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This Week in Farm to School: 4/7/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 07, 2020
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. COVID-19 AFT Farmer Relief Fund Grants
Deadline: April 23
AFT’s Farmer Relief Fund will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially, eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs. AFT envisions an initial application round extending until April 23, with grants beginning to be made by May 1. The application is available in English and Spanish. Learn more here. 

2. Carton 2 Garden Contest
Deadline Extended: May 1
Apply for Evergreen Packaging and KidsGardening.org's sixth annual national Carton 2 Garden Contest! Open to public and private schools, contest winners will be selected based on their implementation of an innovative garden creation featuring creative and sustainable uses for repurposed milk and juice cartons. Fifteen (15) entries will be selected to receive award packages for their efforts. Learn more and apply here.

3. USDA AMS: Regional Food System Partnerships
Deadline Extended: May 26
USDA AMS's Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) program supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The effort is focused on building and strengthening local or regional food economy viability and resilience by alleviating unnecessary administrative and technical barriers for participating partners. Learn more here.

4. Native American Agriculture Fund (NAFF) 2020 Request for Applications
Deadline: June 1
NAFF is a private, charitable trust serving Native farmers and ranchers through strategic grantmaking. Grants are available to eligible grant recipients in the mission areas of business assistance, agricultural education, technical support and advocacy services. NAFF will also be accepting applications across four special emphasis areas: Traditional Foods and Food Sovereignty; Advocacy; Agriculture Extension; and Youth (available in a separate application process). Learn more and apply here.


Webinars & Events
1. EQUITY Join the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
March 30-April 19
It's not too late! Sign up for Food Solutions New England's (FSNE) annual 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge starting on March 30th! In its sixth year, the Challenge is a great way to learn about the history and impacts of racism on our current food system while inspiring participants with resources and tools to build racial equity in their work and lives. People from all over the country participate in the Challenge with the goal of raising awareness, shifting attitudes and changing outcomes. This year a Discussion Guide will be available for groups who want to do the Challenge together. Visit the FSNE Challenge website to learn more and register.

2. WEBINAR: How Can We Make Farm Work Healthier?
April 20 // 6:30PM PDT
Join Zócalo in the heart of California’s Central Valley, to consider how to make farm work healthier. Hear from organic farmer and artist Nikiko Masumoto, Huron Mayor Rey León, health researcher Chia Thao, and Tania Pacheco-Werner, co-assistant director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute. Register here

3. April is Kids Garden Month 
Each April, KidsGardening celebrates the joy and wonder of gardening with children with Kids Garden Month. This year, our ways of connecting with one another have rapidly changed, and KidsGardening invites families to share how they #GardenTogetherAtHome. If you are gardening with your kids, or trying any garden-based activities or lessons, enter their contest for a chance to win one of many cool prizes! Teachers, are you able to incorporate any gardening activities or lessons in your remote learning plans? Do you have ideas for families at home? Share what you’re doing and learn from others. It’s a great way to lift up, encourage, and virtually create community with other families and educators. We’re in this together. Let’s #GardenTogetherAtHome. Learn more here

4. April 11-17: Week of the Young Child
The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world's largest early childhood education association, with nearly 60,000 members and a network of 51 Affiliates. Knowing that circumstances are different for everyone, this year's celebration will focus on providing resources you can use wherever you are celebrating young children. Visit the WOYC site for additional resources, support and inspiration. Learn more here


Research & Resources
1. NFSN Farm to Early Care and Education Research and Literature
New literature and research has been added to the compiled list of Farm to Early Care and Education Research and Literature in the NFSN Resource Database. Collated by the National Farm to School Network’s Farm to Early Care and Education Working Group, this compilation of literature promotes increased access to and awareness of the research and evidence base around farm to early care and education. Any content we missed? Send suggested additions to Sadé Collins, NFSN Program Fellow, at programs@farmtoschool.org.

2. COVID-19 NFSN COVID-19 Resources for Farm to School and ECE
National Farm to School Network is compiling resources related to COVID-19 that will be relevant to the farm to school and farm to early care and education community. View the list here. This page will be updated on an ongoing basis.

3. COVID-19 Diversity Dashboard's Covid-19 Diversity & Inclusion Resources
Check out the Diversity Dashboard's resources to help diversity professionals through the COVID-19 pandemic. View the resources here.

