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Farm to School Without Borders: U.S. and Canada Movements

NFSN Staff Thursday, May 07, 2020


Guest blog by Katie Kennedy, Farm to Cafeteria Canada contributor 

On February 24, 2020, it was announced that Joanne Bays is transitioning out of her role as National Director of Farm to Cafeteria Canada. The organization has been an important driver of the farm to school movement in Canada, with a mission “to bring local, healthy and sustainable foods into all public institutions”. As co-founder of Farm to Cafeteria Canada, Bays has been in this role since its inception in 2011. 
Being about a decade behind the U.S. farm to school movement, Bays has often looked to the U.S. National Farm to School Network for inspiration and guidance on how to navigate the movement in Canada. In doing so, a strong relationship was developed between Bays and Anupuma Joshi, the former Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network, as the two shared similar roles across borders. Today, the relationship between organizations continues to grow under new leadership, with Helen Dombalis as the current Executive Director in the U.S., and the soon to be determined National Director in Canada.

The key to this relationship has been that both organizations view farm to school as being without borders; meaning that these movements work with one another despite occurring in two separate countries, each with their own unique contexts and challenges. Still, the connection between the organizations has certainly played an important role in continuing to shape farm to school in each country. Bays mentioned how valuable it has been for her having someone out there doing similar work and leading the same kind of national movement, as they can mentor each other and share insights, expertise and strategies. Dombalis similarly spoke to the benefits of their working relationship wherein the two share metrics and evaluation methods, capacity building efforts and discuss the ways in which they embed all the values of farm to school into their roles, such as equity and climate change mitigation and adaptation. 
Despite the Canadian movement being the younger of the two, Dombalis mentioned a number of ways she has been inspired by Bays and farm to school in Canada. 

She appreciates “[Bays’] visionary style of the number of people to include in the movement and illuminating conversations about messaging and strategies to involve new people in the movement.” She also applauds Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s work administering direct-to-school grant programs in Canada, and cites the organization’s successful partnership with the Government of Canada, as well as efforts to encourage embedding Indigenous ways of knowing into farm to school best practices, as sources of inspiration to the U.S. movement. 

In turn, there is a great deal of work that has been done in the U.S. that has directly inspired Bays and the Canadian movement. 

“I see the strength of the US network, the way they communicate and share information, ideas and resources. The way they track and evaluate impact and – importantly – I see advocacy efforts with positive results, even in the most challenging political and economic contexts. These efforts serve as inspiration we can apply here in Canada.”

Specifically, Bays and the Farm to Cafeteria Canada team have been able to look at the tools, information and resources available in the U.S. to inform their own activities. For example, Bays appreciated coming to understand the governance models of the US National Farm to School Network – particularly a national network of regional leads to inspire the movement in communities across the country. A similar model is now evolving in Canada to support a national community of practice for farm to school. Additionally, when Bays saw that the U.S. had created a map that illuminated national farm to school trends, and that it was catching the attention of policy makers, she was inspired to develop a similar map to reflect relevant activity in Canada. 

Looking to the next chapter of farm to school in both countries, both Dombalis and Bays are encouraged by the strength of their organizations’ relationship and look to the future with positivity. 

Dombalis spoke with admiration when reflecting on Bays’ announcement. “Her retirement is another example of how [Bays] demonstrates her leadership… [it] sends a signal that there are future generations that can contribute positively to the movement.” Dombalis hopes that the future leader embodies three main values that Bays stands for: 1) the value of partnership between Canada and the U.S. and a focus on connections; 2) being centered around equity and social justice; and 3) the importance of a whole-system approach, and the potential to use policy and advocacy as ways to transform systems for the better. 

Likewise, while moving on to pursue a new chapter in her own path, Bays is excited to see the relationship continue between the Canadian and U.S. farm to school movements. She reflects that the two organizations have worked so well together on various events, such as conferences and linking their respective National Farm to School Month celebrations, and they share many common goals and values. 

When asked why now is the right time to transition from her role, Bays responded, "You know the time is right when you can see the vision that was articulated by a group of brilliant and driven individuals coming to life. You know the time is right when thousands are rolling up their sleeves to close the distance between field and tray. You know the time is right when both the leadership and resources are in place to see this activity continue to blossom in the sun for years to come.”

It seems clear that despite a coming change in leadership within the Canadian movement, we can expect to see continued collaboration between Canada and the U.S. to support the future health of both people and planet, as the two countries embody “Farm to School Without Borders”.

Learn more about Farm to Cafeteria Canada at http://www.farmtocafeteriacanada.ca/


This article was written by Katie Kennedy, BSc Food, Nutrition and Health – UBC. Katie has a strong interest in sustainable food systems and farm to school programs. She is passionate about food security, nutrition and the health of the planet. She is a contributor to Farm to Cafeteria Canada. 

This Week in Farm to School: 5/5/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 05, 2020
NEW: National Farm to School Network has launched a new weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders - similar to what is shared weekly in these This Week in Farm to School blog posts. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

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 NFSN National Farm to School Network COVID-19 Relief Fund
Deadline: May 10
National Farm to School Network has created a COVID-19 Relief Fund to support organizations in continuing their important farm to school and farm to ECE work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any organization working to support farm to school / farm to ECE efforts is eligible to apply, with priority being given to current NFSN Core and Supporting Partners, as well as organizations serving American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian populations within urban, rural and tribal jurisdictions (including schools, farmers/producers and community-based organizations and Tribal entities). The application deadline is May 10, 2020. Learn more here. Donations to support NFSN's COVID-19 Relief Fund can be made here

2. COVID-19 GENYOUth Emergency School Nutrition Funding
GENYOUth is providing grants of up to $3,000 per school to supply much-needed resources for meal distribution and delivery efforts to get food to students during COVID-19. From soft-sided coolers, bags and containers for individual servings, to protective gear for food service sanitation and safety, this equipment will help ensure our children continue to receive the nutritious meals they need. Learn more here.

