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National Farm to School Network


This Week in Farm to School: 5/19/20

NFSN Staff Tuesday, May 19, 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 Action for Healthy Kids: Emergency Meal Distribution Equipment Grants
These grants provide funds for additional equipment to create “grab and go” curbside meal pickups at schools and other locations within the community. School districts (not individual schools) providing meals during school closures as a result of COVID-19 may apply for as many sites/schools that can use equipment. Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis until all funds are awarded. Learn more and apply here

2. USDA AMS Local Food Grant Programs
Deadline: May 26
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) pushed back the deadlines of its key local food grant programs by three weeks to May 26, due to COVID-19. These include Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, and Regional Food System Partnerships.

3. USDA AMS Seeks Grant Reviewers
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) seeks subject matter experts as peer reviewers to objectively evaluate grant applications against the published criteria in its competitive grant programs’ Requests for Applications. Given the sector’s great need for these resources, AMS is aiming to avoid delays on announcing its key local food grants awards, to the extent possible. They are seeking grant reviewers to assist in the upcoming review process. Learn more and apply here.

4. USDA Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Competitive Grants Program (AgVets)
Deadline: June 26
USDA NIFA's Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Program provides grants to non-profits to increase the number of military veterans gaining knowledge and skills through comprehensive, hands-on and immersive model farm and ranch programs offered regionally that lead to successful careers in the food and agricultural sector. The program encourages the development of training opportunities specifically designed for military veterans. NIFA requests applications for the AgVets to provide grants to nonprofit organizations for training programs and services to establish and enhance farming and ranching opportunities for military veterans. The close date is June 26. Learn more and apply here

5. USDA Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) Competitive Grants Program
Deadline: July 6
USDA has announced the availability of $3 million for grants through its new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. The competitive grants will support the development of urban agriculture and innovative production projects through two categories, Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. There is approximately $1 million available for Planning Projects and $2 million for Implementation Projects. The close date is July 6. Learn more and apply here.

Webinars & Events
1. COVID-19 Webinar: Opportunities and Challenges in Providing School Meals in the Wake of COVID-19
TODAY! May 19 // 1:30-3pm ET
School nutrition professionals are working hard to provide school meals to children in their local communities while our nation continues to deal with an unprecedented public health emergency. State agency leadership from three states will provide an overview for the progression of USDA policy changes requested from the state agencies to support local districts in receiving necessary flexibilities to successfully provide meals during COVID-19. This webinar is hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Register here.

2. COVID-19 Webinar: Menu Planning for Non-Congregate Meals
TODAY! May 19 // 2pm ET
Cold meals or re-heatable meals? Individually portioned items or bulk components? Planning menus for non-congregate meal service can be a challenge, especially as the weather turns warmer. Tune into this webinar to learn about planning and procuring healthy, nutritious meals for kids in your community - and about keeping those meals safe on hotter days. You'll hear from Jen McNeil from LunchAssist, Aleshia Hall-Campbell from the Institute on Child Nutrition, and Miguel Villareal from San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Register here.

3. COVID-19 Webinar: Are You Ready For The New Normal, Part Two
TODAY! May 19 // 3:30pm ET
Join Health-e Pro for the second in a two-part series on steps for child nutrition programs to prepare for Fall. Part 1 focused on asking the right questions. Part 2 will provide answers. This webinar will discuss: caring for staff; managing waivers; assessing changes to MPLH; and engaging with distributors and local farms. Register here

4. COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall: "Speak Up & Speak Out:  A Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Educators”
TODAY! May 19 // 7pm ET
Join the National Education Association for “Speak Up & Speak Out: A Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Educators," presented by the Congressional Black Caucus focused on COVID-19 and Black America. NEA’s Vice President, Becky Pringle will serve as a speaker in this important discussion. This Town Hall will include such allies as: Congresswoman Karen Bass and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (D-CA-37), Congressman and Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24), American Federation of Teachers, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., as well as other educators, activists, and thought partners. Register here

5. COVID-19 Webinar: CDC Stakeholder Webinar and Resources: Schools and Childcare 
May 20 // 4pm ET
CDC has announced upcoming live stakeholder calls to help communities plan for, respond to, and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The May 20 call is specifically for schools and childcare programs. Register here

6. COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall: Dispatch from the Frontlines: COVID-19 and Indigenous Communities
May 20 // 7pm ET
The Congressional Progressive Caucus Center and the Native Organizers Alliance are hosting “Dispatch from the Frontlines: COVID-19 and Indigenous Communities” to focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Tribal Nations and Indigenous people in the U.S. Speakers include: Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01, Laguna Pueblo); Faith Spotted Eagle (Native Organizers Alliance, Brave Heart Society, Yankton Sioux); State Rep. Ruth Buffalo (ND-HD27, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation); Tara Houska (Giniw Collective); Kevin Allis (National Congress of American Indians, Forest County Potawatomi). Register here

