Blog Archive

Friday, January 25, 2013

Michigan Farm to School News


The first 2013 edition of Michigan Farm to School News is jam packed with great news, opportunities and events! Check it all out below…


FDA Issues Food Safety Modernization Act Rules and Resources

In 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration, charged with implementing the law, issued major proposed rules on Produce Safety Standards and Preventive Controls in Human Food, as well as a host of fact sheets, videos, and other resources to help the public understand the proposed rules and the law.

Results from the 2011-2012 Farm to School Snapshot Survey Released

The results of the National Farm to School Network's survey of state leads are in! Click here to download a summary and infographic. 


New Fact Sheet now online:  Benefits of Farm to School

This fact sheet created by the National Farm to School Network summarizes research to illustrate the benefits of Farm to School programs including: Student Health and Achievement; Food Service Costs, Revenue, Interest; Benefits for Farmers; Community and Economy; Teachers; and Parents.

Nutrition and Physical Activity in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine

The majority of articles in the February 2013 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine are about nutrition and physical activity, including some articles about school meals and the school environment:

School Breakfast Coverage Roundup

FRAC's latest school breakfast reports show that, for the first time nationally, more than 50 percent of students participating in the National School Lunch Program also participated in the School Breakfast Program. Schools can continue to increase the numbers of children participating by serving breakfast in the classroom, offering breakfast from grab-and-go carts, offering "second chance breakfast" between early morning class periods are proven ways that schools can continue to improve breakfast participation, as well as raise the amount of reimbursements for the meals from the federal government. 

Great American School Lunch Challenge
Houston Independent School District and Colonial School District outside Wilmington, Delaware will partner up with the award-winning chefs and cook live, on stage, in front of Summit attendees. Hosting this year's challenge is White House Assistant Chef and Let's Move! Senior Advisor Sam Kass. See for full more details on the Great American School Lunch Challenge.

New Farm to Preschool Curriculum and Video

Ecotrust co-leads a national Farm to Preschool initiative and launched an Oregon Farm to Preschool Coalition last year. Coalition members Dr. Betty Izumi of Portland State University and Dawn Barberis of Mt. Hood Community College's Head Start program, developed the Harvest for Healthy Kids project. Read more about the project and watch the VIDEO at this link:

Food Systems Profile Project Online Portal
On behalf of the many colleagues who participated, I am pleased to announce the Food Systems Profile Project online portal.  The web portal tool features printable county profiles and maps for a twelve state region, food systems resources by topic, and template discussion tools to help county educators make use of the profile in a community setting. The goal of this project was to develop and publish an online food systems profile tool using existing secondary data sources to 1) help county based educators and community leaders better understand the local/regional food system in a systematic way in the North Central Region; 2) understand how key indicators are changing over time; and 3) and identify opportunities for growth or expansion in regional food systems through the use of food and agricultural industry cluster analysis.

EdWeb Growing School Gardens Community

This online learning community is a place for educators, gardeners, parents, and community volunteers to come together to share information and resources on how to start and maintain a school garden, and integrate it into the curriculum and the life of a school. EdWeb is hosting a series of webinars on school garden topics. A recording of the January 21th webinar "Winter Planning for the Spring School Garden" can be found at the following link:


Dispatch from Minneapolis: Rethinking School Lunch

Bertrand Weber, Minneapolis Public Schools' director of nutrition services, launched a campaign to bring back real food in school meals. Using the Center's Rethinking School Lunch framework, he inaugurated a five-year plan in 2012 to remake nutrition services. Already, participation is up, kids love several new dishes, waste is down, and staff members report "an incredible behavioral change" in the cafeteria. more >

IATP (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy) released a report titled, "Frozen Local: Strategies for Freezing Locally Grown Produce for the K-12 Marketplace," which outlines different models for freezing regionally produced food including using community kitchens, developing mobile freezing units, freezing on-site at schools, and developing co-packing relationships with companies that freeze produce.


Michigan Nightlight has a number of articles of interest, including features on MLUI's "USDA grant to help ramp up local foods in school districts" and MIMFA's "Hoophouses for Health" grant program. Check it out at


Five Michigan food hub projects provided grants by MDARD were featured in a webinar in December. The webinar as well as the more info about the Michigan Food Hub Learning and Innovation Network can be found at (Find the webinar under Resources.)



The MI / FL Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program Returns…
The solicitation for the USDA Fresh Produce Pilot for Michigan and Florida was released earlier this month. To review the solicitation and other info about the pilot, follow this link - – and select Fresh Produce Pilot. Offers are due TODAY,  January 25, 2013.

2013 USDA Farm to School Grant Request for Applications
The USDA Farm to School Grant Program (FSGP) Request for Applications (RFA) for fiscal year 2014 funds will be issued in mid-February. A press release will be issued from the USDA's National Office and a blog post will be published using the Farm to School E-letter.  USDA will share the press release and blog post with you all as it comes out! USDA National Office staff will continue to provide the same level of technical assistance during the application process as was provided last year, including posting sample grants to the website and hosting informational webinars. Once released, all questions regarding the RFA should be sent to (note, this is a different address than was used last year!). In December, the USDA hosted a webinar to aid applicants in increasing the competitiveness of future submissions. Click here to view the recording.

