systems, field science, and native, endemic, and Polynesian plants. Learn more here

Farm to school in the news

As more gardens sprout, schools find new way to reach students - shoutout to Simca Horowitz, NFSN Massachusetts State Co-Lead! 
What started years ago as isolated, often small plots at a handful of schools has blossomed into more than 200 school gardens across Massachusetts that have become multifaceted learning tools. Students learn more than how to grow and harvest their own vegetables; the gardens become part of classroom curriculums at many schools. (via Boston Globe)

Detroit Public Schools launches Friday farmers markets at two schools
- shoutout to Betti Wiggings, NFSN Advisory Board! 
New farmers markets launches at school in Detroit feature produce grown by DPS students and staff. Students are helping operate the markets. “The point is to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables,” said Betti Wiggins, the Office of School Nutrition’s executive director. “The point is to engage them in growing their food and teach some them some entrepreneurial skills.” (via The Detroit 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. 

Developing young entrepreneurs in school gardens

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 16, 2016
 Photo credit: DC Greens
When schools let out for summer, many garden coordinators look for creative ways to keep school gardens thriving. Tapping into the enthusiasm, creativity and efforts of high schoolers can be a great way to maintain gardens when classes are out, and summer programs are an opportunity for students to gain valuable professional and entrepreneurial experience. From leadership to marketing and accounting to customer service, programs that hire students to tend school gardens offer countless benefits – for garden plants and young adults, both! 

Gather inspiration from this roundup of media stories highlighting several models of youth entrepreneurship programs in school gardens: 

Fellowship of the farm: Teens tend school garden through summer
The Spartan Urban Farm Fellowship pays high school students a stipend to work in the Corvallis High School garden three days a week during the summer. Produce grown in the garden is sold at a weekly farmers market hosted at a local elementary school. (Corvallis Gazette-Times, Oregon) 

Program takes school gardening to new level: entrepreneurship

A program at San Francisco’s June Jordan School For Equity is taking traditional school gardens to a new level, where the green isn’t only in the dirt or student diets, but also in their wallets. Students earn $10 an hour learning how to plant, harvest, cook and sell vegetables at a local farmer’s market. (SFGate, California) 

Youth In Agriculture Growing Beyond Farms 
Cleveland Botanical Gardens’ Green Corps hires high school youth to work 20 hours per week during summer months, where they learn about sustainable agriculture and community engagement by working on one of six urban farms. The youth education component of the program is an important element to agriculture in the city, as many of the students taking part have little-to-no outside growing experience. (Growing Produce, Ohio)

Healthy Eaters, Strong Minds: What School Gardens Teach Kids 
City Blossoms employs high school youth in Washington, D.C., to tend to gardens at schools and community centers with low access to fresh, healthy foods. Students then sell produce grown in the gardens at farmers markets, learning valuable business and money skills. (NRP, Washington, D.C.)

Alameda Students Bring Two School Gardens Back to Life
Thanks to high school students, gardens around Alameda, Calif., are springing back to life. Project Eat’s “Get Fresh! Eat Healthy!” internship hires about a dozen high school students in the summer to revitalize school gardens and develop skills that can translate into work opportunities later. (Alameda Patch, California)

Are youth helping to keep your school garden thriving this summer? Are you a high school student working on a school garden or farm this summer? Tell us about it! Use our story form to share how farm to school activities like school gardens are benefiting your community. 

Learn more about farm to school in summer by exploring resources in our Resource Library

This Week in farm to school: 6/14/16

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 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. Donald Herb Garden Grant, Herb Society of America
The Herb Society of America is inviting applications from teachers in grades 3 to 6 for its 2016-17 Donald Samull Classroom Herb Garden Grant. Through the program, the society will award up to ten $200 grants to public and private school  teachers in grades 3 to 6 to cultivate an indoor or outdoor herb garden. The funds may be used for materials such as soil, plant trays, containers, child- or youth-sized tools, etc. Selected classrooms selected will receive three windowsill herb garden kits complete with pots, soil, seeds, and educational materials for use in the classroom. Learn more here

Webinars & Events
1. Webinar: Garden to Cafeteria: Successes, Challenges and Models from Across the U.S.
Thursday, June 23 // 3pm ET
Have you ever wondered what it takes to get your school garden produce into the lunchroom? This month, SlowFood USA will be discussing the concept of Garden to Cafeteria, which serves as an incredible educational opportunity for students and can greatly contribute to changing a school food culture.  Slow Food USA will describe their successes working with the county health department and food service to develop a robust Garden to Cafeteria program in Denver, CO, and you will hear about other exciting models from across the U.S. Learn more and register here