3. COVID-19 EQUITY NDN Collective's COVID-19 Response Project
The NDN Collective’s COVID-19 Response Project is designed to provide immediate relief to some of the most underserved communities in the country. NDN’s intent is to quickly distribute resources to frontline organizations, Tribes, and individuals who are providing essential services to Indigenous communities within the next 15-45 days to provide gap resources during this health crisis. Grants are available to support medical supplies, food delivery, youth and/or Elder care, educational access, economic relief and more. Grant review and funding notifications will occur on a weekly basis through the end of May 2020. Learn more here. Donations to support NDN's Collective's COVID-19 Response Project can be made here

4. EQUITY Native American Agriculture Fund 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 here.

5. "One Planet. One Health" Initiative  
Deadline: June 22
Danone Institute North America – a non-profit innovation center established by Danone North America – is soliciting proposals for its second annual “One Planet. One Health” Initiative, which offers academic-based teams the opportunity to design, implement and evaluate actionable community-based projects that drive the sustainability of local food systems. The grant will provide seed funding for projects such as pilot studies, feasibility testing, needs assessments and planning grants. The four teams selected will each receive grants of $20,000 to implement their projects and amplify their messages to a broader audience – plus a $10,000 incremental award for the team with the strongest communications plan. Learn more and apply here.


Webinars & Events
1. COVID-19 Guiding Native Farmers Through COVID-19 Relief & Recovery
TODAY! May 5 // 3-4:30pm EST
Native American Agriculture Fund and Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative are pairing with Farm Aid and Farmers' Legal Action Group to walk through COVID-19 relief and recovery for Native farmers and ranchers. Register here. 

2. EQUITY Webinar Series from the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
April - August 2020
Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust is hosting a webinar series to dive deep into some of the strategies they're employing, such as Reparations, Cultural Respect Easements, Cooperative Land Tenure, and building a new economy that centers BIPOC experiences and knowledges. Featuring land and food sovereignty activists such as David Ragland, Stephanie Morningstar, Ramona Peters, Carmen Mouzon, Karen Washington, Christine Hutchinson, and Leah Penniman, you will have an opportunity to meet the food and land sovereignty change makers who work every day to make land, food, and community wealth accessible to Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Register for webinars here.

3. COVID-19 Weekly Virtual Gatherings: School Garden Support Organization Network
The School Garden Support Organization Network is hosting weekly gatherings on topics related to supporting school gardens during closures and social distancing. The next gathering is on May 6. Learn more and watch recordings here

4. COVID-19  WEBINAR: Communication and Outreach During COVID-19
May 7 // 3pm EST
As schools remain closed due to COVID-19 -- and with many states announcing that they will stay closed for the rest of the school year -- it is important that schools, sponsors, and advocates maintain communication with families about the availability of meals through the child nutrition programs. This webinar will highlight strategies and best practices for getting the word out as things continue to evolve. Register here.

5. COVID-19 National Education Association (NEA) Education Support Professionals Quality (ESPQ) Department Center for Great Public Schools Webinar: School Meal Policy in the COVID-19 Era
May 7 // 7pm EST
This webinar will explore the policy and practice of feeding hungry children in the midst of an epidemic. What intelligent and pressing advocacy has the NEA Government Relations engaged in? How have food service workers met the challenges in spite of obstacles and risks? NEA lobbyist, Christin Driscoll, NEA New Mexico Director of Instruction and Professional Learning, Ignacio Sanchez, and Angelica Castañon, Senior Policy Analyst with NEA’s Education Policy and Practice, will lead this timely and lively discussion. Register here.

6. COVID-19 Webinar: Produce in a Pandemic: Providing Children with Fresh Fruits and Vegetables During COVID-19 School Closures
May 13 // 2pm EST
Across the country school, nutrition professionals are doing incredible work to ensure children in their communities have access to meals during COVID-19 school closures. Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a balanced meal and a required meal pattern component. This SNA webinar, made possible in partnership with School Nutrition Association and United Fresh Produce Association, will highlight how several school nutrition programs are sourcing and serving fresh produce, and share how produce companies are working with school nutrition customers and supply chain partners during this unprecedented time. Register here.


Research & Resources
1. COVID-19 NFSN Farm to School / ECE & COVID-19 Resource Hub
National Farm to School Network has launched a new page on our website dedicated to making it easier for you to find all of the resources, information, and news you need to support your community food systems work during the COVID-19 pandemic. See more here.

2. COVID-19 NFSN New Weekly COVID-19 & Farm to School Resource E-Newsletter
National Farm to School Network is launching a free weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of new COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

3. COVID-19 NFSN Infographic: How to Create a Mutual Aid Pod in Your Community
Farm to school, at its core, is about relationships: relationships that benefit children and families while strengthening local community food systems. In times of crisis, these community-based relationships are even more vital in supporting continued healthy food access, community well being, and producer viability. Models like mutual aid bring people in communities together so no one goes hungry. Learn about starting a Mutual Aid Pod in your neighborhood with this new infographic

4. COVID-19 NASDA: State Departments of Ag Create Solutions to Food Supply Chain Disruptions
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) members are developing creative solutions to market and distribute food through safe, efficient, and innovative approaches – including the “Million Dollar Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Partnership," Florida's "Farm to You" commodities list, and the “Seed to Supper” in New Mexico. See many more examples here. 

5. Educational Greenhouse Program Survey
Deadline: May 8
 The U.S. Botanic Garden and City Blossoms would like to survey educators (including formal classroom educators, specialists and organizations partnering with schools, or anyone else who identifies as an educator) who would like to develop an educational greenhouse program. If this sounds like you, please take this SURVEY that will help us plan trainings around growing and teaching in a greenhouse. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes. Please respond by Friday, May 8th.


Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN Local Policy Ask Template in Response to COVID-19

National Farm to School Network has compiled local policy asks to create a COVID-19 Local Response Template for advocates. The asks in this template have been pulled together with the support of over 20 local organizations, and reflect policy concerns beyond just farm to school, as we understand that food justice is tied to the larger justice conversation. Advocates are encouraged to pull ideas from this template, making changes and additions as needed, to address the needs of your community. See more here

2. COVID-19 NFSN COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
As the federal government continues to develop legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, National Farm to School Network urges policymakers to respond to this emergency in ways that will advance a more just food system. Read our COVID-19 federal policy platform here.

