Blog Archive

Monday, September 28, 2009

MSU Student Organic Farm Tour for Food Service Directors on Oct 16th

Greetings school food service directors,

As many of you will be in Lansing for the up-coming School  Nutrition Association of Michigan conference, we thought we'd set up a tour of MSU's Student Organic Farm (SOF) so you can take advantage of the opportunity while you're in town if you'd like.


The SOF has six hoophouses, which are passive solar greenhouses, for year-round crop production and trains farmers on organic and hoophouse production and marketing. As part of their marketing, the SOF operates a year-round Community Supported Agriculture (CSA, or farm share) program and sells some greens and other vegetables to a  couple of the residential dining halls on campus. In addition to crop production, the SOF also has bees for honey, chickens which provide eggs for sale at CSA pick up, and a few newly acquired hogs! Here's the link to their website if you'd like to learn more –


I know many school food service directors have been interested in seeing the SOF, especially since more and more schools and communities are setting up gardens and hoophouses of their own, some with production intended for school food service. This would be a great time to see how it all works! Adam Montri, the SOF Outreach Coordinator, will be providing the tour for school food service directors on Friday, October 16th at 2 pm. The SOF is located at 3291 College Rd in Holt, MI, which is about a 10 minute drive on the highway from the Lansing Center where the SNAM conference will be held.


If you are interested and available to attend the tour, please RSVP to me by Friday, October 9th. Please include your name and your school or district name. Before the tour, I will send details and directions by email to all that RSVP.




Colleen Matts

Farm to School Specialist

CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems

Michigan State University

303 Natural Resources Building

East Lansing, MI 48824-1222


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September Farm to School News


Here are this month's Farm to School news bites:


"Grocery Store Tax Incentive Has Potential to Create More Than 3,000 Jobs and $852 Million in Sales" The Michigan Departments of Agriculture (MDA) and Treasury released information on Public Act 231, which amends the Commercial Rehabilitation Act, to support the development of grocery stores and improve access to fresh food through tax incentives.

"Montague Area Public Schools Celebrates Michigan Foods In Schools on September 21, 2009." September 21, 2009 was a Michigan Foods in Schools Day in all three Montague cafeterias.  The lunch program that day had over 80% of the items served that were grown, produced or manufactured in Michigan. Please see press release attached.

Cornell University's Farm to School Research & Extension website is up and running again, check it out! It has some great publications and resources that are applicable to Michigan as well.

The Fruit and Veggie Quantity Recipe Cookbook from New Hampshire is available for your use online. The cookbook provides 30 fruit and vegetable based recipes that can be used in School Lunch Programs, School Breakfast Programs, and beyond. To view and download the cookbook, go to and click on "Fruit and Veggie Recipes."



On October 5th, 2009, the American Association of School Administrators/Healthy Communities Network is having a webinar, "Innovations for Food." In this webinar, speakers from across the country will share their experiences in transforming school food systems into healthier environments for students. All are welcome to participate. Please see the details below and visit to register.

More competitors are needed for the Michigan Sustainable Stoup Competition statewide cooking competition in Grand Ledge, Michigan on October 25th. To compete, 75% of ingredients must be from Michigan as the goal of this competition is to promote local and sustainable agriculture. Please see attachments for more information about the competition and registration.



Growing Hope in Ypsilanti is currently recruiting applicants for up to 6 National Service AmeriCorps*VISTA positions for 12-month terms of service, to begin in November 2009 and run through November 2010. Please see the attachments for the job description and how to apply.



Colleen Matts

Farm to School Specialist

CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems

Michigan State University

303 Natural Resources Building

East Lansing, MI 48824-1222


Friday, September 18, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Michigan Junior Chef Competition to be held 9/19/09




Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Nature Resources

September 17, 2009


East Lansing, Mich. – The first ever Michigan Junior Chef Competition, jointly hosted by Michigan Nutrition Network (MNN), Michigan State University Extension and the C.S. Mott Chair of Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University (MSU), will bring seven teams from low-income high schools together to promote healthy and locally-grown foods.


