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National Farm to School Network


National Farm to School Network Announces New Equity Learning Lab

NFSN Staff Monday, December 16, 2019

Thanks to the generous support of National Co+op Grocers and Newman’s Own Foundation, National Farm to School Network is excited to launch a new initiative aimed at advancing racial and social equity and addressing injustices in farm to school and the wider food movement. Our Equity Learning Lab, launching in 2020, will train farm to school leaders from across the country in equity principles and strategies that will maximize impact towards creating a more equitable and just food system. 

Advancing equity has been a core value of the National Farm to School Network since our founding, and we are committed to centering equity in all of our work. During our 2017-2019 Strategic Plan, we focused on developing resources and tools to help farm to school practitioners put equity into action. We created the Racial and Social Equity Assessment Tool for Farm to School Programs and Policy, hosted numerous webinars on equity topics, invested in farm to school in Native communities, and more. We’ve heard resounding feedback from our partners and members that they look to the National Farm to School Network as a leader for advancing equity in farm to school, and they’re eager for more tools and support to further this important work in their organizations and communities. We hear your feedback, and meeting this need is our vision for the Equity Learning Lab.

Our concept for the Equity Learning Lab is to take a collaborative and innovative approach, where project stakeholders will co-construct the programmatic content and curriculum alongside National Farm to School Network staff. Given this dynamic structure, the first Equity Learning Lab will be open to twelve NFSN Core and Supporting Partners. We believe serving a smaller group of stakeholders as an intimate group will provide the ideal environment for learning. Session topics will include identifying inequities in the food system and related history and policies; why farm to school is an approach to addressing inequities and why farm to school cannot be successful without addressing inequities; NFSN’s approach to advancing equity and how we implement it through programs and policy; equity in action; and more. It’s also our goal that this model be replicable. We’ll be using a “train the trainer” approach so that the impact of the Equity Learning Lab can extend beyond the participants, giving them tools, resources, and knowledge to share what they’ve learned back in their communities. 

The launch of our Equity Learning Lab has been made possible through generous support from National Co+op Grocers and partners within the natural/organic foods industry, who raised funds for the Equity Learning Lab during NCG's annual grocery and wellness conference and tradeshow earlier this year, and support from Newman’s Own Foundation, the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. 

We will be sharing more details about the initiative and its outcomes in the upcoming months. Be sure you’re signed up for our e-newsletter to receive the latest updates and opportunities to get involved. Have questions? Contact Krystal Oriadha, Senior Director of Programs and Policy, at

Gro More Good Launches Hydroponic Garden Project in 15 Schools

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 17, 2019

Students at Kimball Elementary School in Washington, D.C. assemble their new hydroponic growing system.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, Hawthorne Gardening Company and National Farm to School Network Launch New Hydroponic School Garden Project
15 schools in California, New York City, and Washington, D.C. to participate in STEM curriculum-aligned hydroponic gardening 

Because every student deserves the opportunity to experience the wonder of hands-on STEM education and hydroponic gardening, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, Hawthorne Gardening Company and National Farm to School Network launched a new pilot project to integrate indoor growing systems into underserved schools across the country. The project aims to spark a passion for gardening and increase hands-on science experiences for students who otherwise might not have had the opportunity.

The pilot project will expand STEM gardening opportunities at 15 schools in California, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Each school will receive hydroponic growing systems from Hawthorne Gardening Company, one-on-one support and technical assistance from garden experts, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. To help failure-proof the project and make it easier for teachers to incorporate into the classroom, ScottsMiracle-Gro, Hawthorne and National Farm to School Network developed a one-of-its-kind hydroponic curriculum aligned with Next Generation Science Standards. The hydroponic systems and curriculum will be implemented in schools during the 2019-2020 school year. 

“Every school should have the opportunity to experience the benefits of hydroponic gardening,” said Chris Hagedorn, senior vice president and general manager of Hawthorne Gardening Company. “Hydroponics enables students to have hands-on learning opportunities within arms’ reach inside of their classroom. We want more students to have access to this incredible and fascinating way to grow.”