3. COVID-19 NFSN Policy FAQ: Farm to School/ECE and COVID-19
National Farm to School Network is compiling policy-related questions and answers for how COVID-19 is impacting farm to school and farm to ECE efforts. In this document, find a summary of information about how the federal government has done so far to allow farm to school and ECE programs to adapt; what resources are available to farmers who are suffering losses as a result of school and program closures; and more. See more here.

4. COVID-19 EQUITY Intertribal Agriculture Council Loan Relief Call to Action
The Intertribal Agriculture Council is seeking your support for a common-sense solution that will provide meaningful, timely assistance to nearly all of the 80,000 Indian Producers, countless other farmers and ranchers across the country. This solution would reduce loan payments for all borrowers for 2020 and 2021 and allow for planning in this time of uncertainty. View the call to action and sign-on here.

5. Article: Ensuring Equitable Access to School Meals
This article in the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides an overview of the increasing prevalence of unpaid meal debt and associated lunch shaming within our nation’s schools, and the Academy’s current policy stance to address this issue, developed by the Child Nutrition Reauthorization working group and approved by the Academy Board of Directors. The Academy advocates for addressing the root cause of lunch shaming, which is unpaid meal debt, and thereby supports equitable access to school meals by expanding and strengthening universal school meal policies and programs and the Community Eligibility Provision. Read more here


Job Opportunities
1. Congressional Hunger Center, Director, Emerson National Hunger Fellowship (Washington, D.C.)
The Hunger Center seeks a Director of the Emerson National Hunger Fellowship who will lead the design of programmatic goals and strategy; fellow recruitment, selection, and advising; host organization recruitment and selection; program budget, administration and reporting; and strategic partnerships. Learn more and apply here

2. Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Director (Washington, D.C.)
This Division supports the mission of ARC through management of economic development projects. This position is responsible for providing strategic direction, operational management and personnel leadership of the Division. This position works collaboratively to plan, develop, execute and evaluate regional economic development strategies aligned with ARC’s priorities and strategic plan. The division is responsible for program grants management activities including coordination with State ARC Offices, other federal agencies, the Office of the Federal Co-Chair, and grantees. This position reports to the Executive Director and manages a team of administrative and professional positions. Learn more and apply here.


Farm to School in the News
COVID-19 PODCAST: Local Food Fuels Meals for Kids
ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) shares how in response to school closures, Buncombe County School Nutrition quickly pivoted to provide free meals to students—open to any child in the area, from birth to 18 years old. Since March 15th, they’ve served a total of 413,009 meals with breakfast and lunch combined. Listen here.

COVID-19 Community Health Collective Roots4Change Launches “Farms to Families” Initiative for Immigrant Families
A new emergency initiative provides fresh, healthy, locally grown food to Latino and Indigenous residents and families hard-hit by job loss and food insecurity. (Madison 365)

COVID-19 'They Need Our Help': Free Meals During Coronavirus Will Cost Baltimore-Area Schools Millions Without Aid
Maryland schools have been feeding whole families and neighborhoods instead of just their students, but because the U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses schools for meals on a per-student basis, schools in Maryland and around the country are bracing for tens of millions of dollars in losses from their food programs, unless they receive additional funding. (Baltimore Sun)

COVID-19 NFSN Share Your Story: Farm to School and ECE During COVID-19
Communities across the country are demonstrating innovation and resilience as they continue to connect children and families to local foods and education opportunities and support local producers. National Farm to School Network wants to hear from you about what food systems resilience looks like in your community.  If you have a farm to school, farm to ECE or community food systems story to share, please share it with us using this brief form.

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.

Preschool's Farm & Food Partnerships Keep Kids Eating Local

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 30, 2020

Photo credit: Sonflower Seeds Christian Preschool and Learning Center, taken in 2019. 
Guest blog by NC Farm to Early Care & Education, an initiative of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Based in Silk Hope, North Carolina, Sonflower Seeds Christian Preschool and Learning Center (Sonflower Seeds) has cared for children from 6 weeks old to age 12 for the past 15 years. Silk Hope is a small rural community near the Triangle of NC and beyond their play area lies 500 acres of pasture. Sonflower Seeds has been a leader in their county for many years for their support of local food and farms. 

Though the number of children at the Center has decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonflower continues to serve many children of farmers, paramedics, police, and other essential workers. We spoke with Heidi Lineberry, Sonflower Seeds’ Director, to learn how sourcing local food has allowed them to continue serving nutritious meals to the children throughout the pandemic while supporting farmers nearby. 

The NC Farm to ECE Initiative, facilitated by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, works with early childhood facilities and their communities to purchase local food and provide children with experiential learning around local food. The Farm to ECE Collaborative organizes community teams throughout North Carolina to connect food and early childhood systems. 

Sonflower Seeds has been part of the Collaborative for a few years now. In 2019, with support from NC Farm to ECE, Sonflower Seeds formalized their commitment to local food by implementing a center policy that they serve fresh produce five days a week.

Sonflower Seeds’ dedication to sourcing locally began about eight years ago, when Heidi realized that she could have milk and other dairy products delivered from a local dairy, Homeland Creamery, rather than using staff time and gas for hauling 20+ gallons of milk from the grocery store every week. They also source most of their produce locally from Red Roots Farm, Okfuskee Farm, and Kildee Farm, eggs from Edell’s Eggs, apples and berries from Millstone Creek Orchards, and ground beef from Smithview Farm. Several of these farmers have children or grandchildren who attend Sonflower Seeds. Heidi connected with other farmers through word of mouth or recommendations from other farmers. 

Sourcing food from local farmers as well as having a garden on site, has benefited Sonflower Seeds in many ways, including: 

Product availability even during emergencies: Sonflower Seeds’ existing connections with local farmers has allowed them to serve nutritious, local foods without disruption even when other centers in their area have struggled to find milk and other products during the pandemic. They were already well accustomed to ordering and delivering procedures and local suppliers prioritized Sonflower Seeds as loyal customers.

Child nutrition, experiential learning, and family engagement: Heidi believes serving nutritious local foods is part of their commitment to caring for the “whole child.” When produce is delivered, children get to know the farmers by name and learn that real people in their community grow their food. Sonflower also hosts a pop-up farmers market for parents to meet the farmers and learn how the food is produced. When the center receives carrots with the greens on, children learn which part grows below the ground and which part above and practice preparing fresh produce with child-friendly utensils. The children also love to walk through the center’s strawberry patch, and parents are interested in helping in the garden too.  

