October is National Farm to School Month and we are off to an amazing start! Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture signed a proclamation designating October as Farm to School Month in California last week. CDFA and the Office of Farm to Fork recognize the importance of farm to school programs in the state as a way to support California’s farmers, school children, and the economy.
Farm to School Month provides an opportunity to show all of the great work being done as well as how anyone – students, parents, nutrition professionals – can get involved and make changes to advance farm to school in their local communities. Join schools hosting farm to school activities, like Natomas Unified School District who will take students out to visit a local farm or Oroville schools participating in local Crunch events, where students simultaneously bite into local apples to show their support for healthy, seasonal foods.
Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with healthy food, local producers, and nature by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools. The most recent USDA Farm to School Census reported that 55% of California schools participate in farm to school activities. This represents over 3.4 million California students, or approximately half of all K-12 students.There are numerous long-standing and emergent farm to school programs throughout the state and the California Farm to School Network aims to inspire, connect, and educate both old and new. To learn more, check out the California Farm to School Network and the National Farm to School Network.
Written by: Nicole Sturzenberger, CDFA, Office of Farm to Fork
The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork is excited to begin the transition of the California Farm to School Network to our office. As the new Network lead, we look forward to strengthening the already robust movement built by CAFF and all farm to school stakeholders throughout California. During and after this transition, we will continue partnerships with CAFF, leading procurement efforts, UEPI, leading early childhood education work, and Lifelab, leading school garden efforts. The Office was also selected as the 2017-2019 National Farm to School Network California Core Partner and looks forward to communicating national farm to school efforts. These new roles recognize the Office’s leadership in the farm to school efforts and will provide new opportunities for us to continue building capacity and support for farm to school and early childhood education (ECE) activities in California. Continue reading
Written By: Allie Hoffman, Program Manager, Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Three weeks ago, 340 California Farm to School and Garden practitioners gathered in Modesto for three days of field trips, workshops, inspiring keynotes, networking and food.
Helen Dombalis sharing her Farm to School story during the opening keynote
Attendees represented all areas of farm to school, ranging from farmers, to food service professionals, garden educators, government employees, nonprofits and more. It’s hard to focus on any one single moment from the conference to highlight in this article, particularly because there were so many different workshops that one could have attended. So instead, I’m going to share a few of the highlights from my experience planning and attending the conference.
Leading up to the conference, I was fortunate enough to have the job of connecting with so many of you. Whether I was reviewing workshop proposals, connecting with partners on social media or coordinating with the amazing CFSN regional leads, it was such a pleasure to get to connect with farm to school innovators from all around the state. Continue reading
Please note – applications are now closed. Thanks to everyone who turned in applications!
School districts throughout California are taking advantage of a new program to purchase fruits and vegetables from a variety of local vendors using USDA Foods entitlement funding.
Why sign up?
The UFVPP gives school districts the opportunity to purchase locally and domestically grown produce from a variety of competitive local vendors. By supporting the program during this Pilot phase, California school districts are participating with seven other states to determine whether the Pilot will be renewed in 2019.
With support of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers will be working with Food Service Directors, UFVPP vendors and California family farms to utilize the Pilot program.
How does it work?
School food authorities (SFAs) submit the following brief application to allocate a portion of their USDA Foods entitlement funding to use with approved local vendors. The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) is available to help Food Service Directors find the approved vendors that best fit their needs and navigate bid processes to meet USDA procurement guidelines. If vendors aren’t available or able to be established in some areas of California, SFAs will be able to have the money reallocated in early fall.
CAFF will also be working with SFAs to support California family farms, providing cafeteria educational signage and tracking impact on growers for districts using the Pilot program.
Applications only take a few minutes and are being accepted through February 17th. Sign up now to support local and American growers using USDA foods entitlement funding.
Please contact Ben Thomas to learn more about connecting with local vendors and resources through CAFF (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The full announcement from CDE is as follows:
Thanks to everyone who participated in National Farm to School Month! Whether you crunched, planted a garden or participated in another activity, your impact is immeasurable. Well actually….while we can’t measure the way a child’s face lights up when they bite into a persimmon for the first time, we used the data that we received from the Golden Seed Awards applications and the USDA Farm to School Census to measure the broader impact of farm to school statewide. We compiled the data in an infographic that we’re calling “Farm to School Matters.” View the infographic here.
The California Farm to School Network (CFSN) invites you to submit a proposal for the 2017 California Farm to School and Garden Conference: Connecting the Garden, Cafeteria and the Classroom. The 2nd biannual CFSN conference will cover a variety of topics designed to support and inspire farm to school and school garden practitioners all around the state! This is your opportunity to share your expertise and innovative ideas to help grow the farm to school and school garden movement in California. Please visit the conference page to view examples from the 2015 CFSN Conference.
For more information, download the informational pdf. When you are ready to submit a proposal, use this link. Proposals are due by December 2nd.