“Hydroponic gardens offer an exciting and innovative way for more schools to make gardening opportunities available to their students. Hydroponics allow students to grow fresh produce year-round, can be set up directly in the classroom, and can be made accessible to students of all abilities,” said Lacy Stephens, Program Manager with the National Farm to School Network. “We’re excited to see these growing systems and the accompanying curriculum in action this school year, and we look forward to sharing out the schools’ successes and impacts for the wider farm to school community to learn from.” 

The schools participating in the pilot project include:  

  • Sunrise Middle School, San Jose, CA
  • San Pedro Elementary School, San Rafael, CA
  • Ewing Elementary School, Fresno, CA
  • Lu Sutton Elementary School, Novato, CA
  • Hamilton K-8 School, Novato, CA
  • J.O. Wilson Elementary School, Washington DC 
  • Kimball Elementary School, Washington DC 
  • Tubman Elementary School, Washington DC 
  • Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, Washington DC 
  • Mary McLeod Bethune Day Academy Public Charter School, Washington DC 
  • P.S. 134 George F. Bristow, Bronx, NY
  • P.S. 214 The Lorraine Hansberry Academy, Bronx, NY
  • Urban Scholars Community School, Bronx, NY
  • P.S. 55 Benjamin Franklin, Bronx, NY
  • P.S. 32 The Belmont School, Bronx, NY

This pilot project is part of ScottsMiracle-Gro’s larger Gro More Good initiative, which aims to bring the life-enhancing benefits of gardens and greenspaces to 10 million children over the next five years. As part of Gro More Good, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation is partnering with leading not-for-profit organizations, such as National Farm to School Network, to help overcome some of the pressing challenges facing today’s youth––including childhood obesity, poor nutrition and nature deficit––by improving children’s access to fresh food and increasing their time spent connected to nature. 

For more information on the Gro More Good initiative, visit

"Kids Eat Local Act" Introduced in Congress

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 13, 2019

Institutional markets represent some of the most lucrative and dependable options for America’s family farmers and ranchers – unfortunately, they can also be among the most challenging to break into. The Kids Eat Local Act (H.R. 3220, S. 1817), introduced today by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Josh Harder (D-CA), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), would help to break down barriers between school food purchasers and family farmers by simplifying local purchasing guidelines for school meal programs.

By including the Kids Eat Local Act in the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, schools would be given a new, easier to use local product specification option through which they could specify “locally grown,” “locally raised” or “locally caught” in their procurement language, and then make the award to the lowest bidder who can meet that product specification.The addition of local product specification would substantially improve opportunities for local producers by providing more flexibility for school districts. The Kids Eat Local Act would also allow schools flexibility in determining the definition of “local” that best suits their needs.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition thank the bill sponsors in both the Senate and House for introducing the Kids Eat Local Act and paving the way for increased healthy food in schools and new economic opportunities for local farmers. We urge all members of Congress to support this simple, yet significant change and look forward to continue working with our partners and allies as this bill and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization move forward.

Read our full press release here.
Learn more about the Kids Eat Local Act here.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2019 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.

NCAT and NFSN Awarded USDA Cooperative Agreement

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 06, 2019

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and National Farm to School Network (NFSN) are pleased to announce our partnership with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) to develop farm to school trainings for agricultural producers.

The goal of the partnership is to help agricultural producers build their capacity to launch or expand efforts to market to schools.

Gwen Holcomb, director of the project for OCFS, announced the farm to school training and curricula cooperative agreement on May 21. She noted that this is an important project for the agricultural producers who can grow, produce, and distribute food for Child Nutrition Programs in schools and school districts. “With more than 30 million students participating in the National School Lunch Program each day, schools provide a large, stable, long-term market for producers,” said Holcomb.

To assist producers in entering this market, NCAT and NSFN will conduct a needs assessment among agricultural producers in collaboration with state agencies (SAs) and then develop curricula. We will promote and execute trainings that use a tiered, train-the-trainer approach. 

This national three-year, $1.8 million project will be co-managed by NCAT and NFSN. NCAT, headquartered in Butte, Montana, has over 40 years of experience providing training, education and technical assistance in sustainable agriculture, local food systems, and energy efficiency and conservation. NSFN is a national information, advocacy, and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing, school gardens, and food and agriculture education into schools and early care and education settings. Assisting with the needs assessment and project evaluation are independent evaluators from New York University.

