Jump into Spring and put the "Fun" in Funding!

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Volume 3, Issue 10, March 28, 2017

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Kids holding Swiss chard

Putting our Best Fork Forward for National Nutrition Month

As National Nutrition Month comes to an end, OCFS reflects on how we put our Best Fork Forward to celebrate nutrition and promote local foods during the month of March.  Take a look at five ways we promoted food, nutrition, and agriculture:

  1. Celebrated National School Breakfast week by featuring FRAC's School Breakfast Scorecard.
  2. Explored the new meal pattern regulations for CACFP during National CACFP Week.
  3. Encouraged the use of USDA's What's Cooking recipe hub.
  4. Featured funding opportunities for tribal communities, school breakfast programs, and physical education programs.
  5. Promoted toolkits for implementing school gardens and farm stands on school grounds.

Although March is almost over, we can't forget to thank our nation's farmers and ranchers. March 21st was National Agriculture Day, a day to celebrate our farmers and ranchers who feed millions of people, preserve and conserve the land, and promote community engagement. While most people celebrate food, nutrition, and agriculture during the month of March, OCFS celebrates it every day! Learn more about the impact of farm to school activities by checking out our Farm to School Census.

Funding Opportunities


The United Fresh Start Foundation (UFSF) is providing grant opportunities to organizations interested in increasing children's access to fresh fruits and vegetables outside of school. UFSF is looking for creative methods to get fresh produce to children during the summer months, after-school, and on the weekends. Learn more about the initiative and download the application to apply. Applications are due April 20, 2017.

Oranges growing on trees

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has over $60 million in grant funds for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The purpose of this grant is to increase the competitiveness of specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops. Learn more about specialty crops and if this AMS grant is right for you.

Team Nutrition is providing funding for State Agencies to offer training, nutrition education, and technical assistance to child nutrition professionals to support implementation of USDA nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Read the Request for Applications (RFA) and register for an informational webinar about this grant opportunity. Applications are due May 22, 2017.

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Pool next to garden

Farm to Summer: How Regional Offices and State Agencies Support Farm to Summer - Recording Now Available

Increasingly, Summer Meal sponsors are embracing the Farm to Summer movement by serving fresh, local foods and offering engaging activities, and Regional and State-level staff play a unique role in supporting these efforts. This webinar provides an overview of farm to summer activities, resources, and a snapshot of how Regional offices and State agencies have encouraged sponsors to adopt farm to summer principles. From MAP addendums to partner meetings, discover how your Regional and State colleagues support “bringing the farm” to Summer Meal Programs. Listen to the recording.

Promising Partnerships: Extension and Farm to Early Care and Education

Date: Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 2pm ET
Explore how Cooperative Extensions are a natural fit for partnership in farm to school and farm to early care and education programs. Learn more by joining the webinar hosted by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture in partnership with the National Farm to School Network. Register now!


Garden with sign that reads we grow our own food
Boy holding carrots

Statewide Farm to ECE Network Building

Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 3:30pm ET 
Institutionalizing Farm to ECE increases opportunities for communities to engage in the benefits of farm to school. Join the National Farm to School Network for their April Farm to ECE Webinar. This month, Emily Jackson from the North Carolina Farm to Preschool Network and Erin Croom from the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition will present their programs. Register now!

Grantee Spotlight: Sonoma County Brings Farm to PreSchool to Life

Girls in garden holding corn and green pepper
Photo courtesy of Sonoma County Department of Health Services

The Sonoma County Farm to Preschool project, funded by a USDA Farm to School Support Service grant, created a partnership between Sonoma County Department of Health Services, California Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), Community Child Care Council, and the North Bay Children’s Center to:

  1. Expand farm to preschool educational programming at select school-based pre-k sites;
  2. Expand comprehensive wellness school policies to include farm to preschool language; and
  3. Assess and support strategies for procurement of fresh foods from local farmers.

Through outreach and parent education activities, the project reached 690 low-income pre-k students and 2,760 community members each month. Additionally, the project aimed to strengthen relationships between local farmers and their school systems. Angie Corwin-Laskey, North Coast Regional Manager with CAFF believes that “Farm to Preschool is part of developing a culture of health and creating a food system that works for everyone in Sonoma County”.

In September of 2016, the students at Gold Ridge Preschool in Rohnert, CA Park studied apples with their teacher, Andrea Pfeifer. “When asked where apples come from, some of the kids thought that they came from the store” says Pfeifer. She then showed them a photo of an apple farmer at the local family-owned Devoto Orchards. One of the children declared, “It’s not from a grocery store, it’s from a Grandpa. He grew them!”  Classroom moments like this are encouraging a growing national movement to achieve long term goals to reduce childhood obesity and increase market opportunities for local farmers and producers.  

This is a summary of an article by Leilani Clark that originally ran in Sonoma County Made Local magazine.