USDA Finalizes New Microloan Program

Microloans up to $35,000 aim to assist small farmers, veterans, and disadvantaged producers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a new microloan program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) designed to help small and family operations, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers secure loans under $35,000. The new microloan program is aimed at bolstering the progress of producers through their start-up years by providing needed resources and helping to increase equity so that farmers may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations. The microloan program will also provide a less burdensome, more simplified application process in comparison to traditional farm loans. The full press release is available here.


Midwest Public Schools commit to buying local!
Midwest Public Schools and Chartwells have committed to sourcing locally produced food to serve OVER 1,000,000 school meals per day! Chartwells is looking to source fruit, vegetables, and anti-biotic free chicken for public school districts in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan
and Wisconsin.
WHO?             Local Producers, Processors and Distributors
WHAT?           Locally produced fruit, vegetables, and ABF chicken
WHEN?           Now through the 2013-2014 school year
See the Requests for Information (RFIs) attached; complete and email back to by March 23rd.
WHY?              This initiative brings a huge opportunity for local producers to profitably partner with Chartwells to increase the amount of locally produced food to area school children in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. For more information, contact Jennifer Borchardt, Grower Coordinator, Family Farmed, 773-805-3210
or meet Family Farmed in person at the Good Food Festival in Chicago on March 15th to learn more.

FoodCorps is Recruiting Service Members

FoodCorps is seeking up to 130 future leaders to address childhood obesity and food insecurity through their three-ingredient recipe for change: teaching kids about healthy food and where it comes from, growing school gardens, and getting high-quality local food into public school cafeterias. The 2013-2014 Service Member Application is now open and applications will be due by 11:59 pm EST, March 24th 2013. Late applications will not be accepted.

Community GroundWorks is hiring Goodman Youth Grow Local Farm Manager
Community GroundWorks is seeking an experienced educator and grower to develop and manage the Goodman Youth Grow Local Farm, an innovative, regional farm-based education program for a diverse population of young people from area schools and community centers. Successful candidates will have experience in program management, sustainable food production and hands-on environmental education. Please visit for a complete position description and application instructions.



The Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference will be held tomorrow, January 26th at the Grayling High School in Grayling. On-site registration is open as long as space allows. Find the agenda and more information here -


FDA Webinar on FSMA Proposed Produce Safety & Preventive Controls Rules
The Produce Safety Alliance, in collaboration with the FDA, will be hosting a webinar on Thursday January 24, 2013 at 11 AM EST to provide information about the Proposed Produce Safety Rule as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.  Dr. Jim Gorny, Senior Advisor for Produce Safety, will present An Overview of FDA Food Safety Modernization Act Proposed Produce Safety & Preventive Controls Rules. Participation in this webinar is open to all but limited online to 1000 people on a first come, first serve basis. Find the proposed rule and a fact sheet from the USDA here -  

USDA Invests in Food Safety Training through
USDA's Risk Management Agency has funded the website to expand its farmer training programs in 2013. is offering Wholesale Success training opportunities for fruit and vegetable growers in partnership with the Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI) in Traverse City on February 11th and in partnership with Detroit Eastern Market at the Detroit Mercantile Center on February 13th. See flyers with more information attached.

Great Lakes Farm to School at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference
There will be a farm to school lunch panel and a networking session at the Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse, WI on February 22nd and 23rd. Listen in on the panel discussion about farm to school, or join in the networking session to make connections with local farm to school practitioners. Find more information at the conference website - 



Colleen Matts

Farm to Institution Specialist | Michigan Lead for National Farm to School Network

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

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

(p) 517.432.0310 |

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

USDA Fresh Produce Pilot for MI/FL Update - Solicitation Issued

Hi all,

The solicitation for the USDA Fresh Produce Pilot for Michigan and Florida was released yesterday. To review the solicitation and other info about the pilot, follow this link - – and select Fresh Produce Pilot. Offers are due by January 25, 2013. The USDA will host a conference call to help address any questions potential vendors may have. Here are the details:


Pre-proposal Conference Call:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1:00 pm, EST

Call In; 1-888-858-2144

Access Code: 2757569



Colleen Matts

Farm to Institution Specialist | Michigan Lead for National Farm to School Network

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

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

(p) 517.432.0310 |



Friday, January 4, 2013

FW: USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program announced

Happy New Year!


Apologies for my delay in getting this information out, but please see the attached USDA release about what we hope will be the long-delayed start of the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in Michigan and Florida. According to the USDA website, “the goal of this pilot is to give schools additional options to purchase fresh produce for their school meals programs and allow for more locally-grown foods. The pilot will test a method and process for schools to use entitlement funding for fresh fruits and vegetables purchased by the USDA from qualified domestic suppliers.” Apples, blueberries, grapes, oranges, carrots and lettuce will be included. Farmers and vendors interested in supplying produce for this program, please take note of the solicitation information and requirements to participate in the attached announcement, and keep an eye on announcements on the USDA’s Commodity Procurement webpage for more information.




Colleen Matts

Farm to Institution Specialist | Michigan Lead for National Farm to School Network

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

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

(p) 517.432.0310 |