“We are so pleased to be part of this national effort to help producers access and enhance their marketing to schools and to get more healthy, local farm products in school cafeterias,” said Devona Bell, NCAT’s Sustainable Agricultural Program Director.

“Schools across the country are eager to purchase from local producers and put more fresh food on students’ plates,” said Helen Dombalis, NFSN Executive Director. “This project provides a much-needed opportunity to educate and engage more farmers and producers in market opportunities with schools. When schools buy from local producers, it’s a win for kids, farmers and communities.” 

Read the full press release here.

Kids counting on us: Give healthier school meals a chance

NFSN Staff Wednesday, December 12, 2018
By National Farm to School Network Staff

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a final rule that will relax nutrition standards for meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and other federal child nutrition programs that were implemented in 2012. The rule will: 

  • Change whole grain requirements so that half of the total weekly grains served in menus be whole grain-rich. Previously, all breads, cereals and pastas had to be at least 50% whole grain. Now, a school could serve foods that are not whole grain-rich, as long as at least 50% of the total weekly menu complies. 
  • Lengthen the amount of time for sodium reduction in meals, requiring Target 2 be met by School Year 2024-2015, and eliminate the Final Target. Previously, the rule was designed to meet the Final Target and cut sodium levels in half by 2022. 
  • Allow more flavored milk options - like chocolate and strawberry 1% - to be served. Previously, flavoring was only permitted in fat-free milks. 
While the final rule does not come as a surprise, it is disappointing. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 required USDA to update nutrition standards for the first time in three decades, and the healthier standards went into effect School Year 2012-2013. In 2014, USDA reported that 90 percent of schools were successfully meeting these updated nutrition standards. 

Beyond successful implementation, we know that the healthier standards can and are working to get students eating more fruits and vegetables, maintaining NSLP participation, and not increasing plate waste. But these positive impacts have taken time to come to fruition. 

At the National Farm to School Network, we know implementing healthier nutrition standards is like teaching kids how to ride a bicycle. We don’t prop them up on the seat, plant their feet on the pedals, and expect them to be able to ride on two wheels at their first go. Often times, we give them an extra set of wheels - training wheels - to teach them how to balance, feel comfortable, and catch a first thrill of self-propelled forward motion. We expect it will take a few tries before the training wheels come off, and a few tumbles before new riders are really cruising. 

Developing healthy eating habits goes much the same way. We shouldn’t expect kids to always like the taste of a new vegetable, or love whole grain pizza crust at first bite after being accustomed to white flour. That’s where farm to school makes its biggest impact. Activities like taste tests, school gardens, farm visits, and cooking demonstrations help students get excited about trying and liking new, healthier foods. This is something we hear over and over and over again, and it’s what the research tells us. Simply put, farm to school activities are the training wheels that make healthier nutrition standards stick with students

Giving kids repeated opportunities to learn about their food — by gardening, meeting farmers, cooking — and opportunities to try new foods — with Harvest of the Month, salad bars, and new menu item samples — add up to more receptiveness and enthusiasm for healthier school meals. Farm to school doesn’t guarantee that kids will like everything served to them, but it does aim to give kids every opportunity to build healthy habits that will last them a lifetime.  

Once you learn how to ride a bike, backwards is not a direction you want to move in. As our kids continue to grow accustomed to the healthier nutrition standards, now is not the time to go backwards. We owe it to our nation’s children, and they’re counting on us. With more than 30 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, it’s crucial that we continue to give them strong opportunities for a bright and healthy future. 

2018 Farm to School Story Roundup!

NFSN Staff Wednesday, December 12, 2018
by Elizabeth Esparza, Communications Intern

In 2018, farm to school and farm to early care and education activities grew strong in all 50 states, D.C., the U.S. Territories, and Native Communities. Some highlights from this year include garden workshops for teachers, cooking competitions, garden-sourced school lunches, garden growing contests, student-run garden markets, locally-sourced meals, community partnerships, and much more! Read on for a list of farm to school stories that prove farm to school is happening everywhere in 2018! 

