Blog Archive

Friday, August 1, 2014

Michigan Farm to School News


Please see below for the latest Farm to School-related news, resources, opportunities and events.


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 |





Positive Changes in School Meals

USDA'S Food and Nutrition Service Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton just released a new blog that discusses the positive changes in school meals. Included in the blog are THESE two new infographics that illustrate some improvements to school meals as a result of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. 


Kids Can Make Healthy Food Choices: Education Is Key

An article by Anupama Joshi, the Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network, about the Nutrition Standards Debate can be found on the Huffington Post. Farm to School activities can enrich the connection kids have with fresh, healthy food and local farmers by changing food purchasing and education.


Bridging the Gap Wellness Strategies

Bridging the Gap collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a series of briefs highlighting opportunities to support wellness policies through evidence-based strategies. These briefs provide an assessment of policies across school districts nationwide, related to seven wellness policy components. They also highlight areas of opportunity for state agencies, school districts, and schools to strengthen wellness policy components. Click the link above to View Bridging the Gap's website and scroll down to see all seven briefs plus a methods document.


Don't Waver on School Nutrition

Click the link above to learn more about benefits and necessities of continuing Farm to School Programs from Betti Wiggins, Executive Director of the Detroit Public Schools Office of School Nutrition.


Group GAP Pilot Program

With assistance from Wallace Center, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is developing a cooperative approach to farm product safety for small- and mid-sized farms. The Wallace Center's six Group GAP Pilot Grantees will join Good-Natured Family Farms and the Upper Peninsula Food Exchange in pioneering this cooperative approach to small-farm food safety. Check out the pilot project report at the link above.


Getting Healthy Foods to Wisconsin Schools

Click on the link above to read about 17 Wisconsin Agriculture Department grants to help incorporate good, healthy and locally grown food in school lunches.



Cultivate Michigan video tutorials

Two video tutorials are now available to help explain how to sign up for and navigate Cultivate Michigan's website. A project of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network, Cultivate Michigan is a statewide local food purchasing campaign targeting institutions, including K-12 schools and Pre-K environments, hospitals, colleges/universities, and long-term care facilities. The Cultivate Michigan website is designed to provide institutions with resources to ramp up their efforts and help them track purchases of Michigan foods through a personalized dashboard. Check out resources on the website for the current featured food: Blueberries!

Cultivate Michigan Website Tour

How to Join Cultivate Michigan


USDA Summer Meals Webcasts

You can access the full list of the USDA summer meals webcasts here! Chock full of information, tips, lessons learned and best practices to help your program succeed. 


Bridging the Gap Wellness Strategies

Bridging the Gap collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a series of briefs highlighting opportunities to support wellness policies through evidence-based strategies. These briefs provide an assessment of policies across school districts nationwide related to seven wellness policy components. They also highlight areas of opportunity for state agencies, school districts, and schools to strengthen wellness policy components. Click the link above to View Bridging the Gap's website, and scroll down to see all seven briefs plus a methods document.


Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategies for Rural Communities

Click on the link above to view a toolkit created by Nemours that provides a range of strategies and success stories to assist practitioners in child-serving sectors, including: early care and education, schools, out-of-school time, community initiatives and healthcare.


USDA Announces New Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden announced the implementation of new Farm Bill measures and other policy changes to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Harden also unveiled, a new website that will provide a centralized, one-stop resource where beginning farmers and ranchers can explore the variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed.


New Legal Guides for Farmers Released

Farm Commons has just released a new, detailed guide to the legal aspects of a farm-related food safety incident. Check out the guides at the link above, or you can watch a recorded webinar on the subject. Farm Commons' newly updated guide to Hosting Safer, More Legally Secure On-Farm Events is also now available.


Growing Farm Profits Online Course Resources

Click the link above to view a range of materials designed by The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SAWG) to help individuals grow their farm profits!



