Blog Archive

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems to be a FoodCorps host site for 2011


November 30, 2010



Debra Eschmeyer

(419) 905-8612


Colleen Matts

(517) 432-0310




 C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University to be

one of FoodCorps’ inaugural host sites for 2011


EAST LANSING, MI FoodCorps, a new national AmeriCorps school garden and Farm to School service program, announced today the states and partners it will collaborate with to launch the initiative in 2011. The C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems (Mott Group) at Michigan State University is one of ten organizations across the country that will work with FoodCorps to help serve vulnerable children, improve access to healthy, affordable food, and train young leaders for careers in food and agriculture.


Altogether, FoodCorps plans to put 82 members on the ground in ten states to work a total of 139,400 hours during the 2011-2012 school year. Utilizing the public service model of AmeriCorps, FoodCorps will leverage federal funds to place young adults in high-need communities, with the mission of improving children’s education about and access to healthy food. FoodCorps service members will build and tend school gardens, provide nutrition education, and help develop local food purchasing, or farm to school, programs at school sites.


FoodCorps is a great fit for the Mott Group, whose mission is to engage communities in applied research and outreach to promote sustainable food systems, with a goal to improve access and availability of locally-produced food. The Mott Group has worked in the farm to school arena for the past six years, providing technical assistance, research, resources, and policy education that have been critical to the expansion of farm to school throughout the state.


“We are excited for the opportunity to bring FoodCorps to Michigan and provide more people-power to valuable farm to school, school garden, and nutrition education programs in high need schools and communities,” said Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist with the Mott Group. Matts also hopes that FoodCorps can help realize the vision of the Michigan Good Food Charter and meet some of its goals for 2020, namely that institutions will source 20% of their food products from Michigan; schools will incorporate food and agriculture into the pre-K through 12th grade curriculum; youth will have access to food and agriculture entrepreneurial activities; and 80% of Michigan residents (twice the current level) will have easy access to affordable, fresh, healthy food.


To plan for the first year of FoodCorps, the Mott Group has been working closely with partner organizations including the Michigan Land Use Institute, Food System Economic Partnership, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, and the Michigan Department of Community Health. All organizations hope to host FoodCorps service members through their programs, but details on partners and school sites will be determined pending funding and other national program decisions in the coming months.


Julie Sielawa, Executive Director of Community Outreach at the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids said, “The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids looks forward to the opportunity to host FoodCorps members, which will allow the YMCA to improve access to fresh food in Grand Rapids’ food desert communities and educate children about the benefits of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables.”


“The Michigan Land Use Institute has seen tremendous interest in farm to school programs as a way to help kids eat healthy while also investing in the region's important local farm economy,” said Diane Conners, a Senior Policy Specialist with the organization based in northwest Michigan. “More than 40 schools or early childhood programs here now source local farm products for school meals or snacks, and FoodCorps will help make those programs grow stronger, launch new ones, and connect more kids to tasty food from farms and gardens.”


Other host sites selected for FoodCorps 2011-2012 include: 

·         Arkansas: The Delta Garden Study at Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute

·         Arizona: Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health

·         Iowa: National Center for Appropriate Technology

·         Massachusetts: The Food Project

·         Maine: University of Maine Cooperative Extension

·         Mississippi: Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity 

·         North Carolina: North Carolina State University 4-H 

·         New Mexico: Office of Community Learning and Public Service at the University of New Mexico 

·         Oregon: Oregon Department of Agriculture 


As a pioneer in applying the proven model of national service to the widening epidemic of childhood obesity, FoodCorps and the ten chosen host sites are poised to improve the wellbeing of thousands of children in its first year and millions over the next decade.


For more information on FoodCorps, visit

For more information on the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University, visit



FoodCorps is a national AmeriCorps program that focuses on service in rural, urban, and suburban school food systems that have children challenged with high rates of obesity and limited access to healthy foods. A nonprofit organization, FoodCorps was developed with funding from AmeriCorps and the WK Kellogg Foundation, in partnership with Occidental College, the National Farm to School Network, Slow Food USA, The National Center for Appropriate Technology, and Wicked Delicate.







Friday, November 19, 2010

House Passes Resolution Promoting Farm to School Programs



For Immediate Release                                                                      

November 19, 2010                                                                                



House Designates October Farm to School Month Supporting Farmers and Students

(Washington, D.C.) On November 16th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution introduced by U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) to establish October as National Farm to School Month to ensure our children obtain the highest quality food at school, help foster local farm job growth, and create local economic development. 