4. COVID-19 USDA "Meals for Kids" Interactive Map
USDA's “Meals for Kids” interactive map directs people to local sites where kids can get free meals. The site finder currently lists more than 20,000 meal sites from 23 states, and more sites will be added as states submit data each week. The map is available in both English and Spanish at www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids.

5. COVID-19 No Kid Hungry: Texting Hotline to Provide Info on Emergency Meal Sites for Kids
No Kid Hungry is activating a texting hotline (FOOD/COMIDA to 877-877) to provide information about emergency food distribution sites in communities where schools have been closed due to coronavirus pandemic. To make it as effective as possible, they need your help! They're asking for data from state agencies, school districts, and food banks about when and where emergency food distribution sites are in operation. Program sponsors and administrators can submit site data at freemealsforkids.com.

6. COVID-19 Call for Food Service Video Footage
Schools across the country are figuring out how to continue getting essential food to kids. Food Insight Group (FIG) is collecting video footage of how school districts are procuring, preparing, and distributing meals to better understand what’s working and what’s needed. If you work in school foodservice, are volunteering to distribute meals, are receiving meals yourself or for a family member, or are otherwise looking for ways to help, you can send a video to FIG here.

7. Research: The Impact of a Multipronged Intervention to Increase School Lunch Participation Among Secondary School Students in an Urban Public School District
Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) and UC Berkeley School of Public Health researchers published a new study in partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) on the impact of a multi-component intervention to increase students' lunch participation in SFUSD public middle and high schools. Read more here.


Policy News
1. COVID-19 Farm to Fork Initiative's Letter to Congress on COVID-19 Response
National Farm to School Network joined 25 other organizations in calling on Congress to act in the best interest of the people who grow, deliver and serve our food. Our best bet through this crisis will be working together and supporting the people our food systems rely on, from farm to fork. Farm to Fork is calling for a #CrisisProofFoodSystem for all. Read the Farm to Fork letter here.

2. COVID-19 Sign-On Letter to USDA on Direct Farmer Aid in the CARES Act
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is leading a letter to USDA that outlines specific priorities for disbursing aid to farmers and ranchers impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. The letter asks USDA to ensure that the billions aid funding in the CARES Act is distributed equitably, reaches farmers selling into local and regional markets, is delivered in a simple and accessible manner, and goes to producers, not corporate agribusiness. National Farm to School Network has signed on to this letter, and other organizations are encouraged to sign on as well. The deadline is Wednesday, April 8 at 6pm ET. Sign on here


Job Opportunities
1. National Director, Farm to Cafeteria Canada (Burnaby, BC)
Deadline: April 30
Farm to Cafeteria Canada (F2CC) and the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) seek an experienced National Director to represent F2CC, providing strategic direction, leading the F2CC team, and effectively managing our programs and services. Learn more and apply here.

2. Associate Director of Legislative Affairs, The Good Food Institute (Washington, D.C.)
The Good Food Institute (GFI) is at the forefront of the movement to use food technology and markets to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. The Associate Director of Legislative Affairs will have the opportunity to promote a healthy, sustainable, and just food system. This position is responsible for managing GFI’s legislative initiatives/team and using state/federal legislation to remove hurdles and leverage resources to promote progress on alternative proteins. Learn more and apply here.


Farm to School in the News
OpEd: Cafeteria Workers Need Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Jennifer Gaddis and Amy Rosenthal share why school nutrition professionals need to be recognized with labor protections for risking their own health to continue serving free meals to students. (USA Today)

The Moment for Food Sovereignty is Now
From panic planting to cooperative gardens, farmers focused on equity and food justice know that ‘if you can feed yourself, you can free yourself.’ “Whether we’re talking about community gardens, home gardens, or school gardens—we just really need to localize our food and include more people in these relocalized food systems,” says Leah Penniman. (Civil Eats)

With Schools Closed, Some Districts are Feeding More People than Food Banks
Schools are more than education centers - they've become an essential lifeline for millions of children, families & community members. As more Americans are struggling to afford food, some of the nation's largest school districts are offering to feed anyone, no questions asked. (Civil Eats

Podcast: School Lunches Are As Important As Ever
On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Dani interviews Mara Fleishman, CEO of the Chef Ann Foundation, about the vital need to feed food insecure children during school closures. “When chefs are able to see that they can be creative with school food and they can help change the palates of our youngest generation – I think it brings more culinary talent into this field,” says Fleishman. Listen here.

