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National Farm to School Network


This week in farm to school: 3/24/15

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 24, 2015

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. 

Funding & Grants
1. USDA Announces $96 Million Available to Expand Access to Healthy Food, Support Rural Economies

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $96.8 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed to support specialty crop producers, local food entrepreneurs, and farm to school efforts. The grant programs administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service include the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, which covers two types of grants: the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program. Also included in the announcement is the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service Farm to School Grant Program, designed to bring local foods into the school cafeteria.

With $5 million in funding available, the four different types of USDA Farm to School grants are:
  • Planning grants - to help schools get started
  • Implementation grants - to enable schools to expand existing programs
  • Support service grants - allows community partners such as nonprofit entities, Indian tribal nations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers to provide broad reaching support to schools in their efforts to bring local products into the cafeteria 
  • Training grants - to disseminate best practices and spread strategies known to succeed 
Proposals for planning, implementation, and support service grants are due by May 20, 2015. Letters of intent for training grants are due by April 30, 2015. More information about the Farm to School Grant Program, upcoming webinars relevant to applicants, and sample grant applications can be found at:

2. Special Grant Call from Southern SARE Focuses on Local and Regional Food Systems
A special grant call to fund research on local and regional food systems across the Southern region is now available from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) program and the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC).The special grant, part of SSARE’s Sustainable Community Innovations Grant (SCIG) program, is open to any individuals, nonprofit organizations, for-profit organizations, governmental organizations and/or educational organizations located in the Southern region.

This grant is not to fund the development of individual local and regional food systems, but to fund research defining, evaluating and understanding the impacts of local and regional food systems on sustainable agriculture. Grant proposal deadline is May 4, 2015. The project is funded for one year at a maximum of $35,000. Download the Call for Proposal to follow the guidelines for writing and submitting the grant application.

Webinars & Events
1. Third Annual Native Food Sovereignty Summit, Oct. 26-29, Green Bay, Wisconsin
First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin will co-host the Third Annual Food Sovereignty Summit in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Oct. 26-29, 2015, at the Radisson Green Bay Hotel and Conference Center. At the event, Native American communities come together to learn from one another to promote Native health, wellness and food sovereignty. This conference sold out well ahead of time the previous two years, so be sure to guarantee your attendance by registering now at Find more information here

Policy & Action

1. Second Bi-Annual Farm to School Census 

The USDA Farm to School Census is a crucial tool for gathering information about the state of the farm to school movement. The first census was conducted in 2013, and USDA is now seeking updated information through the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census. The Census questionnaire was distributed to school districts through state agencies the week of March 16. School district submissions must be received by May 29, 2015. Questions about the Census? Please contact

2. Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 
Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit

Jobs & Opportunities
1. FoodCorps Service Member Application Deadline Approaching
FoodCorps service member applications are due March 31st. Applicants are encouraged to finish their applications, and to reach out to FoodCorps with any final questions by emailing Organizations can help spread the word about the deadline by tweeting, sharing on Facebook, or doing personal outreach to people you think would make great candidates.

Farm to school in the news
Farm to School’s taste-test program steers kids from french fries to kale
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Growing Minds Farm to School program offers farm fresh taste-tests at schools and helps students develop healthy eating habits. (via Mountain Xpress

Farm to School on the Rise in Arkansas
Organized farm to school activity is relatively new in Arkansas and the surrounding area. Stakeholders gathered at the Farm to School Forum in Arkansas to discuss efforts for healthier school meals and food education. (via KUAF Radio)

At Dubuque alternative school, sowing seeds of learning
By cultivating the school’s first on-site garden, the novice gardeners at an Iowa high school will learn about collaboration, problem-solving and the importance of community involvement. (via The Des Moines Register)

Read past editions of This Week here on our blog for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country. 


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