Coming at a time when the Child Nutrition Act is up for the final vote, the confirmation of October as National Farm to School Month demonstrates the commitment of this Congress to healthy children, land, and communities. Holt's leadership as a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor has been instrumental in working to improve how food is sourced for the 31 million children that eat at school five days a week, 180 days a year.

"As a representative from the Garden State it should not be a surprise that I support bringing Jersey tomatoes or sweet corn into schools," Holt said. "But this is not just a local resolution. Farm to School programs are a key priority for Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, and First Lady Michelle Obama has planted a garden at the White House with the help of local students. Farm to school programs can help in the fight against childhood obesity and economically support our local farmers." Video of Rep. Holt speaking about the legislation can be found here.


"The establishment of National Farm to School Month can help highlight the on-going efforts of many school food service directors, farmers, and distributors in Michigan to increase school children's access to local foods while supporting the local economy" said Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist with the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University. "This resolution may also spark the development of new Farm to School programs throughout the state, lending further support to the Michigan Good Food Charter's goal that our state's institutions purchase 20% of their food products from Michigan growers, producers and processors by the year 2020." 


The resolution, which can be read in full below, highlights the benefits of Farm to School programs. The House resolved that:


 "a) Farm to School programs should be recognized as a proven effective strategy that can provide immediate and long-term benefits to child health, small and medium-sized agricultural producer income, and community economic development; and


b) the Federal Government should partner in assisting schools and local educational agencies with planning, technical assistance, and implementation of Farm to School programs; and


c) encourages schools and local education agencies to use local produce in meals throughout the month of October; and


d)  encourages schools, farmers and farm groups, local businesses, nonprofit institutions, churches, cities, State governments, and other  local groups to raise awareness of Farm to School efforts in their communities.

"We applaud Rep Holt's leadership in the passage of Resolution 1655 in establishing October as National Farm to School Month. Farm to School programs are now active in all 50 states and this Resolution will help Farm to School take one step closer to nourishing the nation one tray at time," stated Marion Kalb, Co-Director of the National Farm to School Network.

Resolution text:


H. RES. 1655

Expressing support for designation of October as `National Farm to School Month'.

Whereas Farm to School programs of varying scale are currently operational in over 8,900 schools in all 50 States;

Whereas Farm to School programs connect schools and local farms in order to serve healthier meals in school cafeterias, improve student nutrition, and provide agriculture, health, and nutrition education;

Whereas Farm to School programs often have experiential education components that can lead to permanent improvements in children's diets both in school and at home;

Whereas Farm to School programs facilitate the purchase of local food for school meals, thus increasing local farm sales and stimulating local economies;

Whereas Farm to School programs can benefit small and mid-sized agricultural producers by providing access to consistent markets and the planning and organization skills to expand to other institutional customers;

Whereas Farm to School programs can be particularly important for beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers as schools provide a consistent and secure customer base;

Whereas Farm to School programs can benefit local economies, for every $1 spent on local foods in schools, $1 to $3 circulate in the local economy;

Whereas one-third of children in the United States are now obese or overweight, and over the past 3 decades, obesity rates have quadrupled in 6- to 11-year-olds and tripled in 12- to 19-year-olds according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination survey;

Whereas more than 9,000,000 young adults (25 percent) are too overweight to join the United States Armed Forces, making children's obesity rates a matter of national security;

Whereas United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data shows that only 2 percent of children meet the Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations;

Whereas communities with high levels of poverty have less access to fresh fruits and vegetables than higher-income communities;

Whereas increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is 1 of 6 major strategies to prevent and control obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;

Whereas Farm to School programs can increase children's daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and studies have demonstrated that children in schools with an active Farm to School program increased their average consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by 1 or more servings per day;

Whereas 31,000,000 children eat school food 5 days a week, 180 days a year, and for many of these children, school food programs provide more than half of their daily calories;

Whereas approximately 60 percent of students in the United States are eligible to receive free or reduced-price school lunches;

Whereas Farm to School programs are popular among children and can increase school lunch participation ranging from 3 percent to 16 percent for all meals;

Whereas the National School Lunch Program established under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act has potential to provide fresher and healthier foods to millions of children in the United States;

Whereas Farm to School programs decrease the distance food travels to schools, which can reduce the energy used in transportation; and

Whereas the month of October would be an appropriate month to designate as `National Farm to School Month': Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That--

(1) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that--

(A) Farm to School programs should be recognized as a proven effective strategy that can provide immediate and long-term benefits to child health, small and medium-sized agricultural producer income, and community economic development; and

(B) the Federal Government should partner in assisting schools and local educational agencies with planning, technical assistance, and implementation of Farm to School programs; and

(2) the House of Representatives--

(A) expresses support for designation of `National Farm to School Month';

(B) encourages schools and local education agencies to use local produce in meals; and

(C) encourages schools, farmers and farm groups, local businesses, nonprofit institutions, churches, cities, State governments, and other local groups to raise awareness of Farm to School efforts in their communities.



