The Dirt: Volume 5, Issue 3, October 30, 2018 - "Farm to School Month Culminates with an Apple Crunch and a New Report"

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Volume 5, Issue 3, October 30, 2018

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Apple Slicer

Farm to School Month Culminates with an Apple Crunch and a New Report

Man Farming

Hot Off the Press: The New Farm to School Grantee Report

The Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) is excited to release a new report: Cultivating Opportunity: An Overview of USDA’s Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 Farm to School Grantees’ Growing Achievements. Trends and best practices from fiscal year (FY) 2015 and 2016 farm to school grantees are highlighted throughout. OCFS also takes a look at baseline data collected from grantees to assess the impact of the grant program on the growth of the farm to school movement nationwide.

In the report, OCFS identifies three key strategies as being integral to farm to school success: 1) educational and experiential learning, 2) sourcing local foods, and 3) local policy and systems change.  Each section includes an overview of the strategy, spotlights how grantees implemented best practices in that strategy and identifies key partner roles in implementing each strategy.

The report reveals many reported benefits to farm to school participation. For example, 45 percent of grantees reported increased school meal participation, 40 percent reported that they had support and collaboration among agricultural producers, and 73 percent reported that their farm to school educational concepts aligned with national and state education standards. The grantees also reported a far higher than average percent expenditure on local foods. They also reported that over a quarter of a million children had a chance to visit a local farm. These types of educational and experiential activities have been shown to improve student food choices both at school and at home.

Read more to find out why farm to school is a big win for farmers, schools, kids and communities!

Apple Cutout Portraits

Farm to School Fun with an Apple Crunch

How did you celebrate Farm to School month? Columbus City Schools, a FY17 Farm to School Implementation Grantee, joined millions of students, children, teachers, and good food supporters across the Great Lakes Region as they crunched into locally and regionally-grown apples. This was part of this year’s Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch celebration of Farm to School Month.

All over the country, school districts, non-profits, and state agencies crunched into apples as part of regional and local Apple Crunches.  This year’s Crunch was unique at Columbus City Schools, because students not only crunched into Ohio-grown apples, but many of them were able to crunch into apples that were sliced using the brand new apple slicer that was purchased with grant funding. Since the start of their grant, Columbus City Schools estimates that they have purchased approximately 5 million Ohio Apples. Those numbers are expected to rise as they begin serving sliced apples across the district. The new apple slicer will make it easier for students across their district to consume more fruit, and the shift to buying Ohio apples will pump hundreds of thousands of dollars towards apple growers in Ohio, supporting the state’s economy, apple growers, and youngest eaters. Support your community by crunching into local apples! 

Ag in the Classroom Worth Exploring

Ag in the Classroom is a national non-profit organization seeking to improve agricultural literacy in schools; enabling adults and students in classrooms from pre-K to 12th grade, to appreciate the value of a viable agricultural community and the impact it has on individuals in the community.  The Office of Community Food Systems has now posted links to Ag in the Classroom resources for schools looking for additional inspiration regarding farm, garden and nutrition based education.  You can find them on the OCFS website.

Webinar Recordings Now Available for FY 2019 Request for Applications

Farm to School Month may be ending, but there are still more than four weeks left to submit your application for funding through the FY 2019 Farm to School Grant Program. This month, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) held a two part webinar for potential grant applicants.  These webinars were recorded and you can listen to them online on the Grant Applicant Resources page.

The first webinar, “Submitting a Grant Application”, provided an overview of how to apply for the FY '19 Farm to School Grant Program RFA. Watch this recording to familiarize yourself with the requirements of the RFA and how to submit your completed application on

The second webinar, “Developing and Writing a Successful Application”, featured a closer look at how to prepare a competitive Farm to School application. This webinar provides an overview of how to develop an integrated farm to school project that addresses the need of your target audience and aligns with the intent of the grant program. Watch the second webinar to learn the keys to writing a succinct application that clearly outlines your project's objectives and increases potential for success.