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: Mariah Marten-Ray, FoodCorps Service Member with One Cool Earth
Cross-posted from FoodCorps.org’s Field Reports
Students had just returned from summer vacation, and I welcomed my Sprout Scouts—the after school garden club—into the garden at Virginia Peterson Elementary School in Paso Robles, CA. It was a hot and arid day. With every foot step dust and dry grass poofed into the air, and I felt like a kindred soul to the wilty leaves of the tomatoes and squashes. Kids began racing into the garden at full speed as if it was a waterpark, their faces mystified by how much change their ½ acre garden had gone through over the summer. Where my eyes saw chaotic overgrowth, their eyes saw a jungle to explore and a school year of gardening projects.
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
Written By: Elise Chad, FoodCorps Service Member with Pittsburg Unified School District
What do you do when your school district is already rocking school gardens?
This was the conundrum I had when I first started as a FoodCorps Service Member at Pittsburg Unified School District last fall. PUSD has gardens at 11 of the 13 schools in the district thanks to a dedicated and passionate Garden Supervisor, Michelle DeCoy. She also gets the garden produce onto the school salad bars and holds monthly garden markets to engage with parents, staff, and students among many other tasks she accomplishes. PUSD’s Edible Garden Resource Center has a very ambitious program and I was happy to help where I could.
Written By: Lili Jacobs, FoodCorps Service Member with UCCE Central Sierra
I want to tell you a story about bees. You should know that this story also has to do with a particularly fantastic set of tutus.
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: