Looking Back on a Year of Growth in 2019

Volume 6, Issue 4, December 2019

Carrots of different colors



Looking Back on a Year of Growth in 2019

Every December, as the year winds down, our daily calendars can get especially busy. With all the holiday festivities, travel plans, year-end work, and planning for the New Year, it is important to pause and reflect on all that we have to be grateful for, and all that we have accomplished in the prior year.

Certainly, the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) accomplished quite a lot in 2019. We welcomed a record number of Farm to School grantees, with 126 projects receiving Farm to School Grant Program awards for 2019. We have also heard from more than ten thousand school food authorities (SFAs) through our 2019 Farm to School Census. And our OCFS team grew this year – adding a new director (me!), a new Northeast Regional Lead, Katina Kefalas, and several new national office staff, including my Senior Technical Advisor Gwen Holcomb, our new training and technical assistance coordinator, Stephanie Roberts, grant specialist contractor Starr Harper-Hicks, and grants coordinator Pascale Jean! Altogether, this amazing OCFS team is excited to work with you to increase access to local foods in child nutrition programs, support local producers as they connect to child nutrition markets, and expand agricultural and food education opportunities for children.

This is a very special community and I am looking forward to what we can achieve as we all continue to grow together in the coming year.

From all of us at OCFS, thank you. Thank you, for your help with the Farm to School Census. Thank you, for your continued commitment to bringing fresh local food to America’s children. And, finally, thank you, for your dedication to making this unique program better every day.

Happy holidays and cheers to a fantastic New Year!

Julie B.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service Looking for Regional Program Specialists

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service's Regional Offices are seeking to fill Program Specialist vacancies, including an opportunity to join the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office as a  Regional Farm to School Lead. 

This is an opportunity to:

  • Help implement the USDA Farm to School Program, including grants, training and technical assistance, and actively participate in driving the program’s growth and evolution;
  • Provide on the ground training, technical assistance, and support to a wide variety of farm to school stakeholders and be held accountable for increasing the availability of local foods in schools;
  • Play a key role in identifying training and technical assistance gaps in the farm to school community and fill those gaps by fine tuning existing resource materials and/or creating new program offerings; and
  • Be a resident expert on key local and regional procurement issues.

Know someone who might be a great fit? Help us spread the word!

To apply, visit USA Jobs. When applying, applicants must select a desired location to receive consideration for available positions.

Applications are due 12/20/2019.

The Farm to School Census is Closing: Don't Get Left Out in the Cold

Thank you again to everyone who has already filled out the Farm to School Census!

FNS encourages all SFAs to complete the Farm to School Census: The story we tell about farm to school efforts nationwide hinges on your participation.

If you have been contacted about completing the Farm to School Census, or you need assistance logging into your Census Survey, please visit the Farm to School Census Respondent Resources page for more information.

We hope to see more completed surveys before the end of this data collection period. Friday, December 20, 2019, is the last day that school food authorities can submit their Farm to School Census surveys, so act now!

Registration Opening Soon: 10th Annual Farm to Cafeteria Conference

April 21-23, 2020 // Albuquerque, New Mexico

The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 21-23, 2020. Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene a diverse group of food service professionals, farmers, educators, students, representatives from nonprofits and government agencies, public health professionals and more who are working to source local food for institutional cafeterias, advance equity, and foster a culture of food systems literacy in communities across the country. The conference will include 40 educational workshops, inspiring keynote addresses, experiential field trips, valuable networking time, and a showcase of New Mexico's vibrant local food culture. Early Bird registration opens in January 2020. Visit the NFSN Farm to Cafeteria Conference page to learn more and start making plans to join us in Albuquerque! 

Lettuce at a School Garden