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Harvesting the Benefits of Hydroponics: Highlights from the Gro More Good Hydroponics Pilot Project

NFSN Staff Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Preschoolers getting ready to taste their hydroponically-grown lettuce. Source: San Pedro Elementary, San Rafael, California, March 2020 Final Survey
By Jenileigh Harris, Program Associate

National Farm to School Network in partnership with Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and collaboration with KidsGardening is excited to release Exploring Hydroponics: A Classroom Lesson Guide. This lesson guide is the product of the Gro More Good Hydroponics Pilot Project and includes basic how-to information for growing plants hydroponically in the classroom, lesson plans to help students learn through hands-on investigations, construction plans for simple hydroponic setups, and additional reference materials to support educators. The lessons are designed to align with third through fifth grade Next Generation Science Standards but can be adapted for both younger and older students and those with different abilities. The lessons are sequenced so that each topic builds upon the previous topics but the activities can also be used independently, in any order.

The Gro More Good Hydroponics Pilot Project, launched in the fall of 2019, was aimed at integrating indoor hydroponics growing systems into systemically under resourced schools across the country. National Farm to School Network supported hydroponics experts, KidsGardening, in developing the curriculum guide, Exploring Hydroponics: A Classroom Lesson Guide. During the 2019-2020 school year, the curriculum was used in conjunction with Scotts Miracle-Gro’s AeroGarden hydroponic kits in 15 schools across California, New York and Washington D.C. In addition to introducing hydroponics into their science, technology engineering and math (STEM) classrooms, pilot schools participated in peer learning and networking calls to share successes and challenges with each other.

“The grow station is the shining light in an amazing space. It draws visitors to it and opens up conversation about what we do at FoodPrints and Kimball. The students love to talk about it. Thank you for letting us participate!” -Kimball Elementary School, Washington, D.C.
Between the 2018-2019 and the 2019-2020 school year, there was an overall increase in both engagement of students in garden-based activities as well as the total number of students reached by gardening or farm to school activities that align with Next Generation Standards as a direct result of the hydroponics system and curriculum.

By March 2020, a total of 2204 students were reached through the pilot project with gardening or farm to school activities that align with Next Generation Science Standards across New York, Washington D.C., and California, and 1954 students were directly engaged in lessons or activities using the hydroponics growing system. Additionally, between September 2019 and March 2020, there was a perceived 20% increase in student interest and a 15% increase in adult interest (teachers, administration, teaching aides, community members) in gardening as a direct result of the hydroponics system and Exploring Hydroponics curriculum.

“The Exploring Hydroponics guide has really been a huge asset to our science curriculum.” -Amidon-Bowen Elementary, Washington, D.C.

Pilot schools cited many observed benefits and positive outcomes due to the hydroponics curriculum and growing systems for students, families and adults in their respective school communities. These include:

Benefits for Students  Benefits for Students, Families, Educators and Community Members
  • Interest and knowledge of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts
  • Increased demonstration of social-emotional development (e.g., cooperation, empathy, self-regulation)
  • Access to fresh fruits and vegetables 
  • Increased engagement
  • Improved attitudes, knowledge and behaviors
  • Improved knowledge about gardening, agriculture and food systems 


Teacher, Helene, leads students in exploring the hydroponics garden and learning about how far away their food comes from. Source: P.S. 32 The Belmont School, New York, January 2020 Site Visit
When schools began closing in March, some pilot schools were able to pivot and continue hydroponics and gardening learning at home. At Kimball Elementary, the FoodPrints teacher has encouraged kids to find bean or vegetable seeds, wrap them in damp paper towels, insert into a plastic bag, tape to a window with lots of sunlight and observe daily for germination. At other schools, teachers were able to take the hydroponics units home and update students remotely through online meetings and photos. The Exploring Hydroponics guide offers many remote-adaptable lessons and at-home opportunities including how to build an aeration system at home, map your meals explorations, exploring land use worksheets, discussion questions and digging deeper videos.

“I documented the plants before we left school, transplanted them with students into soil and we are studying how they are growing at home now via live meetings and pictures. Students have been engaged in a "regrow" vegetables from scratch lesson, and have shared amazing results of starting vegetables in water with scraps they normally would've thrown out.” –P.S. 32, The Belmont School, Bronx, NY
National Farm to School Network and Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation learned a lot from the schools as they piloted and adapted the Exploring Hydroponics curriculum, troubleshooted the AeroGarden grow kit, and brought the hydroponics learning experience to life for their students. By all measures, the Gro More Good Hydroponics Pilot Project has been a success: there was an overall increase in student and family engagement in gardening and farm to school activities as a direct result of the hydroponics growing system and curriculum. While the benefits and positive outcomes are substantial, opportunities for growth have also emerged:

