January 2013: News from the National Farm to School Network!


An exciting new year for NFSN

Conference young chefs

2012 was an exceptionally busy and exciting year for the National Farm to School Network! Here are a few highlights: 

  • Expanded staffing, including an associate director and program manager (and a brand new operations associate) to better support the growing Farm to School movement
  • New funding support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Newman's Own Foundation, the Aetna Foundation and an anonymous donor
  • Program area expansion into Farm to Preschool via a 25-member national subcommittee, including the first national survey of Farm to Preschool programs
  • Hosting the 6th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Burlington, Vermont, which was attended by 800 people and included 40 workshops across 10 tracks
  • National Farm to School Month, October 2012: For the second year, NFSN served as the national leader, coordinating events and working with 46 partner organizations from across the country.
  • The snapshot survey conducted in April revealed that an estimated 6 million children participated in Farm to School activities during the 2011-2012 school year at 12,500 schools, with about $13 million worth of local products purchased.

In 2013 we are looking forward to: 

  • A complete redesign of our website, farmtoschool.org, to include more user-friendly features and easier access to our resource library
  • An enhanced membership plan
  • Announcing of a date and location for the 2014 National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
  • Continued expansion into Farm to Preschool and the development of additional subcommittees including one focused on school gardens


Congress extends 2008 Farm Bill through September 

On New Year's Eve, the Senate passed a simple extension of the 2008 Farm Bill through September 30, 2013, as part of a much bigger legislative package to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. The House approved the Senate bill late on New Year's Day and President Obama signed it into law on January 2.


Washington, D.C.There was no commodity subsidy reform, no disaster assistance and no extension of funding for farmers markets, value-added agriculture, rural microenterprise assistance, beginning farmers, minority farmers, organic agriculture, renewable energy or specialty crop and organic research.


Approval of the simple farm bill extension means that the new Congress will have to start the process of reauthorizing a new, full five-year farm bill from scratch.


On the positive side, the nine-month extension of all the basic authorities in the 2008 Farm Bill does allow USDA to restart programs that have ongoing baseline funding but that have, since October 1, 2012, lacked authority to spend the money.  This includes programs such as the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the Specialty Crop Block Grant program that have permanent funding, but for the past three months have not had spending authority.


For agriculture, there are a number of unknowns that will shape the 2013 Farm Bill debate. There are many new members of the Agriculture Committees, particularly in the House, which will change once again the dynamics and policy discussions.  


This updated was provided by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Read their full report here and follow their blog for breaking news. 




NFSN welcomes new advisory board members, staff person
We are excited to welcome a new member of our staff and three new additions to our 16-member advisory board!
Tracey Starkovich joined NFSN on January 2 in the position of operations associate. Tracey has many years of experience in nonprofit management, event and program development/implementation and execution and project management. She lives in Chicago where she pursues her great passion for healthy food and communities.
NFSN welcomes four new advisory board members in 2013 - Cynthia Hayes (SoGreen Network), Diane Harris (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Jessica Choy (UNITE Here) and Betti Wiggins (Detroit Public Schools). Each of them will serve a three year term. We would also like to thank John Cain, Jan Poppendieck an Kamyar Enshayan for their service on the advisory board in 2012. 
Get to know our new board members: 

Jessica Choy is a senior research analyst for UNITE HERE, the union representing hospitality and service workers in North America including food workers in K-12 schools, universities, cafeterias, airports and stadiums. Jessica has been working for the past two years on drives to organize non-union food service workers and looking for intersections between the sustainable food movement and the issues affecting food workers. Jessica received a master's degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago and a bachelor's degree from Scripps College.


Betti Wiggins started her career in hospitals and health care and was one of the first African-Americans recruited to management in the Marriot Corporation's Division of School Services in 1989. Currently she is the executive director of the Office of Food Services for Detroit Public Schools. Ms. Wiggins holds a degree in nutrition from Wayne State University. She has pursued graduate study University of Minnesota and she holds a certificate in municipal management from George Washington University.


Diane Harris is a health scientist in the nutrition branch of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Dr. Harris' primary interest is creating healthy food environments in schools, child care and other institutional settings. She is the CDC lead for Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, a comprehensive public health effort to mobilize and engage stakeholders at the local, state, and national level to support salad bars in schools. Dr. Harris also serves on the Board of Directors of Georgia Organics and is a member of the Georgia Farm to School Alliance.


Cynthia Hayes is the executive director of the SoGreen network, a grassroots non-profit that focuses on agriculture and forestry and the role that under-served farmers and landowners in these industries play in creating a green agenda, specifically in the Southeast. 






In This Issue
A New Year
Farm Bill Update
New Staff, Board Members
New Resources
In the News

Making the Connections: using school garden produce in school
food service 

FEB. 12, 12 - 12:20 CST

School gardens ... what better way to engage students in healthy eating experiences? Serving garden produce in school food service programs presents new challenges, but it can be done! This webinar will address these challenges and offer specific strategies and recommendations to successfully connect school garden produce with the school food service programs. Hear about great garden successes from New York and Connecticut school districts and these programs' impacts on students and their food experiences.  

Register Here



New Resources

This fact sheet draws from 40 research studies and other references to summarize the proven benefits of Farm to School for students, teachers, farmers and the community. 

Topics include: 

In the News   

Oregon ranchers donate beef for 

school meals


An Oregon school district is partnering with community ranchers who donate healthy culled cattle to local schools through the "Ranchers Feeding Kids" program. District officials say the donated beef helps schools cut costs, and the ranchers receive a tax deduction for their donation. The receiving school district or a farming nonprofit funds inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Blue Mountain Eagle


Read on...





Parents can still learn a thing or two from students. And during a student cooking demonstration Monday, they learned cooking healthy doesn't have to be expensive.  As part of the program, teachers also use the garden to integrate science and math curriculum or demonstrate concepts.


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