Alabama: Students at Colbert County High School gain confidence in growing food for themselves and their school through their horticulture class. (Times Daily)

Alaska: Students at Pottsville Junior High School learned about victory gardens that were grown by Americans to help provide fresh food for their families during difficult times and built a community garden to help provide fresh food to students and families. (Courier News)

Arizona: In June, Killip Elementary School was the first school in Flagstaff to certify its school garden, using a ‘best practices’ approach to allow produce grown in the garden to be safely served in the lunchroom and at after-school programs. (Arizona Daily Sun)

Arkansas: In March, Arkansas Farm To School Summit welcomed farmers, educators, school nutrition staff, parents, distributors and value-chain coordinators to learn how to work with students during hands-on learning, serve the local food in the school cafeteria and sell products to schools. (

California: Rep. Jimmy Panetta visited an elementary school in Watsonville to observe the impact of a school garden program designed to provide young children in resource challenged communities with fresh healthy food and knowledge about where it comes from. (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Colorado: Preschool students at Florence Crittenton Services have a school garden as part of a program introducing them to healthy food choices and influencing what the whole family eats at home. (CBS Denver)

Connecticut: More than 1,900 students at 18 schools throughout Stamford participated in the Eighth Annual Lettuce Challenge. Students had six weeks to grow a head of buttercrunch lettuce, with each class submitting their three best plants to be judged by local horticulture experts. (Stamford Advocate)

Delaware: Agriculture students from William Penn High School learned about farming at Historic Penn Farm, where they plan, sow, and gow a variety of fruits and vegetables on four acres of land. (Delaware Greenways)

District of Columbia:
High-school students who are part of Mighty Greens, a youth-led cooperative in Washington, D.C., help educate the community about healthy eating and last year produced 1,200 pounds of fresh food, which is sold or donated. (PBS)

Florida: This year a new, almost 5,800 square foot greenhouse at Vanguard High School in Ocala produced its first batch of hydroponically-grown vegetables. The Marion County Hospital District plans to open new greenhouses at all seven public high schools in Marion County over the next three years. (Ocala Star Banner)

Georgia: Completely run by students, the Garbage-to-Garden program at Athens Intermediate School reduces major food waste. With more than half of waste reduced, the whole school is on board! (WHNT News)

Guam: Guam Department of Education was awarded a Farm to School Grant by the USDA. The department aims to encourage students to consume locally grown fruits and vegetables by working with schools to sustain school garden projects, integrate agriculture and nutrition education into existing curriculum, and implement innovative student learning activities. (USDA)

Hawaii: Hawaii public schools celebrated the holiday season with an Okinawan sweet potato pie as part of November's Aina Pono: Harvest of the Month program in more than 200 cafeterias statewide. (Khon 2)

Idaho: Boise schools celebrated National Farm to School Day with Harvest Day at Grace Jordan Elementary School, featuring a lunch menu that included Idaho-based food such as local bread, cheese, sweet corn, and grapes, as well as herbs and tomatoes grown by the Boise High community garden. (KTVB)

Illinois: An agriculture program at Freeport High School in Freeport provided students with jobs and customers with fresh vegetables. In its sixth year, the program gives about 15 students each year the chance to learn self-sufficiency and business schools through growing vegetables and operating a market. (Journal Standard)

Indiana: Indiana Grown teamed up with Purdue Extension, the Indiana State Department of Health, and the Department of Education to make a resource guide to connect Hoosier farmers to Indiana Schools. (WTTV)

Iowa: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offered a five week School Garden 101 course to help local schools start or expand their school gardens, teaching participants how to build a compost bin, test soils, plant seeds, and incorporate garden produce into classrooms and cafeterias. (Morning Ag Clips)

Kansas: In April, Kansas City Chiefs tight ends teamed up with Kansas City Community Gardens at Luff Elementary in Independence to help plant vegetables in the school’s gardens. (The Kansas City Star)

Kentucky: Fifth-graders in economics class at Latonia Elementary gained real-life lessons in growing plants and selling them. Every students has a job to do, from monitoring the plants to marketing and sales. (WCPO 9)

Louisiana: The garden at F.K White Middle School in Lake Charles worked with students who might have behavior problems in other areas to help them gain pride in their work in the garden. (KPLC TV)

Maine: In April, students and food service staff from all over Maine took part in the second regional farm to school cook off to recognize school nutrition staff and students for their skills while promoting food that is grown, raised, caught, or made in Maine. (WABI 5)