Strategies for better curriculum integration of opportunities to encourage at-home hydroponics and gardening
  • Adapting curriculum for younger ages
  • More opportunities to support sustained implementation (e.g., to purchase pods and other necessary resources)
  • Incorporating more multimedia tools or approaches within curriculum (e.g., instructional video)
  • Collecting and disaggregating data based on race and income (e.g., which students are more likely to have access to gardening at home?)
  • More opportunities to engage families

Students giving presentations to their classmates about hydroponics. Source: P.S. 214, Bronx, New York, March 2020 Final Survey
National Farm to School Network and Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation are excited to see how schools continue to use their hydroponic curriculum and systems in the upcoming school year, whatever that may look like, and beyond. We know students increased their understanding of where their food comes from, the environmental impacts of growing food in soil versus water, their access to fresh produce, and we can’t wait to see these benefits grow. 

Advisory Board Perspectives: Anneliese Tanner

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 25, 2020
This post is part of National Farm to School Network's new series of interviews with members of our Advisory Board about the impacts, challenges and opportunities that COVID-19 has brought about for the farm to school movement. 

Name: Anneliese Tanner
Title: Executive Director, Food Service and Warehouse Operations at Austin Independent School District
Organization: Austin Independent School District
Location: Austin, Texas
First-year on the National Farm to School Network Advisory Board

Scott Bunn, NFSN Development Director, sat down with Anneliese for a conversation about how the COVID-19 emergency has impacted her work, the challenges and innovations she’s seen, and what all of this means for the future of farm to school and our food system.

“My biggest hope as a silver lining to emerge from this is universal meals for all students. We have really seen as a nation that school food service is incredibly important for feeding all students, not just those most in need. We’ve seen economic conditions quickly take hold in parts of town that you wouldn’t have guessed before.” – Anneliese Tanner
Listen to the full podcast here:

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.

A Big Year in Florida Farm to School

NFSN Staff Monday, December 02, 2019
By Lacy Stephens, NFSN Program Manager

2019 has been an exceptional year for Florida’s Farm to School Initiative. Farm to school momentum in the state culminated with two exciting events this November. First, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services release their first ever Farm to School Annual Report. The report details Florida farm to school product sales and uses economic impact modeling (using IMPLAN software) to estimate the economic contribution of farm to school sales in the states. The results are powerful! According to the report, approximately $64,106,312 of Florida products were purchased by schools in the 2018-19 school year. Those purchases contributed to 639 jobs, $30,429,315 in labor income, and $144,765,615 in total economic impact (total output – direct, indirect, and induced effect).

The first Florida Farm to School Conference, held November 8-9 in Orlando, was a celebration of the state’s accomplishments and evidence of the drive to expand the work. The conference included tracks for producers and a track for school nutrition service and farm to school coordinators. While content focused on the unique need of each stakeholder group, meals and networking events facilitated collaboration and the development of new partnerships. Presenters brought the origins of farm to school together with the hope for farm to school future, with sessions from one of farm to school’s original champions Glyen Holmes of the New North Florida Growers Cooperative and emerging leaders like Lane and Brett Singleton of Singleton Family Farms. National Farm to School Network Program Manager, Lacy Stephens, contributed to the joyful learning with a session on Advocating for Farm to School Support.

A strong contributor to Florida’s farm to school growth is the support and championing of the efforts by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner, Nicole “Nikki” Fried. Commissioner Fried articulated the goals of the Farm to School Summit and the Florida Farm to School Initiative in her welcome message to attendees: “Together we can ensure that every meal served is healthy, nutritious and Fresh From Florida.”

Photo: Lacy Stephens, NFSN Program Manager, and Beth Spratt and Andrew Smith, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, NFSN Florida Core Partners, at the Florida Farm to School Conference.

Native F2S Champions: Newcomb High School

NFSN Staff Wednesday, November 13, 2019
By Matthew Denetclaw, Intertribal Agriculture Council, Navajo Region


Photo Credit: Newcomb High School 
This blog is part of a series of profiles of Native Farm to School Champions, organized and collated by the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC). IAC is NFSN's 2019 National Partner of the Year, and we are excited to collaborate with IAC on this storytelling project to celebrate farm to school activities happening across Indian Country. These Champion profiles were written and submitted by IAC's Regional Technical Assistance Specialists, and these programs will be recognized for the farm to school leadership at the 2019 IAC Annual Meeting. Learn more about the IAC at www.indianag.org.

Many miles from the nearest grocery store lies the community of Newcomb, New Mexico. Located on the Navajo Reservation, Newcomb High School is an institution full of opportunity. One unique individual providing the opportunity for students to see a future in locally grown food initiatives is agriculture instructor Augusta Ahlm.

Ms. Ahlm has been teaching at Newcomb High School for two years. She has taken the immediate initiative to find ways to revive the agriculture program which now makes an impact beyond campus borders. After observing little to no infrastructure in place for food production or available funding within the school district, she managed to pursue and receive many in-kind donations from producers near and far to create their current agriculture science center.

