How to keep Farm to School going in the hot summer months has long been a conversation for farm to school practitioners across the board. With 3.2 million children receiving free meals through the USDA Summer Food Service Program in 2014, these meals are a critical access point to healthy food for low income children to thrive while they are out of school during the summer months. Below are a few tips and tricks for incorporating farm to school, or "Farm to Summer" into your program or community.
Farm to Summer: Local Foods in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
Summer is a fantastic time of year to add variety to keep meals tasting great. In many regions across the United States, USDA's Summer Food Service Program aligns well with growing seasons, allowing schools and nonprofit organizations to serve products fresh from harvest.
Maintaining school gardens for back-to-school bounty
Keeping up a school garden during summer can be a challenge, but returning to school in the fall with a ready-to-harvest crop will help students hit the ground running. If your school has strong parent or community support, invite families to water and maintain the school garden for a week at a time in exchange for harvesting summer crops. Other popular approaches are partnering with a local university for student service hours in the garden, working with city parks departments, incorporating the garden in summer school curriculum or inviting summer camps to use the space for their classes. Explore more tips in this Summer in the School Garden guide by Growing Gardens in Portland, Ore.
Farm to School Resource Spotlight
Policies and Protocols for School Gardens and Garden to Cafeteria
Life Lab has put together this resource to highlight how several districts and states are setting up systems to get school garden produce onto cafeteria trays. The collection includes examples of Garden to Cafeteria policy language as well as resources for safely handling food.
Farm to School EVENTS & TRAININGS
July 14 - Northern / Central Louisiana Farm to School Meeting
CLEDA, in partnership with the LSU AgCenter and the CentralLouisiana Farm to School Taskforce, is hosting the first of two regional farm to school meetings in follow-up to May’s statewide farm to school conference. The meeting will be held in conjunction with Central Louisiana's summer "Foodapalooza: Farm to School edition" event and will feature a farm tour, project site visit, catered lunch and a presentation from the Indian Springs Farmers Association to get the meeting going. Register at https://lafarmtoschoolfoodapalooza.eventbrite.com
July 16 - Southeast Regional Farm to School Meeting
Edible Schoolyard NOLA, in partnership with the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Farm to School Alliance is hosting the second of two regional farm to school meetings in follow-up to May's statewide farm to school conference. The meeting will take place at Langston Hughes Academy, a Firstline School, located in New Orleans,LA and will include farm to school trainings in the three core areas of farm to school (procurement, gardening,education) goal setting and vision planning for the region, catered lunch and a school garden tour of the edible school yard at Langston Hughes. The day will begin with a welcome note from Austin's Sustainable Food Center Deputy Director, Andrew Smiley, who moderate goal setting and vision planning for the region and provide technical assistance / input throughout the day. Register online at louisianafarmtoschoolmeetingneworleans.eventbrite.com
July 16 - Procurement Training 10:00am - 12:30pm
July 16 - School Garden Training 10:00am - 12:30pm
July 16 - Aligning Farm to School with Common Core 10:00am - 12:30pm
August 7 - 10 - Farm to Table Conference registration now open
August 10 - Louisiana Farm to School Networking Event (in partnership with F2T conference)
Louisiana F2S Policy & F2S Policy
SB 184: Small Purchase Threshold Bill
SB 184 successfully passed this session and awaits signature in the governors office. The bill increases the "small purchase threshold" to the meet the federal threshold, which is the maximum amount of money schools can spend on a contract to buy food items, without having to engage in a lengthy and complicated formal public bidding process with potential food providers. This session with the support of Senators Thompson and Walsworth, SB184 passed with no opposition and will take effect August 1, 2015.
HB 761: Urban Ag Incentive Zone Bill
HB761 successfully passed this session and is awaiting signature in the governors office. The bill creates urban agriculture incentive zones and reduces taxes on land used for urban farming. HB 761 encourages private landowners in urban areas to provide their land for use as farms. This bill also greatly reduces expenses associated with acquiring land for many urban farmers and in turn supports the many initiatives throughout Louisiana to grow more local food.
The Farm to School Act of 2015 (National Policy)
The Farm to School Act of 2015 has been introduced in Congress! This bipartisan effort is the first step toward a major win for local economies, farm families and the health of our nation's children. The National Farm to School Network and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) are working together to ensure that this next Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) continues to strengthen farm to school and local food sourcing at schools and other education and child care settings across the country. If you want to help support this important bill, you can sign on as an individual or as an organization here.
Farm to School Initiatives & Partnerships
National Farm to School Network: Seed Change Mini-Grants
The application period for Louisiana's Seed Change mini-grant closed June 15 bringing the total number of submitted applications for the state's first competitive farm to school grant program to 49. The $5,000 mini grants will support existing farm to school activities or jump-start planning and implementation of existing and first time farm to school activities at the school or district level.
All mini grant applications will be sorted using automated workflow in the online grant management system so that each state review committee will only review applications from their own state. The initial review and scoring take place June 16 – July 6 followed by a final review period which occurs July 7 – July 14. The final reviews will be made by State Coordinators and National Farm toSchool staff. Seed Change mini-grant award announcements will begin July 15 and formal announcements made to the public are scheduled for mid August, 2015.
Pennington Biomedical Research Center and LDOE: Louisiana Farm to School Trainings
The Louisiana Farm to School Alliance is partnering with Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the Louisiana Department of Education to develop training resources for Louisiana Farm to School. Farm to School training materials will be available online and categorized by stakeholder audiences to meet to growing need in Louisiana for Farm to School information and resource sharing.
Barnraiser: crowfunding the food movement
The National Farm to School Network is partnering with Barnraiser, a crowd funding platform dedicated to good food and farming projects, to elevate farm to school projects across the country. Learn more about how to make the most of crowd funding here and get started!
Farm to school Program Highlights
A School District Unites Around Food
Ecotrust recently wrapped up a 3-year project helping 36 low-income school districts in the Pacific Northwest bring farm to school programs to life. As the project concluded, they zoomed in on the Salem-Keizer School district, where local food procurement and a school-based aquaculture program have taken off, to share a slice of this work. Get inspired and take a look at their amazing video!