It's time for you and your students to march your schoolyard garden into spring! So many exciting and delicious spring vegetables and fruits are ready to be planted this month! Here are just some of the ways we're putting down good roots this March.
Early bird registration is now open for the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Madison, Wis., June 2-4, 2016. This event is the only national gathering of stakeholders from across the farm to cafeteria movement, making it a crucial leadership development opportunity to advance community health, build economic opportunities for farmers and producers, and ensure long-term sustainability for local food efforts nationwide.
If you're interested in applying for a scholarship for the conference, applications are due one week from today on Monday, February 29th at 4PM CST.
We need your Louisiana farm to school voices to be a part of the national conversation! To register with early bird pricing or for more scholarship application information, visit farmtocafeteriaconference.org.
This month, the USDA announced some important (and exciting!) news regarding the Farm to School Grant Program schedule. The FY2017 schedule will be delayed in anticipation of the results of the Child Nutrition Act's reauthorization process in Congress (CNR is the authorizing legislation for the grant program). From the USDA announcement:
In anticipation of change, there will be a delay in the release of the FY2017 request for applications from February to September. In addition to preparing for the potential changes in the authorizing legislation, a schedule change will allow time to review the program’s current policies and procedures, taking into account feedback from past applicants and grantees, and program evaluation results. Below is the anticipated updated schedule:
September 2016: Release FY2017 request for Farm to School Grant applications
November 2016: FY2017 Farm to School Grant applications due
May 2017: Announce awards
As we've recently reported, CNR has seen unilateral support throughout the process as well as some encouraging big wins. Most recently, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry passed the newest draft of the bill, Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016. This version includes changes that impact the scope of the Farm to School Grant Program.
For more information about the Farm to School grant Program as well as regarding other exciting USDA grant opportunities, visit the Department's Community Food Systems website.
Last Monday, the National Farm to School Network announced June 2nd's pre-conference short courses which will offer an opportunity for attendees to dig deeper with experts from the Wallace Center, National Farmers Union, Chef Ann Foundation and more. Topics will include dismantling racism and advancing equity, models of state and regional collaboration and network development, implementing farm to school in school kitchens, how to start a cooperative, and food hubs and farm to cafeteria. These advanced half and full day courses will address challenges faced by mature programs and deepen attendees' involvement in farm to cafeteria activities.
We know that so many of our Louisiana educators, growers and advocates are involved in projects working toward increased equity and racial justice in our state's food systems. We know that you bring truly invaluable experience and knowledge to the table around all components of farm to school -- from implementation and logistics to collaboration and community-building. Please take a moment to check out scholarship and short course information -- we need your Louisiana farm to school voices to be part of these conversations!
Early Bird registration for the conference will open this coming Monday, February 15th and short courses are first-come, first-served! Additionally, scholarship applications are still being accepted through February 29th at 4PM CST.
The National Farm to School Network is now accepting applications for scholarships to the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, which will take place in Madison, Wisconsin, June 2-4, 2016. This event is the top national training and networking event for farm to cafeteria professionals working to improve community health, build economic opportunities for farmers and producers, and ensure long-term sustainability for local food efforts nationwide. To ensure the conference reflects the full diversity of the movement, scholarships are prioritized for farmers, farmer support organizations, youth (through age 22), persons of color, food service professionals, farm to college/hospital practitioners, and early care and education providers.
Don’t delay! Help us ensure that our flourishing Louisiana farm to school movement is well represented at this top national farm to school event. Learn more and submit your application at farmtocafeteriaconference.org now until the deadline of Feb. 29 at 4pm CST.
January has been an action-packed month for farm to school in Louisiana! Here we've rounded up the month's most helpful resources, inspiring stories, and exciting news events for F2S.
- On January 20th, the Senate Agriculture Committee unilaterally approved of the latest CNR draft, the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016. This is BIG news for farm to school! The bill not only doubles funding for USDA farm to school grants, but also increases support for after school, summer, and early care and education programs. Pop over to NFSN for more on why the bill matters and where it goes from here!
- Scholarship applications are now being accepted for the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference! This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to learn, grow, and network with growers, educators, and policy makers from across the country. The conference will be held in Madison, Wisconsin, June 2nd through 4th. The deadline to apply is February 29th. Additional information can be found here.
- We loved this story about BoysGrow, a Kansas City nonprofit that pays at-risk teens to grow and sell vegetables through their farm-based leadership program. As participant Tyson Hicks-Garlington says, “I have more respect for my food, because people work day and night to put this on our plates. I’m eating healthier too. Food and farming go hand-in-hand to me now.”
- Earlier this month, Salud America! released a report that found children in high-density Latino neighborhoods tend to have increased easy access to unhealthy food options at or near their schools. To accompany the report's release, Lisa Ellis-Veraza of Salud authored an incredible article for NFSN positively brimming with plugs for extraordinary organizations, educational resources and tools for organizing. We can't recommend it enough!
- January kicked off the USDA's new webinar series, "Planning for Farm to School Success in 2016." The series will continue throughout the spring with a February 4th session covering "Finding and Buying Local Foods." Check out our calendar for more details and other farm to school events on the horizon!
Wednesday morning, the Senate Agriculture Committee unilaterally approved of their newest CNR draft, Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016. This is a big step forward for CNR as well as for our nationwide farm to school movement. From the National Farm to School Network's announcement of the bill's committee approval:
Under the bill, funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is doubled from $5 million to $10 million per year, helping schools across the country increase their local food purchases and expand food and agriculture education. The bill also increases the ability for tribal schools and feeding programs to serve culturally significant foods and increase the scope of the USDA Farm to School Program to include early care and education centers, summer food service program sites and after school programs.
This big victory marks the beginning of the lengthy process of reauthorization. CNR will now move to the Senate floor for final debate. Check out NFSN's handy flowchart to follow along in the process!
To make your voice heard moving forward, let our Louisiana Senators know that you want to see a CNR with strong support for farm to school programs passed on the Senate floor! You can share this message on social media: We need a strong CNR with #farmtoschool to grow healthy kids. @SenatorDavid, bring #CNR2016 to the Senate floor!
Thank you all for your support and advocacy in this effort! This win is because of you.