Maryland: Students at Urbana High School piloted a composting program aimed at reducing school cafeteria waste. The program, led by students in an environmental science class, involves students sorting recyclables, food scraps, trash, and liquids. (The Frederick News-Post)

Massachusetts: Students at Framingham High School work in the cafeteria and Flyers Farm in a youth program called the Partnership for Skilled Workforce. The produce is used to help make 1,000 meals per day for the Framingham Schools Food Service. (Metrowest Daily News)

Michigan: This year, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians teamed up with TCAPS’ Central Grade School to grow the student’s knowledge of ancient gardening techniques. Members of the Grand Traverse Band spoke to students about the significance of their three sisters garden and gave students rare ancient squash seeds to use. (Up North Live)

Minnesota: Middle and high school students in a Minnesota district learned about agricultural careers at a camp hosted by the Minnesota State Engineering Center of Excellence. Students learned about animal and food science, and they made and took home a small hydroponics system (The Free Press)

Mississippi: Tupelo Public School District worked to expose its pre-K and elementary students to healthy food sources and eating habits with and combat the state’s obesity crisis with the help of the district’s fifth FoodCorps volunteer. (Daily Journal)

Missouri: Columbia Public Schools and the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture teamed up to create a new farm to school coordinator position to help encourage third to fifth grade students to eat more fruits and vegetables. (Missourian)

Montana: At Helena Flats School, a section of the school’s garden contains only plants that are native to the state to bring awareness of native ecosystems into school curricula. (Flathead Beacon)

Native Communities: This year, a group of Democratic senators and representatives pushed for federal legislation to allow for tribes to administer free federal food and nutrition programs to school children. (Associated Press)

Nebraska: In March, Fairbury Public Schools kicked off their Farm to School Lunches, for the first time ever serving hamburgers raised and processed in Jefferson County. (KWBE)

Nevada: Two nonprofits in Las Vegas partnered together to create a STEM curriculum for the Clark County School District. The curriculum, which is being used by more than 3,000 teachers at more than 100 CCSD  schools aims to promote healthy living by taking classroom lesson plans for kindergarten through fifth grade out into the garden. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)                                                                                                                
New Hampshire: LEAF Charter School in Alstead ran a Food and Garden program where students grow their own food and prepare healthy meals every day at school. (Sentinel Source)

New Jersey: The Princeton School Garden Cooperative was awarded “Top Tomato” status by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture for its work familiarizing local school children with locally grown produce. (Town Topics)

New Mexico: The New Mexico Public Education Department announced that it is investing in a statewide initiative to promote farm to school produce for meals in local schools. More than $400,000 is being spent to serve some 250,000 students nutritious fruits and vegetables from local farms. (KSFR)

New York: New York State announced it would invest $1.5 million in additional funds in Farm to School lunch programs in efforts to bring fresh, locally grown farm products to public schools in the 2018-19 school year. (U.S. News)

North Carolina: Wake County School system and the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle partnered to launch an after school gardening program called Sprout Scouts at Bugg Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, where students learn how to grow their own healthy food and think about where their food comes from. (WRAL)

North Dakota:
Bismarck Public Schools launched its own farm to school initiative this year, partnering with a local farmer who provides 75 pounds of cucumbers each week to the district’s elementary schools. (The Bismarck Tribune)

Ohio: A partnership between Badger Schools and Red Basket Farm in Kinsman worked to change the perception of school lunch in their area. They started out with greens for salads, then expanded to apples, cantaloupe, cucumbers, and peppers. (WFMJ 21)

Oklahoma: Oklahoma had over 98 school districts that participated in the farm to school, working to improve the health of school children and help local farmers. (Oklahoma Farm to School Network)

Oregon: Corvallis School District’s Urban Farm, which gives students struggling in traditional classrooms an environment where they can learn through hands on work on the farm, also gave four students the chance to have jobs on the farm during the summer. (Corvallis Gazette Times

Pennsylvania: In January, students at Patton Middle School grew vegetables in the middle of winter in their indoor Tower Gardens. The towers were in addition to the school’s FCS Garden Initiative, which already included 30 raised beds outside the school. (Chester County Press)

