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Volume 4, Issue 4, February 21, 2018

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Girls in garden

The Farm to School Census is Coming!

The time is finally here to prepare for the next Farm to School Census! The 2019 Farm to School Census will be similar to previous versions by assessing school districts’ farm to school activities for this school year, 2017-2018.  Census questions will measure:

  • School districts’ definition of local and the programs that serve local foods;
  • The types and dollar amount spent on local foods;  
  • The number of salad bars and school gardens within a district; and,
  • The benefits and challenges to farm to school, and much more!

The Census will be distributed in the winter of 2019, but school districts and partners should begin tracking activities that are happening right now! Need help tracking local food purchases and farm to school activities?  Check out these evaluation resources and connect with your Regional Farm to School Lead! A copy of the Census questionnaire will be made available to the public as soon as it is finalized.

Funding, Webinars, and New Resources

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Get Schools Cooking!

Get Schools Cooking, a program of Chef Ann Foundation, is for school districts who want to transition their food service operations from heat and serve processed foods to whole foods that are cooked from scratch. Selected districts will embark on a three year transformation journey that starts by coming together with other school districts for a workshop in Boulder, Colorado. The goals are to:

  1. Provide school districts with individualized, technical support to assist them in sustainably moving from a highly processed to cook from scratch operation;
  2. Assess barriers and identify recommended actions in 5 key areas of school food service: Food, Finance, Facilities, Human Resources, and Marketing;
  3. Support districts in developing action plans that create the structured framework to achieve their strategic objectives; and, 
  4. Provide system improvement grants that support the implementation of recommended actions and next steps.

School districts are given the opportunity to apply for a $50,000 systems improvement grant that will enable them to purchase specific equipment needed for their district. Only districts participating in this program are eligible for the $50,000 grant.

Eligible school districts are those that serve at least 3,000 students, provide food at 4-30 school sites, are self-operating, and participate in the NSLP.  

Applications are due March 1, 2018. Click here to apply. 

Kids in the classroom raising hands

Agriculture in the Classroom

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture in the Classroom Program (AITC) serves nearly 5 million students and 60,000 teachers annually through workshops, conferences, field trips, farm tours, and other educational activities. AITC programs include working with state AITC activities engaged in a variety of issues relating to agricultural literacy. Other programs emphasized by the NIFA AITC office include:

  • Science literacy;
  • Agricultural careers;
  • Nutrition; and,
  • Pre-service and professional develop opportunities for teachers.

Applications may be submitted by State agricultural experiment stations, State cooperative extension services, all colleges and universities, other research or educational institutions or organizations, Federal and private agencies and organization and individuals.

Check out the Request for Applications now! Applications are due Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

Boy holding produce

Webinar: Market Basket Analysis When Procuring Program Goods and Modifying Contracted-For Product Lists

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 2:00pm EST

USDA Food and Nutrition Services Child Nutrition and Food Distribution Programs will host a webinar on policy guidance FD-144, SP04-2018, SFSP 01-2018, CACFP 04-2018, to provide clarity as to how market basket evaluations and contract awards are compliant with the Federal procurement standards.

Participant Dial-In Numbers:

U.S. & Canada: 866.740.1260
U.S. Toll: 303.248.0285
Access Code: 6054013

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Webinar: Trending Topics in Farm to School Webinar - Engaging Farmers in Farm to School

Date: March 1, 2018 from 2:00 - 3:15 PM EST

One of the primary objectives of farm to school is to strengthen the connection that communities have with local food producers. Farmers and producers can also garner economic and social benefit through these strengthened relationships. Join this webinar to hear from farm to school practitioners and farmers about innovative yet practical approaches to engaging farmers in a wide variety of farm to school activities and learn how this engagement contributes to kids, communities, and farmers winning through farm to school.

Kids and cows

#Beefinar a success, new resources! 

If you missed the Beef to School Webinar on February 13, now known as the #Beefinar, you won’t want to miss the resources shared by the Mountain Plains Farm to School Regional Lead Andrea Northup, Montana’s Farm to School Coordinator Aubree Roth, Whitefish Food Service Director Jay Stagg (Montana) and Greeley-Evans School District Executive Chef Matt Poling (Colorado)! Check out the Beef to School Webinar slide show or view the webinar recording

The purpose of the webinar was to launch new beef to school solicitation templates created to help school districts purchase local beef while following USDA’s procurement rules. 

Presenters shared other resources available from Montana's Beef to School Project and participants heard from two school districts serving local beef. Additional resources provided during the webinar include

Methods for healthy cooking

New CACFP Training Resources

USDA’s Team Nutrition initiative is proud to announce the availability of six new training worksheets for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) providers and operators:

  • Methods for Healthy Cooking
  • Serving Meat and Meat Alternates at Breakfast
  • Grain-Based Desserts in the CACFP
  • Offer Versus Serve in the CACFP
  • Calculating Sugar Limits for Breakfast Cereals in the CACFP
  • Calculating Sugar Limits for Yogurt in the CACFP

Join the Farm to School Movement in Wisconsin!

In Wisconsin, efforts are being made to institutionalize farm to school. At the state level, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), a FY 2016 Farm to School Training Grantee, is hiring a Farm to School/Institution Director to work closely with a network of farm to school partners and the Department’s Farm to School Advisory Council. This position has the potential to help create jobs, increase farm markets, and provide homegrown/home-processed foods. Through state-level collaboration with multiple organizations, farmers, food processing companies, broad-line distributors, school districts, and hospitals, this position will be able to bring local food to their communities.

Across the country, State agencies are modeling this behavior and hiring Farm to School Coordinators to provide support to school districts, non-profit partners, farmers, and communities on how to work together to get more fresh, local food into schools. Farm to School Coordinators ensure that farmers and school food service providers have the knowledge and resources they need to safely provide local food to children in schools. 

Join the movement and check out the DATCP Farm to School/Institution Director position!