2. NESAWG 2016 Conference: Accepting Proposals
NESAWG is currently accepting proposals for sessions for the 2016 It Takes a Region Conference. The Conference, now in its 23rd year, brings together practitioners and professionals from across the Northeast to explore ideas that move us towards a more sustainable and just farm and food system. This year's conference theme is Tackling Wicked Problems in Food Systems.  Proposal submissions are due by June 30th at midnight. For more information and to submit a proposal, visit their website

3. 6th Farm-Based Education Network National Gathering 
November 4-6 // Concord, MA
Save the date! Educators, farmers, nonprofit organization staff, parents, nutrition practitioners, policy makers, students, and more will come together to share skills and resources, build relationships, and celebrate the vibrant field of farm-based education. Workshops will focus on program development, marketing, fundraising, the balance of production and education, nonprofit board management, and much more. Peer educators will showcase their sites during field trips and workshops, a keynote address will spark discussion, and group meals will allow for ample networking time. Learn more here

Research & Resources
1. Cross-Sector Collaboration: A Report from the Minnesota Farm to School Leadership Team
This report documents the processes and outcomes of the Minnesota Farm to School Leadership Team’s collective efforts over the past five years. It highlights dynamic tensions and examples of success while documenting the history of farm to school in Minnesota. The full report is available here.

2. Oregon Farm to School Counts
Built by Ecotrust on behalf of the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network (OFSSGN), Oregon Farm to School Counts documents the impact of Oregon’s farm to school work in four key areas: health, education, economy, and the environment. It also highlights key gaps in data, pointing to where future research and investment are needed. View the website here

Jobs & Opportunities
1. Opportunities with Rogue Valley Farm to School
Rogue Valley Farm to School is looking for a self motivated and detail oriented individuals to join their team. The Outreach Coordinator is responsible for community outreach, administrative support, volunteer coordination, social media, and fundraising support for RVF2S and the Siskiyou Challenge. For more information about this part-time position please read the full job description. They also are looking to hire an AmeriCorps Farm to School Leader. The AmeriCorps applications close August 1st, 2016. Read the full job description.

2. The Edible Schoolyard ​Garden AmeriCorps Member
The Edible Schoolyard Berkeley is seeking a Garden AmeriCorps Member to join its teaching team next year. Service members play a key role in delivering instruction to students and maintaining our one-acre garden. Learn more about the opportunity here and apply by June 19th. 

3. Farm to School Coordinator, Sustainable Nantucket

Under the supervision of the Executive Director, the Farm to School Coordinator will cultivate and maintain the Farm to School teaching garden, develop and implement curriculum-integrated programming, perform outreach in schools and community, and connect local farms with school food services. Learn more here

Farm to school in the news
How Farm to School Summer Programs Feed Low-Income Families - shoutout to Erin McGuire, NFSN Policy Director, and Helen Dombalis, NFSN Director of Programs!
When the bell rings signaling summer recess, it also means the end for many school meal programs serving low-income families. “Hungry children are most vulnerable when school is out, but with the USDA Farm to School Program’s focus on summer meals, we have an amazing tool to connect kids to their community and get more nutritious food on their plates,” said Erin McGuire,  Policy Director for the National Farm to School Network. (via Media Planet)

Farm to school campaigns growing nationally, locally
Matthew Raiford, keynote speaker at the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, and Dawn Lewis, culinary services director at Glenn County School System, discuss how farm to school efforts are taking root and positively impacting kids and the agricultural community in Georgia and beyond. “Our goal is to feed as many students as possible with the healthiest and freshest food options. The farmers want it, we want it, and state leaders want farm-to-school to be a bigger initiative,” Lewis said. (via The Brunswick News)

Students get hands-on, farm-to-table experience
Bald Eagle Area (Pennsylvania) students spent the past school year raising chickens, growing corn and making homemade chicken corn soup to benefit the district’s budding farm to school program. The project was funded by a National Farm to School Network Seed Change mini grant. (via Centre Daily Times)

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. 

Conference recap: Moving forward together

NFSN Staff Sunday, June 05, 2016

 Photo credit: EaCas Photography

On our final day together at the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, attendees flooded Dane County Farmers' Market, the country's largest producer-only farmers market, on the Capitol Square. Supporting local farmers and a local food economy is at the heart of our work, and Wisconsin offers an inspiring display of a vibrant and connected local food system. 