National Farm to School Network increases access to local food and nutrition education to improve children's health, strengthen family farms, and cultivate vibrant communities. Founded in 2007, the National Farm to School Network provides training and technical assistance, information services, networking, support for policy advocacy, and media and marketing activities in all 50 states with national staff and eight Regional Lead Agencies. The National Farm to School Network envisions a nation in which Farm to School programs are an essential component of strong and just local and regional food systems, ensuring the health of all school children, farms, environment, economy and communities.



Michigan Farm to School Network:

Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist, C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU;, 517.432.0310


Diane Conners, Senior Policy Specialist, Michigan Land Use Institute in northwest Michigan;, 231.941.6584


Michaelle Rehmann, Farm to Food Service Program Manager, Food System Economic Partnership in southeast Michigan; , 517.490.6912


National Farm to School Network: Debra Eschmeyer;

w: 419.753.3412  c: 419.905.8612

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

FW: Take Action on Child Nutrition

Hi all,

Apologies for getting this to you late in the day! Please see the message below from the Food System Economic Partnership regarding Child Nutrition Reauthorization.





From: Food System Economic Partnership []
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 11:50 AM
To: Colleen Matts
Subject: Take Action on Child Nutrition


Click to view this email in a browser

Take Action on Child Nutrition Today!

                          Where_Our_Food_Comes_From 2AA_Hoop_houseFarmer_Classroom_Visit



Call-In Day: November 16

Contact your congress member and let them know they need to pass this important legislation. Call 1-877-698-8228!

Congress returns for a lame duck session on November 15—we need to make sure they put passing a strong Child Nutrition bill at the top of their priority list.

Why? Because one in four American children is at risk of hunger—and one in three is overweight or obese. We must have the vital improvements to child nutrition programs provided in CNR so we can tackle these problems head on.

Help us tell Congress and the White House"Now is the time to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307) and restore the SNAP program!"


Child Nutrition Reauthorization is a process that Congress goes through every four years to authorize funding to the programs in The Child Nutrition Act, including the School Breakfast and the National School Lunch Programs, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).  The reauthorization process also provides an opportunity to improve these programs by addressing nutritional quality of meals, service gaps, and program access.

Who does it affect?

Millions of low-income children benefit from the healthy food provided by federal child nutrition programs, however too many hungry children are not being reached by current child nutrition programs. 

Subsidized school meals play a critical role in addressing childhood hunger during the school day. Sadly, when school is out, such as afternoons, on the weekends, or in summer, children do not have access to nutritious meals they need to thrive. 

It is unacceptable that nearly one in four children in this country faces hunger.  As many studies have shown, children who are hungry have difficulty learning and concentrating in school and are at-risk of developmental and social delays.  The programs in the Child Nutrition Act provide the vital meals and nutrition that our kids need in order to succeed.  Feeding America supports a strong and well-funded Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill.       

Where are we in the process? 

The Child Nutrition Act was originally slated for reauthorization last year (2009).  It was given a yearlong extension to September 30, 2010.  During the time of the extension, Feeding America and other anti-hunger advocates across the country worked with Congressional leaders to write and pass a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization.

On August 5, 2010, the Senate passed S.3307: "The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act" (Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-AR).  It contained many historic improvements to the Child Nutrition Act, including the first non-inflationary increase to the reimbursement rate that schools receive per meal served.  This, along with establishing standards for nutrition education and wellness, would help schools to serve more nutritious meals to kids.  The bill also expanded summer meal service in areas with low-income children and afterschool meals as well.  Unfortunately, S.3307 proposed to pay for these improvements with a $4.5 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (more commonly known as SNAP or the Food Stamp program). 

Feeding America, with many other anti-hunger advocates, urged House leaders to craft a better Child Nutrition bill.  We wanted a bill that included the long overdue program improvements that our nation's children deserve without cutting the food buying power of over 42 million low-income Americans, many of whom are the parents of the very children that benefit from the Child Nutrition Act.

The House could not finalize a bill or vote to pass S.3307 prior to the September 30, 2010 deadline.  