When the egg farmer has fewer eggs during the winter, the center overcomes this by slightly altering their menus and uses this as a learning opportunity to share with the children how it’s natural for chickens to take a break from laying eggs in the wintertime. One of the farmer's children was excited to share when his family got more chicks and to tell his friends they’d have more eggs soon!

Food quality and taste
: The local produce is fresh and delicious. Sonflower Seeds offers taste tests for the children and many opportunities to try new foods, and has seen the children become more adventurous. Children might not eat cooked spinach, but will pluck the leaves and eat them raw from the garden.

Marketing: Sourcing locally has helped Sonflower Seeds to attract new families too. They send out a questionnaire to new families about children’s dietary needs and preferences and promote their participation in Farm to ECE so parents know it is a priority. They display a Farm to ECE poster provided by the Collaborative on a fence outside of the building. This year alone, Sonflower Seeds added five new families because of their commitment to local foods. 

Heidi says, “The Farm to ECE Collaborative has grown our Center. It has helped us to see that a little bit of what we were already doing can be done on a broader scale, it helped turn us into a niche program by putting into policy that we serve fresh and local fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy, and promoting it. Once you put things out there more things come to you.” 

The Center receives wholesale pricing from many of the local producers and says their monthly Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) reimbursement more than covers the costs of local and organic foods. She also learned that CACFP offers reimbursement for plants, seeds, and vegetables grown by the Center.

Heidi says she really enjoys the Farm to ECE Collaborative and the energetic staff, so much so that she decided to become one of seven mentors for other centers in North Carolina. As a co-leader of an Affinity group for center directors, Heidi helps to facilitate monthly meetings to discuss food and gardening and support other centers in meeting their Farm to ECE goals. The Chatham County Partnership for Children and their Child Care Health Consultant, Dorothy Rawleigh, has also helped Sonflower Seeds with connecting with farmers, other centers nearby, and purchasing materials for raised bed gardens.

“So much of children’s time is spent eating, why not make the quality of the food a priority?” Heidi’s advice for other centers considering Farm to ECE: “You have to be willing to do trial and error. Try to meet a farmer every month, and be willing to collaborate with other directors nearby. Just give it a try!”
  
Interested in getting started with sourcing locally? Check out these local food purchasing resources from the NC Farm to ECE Initiative. 

This Week in Farm to School: 4/28/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 28, 2020
NEW: National Farm to School Network is launching a new weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders - similar to what is shared weekly in these This Week in Farm to School blog posts. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

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 NFSN National Farm to School Network COVID-19 Relief Fund
Deadline: May 10
National Farm to School Network has created a COVID-19 Relief Fund to support organizations in continuing their important farm to school and farm to ECE work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any organization working to support farm to school / farm to ECE efforts is eligible to apply, with priority being given to current NFSN Core and Supporting Partners, as well as organizations serving American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian populations within urban, rural and tribal jurisdictions (including schools, farmers/producers and community-based organizations and Tribal entities). The application deadline is May 10, 2020. Learn more here. Donations to support NFSN's COVID-19 Relief Fund can be made here

2. COVID-19 GENYOUth Emergency School Nutrition Funding
GENYOUth is providing grants of up to $3,000 per school to supply much-needed resources for meal distribution and delivery efforts to get food to students during COVID-19. From soft-sided coolers, bags and containers for individual servings, to protective gear for food service sanitation and safety, this equipment will help ensure our children continue to receive the nutritious meals they need. Learn more here.

3. COVID-19 EQUITY NDN Collective's COVID-19 Response Project
The NDN Collective’s COVID-19 Response Project is designed to provide immediate relief to some of the most underserved communities in the country. NDN’s intent is to quickly distribute resources to frontline organizations, Tribes, and individuals who are providing essential services to Indigenous communities within the next 15-45 days to provide gap resources during this health crisis. Grants are available to support medical supplies, food delivery, youth and/or Elder care, educational access, economic relief and more. Grant review and funding notifications will occur on a weekly basis through the end of May 2020. Learn more here. Donations to support NDN's Collective's COVID-19 Response Project can be made here

4. EQUITY Native American Agriculture Fund 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 here.

4. Voices for Healthy Kids: Policy Campaign Grant
Voices for Healthy Kids' Policy Campaign Grant is designed to support strategic issue advocacy campaigns supporting Voices for Healthy Kids policy priorities with a focus on health equity. Applications must be specific to an individual campaign for public policy change in one state, city, town or county, or tribal nation. Applications should focus on public policy changes to reduce health disparities for children in urban, suburban or rural settings who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, and Alaskan Native or from families who have low income. The Letter for Intend deadline is April 29, 2020. Learn more here.  


Webinars & Events
1. EQUITY Webinar Series from the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
April - August 2020
Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust is hosting a webinar series to dive deep into some of the strategies they're employing, such as Reparations, Cultural Respect Easements, Cooperative Land Tenure, and building a new economy that centers BIPOC experiences and knowledges. Featuring land and food sovereignty activists such as David Ragland, Stephanie Morningstar, Ramona Peters, Carmen Mouzon, Karen Washington, Christine Hutchinson, and Leah Penniman, you will have an opportunity to meet the food and land sovereignty change makers who work every day to make land, food, and community wealth accessible to Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Register for webinars here.

2. COVID-19 Weekly Virtual Gatherings: School Garden Support Organization Network
The School Garden Support Organization Network is hosting weekly gatherings on topics related to supporting school gardens during closures and social distancing. The next two gatherings are April 29 and May 6. Learn more and watch recordings here

3. COVID-19 Webinar: Finding Balance in Disorienting Times
April 29 // 2pm ET
To balance something means to put it in a steady position to prevent it from falling. During uncertain times, you may find yourself not feeling very steady – and that’s ok! Join Kaiser Permanente, Sanford Harmony and Healthier Generation as we help you gain practical tips to steady yourself in disorienting times, including setting boundaries, understanding why and how to use gratitude and learning how to complain effectively. Register here.