Puerto Rico: A Puerto Rican high school student founded E-Farm, a digital platform that connects farmers across the island with consumers to help bring products that are both healthy and good for the environment. (NBC News)

Rhode Island: The University of Rhode Island’s Cooperative Extension School Garden Initiative (SGI) helped to set up a garden at Narragansett Elementary School. The SGI is a plan which seeks to set up gardens in voluntary schools to expose students to the benefits of such space. (The Narragansett Times)

South Carolina: The Florence chapter of Eat Smart Move more received grants from the city to design and construct garden beds at a handful of Florence schools and churches. The local chapter of Eat Smart Move More is a coalition dedicated to reducing obesity by promoting healthy eating and exercise. (SC Now)

South Dakota: Every elementary school classroom in the Vermillion School District received a visit from the Coordinator of Sanford FitKid, who brings them the Produce of the Month program. The program helps introduce the students to new fruits or vegetables each month. (Vermillion Plain Talk)

Tennessee: At Kingsbury High School in Memphis, the garden program has been around since 2013, but this year is the first time that students were able to work in the garden over the summer and get paid. (WMC5)

Texas: A garden program at Pre-K 4 SA in San Antonio helped picky eaters grow their curiosity for nutrition by engaging all of their senses. Some of the student’s families planted seeds at home and learned new recipes from school demonstrations. (KENS 5)

U.S. Virgin Islands: After last year’s hurricanes, staff, former students, and other volunteers worked to resurrect the Farm to School program. (The St. Thomas Source)

Utah: Provo City School District made every effort to use local products, using signs highlighting the local farms to show students where their food comes from and bringing in whole pumpkins during Farm to School Month to show students what the inside of the food looks like. (Daily Herald)

Vermont: Students throughout Vermont traveled to Essex Junction in March to take art in the 11th annual Junior Iron Chef Vermont Competition. Junior Iron Chef VT is a statewide culinary competition organized by Vermont FEED. (Bennington Banner)

Virginia: During Virginia Farm to School Week in October, students at Charlottesville High School welcomed people from Casa Alma to discuss urban farming with its garden to market class to help the students develop an appreciation for where food comes from. (NBC 29)

Washington: This spring, fifty-two volunteers brought more than 1,500 students into their gardens through the Walla Walla Valley Farm to School Program, offering class lessons and after-school and recess garden clubs where students who planted crops in the garden got to taste the fruits of their labor. (Union-Bulletin)

West Virginia: With funds from Intel and a grant from the State farm Youth Advisory Board, Crellin Elementary School was able to construct a barn and a greenhouse for the school’s farm, Sunshine Farm, where agriculture is included in everyday lessons and students are responsible for daily chores on the farm. (The Garrett County Republican

Wyoming: Students at Summit Innovations High School in Jackson have their own organic farm enclosed in a small greenhouse to the side of the school, where they grow produce to sell at a farmers market. (Gillette News Record)

Celebrating 10 Years and 200 Partners

NFSN Staff Thursday, April 13, 2017

As the National Farm to School Network celebrates our 10-year anniversary, we embark on an exciting new chapter of our work to strengthen and expand the farm to school and early care and education (ECE) movement. It is with great excitement that we announce the selection of nearly 200 partner organizations across all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and, for the first time, U.S. Territories, to serve as our 2017-2019 Core Partners and Supporting Partners.  

Representing non-profits, state agencies, school districts, farms and universities, these partner organizations will work in collaboration with NFSN to advance the farm to school and ECE movement at the local, state and national levels. Serving as the primary contact for farm to school and ECE in their state, D.C. or Territory, Core Partners will take the lead on building capacity and support for farm to school and ECE, and serve as liaisons for information, resources, needs and opportunities with NFSN. Each Core Partner is supported in these activities by up to four Supporting Partner organizations. Together, NFSN’s Core and Supporting Partner organizations are recognized leaders in farm to school and ECE, and we are thrilled to be collaborating with them for the next phase of farm to school and ECE growth and evolution. 