What's happening now?

There will be an opportunity to pass the Child Nutrition bill during what is known as the "lame duck session" between November 15 and the end of the legislative session.  However, as both Senate and House leaders have told advocates that the Senate will not take up a revised bill this year, we believe that the only way forward is for the House to pass S.3307 and address the SNAP cut and the other program improvements legislatively and administratively.

House leaders have been negotiating with the White House to get the necessary assurances that would allow the House to pass S.3307 with a commitment that the Administration will restore the SNAP cut and protect it from future cuts, and make additional improvements to program access.

Feeding America supports these efforts and believes that it is the best opportunity to secure a Child Nutrition Bill and safeguard SNAP. 

There are some anti-hunger groups that have taken the position of opposing S.3307 until the cut to SNAP has been fully addressed.  While we respect this principled stand, we believe that this position is too risky given the volatile political climate and the fact that the Senate will not take up a different version of this bill.                            

If Congress cannot pass a bill prior to the end of the year, what will likely happen is that the Child Nutrition Act will get a yearlong extension.  While in other circumstances, another year would give Congress more time to craft a more robust bill, the coming year will likely be a less hospitable political environment for such actions.

Feeding America is deeply troubled by the SNAP cut used to pay for S.3307 but we also know that our nation's children cannot wait any longer for the historic improvements to the Child Nutrition Act included in S.3307.  As such, we believe that the best we can do for low-income children and their families is to pursue a compromise position – pass S.3307 with a commitment to restore the SNAP offset through another legislative action.      



The Food System Economic Partnership is a regional nonprofit in Southeast Michigan serving Wayne, Washtenaw, Lenawee, Jackson and Monroe Counties.  We exist to catalyze change in the food system and provide research, education and outreach with urban and rural partnerships, resulting in agricultural economic development opportunities, sustainable communities, and healthy local economies. 

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Michigan Farm to School News


Hi all! Here are the latest Farm to School news bites. 


"Lunch Line Redesign"
Check out this to interactive approach to help encourage students to make better choices by changing the way food options are presented. Read more from the New York Times here

"MSU faculty create documentary about urban farming in Flint" 

Two Michigan State University academics recently released a short film titled "The Kings of Flint" about Youth Karate-Ka and Harvesting Earth Farm, their latest documentary in the Greening of Flint project. Read more and watch the video here.

"Farm-to-School Food: Who's Going to Chop the Rutabagas?" 

A pilot project put $15,000 into four Minnesota schools to expand their farm-to- school food efforts but obstacles remain. Read more here

Read more about the Michigan state budget and its impact on children in Michigan Children's latest Budget Basics.

"Everyone Wins with Farm to School Initiative"

Frankfort-Elberta Schools in Benzie County and Onekama Consolidated Schools in Manistee County have both expanded their Farm to School programs with help from a $60,000 grant from USDA Rural Development. See "Farm to School Success" press release attached for more details. 


Request for Proposals: Urban Agriculture Opportunities Contract Investigator
The Greater Lansing Food Bank proposal seeks an investigator to research the options and make recommendations for expanding urban agriculture in the area. Proposals received by 12:00 (Noon) Friday, November 5, 2010 will be given preference. See attachment for more details.

Lansing City Market Manager
This position is responsible for the management, coordination, and supervision of daily Lansing City Market business and operational activities. Read more details here

Community Based Intervention's Giving Tree Farm, Farm Manager Position
CBI is seeking a Farm Manager for Giving Tree Farm, a non-profit vocational training and rehabilitation program for individuals with traumatic brain injuries. See attachment for more details and how to apply. 



Extending the Growing Season with Hoophouses (High Tunnels): 5-Part Webinar Series 

Hosted by MSU Extension and Barry County Regional Local Foods Network

Monday, November 1, 2010; 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

See attachment for more information. 

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and Agricultural Cooperatives Educational Workshop
Tuesday, November 9th, 1:00 - 3:30 pm

MSU Extension Barry County Office in Hastings
See attachment for more information. 

Farming Works: Successful Farming Workshop

Sponsored by Food System Economic Partnership

Wednesday, November 10th from 10:00am—noon

Jackson Public Library

Learn more at

2010 Michigan Community & School Garden Networking Meeting
Saturday, November 13th 2010, 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM 
Edison Environmental Sciences Academy, Kalamazoo, MI
Register Here. See attachment for more details. 

Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO
December 7-9, 2010
Devos Place Convention Center, Grand Rapids, MI
Pre-register at by November 12 to save on the cost of registration.