Blog Archive

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November News Bites




Here are the latest Farm to School news bites:




Sponsored by the Michigan Nutrition Network, Michigan State University Extension and the C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at MSU, the Michigan Junior Chef Competition was held at Michigan State University (MSU) in September to promote healthy eating and Michigan foods. A competition summary and Flash slideshow are now posted online at the MNN website. The recipes from the student-designed school lunch meals and a short video of the competition are coming soon!  


Small distributors focus on getting local produce to state’s restaurants, schools and grocery stores Check out this story from the Detroit Free Press about Locavore Food Distributors based at Detroit Eastern Market. Locavore works with a number of schools in Michigan and Chicago to help get local produce into school meals programs!


Minnesota farm to school efforts catch eye of USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan: School districts around the state embracing Farm to School program” USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan toured St. Paul Schools’ commissary to get a look at the district’s Farm to School program. St. Paul Public Schools purchased over 100,000 pounds of local produce in just the first few weeks of the school year! Read the attached PDF press release, and check out this related story - USDA: St. Paul Public Schools ‘Pioneers’ in Farm-to-School Programs.


Local high schoolers cooking up change for their cafeterias” 15 Chicago public high schools competed in Cooking Up Change, a healthy cooking contest which challenged teams to create nutritious school lunches on a tight budget with limited ingredients and prep work. Check out a video about the competition!


Spotlight on Food Service: Chartwells' Bob Bloomer redefines "fresh" for Chicago Public Schools” Bob Bloomer, regional Vice President with Chartwells in Chicago, is working with farmers and processors to extend availability of local products through flash-freezing.


Vilsack still backs nutrition funding” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reaffirmed the administration’s plans to ask Congress for an additional $1 billion per year for child nutrition programs like the National School Lunch Program.


USDA Backs Rewarding Schools Serving Healthy Foods” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that schools that serve more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to pupils should see higher federal support rates than those serving meals that are less healthy.






Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo

December 8-10, 2009

DeVos Place Convention Center and Amway Grand Hotel, Grand Rapids, MI

Check out the website for more info.


Farm To School Workshop for Farmers

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 from 9:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m.

Kent County Extension Office

Grand Rapids, MI

Please find the brochure and registration form attached in PDF format. Please register by December 4.

For more information, contact Kendra Wills, Land Use Educator, at (616) 336-2028.


Green Initiatives in School Wellness Webinar

Sponsored by the USDA Food & Nutrition Service, Midwest Region

Tuesday, December 15th from 2 PM – 3:30 PM CST

Participation is free, but registration is required by Friday, December 11th.

Click here to register:

See attached flyer for more information! 


2009 Michigan Family Farms Conference

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lakeview High School, Battle Creek, MI

See the brochure at the MIFFS website


Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference

Saturday, January 30, 2009 with keynote speaker, Melissa Hemmelgarn, on Friday, January 29th

Grayling High School in Grayling, MI

Find more information on the conference website.


Choices 2010, Collaboration: There's Room at the Table 

Wednesday, March 10 -11, 2010 in East Lansing, Michigan. 

Registration opens Jan. 11, 2010 

For more information, visit


Farm to School: Setting the Table for Wellness

Sponsored by the Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI)

Monday, March 15, 2010 at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Acme, MI. 

For conference info visit

See Save the Date attached for more event information!  





CFSC’s National Farm to College Program is happy to announce that they have redesigned their website,  The site is a clearinghouse of resources and information for both new and existing farm to college projects with profiles of 140 projects from around the country.

Happy Thanksgiving,


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




Thursday, November 19, 2009

New guidance from USDA on Geographic Preference for "Unprocessed Products"

Hi all,

I have good news to share!


The USDA has revised the definition of “unprocessed products” that may be purchased by schools with geographic preference (which means that school food service directors can specify for and “prefer” locally-grown or –raised agricultural products in their procurement processes). As the attached memo explains, unprocessed products which “retain their inherent character” may now include those products that have been cooled, refrigerated, frozen, peeled, sliced, diced, cut, chopped, shucked, ground, dried/dehydrated, washed, cold pasteurized, vacuum packed, bagged, butchered, and pasteurized. This greatly expands the opportunities to get local products in usable forms for school food service!


The definition of unprocessed products in this memo will be effective until the final rule is drafted. I’ll be sure to share that with you when I get notice of it.




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



Thursday, November 5, 2009

FW: Meet the Specialty Food Producers Meet & Greet Event - Nov 11th

Greetings all,

This is just a reminder to register for this Meet the Specialty Food Producers Meet & Greet at the Making It in Michigan Conference sponsored by the MSU Product Center. The Marketplace and Meet & Greet are free of charge! Please RSVP to me by this Friday, November 6th. (Apologies for cross-posting!)









Hi all,

Please see a notice below and attached flyer for details on an up-coming Meet & Greet event designed to introduce Michigan institutional food service directors and buyers from colleges/universities, hospitals, K-12 schools, etc. to clients of the MSU Product Center, who produce Michigan specialty foods. Please feel free to pass this along to any institutional food service contacts you may have.



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








This Meet & Greet event will give Michigan institutional food service directors

and buyers a chance to meet clients of

 the MSU Product Center who produce Michigan specialty food products.


  If you are an institutional food service director or buyer

 who is ready to incorporate locally-produced specialty food

products into your institution’s menus,

join us for this event and get connected!


Where: Making It In Michigan Conference

Sponsored by the MSU Product Center

Exhibit Hall at the Lansing Center
333 E Michigan Ave Lansing, MI 48933


When: Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

1-2:30 pm during the “General Marketplace”


Please RSVP to Colleen Matts at or 517.432.0310 by Friday, November 6th if you plan to attend.

The Marketplace and the Meet & Greet event are free of charge.


For more conference information and vendors, please see






Monday, November 2, 2009

FW: Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan to Host 2nd 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' Facebook Chat on Nov. 5

Hi all,
Please see the notice below about the second Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food chat which will focus on Farm to School!


From: Barham, James []
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 8:06 AM
Subject: [COMFOOD:] Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan to Host 2nd 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' Facebook Chat on Nov. 5


WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2009 - Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen
Merrigan will host her second Facebook chat about the 'Know Your
Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 3 p.m. The
topic of this chat will be farm to school, which involves getting and
using fresh produce and other farm products from local and regional
farmers for use in local schools. The effort not only supports
increasing economic opportunities for local farmers but also helps
school children make healthy food choices.

The 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative emphasizes the need
for a fundamental and critical reconnection between producers and
consumers. The effort builds on the 2008 Farm Bill, which provides for
increases and flexibility for USDA programs in an effort to promote
local foods.

Merrigan hosted her first Facebook chat on the initiative on Oct. 1.
Questions were submitted from people across the nation about beginning
farmer and rancher programs, interest in school nutrition, food safety
and supporting local and regional food systems. During the 30 minute
session, more than 115 questions and comments were submitted.

Details are available at and people can submit a
question in advance of the chat or watch the conversation on the USDA

The website, at, features social media tools
to help focus the public conversation about farming and food, while
engaging American agriculture and linking producers to customers. The
public will be able to send their stories, ideas or videos to the 'Know
Your Farmer, Know Your Food' team at . The
public can become a fan of USDA on Facebook at


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a
complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil
Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or
call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
202 720-4623