You can connect with your state, D.C. or Territory Core and Supporting Partners here:

The selection of Core and Supporting Partners comes at an important juncture in NFSN’s work. The first decade of our efforts focused on developing a strong network of partnerships across sectors, building awareness and increasing activities at the state and regional levels through training, capacity building and policy advocacy. This approach resulted in unprecedented growth for the farm to school movement, with farm to school activities now reaching more than 42,000 schools across the nation. Since 2011, we’ve prioritized ECE settings as touch points for expanding our network and activities. Our 2015 Survey of Early Care and Education Providers indicates farm to ECE activity in 850 sites covering 48 states and Washington, D.C.

While this growth is impressive, we recognize that there remain significant hurdles to expanding access to farm to school and ECE so that it is a norm in all K-12 schools and ECE settings, and its benefits are available to all children and all communities. In the next phase of our work, advancing farm to school and ECE in areas of high-need – including locations with high poverty and obesity rates, high free and reduced price meal eligibility, lack of policy support, weak or nonexistent state networks, and minimal funds to support farm to school and ECE efforts – will be a priority. 

As our name implies, the National Farm to School Network is truly a network – a connected and collaborative group of passionate people working to make healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities a reality in all places across our country. Our network is made up of Core and Supporting Partners, national staff, an Advisory Board and you - our 15,000 members. (Not a member? Sign up here!) We believe that robust movement building is possible only when we work collaboratively across all sectors and locations. So dig in! Meet your Core and Supporting Partners, learn what’s happening in your community and get involved. Get started by visiting our network map and selecting your location. With your engagement, the National Farm to School Network is Growing Stronger Together!

2016 Innovation Awardees

NFSN Staff Tuesday, April 12, 2016

As the backbone organization for the U.S. farm to school movement, the National Farm to School Network has the privilege to work with some of the country’s most enthusiastic, invested and creative organizations and individuals toward a future where all children, farmers and communities have the opportunity to benefit from farm to school activities. Our Core Partners are the farm to school leaders bringing these strategies into schools and communities at the state and regional level, expanding our capacity to keep this grassroots movement growing across the country.

With funding support from Newman’s Own Foundation and Farm Credit, the National Farm to School Network presented Innovation Awards in February 2016 to three new projects by our Core Partners in Georgia, the Great Lakes and the Northeast in celebration of their efforts to advance farm to school and to share their knowledge with practitioners. This year’s theme, Engaging Farmers and Producers in Farm to School, inspired projects that will use creative approaches to outreach and resource development to bring new farmers and producers into the farm to school movement.  

Projects will take place throughout 2016, and each will result in the creation of shareable information resources for farmers and farm to school practitioners about innovative strategies to engage farmers that can be used across the country. From sustainable fisheries to preschool pop-up markets, the following projects will highlight creative farm to school approaches that can inspire new opportunities in your community:

Sea to School in New England
Maine Farm to School, Massachusetts Farm to School, New Hampshire Farm to School
Award: $5,000 // Estimated completion by October 2016
Three Northeast states will create a Sea to School resource guide based on New England efforts including: case studies, best practices, recipes and an educational video appropriate for elementary school classrooms about sustainable fishing and aquaculture in the Gulf of Maine. To the extent possible, farmers/fishers will be engaged in this project and sea to school work through state and regional conferences and events throughout 2016. 
Growing Farm to School by Sharing Farmer Stories

University of Wisconsin, Madison - Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
Award: $5,000 // Estimated completion by October 2016
The six Great Lakes states will team up to develop a series of short videos featuring conversations between regional farmers and food service directors who have good working relationships. This series of professionally filmed and edited videos will highlight a diverse collection of farmers, production methods, success stories and relationships between farmers and food service directors.

Pop-Up School Market: Engaging Farmers at Preschools
Georgia Organics
Award: $5,000 // Estimated completion by December 2016
This project will pilot 10 pop-up farmers markets at childcare facilities across Georgia as direct marketing opportunities for small/medium family farmers, while engaging parents in farm to school through incentives to purchase, cook and eat healthy farm fresh food at home. Nutrition education and cooking demonstrations will be provided at the pop-up markets, and to the extent possible, farmers will be able to accept WIC vouchers. A shareable guide to pop-up markets will be produced as part of the project.

View an overview of the 2016 and 2015 Innovation Awards here

Help support more innovative ideas like these by making a donation to the National Farm to School Network. Your donations mean more healthy meals for students, more opportunities for farmers and more communities connecting around local food.
Help farm to school grow by making a donation today! 

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