Research & Resources
1. COVID-19 NFSN Farm to School / ECE & COVID-19 Resource Hub
National Farm to School Network has launched a new page on our website dedicated to making it easier for you to find all of the resources, information, and news you need to support your community food systems work during the COVID-19 pandemic. See more here.

2. COVID-19 NFSN New Weekly COVID-19 & Farm to School Resource E-Newsletter
National Farm to School Network is launching a free weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of new COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

3. COVID-19 "Food Systems Disruptions: Turning a Threat into an Opportunity for Local Food Systems"
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed consumer buying and eating habits and strained agricultural supply chains? What does this mean for local food networks? A new JAFSCD commentary explores opportunities for the expansion of sustainable, resilient food systems as a result of this pandemic. Read more here

4. COVID-19 New Surveys Provide Insight on COVID-19 Impacts on Early Care and Education
Two new surveys - NAEYC's ECE Provider Survey and the Bipartisan Policy Center's Child Care in the Time of Coronavirus - provide important insight on the COVID-19's impacts on early care and education in the US. Highlights from these surveys include:
  • Half of providers have completely closed their facilities while 17% have closed to everyone except the children of essential personnel
  • Of the facilities remaining open, 85% reported operating with less than 50% of their enrollment capacity; and the majority of those—65%—were operating at less than 25% of capacity
  • 37% of respondents have had to lay off or furlough workers, or they have been laid off or furloughed, and another 41% anticipate furloughs or layoffs
  • 53% of center-based providers and 25% home-based care providers applied for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program.


Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and Local Food
On Friday, April 17, USDA announced the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This may be an opportunity for local product to make its way to emergency feeding programs, addressing a vital need for market opportunities for local producers and food access needs in communities. The program aims to support producers and consumers with two approaches: (1) direct support for farmers and ranchers, and (2) through the purchase and distribution of up to $3 billion of agricultural products to those in need. Read more here

2. COVID-19 NFSN COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
As the federal government continues to develop legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, National Farm to School Network urges policymakers to respond to this emergency in ways that will advance a more just food system. Read our COVID-19 federal policy platform here.

3. COVID-19 NFSN Policy FAQ: Farm to School/ECE and COVID-19
National Farm to School Network is compiling policy-related questions and answers for how COVID-19 is impacting farm to school and farm to ECE efforts. In this document, find a summary of information about how the federal government has done so far to allow farm to school and ECE programs to adapt; what resources are available to farmers who are suffering losses as a result of school and program closures; and more. See more here.

4. COVID-19 EQUITY Intertribal Agriculture Council Loan Relief Call to Action
The Intertribal Agriculture Council is seeking your support for a common-sense solution that will provide meaningful, timely assistance to nearly all of the 80,000 Indian Producers, countless other farmers and ranchers across the country. This solution would reduce loan payments for all borrowers for 2020 and 2021 and allow for planning in this time of uncertainty. View the call to action and sign-on here.


Job Opportunities
1. Congressional Hunger Center, Director, Emerson National Hunger Fellowship (Washington, D.C.)
The Hunger Center seeks a Director of the Emerson National Hunger Fellowship who will lead the design of programmatic goals and strategy; fellow recruitment, selection, and advising; host organization recruitment and selection; program budget, administration and reporting; and strategic partnerships. Learn more and apply here


Farm to School in the News
COVID-19
COVID-19 has forced large-scale farms that supply institutions to dump produce they can’t sell. Why?
To get a clearer understanding of where institutional food comes from, why kinks at the center of the supply chain make rerouting a challenge, and what’s being done to change that, The Counter interview a number of agriculture experts, including Lacy Stephens (NFSN Senior Program Manager), Laura Edwards-Orr (NFSN Advisory Board), and others. (The Counter

COVID-19 ‘The Need Is Great’: Nonprofits in Iowa Work to Meet Families’ Need for Fresh Food During Pandemic
Living in a food desert — a place where there is limited access to healthy and affordable food — is not a new issue in eastern Iowa. But COVID-19 has increased the need for fresh food and has changed how nonprofits in the state can deliver that food to people who need it most. (Little Village)

COVID-19 Oregon State University Offers Farm-To-School and Nutrition Education Activities for Youth
Can’t leave home but still want to connect with local food and farmers? OSU Extension nutrition educators have adapted materials for elementary-age youth and their families for delivery online.  All activities are free, some require registration as supplies are limited. (Herald and News)

COVID-19 Vermont's Burlington School Food Project adds frozen meals to the menu
The Burlington School Food Project is expanding its emergency meals options to include frozen meals. Each meal will come bagged with instructions on how to properly heat up the food, made from locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. "Kids do tend to eat meals at school, whether they need to financially or not, so I think now when families are really struggling, it's super important that we make sure that the nutrition that they need is being offered to them," said Doug Davis. (WCAX3)

COVID-19 NFSN Share Your Story: Farm to School and ECE During COVID-19
Communities across the country are demonstrating innovation and resilience as they continue to connect children and families to local foods and education opportunities and support local producers. National Farm to School Network wants to hear from you about what food systems resilience looks like in your community.  If you have a farm to school, farm to ECE or community food systems story to share, please share it with us using this brief form.

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.

USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and Local Food

NFSN Staff Monday, April 27, 2020

On Friday, April 17, USDA announced the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. While there is still much unknown about how the program will be implemented, it may be an opportunity for local product to make its way to emergency feeding programs, addressing a vital need for market opportunities for local producers and food access needs in communities. The program aims to support producers and consumers with two approaches:

