Blog Archive

Monday, October 29, 2012

Michigan Farm to School News - Farm to School Month edition!



October is Farm to School Month!

As October comes to a close, remember that Farm to School Month resources and activities are still available through the National Farm to School Network! Find links for various resources below.

·       The first step is to sign your organization up as an official Farm to School Month Partner. To sign up as a partner and be listed at or to get more information please e-mail

·       Check out the stickers, posters, communications tools and more available in the resources sections and shops

·       Your organization can add Farm to School Month events to the online events calendar.

·       Schools and programs can sign up for Farm to School Counts!

·       Farm to School Month Fact Sheets and a communications toolkit are available to help with your efforts!

USDA Releases Additional Guidance on Purchasing Local Products for the School Cafeteria
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued two new memos with implications for local and regional buying in school meal programs:

·         A new memo on the Federal Small Purchase Threshold Adjustment announces that the small purchase threshold has been raised from $100,000 to $150,000. The increased threshold may help school food authorities (SFAs) use relatively simple and informal methods of procurement more often.

·         The Geographic Preference Option, authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, allows school food authorities to apply preference to local or regionally sourced unprocessed products. The new Geographic Preference Q&As Part II provides additional guidance on how to use the geographic preference option. This new memo provides a list of the types of products to which a geographic preference can be applied, along with information about how to define local in general, as well as specific information about milk, meat and seafood. In addition, this new memo also provides helpful information about supporting small farmers, forward contracting, and CSA model contracts. Finally, the memo clarifies the relationship between federal and state rules and regulations regarding local purchases for school meal programs.

School Food Purchase Study-III Reports Available

Earlier this year, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service released its third comprehensive School Food Purchase Study (2009-2010) which outlines the type, quantity, dollar value and unit of price of school food purchases. This dense report, which also includes some information about farm to school and local food purchasing, can be found here and a summary report can be accessed here. More recently, the USDA FNS released the Nutritional Characteristics of School Food Acquisitions portion of the School Food Purchase Study-III. Find the full report here and the summary here.


Pew Center and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Impact Assessment

This research concludes that updating national nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold in schools could help students maintain a healthy weight and increase food service revenue. Click here to read more.


MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) releases Farm Succession Study

The Michigan Farm Succession Study: Findings and Implications, produced by Steven Miller with the Center for Economic Analysis at MSU, and Susan Cocciarelli of MSU CRFS. The first of its kind in Michigan, this report details findings about Michigan farm operations and farmers' retirement and succession plans.  With over 750 Michigan farmers responding to the 2011 survey, the report provides information useful to those working to maintain farming livelihoods and Michigan's prominent role in the country's food production. It also confirms a sense of urgency to answering the question of who will farm in Michigan in the coming years.


MSU survey finds farm to school participation has greatly increased

The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, formerly the CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems, conducted a survey of school food service directors in 2009 that showed that participation in farm to school nearly tripled since 2009. Additionally, the majority of schools/districts (77%) had taken at least 1 step to connect students with local food. Budget and cost issues ranked higher as barriers than in 2004, but the desire of food service directors to help Michigan farms had also substantially increased. See a summary of the 2009 survey and a journal article describing results here - (see links in the first paragraph).


Farm to School episode of ELFCO TV available on YouTube

Videographer David Johnson  produced a farm to school episode for the East Lansing Food Coop (ELFCO) TV program. It's divided into three parts, and you'll find all of them here -


Spotlight on Michigan FoodCorps in Cooking Light Magazine

An article titled "The Young Step Up" focuses on Robyn Wardell, a Michigan FoodCorps service member in Flint last year and a FoodCorps Fellow serving Michigan this year. In August, FoodCorps launched its second program year with 80 members in twelve states (with Montana and Connecticut newly added) and 12 FoodCorps Fellows. This year, Michigan FoodCorps members are providing farm to school, school garden and nutrition education service through six service sites: the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, the Michigan Land Use Institute, the Food System Economic Partnership, the Crim Fitness Foundation, the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and the Center for School Health at Wayne State University.