It all began by coordinating labor from the chapter house summer student work program, who used recycled materials to build animal housing facilities and box gardens with a hoop house for a controlled growing environment. In addition to growing produce, Ms. Ahlm later acquired several head of sheep and numerous chickens for animal protein production. Every year, the Newcomb High School agriculture program harvests a sheep using the traditional Navajo method to offer a meal for the community in addition to offering fresh vegetables annually. Students and community members alike enjoy and participate in the cooking demonstrations.

The local senior center also benefits by receiving eggs produced by the chickens. Recently, they have installed an aquaponics systems producing a successful harvest of herbs, and soon will be looking forward to adding radish sprouts and wheatgrass. They also help mitigate food waste by collecting cafeteria veggie scraps to add into their compost heap. Ms. Ahlm now looks forward to working with IAC Navajo Region to find the available resources through the National Farm to School Network to help take her program to the next level.

Learn more about Newcomb High School here: https://www.newcombhigh.org/

Farm to School Without Borders: Canada’s Farm to School Story

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Guest blog by Farm to Cafeteria Canada

The Canadian Context 
Founded in 2011, Farm to Cafeteria Canada (F2CC) is a pan-Canadian organization that was formed to work with partners across Canada to educate, build capacity, strengthen partnerships, and influence policy to bring local, healthy, and sustainable foods into all public institutions.

Across Canada we’re seeing and celebrating so much exciting activity to bring the local harvest into school classrooms and cafeterias. Just like in the US, farm to school in Canada is about closing the distance between field and fork and cultivating a generation of healthy eaters and critical thinkers who understand and value food and its role in personal, cultural, and planetary health. 

Some communities use the term Local Food to School (LF2S), where “local food” can include seafood, game and other “wild” foods, that connect schools with fishers, elders and other knowledge keepers who can harvest and prepare these foods safely and in a culturally meaningful manner. Check out this short video to see LF2S in action in a remote Indigenous community. 



Inspired by the US National Farm to School Network, the Canadian farm to school network championed by F2CC is over 5,000 members/followers strong, with representatives from nearly every province and territory. To date, 1,219 schools and campuses have shared their farm to school activity with F2CC so that it can be tracked on the Canadian Farm to School Map. Institutes report they are providing 864,579 students (about 10% of the national youth population, ages 5-24) with an opportunity to experience growing, harvesting, preparing and eating healthy local foods at school. We know there is much more grassroots activity happening and expect this number to grow as more become aware of the map. We’re also learning from the US and hoping to get farm to school questions embedded into our agricultural census. 

Farm to school has drawn the eye and support of the Canadian government. Since 2016, the federal government has partnered with F2CC, investing nearly $2 million in a pan-Canadian farm to school initiative - F2S: Canada Digs In! (F2SDCI). Federal funding has been matched by multiple partners, including Whole Kids Foundation. Thus far F2SCDI has enabled the development of pilot programs in nearly 100 schools, affording more than 35,000 students to experience farm to school. (Read / watch some of their stories here.) This project is significant in that it represents the largest ever federal investment in school food to date, and for the first time ever it has allowed us to evaluate the impacts of farm to school in Canada!


We’re working to paint a new chapter! 
As an interesting bit of context about Canada - many schools - especially at the elementary and middle school level - do not have cafeterias, and often lack cooking facilities of any sort. Instead, farm to school program are creative and unique to each and every school, often championed by dedicated teachers, school administrators and parent/community volunteers. Our work at F2CC is building on the amazing efforts of schools and communities at the grassroots level by evaluating and supporting schools to implement best practices in farm to school.

To do this, F2CC has been developing a Canadian farm to school framework and articulating the farm to school approach, within which there are multiple models

F2CC is not alone in our quest to paint a strong future for school food in Canada. There are many provincial and national groups with brush in hand. The Coalition for Healthy School Food representing more than 80 organizations, is advocating for a federal investment in a national school food program that would eventually ensure that all students have access to a healthy meal or snack at school every day. Many farm to school champions are at that table influencing the development of a set of strong principles that align with those underpinning the farm to school approach (including the need for such a program to be universal, community-driven, and include conflict of interest standards). In addition to ensuring that students can access a meal so that they are ready to learn at school, farm to school champions seek a program that closes the distance between students, their food, and their land while supporting the sustainability of regional food systems.  

Our vision? Every child has an opportunity to experience the joy of farm to school! The momentum is building!


Resources of Interest
Farm to Cafeteria Canada has developed a number of resources that may be of interest.


Farm to School Month!
And how are we celebrating Farm to School Month? Our theme in Canada this year is Healthy People Healthy Planet. To help our schools celebrate we’ve launched a Zero Food Waste Challenge. Visit our Farm to School Month website to check it out! 