  • Direct Support for Farmers and Ranchers
  • USDA Purchase and Distribution 
What You Need to Know 
  • Direct Support for Farmers and Ranchers - USDA is in the process of developing rules for how support will be distributed and who will be eligible. NFSN and partners are working to ensure all farmers are able to access this program by pushing USDA to target local and regional producers and to outline the measures it will take to equitably include producers of color. What you can do: We anticipate a brief rulemaking process to direct how this money will be distributed. We encourage partners to be prepared to submit comments. We also encourage partners to work with their state departments of agriculture to put pressure on USDA to commit to the measures the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition outlines.
  • USDA Purchase and Distribution - On Friday, April 24, USDA opened solicitations (view RFP here) for regional and local distributors who can coordinate purchase of agricultural products, the assembly of commodity boxes and delivery to identified non-profit organizations that can receive, store and distribute food items. Included in the application is a request for applicants to describe how they intend to support small farmers and those serving local and regional markets. Applicants are also responsible for identifying non-profit organizations for distribution, and this could potentially include schools and early care sites. What you can do: Share relevant information (see links below) with local food hubs, intermediaries, producers, and relevant food businesses. Awardees are expected to capitalize on exisiting networks and relationships, so this is a vital opportunity for local and regional food networks to activitate local distribution chains.  
Additional Resources and Information

The Common Market’s Mission-Driven Response to COVID-19 Nourishes Communities

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 23, 2020

Photo credit for all images in this blog belong to The Common Market
By Jenileigh Harris, NFSN Program Associate

When the coronavirus started to spread rapidly throughout New York City in early March, Janice, a woman in her sixties from Jackson Heights signed up for a free food delivery service operated by New York City. “Some of the food I had received was poor quality, canned, and sugary,” she said. Then, The Common Market stepped in and her first Farm-Fresh Box arrived. “The box came with fresh bread, dried beans, potatoes, a beet, kale, canned crushed tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. My first thought was that someone wants me to live and it almost brought tears to my eyes.”
 
One of the many things that the COVID-19 crisis has illuminated for our country is just how flawed our food system is and always has been, particularly when it comes to accessing fresh food. This crisis has also illustrated, however, that organizations like The Common Market - with existing infrastructure, relationships and investment in community food systems - are able to adapt and respond. 
 
A mission-driven response to COVID-19
The Common Market, a mission-driven distributor of regional farm products, is partnering with farmer and grower networks, city governments, school districts and other community organizations across the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Texas regions to ensure vulnerable communities receive fresh, healthy food and producers can continue business operations, pay workers and meet community needs. 
 
The Common Market was founded 12 years ago in Philadelphia, PA as a Mid-Atlantic regional food hub and distributor to improve fresh food accessibility in lower-income communities as well as farm viability and community and ecological health. In 2016, they expanded their model to the Southeast (located in Atlanta, Georgia) and Texas (located in Houston, Texas) in 2018. 

Historically, most of their work was with institutional kitchens, including schools (including early childhood education sites, traditional public schools, public charters, and independents), hospitals, colleges and universities, eldercare, stadiums and corrections facilities. 

“Once the coronavirus outbreak really took hold in our regions, our large institutional customers began shutting down,” describes Caitlin Honan, Marketing Coordinator with The Common Market. “Some of our farmers wondered, how would they continue to work with us? How could they follow through with their crop plans?” 

Leaning on their mission to serve, The Common Market acted swiftly and pivoted to a Farm-Fresh Box model in order to keep their commitments with their farmers as much as possible, while serving communities in need. The Farm-Fresh Boxes include a variety of seasonal produce delivered in a food-safe, self-contained box that requires minimal handling and maximum efficiency. Each box is curated by Common Market staff and farmers and represents what’s in season and available locally in each region. For example, in Texas, a typical box may include cauliflower, grapefruit, herbs, button mushrooms, red onions, kale and sweet potatoes. In the Southeast region, a box may include lettuce, shiitake mushrooms, sweet potatoes, kale, asparagus, strawberries, mustard greens and in Atlanta, the boxes also include meat and eggs. And in the Mid-Atlantic region, boxes may include asparagus, apples, scallions, lettuce, radishes and tatsoi along with bread, cheese, and dried beans.


The Common Market Mid-Atlantic Farm-Fresh Box for New York recipients.
They deliver to the most convenient aggregation point for their communities such as hospitals, community centers, childcare facilities and churches. The program provides much needed revenue for their local, family farms and offers flexible pricing for their community partners. The Farm-Fresh Box program has resulted in an unprecedented number of deliveries to families and individuals. The Common Market Texas, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic regions are averaging 200-300, 6,000, and 13,000 boxes per week, respectively. 
 
Honoring existing partnerships and commitments
Trusted relationships in their regions have been invaluable to The Common Market’s ability to respond to current needs. 

The Common Market Texas partners with
  • The Texas Center for Local Food to deliver boxes for families at the Family Health Clinic in Elgin, TX, a community-based clinic that offers free services for low-income families 
  • The Harris Health System to provide fresh food access for Harris County - which includes the city of Houston - hospital staff and patients, with plans to expand into a community curbside pickup with SNAP accessibility
The Common Market Southeast partners with 
  • The Atlanta Housing Authority to deliver Farm-Fresh Boxes weekly to doorsteps of seniors sheltered-in place
  • Enrichment Service Program (ESP) Head Start in southwest Georgia to deliver 165 boxes to ESP Head Start in Columbus, GA for families with young children
  • The Community Farmers Markets (CFM) and a network of small farmers to allow Atlanta-based farmers’ markets to operate out of The Common Market’s facility
The Common Market Mid-Atlantic partners with
  • Greener Partners to distribute 3,500+ pounds of local food to more than 500 seniors and families in Pennsylvania
  • Newark Public Schools in Newark, New Jersey and Red Rabbit in Harlem, New York to distribute local apples among emergency school meals 


The Common Market Southeast Farm-Fresh box drop at ESP Head Start in Columbus, GA. 
Through these regional partnerships, The Common Market has been able to honor existing commitments with farmers and producers and help their businesses weather this crisis. Several producers who were on the brink of laying off their entire teams have been able to keep everyone employed due to the demand facilitated through The Common Market’s contracts. “We’re incredibly grateful. It’s amazing to be a part of the relief effort in New York City. Our farmers are relieved to have a pathway for our produce, to know that our instincts and our hearts were in the right place [when we decided to move forward with our 2020 crop plans],” shared a farmer partner at Sunny Harvest, located in Kirkwood, PA. 

New partnerships and collaborations
While existing relationships and infrastructure positioned The Common Market to readily respond to this crisis, it is the innovative new partnerships and collaborations that have supported their ability to scale up and meet the unprecedented and growing needs of the communities they serve. 

