Fresh from the farm is what it's all about!

united stated department of agriculture logo

Volume 3, Issue 28, October 24, 2017

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Farm to School Month
Fresh From Florida lunch tray

Fresh From Florida Plate Day

In May 2017, Sarasota County hosted the first My “Fresh From Florida” Plate Day. All 54 public schools in Sarasota County participated to celebrate locally grown Florida items. The products sourced from Florida producers included beef patties, lettuce, tomatoes, milk, green beans, red potatoes, blueberries and watermelon. Dr. Beverly Girard, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, says their goal for the event was “to familiarize students with fresh fruits and vegetables to increase their consumption, and to buy as much as we can from Florida farms.” Sarasota County Superintendent, Dr. Todd Bowden, said “It’s really important to highlight for them what a balanced meal looks like and where food comes from.” 

Sarasota County Schools Food and Nutrition Services partnered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness to host a featured event at McIntosh Middle School. Some of the farmers who produced the food being served attended the event and were recognized as special guests. The farmers visited with the students, talked to them about the importance of agriculture in Florida and answered questions specifically related to their industry. 

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services assisted the school district with promotional items such as banners, flyers, social media posts, and created farmer trading cards for the students. These trading cards included statistics about each farmer, including how many acres the farm has, how long the farmer has been farming, what their favorite fruit or vegetable is and more.

Schools who want to replicate My “Fresh From Florida” Plate Day are encouraged to review the Fresh From Florida Event Guide and contact the Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness for more information. The division can provide assistance with planning, promoting, and executing your My “Fresh From Florida” Plate Day event.

Funding Opportunities and Resources

Farmer holding lettuce

The FY2018 Farm to School Grant Request for Applications is Available!

The Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) is funding eligible entities to implement 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. State agencies and Indian tribal organizations are a funding priority! Check out these resources for more information:

Completed applications must be submitted on by 11:59pm ET on December 8, 2017. Stay tuned to the E-letter for additional applicant resources and late-breaking updates!


Financing Food Co-ops to Advance Regional Food Systems

Date: Thursday, October 26, 2017 from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm EST

The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) will be hosting a seminar/webinar exploring how food retail cooperatives can leverage Federal, State and local funds, as well as private capital, to finance their food businesses in efforts to advance regional food system development. The event will be moderated by Doug O’Brien, NCBA’s Executive Vice President of Programs, and presenters will include:

  • Andrew Dumont, Federal Reserve
  • Jim Barham, USDA Rural Development
  • Andy Rachlin, Reinvestment Fund
  • Alison Powers, Capital Impact Partners
  • Steve Cooke, Friendly City Co-op

This seminar/webinar is part of a wider effort to promote the recently published report, Harvesting Opportunity: The Power of Regional Food System Investments to Transform Communities – a collaborative effort by the Federal Reserve System and USDA to highlight food systems investment opportunities across the U.S.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Funding Opportunity | Community Foods Projects

The Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program funds projects designed to meet the needs of low-income individuals and increase community self-reliance concerning food and nutrition. Funding is also designed to meet specific state, local, or neighborhood food and agricultural needs, including needs relating to equipment, planning for long-term solutions, and/or marketing.

Applications due December 4, 2017!

Kids Gardening logo

2018 Youth Garden Grant

KidsGardening awards funding and gardening supplies to schools and community organizations with youth-centered garden programs.

Youth Garden Grants are awarded to schools and community organizations with youth-centered garden programs. In evaluating grant applications, priority will be given to programs that demonstrate sustainability, as well as impact in curriculum areas, such as:

  • Character education;
  • Health and nutrition;
  • Environmental education; and,
  • Entrepreneurship.

Any nonprofit, school, or youth program planning a new garden project or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3-18 is eligible to apply.

Award packages include seeds, tools, gardening supplies, gift certificates, and curriculum materials. Visit KidsGardening for details on prize packages.

Applications due December 8, 2017!

Team Nutrition Celebrates Farm to School Month

What's Cooking USDA Mixing Bowl highlights nutritious, healthy, kid-approved recipes that have been standardized for use by child nutrition program operators. Celebrate the fall and enjoy these farm to school favorites:

Want more recipes? Click the learn more button below!

Garden Soup

City Schoolyard Garden Celebrates Farm to School Month

City Schoolyard Garden Group Photo
Group photo at Johnson Elementary, Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, Charlottesville City Schools Associate Superintendent Jim Henderson, Charlottesville School Board Chair Juan Wade, Jeanette Abi-Nader, CSG Executive Director, Students and others

A lot has been going on in Charlottesville, Virginia. In the midst of it all, youth are growing gardens at their neighborhood schools dotted around the city. Awarded a USDA Farm to School grant in 2015, City Schoolyard Garden is working with Charlottesville City Schools, Local Food Hub and other partners to implement a Harvest of the Month program and daily garden engagement for the 4,200 youth in their school district. This week, the City of Charlottesville collaborated, naming the first week in October Charlottesville Farm to School & Healthy Schools Week. Packed with garden activities, visits from local farm animals and from scratch meals made with local foods on each day’s menu, the week was exciting.

City Schoolyard Garden Menu for Farm to School Week

To top it off, First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe, a strong local food and farm to school advocate, visited Johnson Elementary City Schoolyard Garden. She had homemade chicken noodle soup with students, hung out with the chickens in the garden, helped to sift compost and received a CSG Golden Trowel Award for her healthy foods advocacy. To learn more, check out their Facebook page!