10 Cents a Meal Aims to Bring Local Food to School Cafeterias

In this article, Diane Conners of MLUI explains the 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids & Farms pilot project in the Grand Traverse Region that "puts into action a recommendation for extra spending power in tight school budgets to help Michigan's economy while putting healthy food on kids' plates."





Team Nutrition Releases "Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook for Schools"

USDA Team Nutrition in partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative, the American Culinary Federation, and the School Nutrition Association published thirty kid-approved recipes from the Recipes for Healthy Kids Challenge. The top recipes in each category have been standardized in cookbooks for homes, child care centers, and schools, all featuring nutritious recipes designed to increase students' intake of whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables, and dry beans and peas.


New Produce Safety Resources Available

The USDA and National Food Service Management Institute have made new resources available through Produce Safety University. New training slides, talking points, fact sheets and videos have all been posted to!

The lessons address topics including School Gardens, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Preparation, Handling and Service, Produce Quality and Condition, Purchasing, and Receiving and Storage. The new video series, titled What Went Right?, demonstrates correct produce handling in scenes that mirror What Went Wrong? videos.


Updated NFSN Factsheets Now Available Online

Newly updated National Farm To School Network (NFSN) factsheets, first introduced at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, are now available at The available fact sheets include:

·       Farm to School Fundraising:

·       Starting and Maintaining a School Garden:

·       Farm to School in Preschool:


Farm to School Policy Brief

The Community Food Security Coalition, in partnership with the National Farm to School Network, released a new policy brief on Farm to School. The new brief is entitled Strengthening Farm to School Programs: a policy brief for state and local legislators.


USDA Announced a 2.0 version of the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Compass

This summer the USDA unveiled an updated version of this digital resource that illustrates the USDA's involvement and investment in local and regional food. Check out the KYF Compass here. Also remember that the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has another useful online resource called the Food Environment Atlas, which details food prices, store/restaurant locations, food and nutrition assistance programs, and other community characteristics that impact the food environment. You can find the Food Environment Atlas here.





USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program is calling for applications. "Community Food Projects should be designed to (1): (A) meet the food needs of low-income people; (B) increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food needs; and (C) promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues; and/or (2) meet specific state, local, or neighborhood food and agriculture needs for (A) infrastructure improvement and development; (B) planning for long-term solutions; or (C) the creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers." The deadline to apply is November 28, 2012.


The Whole Kids Foundation will grant 1000 schools $2000 each to build or expand their school garden. The application deadline is October 31st.

NGA 2013 Youth Garden Grant Award

The National Gardening Association awards Youth Garden Grants to schools and community organizations with child-centered garden programs. Priority will be given to programs that emphasize one or more of these elements: integration of content standards, nutrition connections, environmental awareness, entrepreneurship, and social aspects of gardening such as leadership development, team building, community support, or service-learning.  Schools, youth groups, community centers, camps, clubs, treatment facilities, and inter-generational groups throughout the United States are eligible. Applications must be submitted by December 3, 2012. 


Annie's Grants for Gardens

Annie's offers grants to school gardens that connect children directly to real food. These funds can be used to buy gardening tools, seeds or other needed supplies. Deadline for applications is December 15, 2012. 


Nickelodeon Big Help Grant Program

The Big Help Grant Program will support projects that inspire kids to (1) take care of the environment; (2) lead active, healthy lives; (3) engage in community service; or (4) improve their educational experience. Through 2012, eligible schools and community-based organizations can apply for one of two funding opportunities: a) $2,500 grant; b) $5,000 matching grant. To request $5,000, an applicant must provide a dollar-to-dollar match ($10,000+ total project budget). Application deadline is December 31, 2012. 


