Take a Local Bite!

united stated department of agriculture logo

Volume 3, Issue 27, October 17, 2017

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Farm to School Month BannerMissouri, Take a local bite

 Missouri, Take a Local Bite

You’ll wish you lived in Missouri (if you don’t already) when you hear their plans for Farm to School Month! Schools across the state are participating in a Take a Local Bite in the Lunchroom contest – they are featuring fresh, locally-grown foods in school meals and sharing photos on social media for a chance to win a great prize package. 

If schools are at a loss for where to start, the Missouri farm to school team created a 2017 Missouri, Take a Local Bite Menu featuring age-appropriate recipes in a menu cycle that meets the National School Lunch Program meal pattern. The menu comes with a full nutritional analysis, scaled recipes, and ingredient lists for all of the featured items. If that’s not enough, there are all sorts of resources available on the Missouri Farm to School site.

Missouri embodies the mentality “partnerships, partnerships, partnerships!” The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Food & Nutrition Services, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Culinary Skills Institute and the University of Missouri Extension spearheaded the celebration and the menu planning resources. Go team Missouri!

Funding, Resources, and Conferences

Farm to School header

Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) Accepting Farm to School Grant Applications Now

This October, celebrate Farm to School Month with us by applying to the FY 2018 Farm to School Grant Program! The purpose of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is to assist eligible entities in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. Grant funding is available for eligible entities including schools and school districts, state and local agencies, non-profit organizations, small- and medium-sized agricultural producers, and Indian tribal organizations. For FY 2018, we are offering implementation grants, planning grants, and training grants. State agencies and Indian tribal organizations are funding priorities!  

Interested in applying? Completed applications must be submitted on grants.gov by 11:59pm ET on December 8, 2017. Check out our resources for applicants and a full list of awardees since the release of our first RFA in 2013!

ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture Program

Farmers who want to sell meat directly to restaurants, grocery stores, or consumers need a reliable and skilled partner: the meat processor is an essential team member and an asset to the business. This publication, "Working With Your Meat Processor," suggests some key ways to work effectively with a meat processor and lists resources for further information. Want to learn more? Sign up for the Weekly Harvest Newsletter.

2018 Farm to Cafeteria Conference

Farm to Cafeteria Conference Banner

The 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in coming to Cincinnati, Ohio, April 25-27, 2018! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network (NFSN), this biennial event will convene more than 1,000 diverse stakeholders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America.

Do you have expertise to share? NFSN is seeking workshop and poster proposals from individuals and organizations working to improve our food system, strengthen community health, empower youth, advance equity, and increase opportunities for farmers and food producers. The Request for Proposals (RFP) is open now through Nov. 14, 2017.

Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools  

Using a survey and case study approach, the Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools report, a collaborative project of the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University, examines the economic impact of local purchasing and provides new insight into the potential for farm to school procurement to positively impact local economies. The report finds that not only were surveyed farmers satisfied or very satisfied with most aspects of farm to school sales, but farm to school farms purchase more inputs from the local economy, which results in positive local economic impact.

Farm to school supports local economies
Thrity on Thursday CACFP Webinar Series

New CACFP Training Opportunities from Team Nutrition!

Join Team Nutrition for their new webinar series, CACFP Halftime: Thirty on Thursdays, for hot topics related to the updated Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal patterns.

Date: Webinars will be held on the third Thursday of each month:

  • An English webinar will be held from 2:00-2:30pm ET
  • A Spanish webinar will be held from 3:00-3:30pm ET

Webinar Topics: 

This webinar series is for State agencies, sponsoring organizations, CACFP providers and program operators, and others who work with CACFP.

All webinars will be recorded and made available at a later date on the USDA Team Nutrition website.

Farm to School Month: Grantee Spotlights

Chef Brandon and student

Colorado Proud School Meal Day

Colorado schools got a jump on Farm to School Month celebrations with Colorado Proud School Meal Day last month! Over 200,000 students in 656 schools participated in the 13th annual event on September 13, 2017. Governor John Hickenlooper proclaims the day each year to encourage schools to incorporate Colorado products in their meals, to celebrate Colorado agriculture and to educate students about agriculture and healthy eating. 

Local peaches, melons, beans, beef, milk and more graced the lunch trays of Colorado students, showcasing the broad range of products available from producers across the state. “Colorado farmers and ranchers produce food items that provide the nutrients children and adults need to thrive,” says Shaina Knight from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, who has coordinated the event (in conjunction with many partners) for the past five years.

At Cherry Creek Schools, students tried samples of roasted local peaches, and many chose the Colorado-grown green beans and fresh peaches on the lunch line. USDA Mountain Plains Regional Office and Colorado Department of Education staff joined in, talking with students about what Colorado Proud means and prodding them to consider why local food is special. At Cherry Creek Schools, and across the state, Shaina Knight summed up the event well - it was “a day to celebrate Colorado agriculture and to educate schoolchildren about healthy eating!”

Farmer teaching children

Pennsylvania Promotes Partnerships

For the past 8 years, farm to school has been promoted in Pennsylvania through a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Penn State University known as Project PA. Initiatives have included farm to school mini-grant programs, webinars, collection and publication of “Promising Practices,” National Farm to School Month events, and development of a farm to school website and on-line module. In addition, in early 2017 through a USDA Farm to School Training grant, five regional farm to school training sessions were held throughout Pennsylvania to provide information about local purchasing and facilitate networking between buyers and producers.  

In August 2017, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Pedro Rivera, other representatives from PDE and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA), and Pennsylvania Senator Thomas McGarrigle visited Garrett Williamson’s Camp Garrett program in Newtown Square. They toured the Videon Educational Garden on the campus and met with participants and providers at the camp’s Summer Food Service Program site. Camp Garrett is a 10-week day-camp that provides activities, projects, and special events for children ages 5-15. Harvests from the educational garden, including fruits, vegetables, and herbs, are used to supplement lunches for the summer camp program and are frequently distributed to the families.  

Yough School District (H. W. Good Elementary School) is one of 29 projects in Pennsylvania that was awarded a Project PA farm to school mini-grant in 2017. The school is using the funds to expand their school garden program. In late September, in preparation for National Farm to School Month, 3rd graders had the opportunity to visit the Morris Organic Farm in Sewickley Township where students picked produce, learned about daily functions of a working farm, and enjoyed taste testing opportunities provided by the farm.

Children at farm