Register now for the 6th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference - Digging In!


Registration for the 6th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference: Digging In!  is now OPEN!  Register today to secure the early-bird registration rate of $290 for three days of skill-building workshops, enlightening speakers, networking opportunities and energizing events. Field trips and short courses are also open for registration and will take place the day before the conference opens. The early-bird rate expires on June 10, scholarship applications are due May 31 and lodging will fill up fast, so don't delay!


Farm to Cafeteria began with the common goal of building strong communities, healthy individuals and resilient local farms. Across the country great progress has been made connecting farm-fresh foods with K-12 schools, pre-schools, childcare settings, colleges, universities, hospitals, prisons and beyond - now the movement is Digging In!


The conference focuses on all aspects of Farm to Cafeteria work and seeks to engage a diverse group of stakeholders at all skill levels including food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, representatives from government agencies and nonprofits, entrepreneurs and students.


If you're ready to Dig In! to Farm to Cafeteria work, join the National Farm to School Network and local hostVermont Food Education Every Day  (VT FEED)  August 2-5 in beautiful Burlington, Vermont for the 6th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference.





Grant information from USDA 
Riverside - by Emily Hart
Photo by Emily Hart
Last month the USDA released the request for applications (RFA) for the new Farm to School grant program. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 established funding for grants to support the planning and implementation of Farm to School programs. In this first funding cycle, USDA anticipates awarding up to $3.5 million in grant funding to support efforts that improve access to local foods in eligible schools.   


Read more about the grant process and download the RFA on the USDA website. To aid interested applicants, the USDA also created a list of frequently asked questions and uploaded sample proposals for all three grant types. 

Grant funds will be made available on a competitive basis, subject to availability of federal funds. Applicants are encouraged to first submit a letter of intent and then apply for either a planning grant or an implementation grant. Planning grants are expected to range from $20,000 - $45,000 and represent approximately 25 percent of the total awards. Implementation grants are expected to range from $65,000 - $100,000 and represent approximately 75 percent of the total awards. Both grant types require at least a 25 percent funding match.      


Important dates:
  • May 15, 3 p.m. EST -  Webinar (implementation grants)
  • May 17, 1 p.m. EST -  Webinar (planning grants)
  • May 18 - Letter of Intent Deadline (suggested)
  • June 15 -  Applications Due

For information about USDA webinars and other updates, be sure to sign up for the USDA Farm to School Listserve. 


If you have questions about the grant process, contact:
Deborah KaneNational Director, Farm to School Program, Food & Nutrition Services (FNS)
Gregory Walton
Grants Management Specialist, FNS

Senate committee passes Farm Bill  
On April 26, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved the Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act (ARFJA, or Farm Bill) in a bipartisan 16-5 vote. The bill saves about $23 billion over 10 years, with most of the cuts coming from commodity programs and conservation. The bill also cut $4 billion from nutrition programs, and  included a $4.49 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Washington, DC
The Senate bill increases funding for a number of programs that improve access to healthy, affordable food in low-income communities and build the infrastructure for equitable regional food systems. The funding increases include:
  • Community Food Projects Program - Doubling mandatory funding to $10 million per year
  • Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program - Expanding the Farmers Market Promotion Program to include developing food hubs and doubling funding to $20 million in mandatory funds per year for five years
  • Specialty Crop Block Grants - Funding increased to $70 million per year for five years
  • Healthy Food Financing Initiative - Authorization for funding up to $125 million to finance grocery stores and healthy food outlets in under served communities     

The ARFJA has not yet been scheduled for consideration by the full Senate, but advocacy groups are encouraging Senate leadership to take the measure up this month. To read the full version of this brief, visit the Community Food Security Coalition's e-newsletter archives.  




Spotlight: Starkville, MS
Tim Morgan sent us this video highlighting a great Farm to Pre-school program in Mississippi!

What's going on in your neck of the woods? Send us an email at info@farmtoschool.org and tell us about your Farm to School Program.  



May 2012:
News from the National Farm to School Network!
In This Issue
Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Grant Information
Farm Bill Update
Spotlight on MS
Upcoming Events
Recent Press
Will you donate today to help us expand our reach? Your contribution will help us increase access to local, healthy foods and garden-based education in schools throughout the nation. Together we are creating Farm to School programs that are an essential component of strong and just local and regional food systems, and we are ensuring the health of school children, farms, communities, the environment and the economy.

School Food 101 
June 12, 12 CDT
It is hard to be an effective advocate for school food reform if you don't know the systems and players involved. This webinar will cover the basics of where school cafeterias get their funds and their food and explain some of the regulations they have to follow.  



Upcoming Events
Hawaii Farm to School Conference 
June 1-2
The 5th Annual Hawai'i Farm to School Conference "Growing From the Ground Up" will be held on O'ahu. This year's conference is hosted by Kokua Hawai'i Foundation, Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, and Waikiki Elementary School and will include visits to other farm to school sites on O'ahu. 
Community gardening on the cutting edge
August 9-12

The American Community Gardening Association's 33rd annual conference will feature one of the largest nationwide gatherings of individuals directly engaged in community-based gardening. The San Francisco conference will include research presentations, keynote speakers, and tours to community gardens, urban agriculture projects, and other environmental and food system initiatives.
More Information...



In the News
Minn. District makes transition to healthier meals 
Minneapolis school nutrition director Bertrand Weber has worked to transform school menus -- providing students with more fresh, nutritious food


Chef Transforms Menu in Memphis schools
Thanks to the vision of a chef from New Orleans, menus are changing in Memphis City Schools. Seasonal menus are now featuring local products, farm fresh veggies, organic produce, and slow roasted meats.


5 great plants for school gardens
Working around summer vacation, creating relevant teaching opportunities and selecting low-maintenance plants are all important considerations in school garden projects.  


Are we friends?
We have a new Facebook page! For years we maintained a popular Facebook group, but as of this year the group is no longer active, so you might want to reconnect with us if you haven't done so already.

Our Facebook and Twitter feeds are the best places to find the most up-to-date breaking news about Farm to School grants, conference information and interesting news from across the country.



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