The morning opened with a multi-media presentation showcasing farm to cafeteria champions from across Wisconsin. Emceed by Tony Schultz, Farmer, Stoney Acres Farm, and Frankie Soto, Food Service Director, Abbotsford School District Food Service, attendees heard stories of success from farm to cafeteria partners including farmers, school food service directors, a hospital dietician and a local co-op manager. Farmer Chris Blakeney, Amazing Grace Family Farm, shared that his successful partnerships in selling to schools allowed him to quit his full-time, off farm job. 

Saturday’s program included two workshop sessions. A total of 48, 90-minute workshops organized into 12 topics were offered during the conference. Among Saturday’s workshops were conversations and hands-on learning opportunities for training classroom educators to be strong school garden users, curricula ideas for early care and education providers, and tips for navigating federal, state and local policy landscapes to maximize farm to cafeteria efforts. 

Our food conference would not have been complete without delicious meals featuring locally sourced ingredients. During Saturday’s lunch, we gave a standing ovation to Monona Catering in thanks of their amazing work to serve our 1,000+ attendees fresh, locally sourced meals. Saturday’s lunch included Wisconsin Rice and Wisconsin Cranberry Salad, a local bean salad, roasted local root vegetables, and chilled asparagus soup. 

Throughout the conference, we asked attendees to use paper plates to share what they love about farm to school and what child nutrition programs mean to their community. With the Child Nutrition Reauthorization process moving forward, now is an important time to take action and share with Congress why school meals are important. Soon, we’ll deliver these paper plates to legislators on Capitol Hill, sending a message that farm to school and school lunch programs are growing a healthier next generation. 

Open Forum, a perennial conference favorite, was held on Saturday afternoon. Open Forum gave attendees the opportunity to create discussion groups around the topics they’re most passionate about. Ideas were submitted and voted on using the conference mobile app. More than 20 discussion topics were selected, including state farm to school policy, farm to summer, forming a farm to college network, farm incubator start ups, state agencies in farm to cafeteria and using farm to school to drive racial equity. 

The Closing Plenary included keynote addresses from two food movement leaders who shared inspirational stories and lessons about creating strong and just local food systems. Matthew Raiford, Executive Chef of The Farmer & The Larder and a sixth generation farmer and owner of Gilliard Farms, discussed the importance of meeting everyone - farmers, school boards, chefs, children and more - where they are to continue building systems that bring the bounty of the earth to the cafeteria table. “It takes more than a village,” Raiford said. “It takes villages to build better systems.” 

LaDonna Redmond’s address focused on ending systematic oppression in the food system. Redmond, founder of Campaign for Food Justice Now, used a lens of intersectionality (race, class and gender) to describe the impact of the food system on the lives of communities of color, and to promote just solutions. “Every community that you work in has the intellect to heal itself,” she said. “Your job is to use your skill set to uncover that intellect and help people dig deeply.”

While the conference has ended, the work to change the culture of food and agricultural literacy across America has not. We hope this conference was the beginning of new pathways and partnerships that will continue to move the farm to cafeteria movement forward and strengthen local food systems. Read more about the conference on our day 1 and day 2 blog recaps. See social media highlights on our Storify and view pictures from the conference on our Flickr page. 

Conference recap: Growing the farm to cafeteria movement

NFSN Staff Saturday, June 04, 2016
 Photo credit: EaCas Photography
The first full day of the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference kicked off on Friday, with more than 1,000 food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, entrepreneurs, students, representatives from nonprofits and government agencies, public health professionals, and many others in attendance. The day started with regional networking sessions, where neighboring states met to build relationships, share ideas and resources, and fuel the farm to cafeteria initiatives in their regions. 

Immediately following the networking sessions, regions processed together from their rooms to the opening plenary - and with great fanfare! The festive procession was led by a local marching band, dancing produce and a very large chicken. Madison preschoolers with vegetable crowns danced on stage and welcomed attendees as they arrived. 

The opening plenary was kicked off by Anupama Joshi, National Farm to School Network Executive Director and Co-founder. Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition to the White House, was the first keynote speaker to take the stage. As one of the farm to cafeteria movement’s true innovators, Eschmeyer’s address reviewed and celebrated the impressive growth that the farm to school movement has achieved in less than two decades. “I am deeply encouraged by our collective progress. In this next phase, we need to be even more creative and innovative. This is not some trendy issue. This is something we have to stay committed to for the long haul,” she said.  

“If we keep working together, we’ll give all children access to fresh healthy food.” -Debra Eschmeyer
First Lady Michelle Obama sent video remarks, celebrating all of the great work this movement has accomplished, and challenging us to think about what’s next. To the First Lady, we say, we’re not going anywhere, and we look forward to continuing this work with you. 