Top photo: A student at Kinkora Regional High School, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Photo Credit: Amanda Kingman

Welcome, Jenileigh Harris!

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 09, 2019
National Farm to School Network is pleased to share that Jenileigh Harris has joined our staff as Program Associate. Since March 2019, Jenileigh has worked with NFSN as Programs Intern. 

Jenileigh has experience in education, scientific and legal research, and food and agriculture law and policy. She is passionate about food justice, systems change work, effective policymaking and utilizing education as a tool for advocacy. Jenileigh is a graduate of Vermont Law School (VLS) where she earned her master’s degree in Food and Agriculture Law and Policy. While at VLS, she co-launched the Racial Equity Working Group to host events and facilitate conversations and events celebrating racial and cultural diversity as well as highlighting racial and social inequities in the food system. She has continued working with the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at VLS as a policy research consultant on projects such as farm to school state policy, food system resiliency, and seafood fraud. 

In her new role as Program Associate, Jenileigh will continue contributing to National Farm to School Network and the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s cooperative agreement with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Community Food Systems to develop farm to school trainings for agricultural producers. Jenileigh currently resides in Colorado Springs, CO and enjoys mountain biking, trail running, yoga, cooking, reading, and drinking coffee. Welcome to your new role, Jenileigh! 

Meet Our Interns!

NFSN Staff Tuesday, July 23, 2019
National Farm to School Network is excited to be working with three interns on our team this summer! These interns have come to work  with us through the support of several different partner organizations, and over the coming months, they’ll be making contributions to strengthen our work on statewide policy tracking, various projects related to equity and food systems, and increasing communications, especially in tribal communities. Meet our interns below, and please join us in welcoming Jacquelyn, Jenileigh and Mackenize!

Jacquelyn Sullivan - Zero Hunger Intern, Congressional Hunger Center
Jacquelyn is a current student at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC studying Political Science and Community Studies. At Guilford, Jacquelyn serves as Coordinator for the Church Under the Bridge initiative, leading food recovery efforts and community building on her campus and in the Greensboro region at large. In addition, she aids in the management of Mobile Oasis, a mobile farmers market bringing local produce to neighboring food deserts. She has a passion for politics and leads her local chapter of Democracy Matters, a group focused on getting money out of politics and anti-voter suppression. Additionally, she spent a semester abroad in Chile, Nepal, and Jordan conducting interpretive research on food security. Working with NFSN's Policy Team, Jacquelyn is updating NFSN's state policy tracker so that we have a better understanding of  how states are growing farm to school through legislation, and how NFSN can support these efforts. She is also creating a calendar of state legislative sessions to help NFNS prepare future policy advocacy actions and forming a rubric for evaluating equity-advancing opportunities in our policy work. Jacquelyn currently resides in Winston-Salem, NC where she enjoys going to concerts, thrift shopping, and spending time with her friends.

Jenileigh Harris - Programs Intern
Jenileigh has experience in education, scientific and legal research, and food and agriculture law and policy. She is passionate about food justice, systems change work, effective policymaking and utilizing education as a tool for advocacy. Jenileigh is a recent graduate of Vermont Law School (VLS) where she earned her master’s degree in Food and Agriculture Law and Policy. While at VLS, she co-launched the Racial Equity Working Group to host events and facilitate conversations highlighting racial and cultural diversity as well as the racial and social inequities present within the food system. At NFSN, Jenileigh has been assisting the Programs team on various projects by providing logistical support for NFSN’s Annual Meeting, supporting farm to school grant program evaluations, writing content for NFSN’s farm to early care and education procurement blog series, and developing a comprehensive farm to school producer resource database. Jenileigh currently resides in Colorado Springs, CO and enjoys mountain biking, yoga, cooking, reading, and drinking coffee.


Mackenize Martinez - Partnership Communications Intern, Intertribal Agriculture Council
Mackenize Martinez is a native of Zwolle, LA. She is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Sciences with a concentration in Animal Science from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. At McNeese State University, Mackenize has had much departmental involvement, including competing as a member of the collegiate livestock judging team, volunteering with the non-profit organization Ducks Unlimited, and serving as a biological volunteer for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Alongside school activities, Mackenize spends much of her time traveling and working with youth programming in Native American communities. Mackenize serves as the Communications Intern for National Farm to School Network through the Intertribal Agriculture Council (NFSN's 2019 National Partner of the Year), where she engages with stakeholders from around the country with various public relations projects relating to farm to school practices. Mackenize also enjoys working as a Research Assistant for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas and serves as the Western Region Representative for the Native Youth Food Sovereignty Alliance (NYFSA) Board. After graduation, she plans to continue her post-secondary education in the agricultural science field and work with livestock producers in Native American communities to help improve local food systems. 

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