End Childhood Obesity Innovation Challenge

Partnership for a Healthier America has launched the End Childhood Obesity Innovation Challenge. Individuals and organizations are encouraged to submit creative ideas to address the childhood obesity epidemic. The winner will be awarded $10,000 to get the idea off the ground, along with 50 hours of consultation from EdelmanFortune MagazineMcKinsey & Company, and Start-Up Health


Earth Day Network Healthy and Sustainable School Food Journalism Awards

The Healthy and Sustainable School Food Journalism Competition is designed to bring the hard facts about school food to entire school communities – in the students' own words. This competition for student journalists (U.S. high school students ages 13 to 18) will be judged by best-selling author and food activist Michael Pollan. Articles submitted for consideration must be about the need for healthy, sustainable school food and must have been published in a school newspaper. First prize: $1,500, Second prize: $1,000, Third prize $500, Fourth Prize (x3): $300… Plus, $200 for their journalism class and the opportunity to have your work publicized on the Earth Day Network websites and through our extensive networks. 





Making It In Michigan: MSU Product Center's Conference and Specialty Food Show

November 1, 2012

Lansing Center, Lansing


Farm to Preschool Webinar

November 13th, 1 PM EST

Mark your calendars and register here! Come learn about the National Farm to School Network's exciting Farm to Preschool initiative (all early childcare settings included).


FRAC Child Nutrition Program Conference Calls

·         Summer Meals Matter - Last Summer's Lessons & Strategies for the Upcoming Summer

Thursday, November 1, at 1:00 pm EST

·         Breakfast Matters - Grants for Breakfast in the Classroom

Thursday, November 8 at 3 pm EST

·         Afterschool Meals Matter - Simplify Paperwork and Administrative Requirements

Wednesday, November 28, at 1:00 pm EST


Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo

December 4-6, 2012

DeVos Place Convention Center, Grand Rapids




Colleen Matts

Farm to Institution Specialist

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd | Rm 303 Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517.432.0310 |


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

National Farm to School Month - Farm to Head Start Day Celebration!

Greetings Farm to School Friends and Colleagues!

In honor of National Farm to School Month, the National Head Start Association has made today, October 18, 2012 National Farm to Head Start Day! You can learn more about this collaboration and other themes for Farm to School Month here

To celebrate Farm to School Month AND National Farm to Head Start Day, the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems has partnered with Michigan Farmer's Market Association to share innovative approaches to both outreach and community building with Head Start programs across Michigan. Through collaboration with The Michigan Head Start Association, we've been able to use a new farmer loan program (coordinated by MIFMA) to facilitate access to farm market produce for Michigan Head Start families! Please see and share the attached press release for more information. 

Please join us today in celebrating National Farm to Head Start Day with stories, influence and encouragement with our MI Head Start programs!



Jekeia Murphy

Academic Specialist

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd, Rm 309 | Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517-432-0308 | (f) 517-353-3834 | |

Thursday, October 4, 2012

FW: Use Food Day to highlight or increase Farm to School efforts


Please see info below about Food Day which can help highlight farm to school activities during National Farm to School Month!


Colleen Matts

Farm to Institution Specialist

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd | Rm 303 Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517.432.0310 |


From: Avi Schlosburg [] On Behalf Of Food Day
Sent: Thursday, September 06, 2012 11:40 AM
To: Food Day
Subject: Use Food Day to highlight or increase Farm to School efforts


Food Day – the nationwide celebration and movement for healthful, affordable, and sustainable food – is coming up on October 24, less than two months from now. In 2011, the first year of the campaign, 2,300 events took place around the country, and dozens of school districts around the country took part.

We are thrilled to count the National Farm to School Network among our partners, and we hope you’ll join us in celebrating Food Day this year, especially by co-promoting your National Farm to School Month activities as Food Day events. In Washington, D.C., for example, D.C. Public Schools will celebrate Food Day with a week of Farm to School activities in classrooms and school gardens. Among others, the Cornucopia Project and New Haven Farm to School are planning activities, and the Alaska Child Nutrition Program and Alaska Farm to School will have a special lunch on Food Day to showcase local produce.

Food Day is around the corner! What will you do?

Here are five simple steps to get involved:

1. Check out the Food Day Guide for School Organizers.
2. Use the Food Day Curriculum written by professors at Columbia Teachers College.
3. Help us spread the word through your network and link to
4. October is Farm to School Month, so celebrate both!
5. Register your participation on the national map (even if the event is not open to the public).

Feel free to contact us for assistance as you develop your plans for Food Day 2012 by emailing

Lilia Smelkova
Food Day Campaign Manager