Before the COVID-19 crisis, The Common Market contracted with city governments in New York and Philadelphia to provide specific farm foods to their departments of corrections. For example, in New York they won the bid to provide all of the humane cage-free eggs to Rikers Island prison complex, which demanded a full truckload every other week. 

The Common Market is increasingly seeking contract opportunities with government entities to provide more consistent and significant opportunities for the farmers they represent. “We see contracting with municipalities and school districts as a way to scale positive impact for both urban and rural communities,” explains Haile Johnston, one of The Common Market’s co-founders.*


The Common Market Texas Farm-Fresh Box contents.  
Now, due to an initiative from Mayor Bill de Blasio, The Common Market Mid-Atlantic has partnered with New York City to deliver meals to New Yorkers who are unable to access food on their own. The Common Market tapped into existing models to specifically address areas that already lack access to healthy and fresh food options. 13,000 Farm-Fresh boxes like the one Janice in Jackson Heights received - including a variety of produce, dried beans, cheese and fresh bread - are reaching New Yorkers weekly. 
 
The New York City contract connected The Common Market with the National Guard – a partnership to help with the last mile of direct at-home delivery and curbside pick-ups. The National Guard regularly meets up with The Common Market employees to help break down the pallets and load Farm-Fresh boxes into taxis and limos in order to deliver the fresh food to people’s homes. According to a recent Daily News article, more than 11,000 New York City taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers have become city-employed food delivery workers during the pandemic, earning a $15-an-hour salary. “It’s amazing to be contributing to such a massive effort. It’s very meaningful to be able to maintain outlets for our farmers’ harvests through this partnership” describes Yael Lehmann, Executive Director of The Common Market Mid-Atlantic. 
 

Members of the National Guard loading The Common Market boxes into vehicles for distribution throughout New York City.
Looking ahead
The Common Market has made significant changes to its model to respond to this crisis. However, there are several adjustments that The Common Market regional directors hope will continue beyond the immediate crisis. “I look forward to continuing our Farm-Fresh box program, which we launched in response to the crisis, retaining community engagement and government activity,” describes Margaret Smith, Director of The Common Market Texas. 

All of The Common Market locations have had to pivot their business model to adjust for shifting customer demands, including hiring additional warehouse staff and drivers to help with the increased workload and shifting their outreach approach to the community. “Our outreach efforts have centered around establishing and strengthening relationships with community partners who are serving the most vulnerable in our community: senior care facilities, homeless shelters, food pantries and organizations providing resources to needy families” says Bill Green, Executive Director of the Common Market Southeast.


The Common Market Mid-Atlantic Driver, Erick, wearing a Food Delivery Crisis Response team vest.
The Common Market has also seen that there is a huge role for their organization to play in serving urgent food and hunger needs. “We’ve been fortunate, and have heard directly from individuals receiving our food,” says Lehmann. “They’ve shared how grateful they are to receive high-quality, fresh, healthy and locally grown food during this time. For some of them, until they received our Farm-Fresh Boxes, they have mostly received low-quality, processed and packaged foods that aren’t the healthiest, and unfortunately this is the norm in the emergency food world.” 

Resilient food systems are community-powered 
The Common Market and its network of producers, delivery service providers and community organizations are showing just how resilient community-powered food systems are. Resilient community food systems are designed to manage crises; they have strong feedback loops and rely on strong local economies and policies, robust infrastructure, flexible distribution networks, innovative partnerships and trusted relationships. 
 
It is organizations like The Common Market who are pushing the dialogue around what food justice and health equity means and how we all can emerge from this crisis with the evidence, tools, stories and relationships to push for lasting and transformational change in our food system.

“Now, more than ever, we believe in the importance of resilient food systems that support our health and are strong enough to withstand any challenge,” says Smith. “It’s times like these when our vibrant community must shine the brightest. Our values, our networks built on mutual support, and our innovation will see us through as a community.”

*Haile Johnston, co-founder of The Common Market, is Advisory Board Chair of the National Farm to School Network.

This Week in Farm to School: 4/21/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 21, 2020
NEW: National Farm to School Network is launching a new weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders - similar to what is shared weekly in these This Week in Farm to School blog posts. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

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. COVID-19 COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Funding
Calling all Principals, School Nutrition Managers, School Nutrition Directors and District Superintendents! GENYOUth is providing grants of up to $3,000 per school to supply much-needed resources for meal distribution and delivery efforts to get food to students during COVID-19. From soft-sided coolers, bags and containers for individual servings, to protective gear for food service sanitation and safety, this equipment will help ensure our children continue to receive the nutritious meals they need. Learn more and apply here.

3. COVID-19  New COVID-19 Rapid Response Program Area for Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)
Deadline: June 4
NIFA recently added a program area to its main Agricultural and Food Research Initiative RFA. There are four areas of priority: Health and Security of Livestock; Well-being of Farm, Food Service Providers, and Rural Americans; Economic Security; and Food Safety. Applicants should focus on critical and urgent research, extension, or integrated solutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the nation’s food and agricultural system. Applications should include strategies and knowledge that can be rapidly implemented to minimize or eliminate COVID-19 impacts on the nation’s food and agricultural system. For more information and to apply, view the RFA.

4. EQUITY 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 here.

5. Voices for Healthy Kids: Policy Campaign Grant
Voices for Healthy Kids' Policy Campaign Grant is designed to support strategic issue advocacy campaigns supporting Voices for Healthy Kids policy priorities with a focus on health equity. Applications must be specific to an individual campaign for public policy change in one state, city, town or county, or tribal nation. Applications should focus on public policy changes to reduce health disparities for children in urban, suburban or rural settings who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, and Alaskan Native or from families who have low income. The Letter for Intend deadline is April 29, 2020. Learn more here.  