The event, which begins at 10 a.m. on Sept. 19 at MSU’s Anthony Hall, is being held to encourage students to eat healthy, show-off their cooking skills, and highlight seasonal Michigan foods. The student-created dishes may serve as practical alternatives or new dishes for school food service meals and will be released statewide in a recipe book.


"One thing we know for sure is that when kids are involved in preparing their own food they are more likely to eat it,” said MNN Director Paul McConaughy. “The Michigan Junior Chef Competition gives us a way to get kids involved that is fun and focuses on school lunch."


The competition’s seven teams with three to four high school students per team, will make healthy culinary creations featuring ingredients from Michigan growers.  The majority of local fruits and vegetables were purchased at Thursday’s Select Michigan Farmers Market at the Capitol. 


The dishes must meet a variety of requirements, including at least two Michigan seasonal foods, at least two federal commodity foods and school meals nutrient standards. In addition to the cooking competition, students will present a creative healthy food marketing packing to the panel of judges, a requirement of the contest. Contest categories include best in show, best use of local ingredients and best nutrition and marketing packet with the top three teams receiving prizes.


The seven participating teams come from around the state, including Hillsdale, Benton Harbor, Coldwater, Iron River and Harbor Beach. All students represent schools which have at least 50 percent of the student body eligible for free and reduced-priced meals.


Aside from the cooking competition, students will tour sit in on a healthy cooking demonstration and will tour the MSU Dairy Store and MSU’s Student Organic Farm.


For more information, please contact Colleen Matts at



FW: USDA on Farm to School--Special Update

Greetings all,

Here’s additional follow up information on the farm to school pieces of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative of the USDA.

More good news!


Enjoy the weekend,



Subject: USDA on Farm to School--Special Update
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009 06:26:53 -0700

Farm to School Routes

USDA on Farm to School--Special Update

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, a new campaign by the USDA, was launched this week to help more Americans understand where their food comes from and how they can support local food economies in their communities. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack explains the initiative on YouTube (a must see)!

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

Announcements Re: Farm to School

Tuesday, September 14th was designated as Farm to Institution Day at USDA. As part of Farm to Institution Day, USDA made the following exciting and welcome announcements related to Farm to School:
1) BID LOCAL: The use of geographic preference in a bid will be expanded to include diced, chopped, and sliced product. The timeline on implementation is somewhat unclear and the exact language has not yet been developed. We'll keep you posted!
2) MONEY TO BUY LOCAL: USDA is encouraging the use of $50 million of existing Department of Defense Fresh funds to be targeted for the purchase of locally produced fruits and vegetables. Both USDA and DoD will be working on implementation of this program - the specifics are not yet defined.
3) FARM TO SCHOOL TACTICAL TEAMS: Per USDA, "Farm-To-School Tactical Teams will soon begin touring America’s school cafeterias to identify challenges and opportunities to help them transition to purchasing more locally grown foods. The team will work with local farmers, local and state authorities, school districts, and community partners to develop Farm-To-School projects and provide assistance on the best ways to buy more local produce for the National School Lunch Program. USDA will partner with schools, the U.S. Department of Education and non-profits to develop and enhance these resources." The team will be developed by an intra-agency group within the Department. They hope to begin visiting cafeterias in 2010, and they will release more specifics as the program develops.
4) MONEY FOR KITCHENS: The existing USDA Community Facilities Program supports the success of rural communities by providing loans and grants for the development of community kitchens. As explained in Deputy Merrigan's recent memo, producers are eligible for $31 million in remaining Recovery Act funds to build processing centers which will help grow their businesses in rural areas.These funds can be used to purchase school kitchen equipment in some cases. For more information go here: These funds are only available for a limited time, so act now!
The National Farm to School Network will send additional updates as information becomes available.
Check out the media covering Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