7. COVID-19 Webinar: Farm Credit COVID-19 Specialty Crop Virtual Panel Discussion
May 21 // 11am ET
Join this virtual panel discussion featuring Farm Credit fruit and vegetable producers. The panelists will discuss the challenges they are facing due to COVID-19, the impacts on the food supply chain and what additional resources they may require to be able to continue to operate and meet the demands of consumers. This webinar is hosted by Farm Credit. Register here

8. COVID-19 Webinar Series: Mobilizing Food Policy Councils to Support Food Workers During COVID-19
May 21 & May 28, 12pm ET
As workers from across the food supply chain risk their lives to continue feeding us, the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the harms of existing labor policies and practices. The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Policy Networks project invites you to join them for a series of webinars to discuss how food policy councils can support food chain workers during COVID-19. Register here

9. COVID-19 Webinar: Transitioning to Summer Meals
May 21 // 3pm ET
Summer's almost here - what does that mean for the Summer Nutrition Programs and those schools and sponsors that have been operating feeding programs due to COVID-19? This webinar will cover the most up-to-date information on the program flexibilities, tips for maintaining momentum, and things to consider for this summer. This webinar is hosted by FRAC. Register here

10. COVID-19 Webinar: Pickup and Order Options at Farmers Market: Create Resilience, Not Legal Vulnerability
May 21 // 4pm ET
As Farmers Markets add curbside pickup, take advance orders, and offer bundled market purchases, customers are getting fresh, local foods in the midst of a pandemic. But, these innovations can also bring legal risk as well. With some advance planning, market managers can address these risks and create a program with strength beyond COVID-19. This webinar cover issues including increased liability risk, shifting insurance needs, potential licensing obligations, and concerns under site agreements. Register here.

11. COVID-19 Webinar: True Cost Accounting in Post-COVID Food Policy
May 22 // 3pm ET
The current pandemic is showing us how brittle our food supply chains can be. But there is scope to respond to the crisis through building more sustainable, equitable food systems with policies that support localized supply chains, creating circular economies that benefit people and the planet. True Cost Accounting in food and agriculture is a currently evolving way of seeking to make visible the true costs and benefits of different food production systems with implications for everyone. Dr. Robin Currey will facilitate this panel discussion to explore how true cost accounting - applied along the food value chain - could guide post-COVID food policy. Register here

12. COVID-19 Webinar: Delivering Food and Nutrition Content During COVID-19
May 22 // 1pm ET
The Tisch Food Center, FoodCorps, and Common Threads are partnering to host a webinar on producing digital food and nutrition education content. Key areas of focus will include tailoring interventions to your audience, basic filming and video editing tips, and developing content for Google Classrooms. Hear from FoodCorps and Common Threads as they describe how they are developing high-quality digital content for their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Register here

13. COVID-19 Webinar Recording: USDA Posts Recording of CFAP Direct Payments Webinar
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has posted a recording of the webinar for farmers, ranchers and other producers interested in applying for direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) held Thursday, May 14. The recording is available on the YouTube channel for immediate viewing and will be posted at

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 USDA Extends Three Nationwide Waivers
The USDA had announced that three nationwide COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response waivers will be extended through August 31, 2020, providing critical guidance to schools and other organizations making plans now to provide meals through the summer months. Waivers extend through August 31 include: the non-congregate meal service waiver; the parent meal pick-up waiver; and the meal service times waiver. The USDA also confirmed that program operators will be able to distribute meals for more than one day at a time. View the full press release here.

3. COVID-19 EQUITY When Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Programs Close, Who Cares for Farmworkers' Children?
Over 90% of Head Start programs have temporarily closed since the COVID-19 outbreak began. These closures include nearly all Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs, which provide early education, nutrition, and health services to agricultural workers and their families. Agricultural workers, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus and many of whom were excluded from stimulus relief, now have the added strain of finding child care, while Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs do their best to support families from afar. Read more

4. COVID-19 EQUITY Orgs Providing Emergency Food Relief to Native Communities During COVID-19
As COVID-19 continues to spread, Native communities across the country have been particularly hard hit by the virus. The pandemic has also exacerbated food insecurity in Native communities, which typically already face high rates of poverty and hunger in urban and rural areas. As COVID-19 disrupts food supply chains, communities face more severe water and food shortages. Food Tank is highlighting 17 organizations providing emergency food relief to Native communities during COVID-19. Read more here
5. COVID-19 Cultivating Social-Emotional Health with Farm to Early Care and Education
Families and children are confronting stress and uncertainty in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents, caretakers, and early care and education providers may be looking for ways to encourage play-based learning that can teach children critical skills pertaining to this crisis - especially those related to social-emotional health. This resource from Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems outlines farm to ECE activities that can be helpful for continuing to cultivate young children's emotional wellness during this time. Learn more here

6. COVID-19 Big Green at Home - Virtual Education Resources
Big Green at Home compiles garden education resources for educators and families including standards-aligned curriculum material and weekly activity newsletters. See more here.