Carla Thompson, Vice President for Program Strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Ricardo Salvadro, Director and Senior Scientist, Food & Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists, also offered keynote addresses. Salvador discussed how disparities in public health, access, waste and exploitation of people and nature are designed characteristics of the global food system, and challenged us to use justice as the screen through which we do our farm to cafeteria work. 

Following lunch, conference-goers viewed 45 posters highlighting exciting projects, innovations, research and trends in the farm to cafeteria movement. Shortly after, 28 presenters offered fast-paced, information-dense, five minutes lightning talks, from building school gardens into social enterprises to how school districts are leading the charge to reform poultry production in the U.S.

The afternoon included two workshop sessions. A total of 48 workshops organized into 12 topical tracks will be offered throughout the conference. These interactive sessions are providing opportunities for participants to build skills, problem solve and innovate. 

The day closed with a local foods reception on the rooftop of Monona Terrace. With views of Lake Monona on one side and the Wisconsin State Capitol on the other, conference goers enjoyed a celebratory evening of delicious, Madison-inspired eats, live music and remarks from Madison Mayor Paul R. Soglin. 

Find more highlights from the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria conference on our social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Storify. Follow along with the hashtag #Farm2Caf16. To see more pictures from the conference, check out our Flickr. More stories, key learnings and exciting highlight to come - stay tuned! 

Conference recap: Exploring farm to cafeteria in Madison

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 02, 2016
 Photo credit: EaCas Photography
The National Farm to School Network is hosting the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Madison, Wis., and pre-conference activities kicked off Thursday with hundreds of leaders in the farm to cafeteria movement exploring the Madison area food system and farm to institution landscape. 

From aquaponics to urban farms and hospitals to college campuses, more than 370 pre-conference attendees experienced Wisconsin’s farm to cafeteria initiatives first hand through 10 local field trips. One group of learners explored Wisconsin’s deep roots in dairy as they traveled to farms and processors who bring milk, cheese and other dairy products to institutional markets. Stops included a tour and tasting at Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, a farm-based education experience at Sassy Cow Creamery and a visit to an Organic Valley dairy farm. 

 Photo credit: Maryland Farm to School

Another group explored innovative youth gardens across the Madison area that strive to cultivate healthy youth and vibrant communities. Among the stops was Goodman Youth Farm, a community nonprofit/school district partnership program that actively engages students in hands-on, farm-based education in an outdoor classroom. Youth are involved in the entire process of running a small-scale organic farm, from growing, harvesting, cooking and donating thousands of pounds of produce. 

 Photo credit: EaCas Photography
Back at Monona Terrace Convention Center, another 250 pre-conference attendees gathered for advanced short course trainings with movement experts from the Wallace Center, National Farmers Union, Chef Ann Foundation, Center for Social Inclusion, Spark Policy Institute, Vermont FEED, Farm to Institution New England and more. Courses included trainings on implementing farm to school practices and operations in school kitchens, starting cooperatives, and building racial equity in farm to cafeteria and wider food systems, among others.

The short course on network development welcomed farm to cafeteria practitioners from across the country to share and explore models of collaboration and coordination for creating state-level farm to cafeteria networks. With presenters from Colorado, Vermont and Wisconsin, a range of experiences were shared in describing the formation and success of various network models. At the end of the course, participants brainstormed ingredients for success in building effective farm to cafeteria collaborations.


As the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference program kicks off on Friday, we’re welcoming more than 1,000 food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, entrepreneurs, students and youth leaders, representatives from nonprofits, public health professionals, and others to Madison for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn, share, network and build momentum for the farm to cafeteria movement. Among them are the next generation of farm to cafeteria leaders, including students Christina Plyman, Trinity Sinkhorn and Kara Shelton. Accompanied by their teach Toni Myers, they traveled from Boyle County High School in Kentucky to present their farm to school successes and learnings as a National Farm to School Network Seed Change Demonstration Site, as well as to network and learn from other experienced farm to school practitioners.  

“I’ve seen kids in the cafeteria eat healthier foods because their friends grew it, and they know the garden it was grown in,” Plyman said. That’s success these student leaders are eager to see continue. Sinkhorn, a junior, commented, "I’m taking on new leadership in our farm to school program, and I’m interested in learning new approach and finding ways to grow our activities." 

With two full days of workshops, lighting talks, networking sessions, poster presentations and  keynote addresses ahead, there will be countless opportunities for learning. Stay tuned to our blog for daily recaps highlighting the day’s events and experiences. We’ll also be sharing live content on our social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Follow along with the hashtag #Farm2Caf16. To see pictures from the conference, check out our Flickr page. There’s lots more great stories, key learnings and exciting highlights to come - stay tuned! 

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