Blog Archive

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Michigan Farm to School News


Here are the latest Farm to School-related news items, opportunities, resources and events. Enjoy and stay warm!



We are Excited to Welcome Vanessa Zajfen, USDA Farm to School Regional Lead for the Midwest Region! Vanessa Zajfen has a BA from UC Santa Cruz and obtained her MS in Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University. She has worked in everything from owning/ operating a company that specialized in sourcing and selling locally grown foods to developing and managing Farm to Institution programs to her latest position as San Diego Unified School District's Farm to School Specialist. Based in Chicago, she will provide training, technical assistance and generalized support to a wide variety of farm to school (FTS) stakeholders. Feel free to contact her directly at or 312.353.0683.


Last week, the White House and the USDA announced new proposed guidelines for local school wellness policies. See the press release and the proposed rule.

The early childhood obesity rate is down, according to a new federal (CDC) report. A significant reduction in the obesity rate among 2-5 year old children was found from 2003/04 – 2011/12. Click here for the New York Times article and here for the Journal of the American Medical Association article on this study.


Food Hubs Connecting Farmers with Buyers

Food hubs, which serve as food aggregation and distribution centers, are connecting local farmers with markets and more buyers. There are now more than 240 food hubs operating in the U.S., helping farmers connect with each other, receive discounted liability insurance and market their produce more efficiently. Click for the story from Sean Powers, Harvest Public Media/NPR).


Cash or Credit for Your School Lunch?

A new study in the journal Obesity found that when students pay cash for their school lunches, they buy three times as many vegetables and consume ten percent fewer calories than students who use a debit card. Read more from Shankar Vedantam, NPR. What's behind the behavior difference? Brian Wansink, a Cornell University behavioral economist, points to a brain trick. Using a credit or a debit card makes it feel as though the financial consequences are far in the future, and the same may be happening for food choices.


School Food FOCUS Report: Eating Our Peas and Carrots: Strategies for Expanding K-12 Access to Fruits and Vegetables through Supply Chain Innovation and Investment.

This report analyzes the structure of supply chains that provide produce to large urban school districts as well as dynamics that may influence the use of produce in K-12 settings in the Upper Midwest. Opportunities as well as strategies to expand access to "good" food are identified and outlined.


Growing Power Provides 40000 Lbs. of Carrots to Schools

Unknowingly setting a record, Growing Power, a nonprofit farming organization in Milwaukee, sold 40,000 pounds of carrots to schools. A majority of the vegetables went to schools in Wisconsin while the remainder found homes in Chicago Public Schools. The story was also featured HERE on the USDA's website.


Public Health New Mexico: Bill Would Fund Farm-Fresh School Lunches

This story discusses the "Farm to Table" initiative in New Mexico and a proposed bill that would provide funding to schools to purchase local produce.




The USDA Farm to School Grant Program request for applications for the 2015 grant year is now open! Four grant types are now available – planning, implementation, support services and conferences/events. Proposals for for planning, implementation and support services grants are due by 12 noon EST on April 30th. Letters of intent for conference/event grants are due by 12 noon EST on April 2nd.


FoodCorps Service Member Applications Open

Application deadline: March 30, 2014

FoodCorps is recruiting for the next class of members, including Michigan members! The program is proud to announce that, pending funding, they will be expanding to Georgia and Washington D.C. For more information and to apply, click the link above.


School Food FOCUS Job Opening: Southern Regional Learning Lab Manager

The lab manager will work closely with the management team and FOCUS staff to lead an "SRLL Readiness Year Project", which is a full-time, one-year project. For the full job posting as well as the opportunity to apply online, click the link above.


Health Impact Assessment Funding

The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, is calling for proposals for grants to support Health Impact Assessment (HIA). Click the link above for details.


Voices for Healthy Kids Grant Opportunities

The American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created Voices for Healthy Kids, which aims to engage, organize and mobilize people to improve the health of their communities and reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. There are two grant opportunities available. For more information on both of these opportunities, click the link above.




Georgia Organics Taste Test Video

Georgia Organics created this video to highlight what a taste test is, how it can promote youth consumption of fruit and vegetable consumption, and how to conduct one.


New School Food Cookbook

The New School Cuisine cookbook was created by Vermont FEED, USDA, Vermon Agency of Education, and the School Nutrition Association of Vermont and is by school cooks for school foods. It features only kid-tested recipes as well as farm-fresh, local, seasonal ingredients.


Policy Memo Summaries

For your reference, Michigan Department of Education and USDA policy memo summaries relating to school nutrition have been posted on the site above. These provide a quick summary of key points from the memos and electronic links to the memos themselves. The site will have regularly updated versions.


NFSN State Farm to School Legislative Survey

The National Farm to School Network recently released its latest report documenting all the proposed and/ or enacted farm to school legislation by states since 2002.


State School Health Policy Matrix

The National Associations of Chronic Disease Directors and of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) created this guide to help individuals navigate through various aspects of school health policy. The guide includes info on competitive foods and beverages, physical education and physical activity, and administration of medication in the school environment.


American Public Health Association Infographic on Childhood Obesity

Created by the American Public Health Association, this resource outlines the importance of public health funding as it relates to childhood obesity. 



Regional Support Models for Sustaining School Gardens edWeb webinar

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 4:00pm ET

Presenters: John Fisher, Director of Programs and Partnerships at Life Lab, with Park Guthrie, Garden Education Specialist for the Oakland Unified School District in California


USDA Webinar – Highlighting Innovative Ways Extension Professionals are involved with the USDA Farm to School Grant Program

Thursday, March 13, 2014 – 12 noon EST

To participate in this webinar, please register at A phone and internet connection is needed.



March 27-28, 2014; The Dearborn Inn, A Marriott Hotel; Dearborn, Michigan

Brought to you by The Michigan Nutrition Network and Michigan Fitness Foundation, CHOICES 2014 will cover topics ranging from healthy snacks to building relationships in the workplace through 6 keynote speakers, 12 breakout sessions, CEUs, and great food. To register, and for more information, click the link above.


Summer Food Service Program Training (SFSP) 2014

In order to continue the program's growth and expand the reach to more Michigan children, MDE is focusing on sponsor training. It's never too early to start planning for summer 2014.  Training registration information to follow.  This year's training dates and locations as well as some more information are attached in a document titled SFSP Training, and training registration information will follow.


Conference Registration Now Open!

The 7th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will be held this year in Austin, Texas, April 15-18. The three days will be filled with inspiring field trips, workshops, speakers and networking- be sure to register now so you don't miss out! Registration closes April 1st.

January – June 2014, 2:00pm ET on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month. Click the link above to register and/ or 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 |



No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.