7. COVID-19 The Green Our Planet Virtual Academy
Farmers, chefs and hydroponic experts from Green Our Planet film themselves doing lessons in the gardens and at their homes, which Green Our Planet is sharing with teachers, students and families via the weekly Green Our Planet Virtual Academy Newsletter. See more here

8. COVID-19 Maine School Garden Network's Strategies for Remote School Garden Engagement 
The Main School Garden Network has a great list of ideas on how to maintain school or early care and education (ECE) gardens safely, strategies to engage kids this spring during the pandemic and many other resources. Access the document here.

9. Farmers Guide to Direct Sales Software Platforms (English & Spanish)
This publication, created by the National Young Farmers Coalition, compares farm-specific software platforms that support direct-to-consumer sales, and highlights related educational resources. English version available here. Spanish version available here.

10. Spanish Translation of FDA Produce Safety Rule
The FDA has released a Spanish translation of the codified text of the Produce Safety Rule. The Produce Safety rule establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. The rule is part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. See more here

Policy News
1. COVID-19 NFSN Sign-On To Endorse NFSN's COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
National Farm to School Network's response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic are grounded in a central goal of continuing to advance towards strong, just local and regional food systems. As Congress works to finalize its next COVID-19 response bill, NOW is that time to make our voices heard. Our federal policy platform calls on Congress to strengthen its support for school meal and child nutrition programs, farmers and those who fed us, Native communities, essential workers, children and families, and others who have been historically underserved and underrepresented. Please add your voice to endorse NFSN’s federal COVID-19 policy platform, and help us advocate key food systems priorities in the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800). Sign on here

2. COVID-19 HEROS Act Provides Additional $16.5 Billion for Farmers During Pandemic
Last week, the House of Representatives unveiled another COVID relief package. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act largely builds off of previous relief bills and includes a broad range of support from support for nutrition programs to support for worker protections and increased funding for sustainable agriculture programs. Read more from NSAC here

3. COVID-19 NY State Kicks Off Nourish New York Initiative
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball kicked off the new Nourish New York Initiative last week. The initiative is providing $25 million to food banks for the purchase of surplus agricultural products from New York State farms to distribute to populations who need them most. Read more here

4. COVID-19 Massachusetts Invests $56M to Combat Food Insecurity
To bolster the food supply chain amid the coronavirus pandemic, Massachusetts state announced an investment of $56 million to combat food insecurity as a result of findings from the state’s Food Security Task Force. The group prioritized more than 80 recommendations tied to developing an emergency food program; fortifying the food bank system; maximizing federal resources for food and nutrition and reinforcing the food system infrastructure. Read more here.

Farm to School in the News
National Farm to School Network Announces FoodCorps as 2020 National Partner of the Year
In 2017, National Farm to School Network launched a “National Partner of the Year” program to strategically align and partner with other national organizations that share our goals of ensuring a nation of healthy kids, thriving family farms, and resilient communities. In 2020, we're pleased to be partnering with FoodCorps. We are joining forces to bolster our advocacy and programming so that we can better serve our communities, especially those most impacted by an unjust food system. Read more

COVID-19 Maine Lunches Made with Local Ingredients Feeding More than Students
The Community Regional Charter School in Skowhegan is pouring its school lunch dollars into the local community, helping businesses stay afloat. "It supports local and small businesses that are the backbone of our country and helps that local hub of businesses stay alive during this time and beyond really." (News Center Maine)

COVID-19 Tennessee Schools Serving Local Produce in Grab-n-Go Lunches 
Locally grown, fresh strawberries were served in Weakley County School lunches last week. “Supplying local schools has been a goal of ours for a couple of years;” Tyler Smith, owner of Future Vision Farms, said. “However, we just haven’t had the capacity. As we have grown to meet the production of our larger customers we have been able to begin servicing local school systems with our produce. We look forward to working with Weakley County Schools throughout our season from now until Thanksgiving.” (Weakley County Press)

COVID-19 YMCA Is More Than Gym-And-Swim When Kids Need Lunch
When Shelby County Schools had to cancel its plans to provide lunches for students during the pandemic because one of its food service workers had tested positive for COVID-19, the YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South stepped up. As of last week, the project had made, boxed up, delivered and handed out 279,569 meals. (Daily Memphian)

COVID-19 Listen: ‘Our Food System Is Very Much Modeled on Plantation Economics’
CounterSpin, FAIR's podcast, interviewed Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists and NFSN Advisory Board member, about the coronavirus food crisis. Listen here.

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


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