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.

Farm to School Efforts During COVID-19 Highlight Resilient Community Food Systems

NFSN Staff Monday, April 06, 2020

Local apples and pears being packed with school meals in West Virginia. 

By Jenileigh Harris, Program Associate, and Lacy Stephens, Senior Program Manager

During this devastating crisis, we are witnessing the opportunity and strength of resilient community food systems. Communities with strong local foods infrastructure and relationships already in place are able to respond and adapt to this crisis. NFSN Partners and farm to school advocates are speaking up about how they’re supporting farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE) efforts by working to feed and educate children and youth while supporting local farmers and supply chains.

Every community is finding what works best for getting meals to students and families while supporting local producers. In some cases, school meals are being packaged and provided to students via school bus delivery routes while others are offered as a grab-n-go and curbside pick-up option at community sites such as schools or churches. In rural areas, some school districts are experimenting with at-home deliveries. Many farm to school state networks are using technology and social media like Slack and Facebook to connect and support producers in accessing additional markets.

The Common Market, a mission-driven distributor of regional farm products, is partnering with farmer and grower networks, school districts and other organizations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas to provide local food to sites serving grab-n-go feeding offerings to children and youth as well as seniors, families and communities in need. In New York, they partnered with Red Rabbit, a meal provider to New York City and surrounding areas, to deliver local apples to Harlem school meal sites. In New Jersey, they partnered with Newark Public Schools to deliver 160 cases of Frecon Farms apples to Newark school meal sites.


The Common Market preparing Farm Fresh Boxes for New Jersey communities. 
In West Virginia, the Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition has been working with local producers to disseminate local apples and pears to counties administering school meals. That includes meals served at over 505 school and community center sites across the state and meal delivery along school bus routes. Local producers send a list of available items to the Office of Child Nutrition on a weekly basis which is then sent to all 55 counties. Within the last week, West Virginia has relied on strong existing relationships to establish an extremely responsive local food system feedback loop. When a county ran out of fruit last week, a local food distributor was able to drop off local apples the next day.

In Alabama, the Farm Food Collaborative has been working with schools and producers to ensure the bounty of local strawberries is incorporated into grab-n-go school meals. One school district has already committed to serve local strawberries in their bagged meals and the Farm Food Collaborative is working on contracting with seven more districts.

NFSN Partners have also been working to ensure gardening as well as food and agriculture education continue while students are at home. Several states, including Ohio, North Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin are sending donated seed packets and grow kits home with kids in coordination with the emergency feeding programs. At some school meal pick-up locations in West Virginia, SNAP-Ed educators are dropping off grow kits with food service staff to get packed with the lunches while mailing seed packets to families based on requests gathered on Facebook. In Vermont, seed packets are being distributed along with meals and a list of aggregated resources from KidsGardening to parents and educators who may be looking for garden-based activities to tackle with their kids and students. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association is supplying seeds to open ECE sites along with additional growing supplies, instructions and an idea sheet for ECE educators.


Microgreen grow kits prepared by West Virginia SNAP-Ed educators to be included with school meals. 
In Montana, teachers are encouraged to use the state’s Harvest of the Month videos to supplement students’ at-home gardening and agriculture lessons. And, at one school in Oregon, a webcam has been set up on the school’s chicken coop and bee hives with live broadcasting on the school website to support teachers leading lessons virtually.

While every state and locale has their own set of practices that works best for their community’s needs, a few key takeaways have emerged from our Partners. States are having success incorporating local food into emergency feeding programs when existing relationships between schools and producers are strong and when lines of communication remain open between both parties. Many Partners describe functioning as a liaison between food service staff and producers, ensuring both know what is available and what is needed on a weekly basis. When incorporating local food into grab-n-go meals, Partners have learned it is easiest to source products that require minimal prep and limited refrigeration such as strawberries, apples, oranges, pears, cherry tomatoes, peas, or carrot sticks.

Communities have had success supporting families and educators in their efforts to continue food and agriculture education by leveraging existing farm to school/ECE resources, partnerships and infrastructures for resource compilation and dissemination. NFSN continues to update our compiled list of resources as they are shared with us. Please contact Lacy Stephens, Senior Program Manager at lacy@farmtoschool.org or Jenileigh Harris, Program Associate at jenileigh@farmtoschool.org to share what is working in your communities to continue farm to school efforts and support local producers.

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