Webinars & Events
1. COVID-19 EQUITY Webinar Panel: Farmworkers, COVID-19, and Our Capitalist Food System
April 23 // 1:30pm ET
Food First is hosting a webinar panel to discuss more about farmworkers and our capitalist food system during COVID-19. This webinar will bring together Edgar Franks of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, an independent farmworker union, labor and photojournalist David Bacon, and a member from Community to Community, a women-led grassroots organization dedicated to food sovereignty and immigrant rights. Food First will be moderating this event. Register here

2. EQUITY Webinar Series from the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
April - August 2020
Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust is hosting a webinar series to dive deep into some of the strategies they're employing, such as Reparations, Cultural Respect Easements, Cooperative Land Tenure, and building a new economy that centers BIPOC experiences and knowledges. Featuring land and food sovereignty activists such as David Ragland, Stephanie Morningstar, Ramona Peters, Carmen Mouzon, Karen Washington, Christine Hutchinson, and Leah Penniman, you will have an opportunity to meet the food and land sovereignty change makers who work every day to make land, food, and community wealth accessible to Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Register for webinars here

3. EQUITY WEBINAR: Get The First Detailed Overview Of Work And Funding At The Intersection Of Climate Change, Health, And Equity
April 23 // 2:30pm-3:30pm EST
Learn what seven funder affinity groups found when they surveyed their foundation members and NGOs in the field—almost 200 foundations and organizations from around the country—about this rapidly growing and changing area of critical work. Register here

4. NFSN New Dates: 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
April 27-29, 2021 // Albuquerque, New Mexico 
National Farm to School Network is pleased to share the new dates for our 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference (originally scheduled for April 21-23, 2020): this event will now be held April 27-29, 2021 in the same location, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Current ticket holders will have their registration transferred to these new dates, with an option to change their registration status. Registration for new tickets will open in Fall 2020. Learn more here


Resources & Research 
1. COVID-19 NFSN Farm to School / ECE & COVID-19 Resource Hub
National Farm to School Network has launched a new page on our website dedicated to making it easier for you to find all of the resources, information, and news you need to support your community food systems work during the COVID-19 pandemic. See more here

2. COVID-19 New Weekly COVID-19 & Farm to School Resource E-Newsletter
National Farm to School Network is launching a free weekly e-newsletter to share a roundup of new COVID-19 related resources and information with farm to school and farm to ECE stakeholders. Sign up here to have this information delivered in your inbox weekly.

3.COVID-19 Share Your Story: Farm to School and ECE During COVID-19
Communities across the country are demonstrating innovation and resilience as they continue to connect children and families to local foods and education opportunities and support local producers. National Farm to School Network wants to hear from you about what food systems resilience looks like in your community.  If you have a farm to school, farm to ECE or community food systems story to share, please share it with us using this brief form.

4. COVID-19 Farmer's Guide to Direct Sales Software Platforms
This National Young Farmers Coalition guide is intended to help farmers compare the software platforms that support various kinds of online sales, without endorsing any product in particular. See more here

5. COVID-19 IPES' COVID-19 and the Crisis in Food Systems: Symptoms, Causes, and Potential Solutions
View the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems' (IPES) analysis of the impact COVID-19 has had on spotlighting the gaps and inequalities in our food system and potential solutions to move toward a more just food system together. Read the analysis here

6. New Study Released on Oregon’s Farm-to-School Program
In a new JAFSCD article, "Farm-to-School Grant Funding Increases Children’s Access to Local Fruits and Vegetables in Oregon," the study's results show that adapting and implementing similar programs nationwide could be a successful tool for increasing program participation among low-income school districts with high minority populations. Read more here.

7. SEEDS Gardening Activities for Kids
Gro More Good Learning Activities is a series of 72 free lessons focused on the four seasons of a garden. Each activity is fun, hands-on and perfect for getting your kids outside, exploring and learning. The activities are based on early childhood education best practices and developed in partnership with the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center. View the resource here.

8. Find a Farm Credit Lender
Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with credit and financial services, today and tomorrow. Farm Credit stands with America’s farmers and ranchers during these challenging times. Learn more here


Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
As the federal government continues to develop legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, National Farm to School Network urges policymakers to respond to this emergency in ways that will advance a more just food system. Read our COVID-19 federal policy platform here

2. COVID-19 NFSN Policy FAQ: Farm to School/ECE and COVID-19
National Farm to School Network is compiling policy-related questions and answers for how COVID-19 is impacting farm to school and farm to ECE efforts. In this document, find a summary of information about how the federal government has done so far to allow farm to school and ECE programs to adapt; what resources are available to farmers who are suffering losses as a result of school and program closures; and more. See more here

3. COVID-19 Strengthening School Nutrition in the Face of COVID-19
Karen Spangler, Policy Director of the National Farm to School Network, and Kumar Chandran, Policy Director of FoodCorps, discuss the importance of school meals in the wake of COVID-19 and offer responses to USDA's proposed changes to school nutrition standards. "When school cafeterias reopen, we must ensure school nutrition staff are equipped with the tools they need to serve a variety of healthy choices for our students. The USDA’s decision will play a critical role in making that future a reality." Read more here. (via Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity)


Farm to School in the News
COVID-19
The Scramble to Feed the Kids Left Hungry by the Coronavirus Crisis
Cafeteria workers and school nutrition directors from five districts across the country explain how meal programs are working now. (Vox)

COVID-19 Arizona School District Offers Virtual Gardening Lessons, Food Demos During School Closings
Through virtual gardening, Prescott Unified School District is encouraging students and their families to create their own gardens at home. The team has created videos and shared tips on how to plant a garden from seed, offered food demonstrations and offered tips on how to make such things as fresh yogurt and kale smoothies. (The Daily Courier)

COVID-19 Schools Transform Into ‘Relief’ Kitchens, but Federal Aid Fails to Keep Up
Many school cafeterias are now operating more like community soup kitchens, even though the federal school meals program won’t reimburse districts for meals served to struggling adults. (New York Times)

COVID-19 EQUITY Coronavirus Is Creating a Food Security Crisis in Indian Country
The coronavirus is devastating Indigenous communities, long shut out of food supply chains and infrastructure development. In addition to limited medical resources, and escalating mortality rates, many Indigenous communities are facing drastic food and water shortages. (Civil Eats)

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.

Reflections from our Executive Director: Farm to School & COVID-19

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 16, 2020
 
"There's beautiful resiliency in the community food systems that have been built... and we also know that there's a lot of work left to be done. I'm committed to responding to this moment in ways that are going to set us up for a more just food system tomorrow." - Helen Dombalis, Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network

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