FW: [COMFOOD:] USDA's Farm to School announcement today as part of KYF, KYF launch

Hi all,
I wanted to pass along some good news for farm to school as part of the
Know Your Food, Know Your Farmer initiative of the USDA! Please read on.
I'm sure there will be more details to come, which I'll share as I see


From: Debra Eschmeyer []
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 12:45 PM
Subject: [COMFOOD:] USDA's Farm to School announcement today as part of
KYF, KYF launch!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true

SCHOOL LUNCHES New Farm-to-School Tactical Teams Will Assist School
Administrators Transition to Purchasing More Locally Grown Foods as Part
of USDA's 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative'

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2009 - Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen
Merrigan today announced a new initiative to better connect children to
their food and create opportunities for local farmers to provide their
harvest to schools in their communities as part of USDA's 'Know Your
Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative. USDA's Agricultural Marketing
Service (AMS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will team together
and form 'Farm to School Tactical Teams' to assist school administrators
as they transition to purchasing more locally grown foods. The agencies
will also issue updated common-sense purchasing guidance to schools so
they can buy fresh, locally grown produce for students eating through
USDA's school nutrition programs. Food and Nutrition Service
Administrator Julie Paradis made the announcement on Merrigan's behalf
at the Homegrown School Lunch Week Kickoff in Hanover, Md.

"It is important that our children have access to healthy, nutritious
food and our focus on enabling schools to purchase local produce will
provide opportunities for local producers," said Merrigan. "This will
enable greater wealth creation in communities by allowing producers to
build their capacity by serving local institutional customers like

USDA's Farm-To-School Tactical Teams will soon begin touring America's
school cafeterias to identify challenges and opportunities to help them
transition to purchasing more locally grown foods. The team will work
with local farmers, local and state authorities, school districts, and
community partners to develop Farm-To-School projects and provide
assistance on the best ways to buy more local produce for the National
School Lunch Program. USDA will partner with schools, the U.S.
Department of Education and non-profits to develop and enhance these
resources. Additional information will be made available soon.

This announcement is just one component of USDA's 'Know Your Farmer,
Know Your Food' initiative to help develop local and regional food
systems and spur economic opportunity. By successfully restoring the
link between consumers with local producers there can be new income
opportunities for farmers and generate wealth that will stay in rural
communities; a greater focus on sustainable agricultural practices; and
families can better access healthy, fresh, locally grown food.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a
complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil
Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call
(800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

Debra Eschmeyer

IATP and Kellogg Food & Society Policy Fellow
National Farm to School Network
Center for Food & Justice, Urban and Environmental Policy Institute,
Occidental College

t: 419.753.3412 c: 419.905.8612<><><>

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jackson County Farm to School In the News


Happy New Year to all of you working in and with schools! I am excited about the opportunities we have in farm to school this year and wanted to share a great article the Jackson Citizen Patriot did on our Farm to School programs in Jackson County this week. To view the article go to:

Have a wonderful day,

Michaelle Rehmann
Farm to School Program Director
Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP)
705 N Zeeb Road * PO BOX 8645 * Ann Arbor, MI 48107
Phone: 734.222.3817
Fax: 734.222.3990
Cell: 517.490.6912<><>

Market in the Park

The Michigan departments of Agriculture (MDA) and Natural Resources
(DNR) will host two Select Michigan "Market in the Park" events this
fall. The farmer's market style events will be from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.,
Saturday, September 19, at Sterling State Park in Monroe; and Saturday,
September 26, at Van Buren State Park in South Haven.

The Sterling State Park market will be held in conjunction with the
JhanaSun Music Festival.

Please help spread the word about these local food events!

There are still vendor spaces available at both markets, too. Please
contact me if you are interested in being a vendor.


Jeanne M. Hausler
Agricultural Tourism & Outreach Manager
Michigan Department of Agriculture
Fairs, Exhibitions & Racing Division
P.O. Box 30017
Lansing, MI 48909
517/242-2961 cell
517/241-4217 fax