USDA Releases Request for Applications for Unprocessed Fruit and Vegetable Pilot

Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon announced the release of a Request for Applications from states interested in participating in the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.  Under the pilot, up to eight states across five regions will be granted flexibility in using a portion of their USDA Foods entitlement dollars to purchase locally-grown unprocessed fruits and vegetables for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). State Distributing Agencies can apply by September 30, 2014. View more information about this pilot project online, and also see attached application information. The Food and Nutrition Service will host a webinar on "Everything You Need to Know about the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables" from 2 – 3 pm EST on August 7. Connect to the webinar by using both the audio and the webinar login:

                    Call the toll-free number (from your telephone – audio is not available over the computer): 1-888-566-1192. When prompted, enter the participant passcode: 7356237

                    Click on (or copy and paste) this link:, Meeting ID: 9594T6

Please plan to connect 5-15 minutes early to ensure you are connected on time.


Michigan Department of Community Health Building Healthy Communities Program

Elementary and middle schools are encouraged to apply for this comprehensive initiative that works to fight childhood obesity with healthy eating and physical activity. Click on the link above or see the attached release for more information. Schools interested in applying for Building Healthy Communities can join an informational conference call on August 5 at 1:00 p.m. or August 12 at 1:00 p.m. To join, call 800-462-5837 and entering pass code 210301#.  Program descriptions (attached) and application information are located at Those interested in applying can also email or call 517-325-4595 for additional information. Schools receiving the program will be announced in September.


WANTED: Solicitations for local meat, poultry, seafood and fresh water fish

Vanessa Zajfen, the USDA Farm to School Regional Lead for the Midwest, is gathering different types of solicitations for local meats, poultry, seafood and fresh water fish. She's looking for everything from informal solicitation's tracking forms and announcements to formal solicitations and anything in between! Contact her at for any questions you may have and/ or to send her information directly.


CDC Grant Opportunities

The CDC announced the availability of new Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) to advance the nation's chronic disease prevention and health promotion efforts. Click the link above for a list of current opportunities, including Programs to Reduce Obesity in High Obesity Areas.


Captain Planet Foundation Offers Grants for Hands-On Environmental Education Activities

Grants of up $2,500 will be awarded to support high-quality educational programs that enable children and youth to understand and appreciate our world through hands-on learning projects that improve the environment in their schools and communities. Click the link above for more information! The deadline is September 30, 2014.



FRAC webinars

·         Maintaining Momentum and Evaluating Your Summer Meal Programs
Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 1:00 PM eastern 
The last few weeks of summer are a vital time to continue your focus on summer meal programs in your area to ensure children are energized and ready to learn at the very start of the school year. Join to learn how sponsors and advocates are maintaining participation until the last days of summer and planning for next year.

·         Child Nutrition Reauthorization 101: Summer and Afterschool Meals Webinar
August 06, 2014 2 p.m.
Register here...

·          Katie Adamson, Senior Director of Health Partnerships and Policy, YMCA

·          Erik Peterson, Vice President of Policy, Afterschool Alliance

·          Kate Sims, Child Nutrition Policy Analyst, FRAC


17th Annual Detroit Tour of Urban Gardens and Farms

August 6, 2014

Presented by Keep Growing Detroit

To register, please visit or call 313.757.2635.


The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) On-Farm Field Days

The second field day is Using Nutrition Education to Enhance Sales and will take place at the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids and New City Urban Farm on Thursday, August 7 from 2 - 5:50 pm. At this field day, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, the Michigan Fitness Foundation (MFF) and New City Urban Farm team up to provide helpful resources and materials to build your customer base through conversations at the market. Childcare will be available from 2-4pm for children 12 weeks to 8 years old at $5 per child if you register by Monday August 4. For more information, please visit our registration page, and events calendar

Other schedule field days in this series include: 

·  Using Equipment and Tools to Improve Production Efficiency on Monday September 15; 

·  Season Extension to Expand your Marketing Potential on Monday October 13;

·  Maintaining Produce Quality from Farm to Market on Monday September 29; and

·  Technology and Apps for Production and Promotion (location and date TBD) 


National Farm to School Network and Wallace Center Webinar
Regional Food Hubs: Strengthening Farm to School Procurement

August 12, 2014 at 1pm EST

Presented by the Wallace Center, this webinar will focus on regional food hubs and their ability bridge the gap between local farms and school systems.  The presentation will include a discussion of food hub characteristics and their role in the farm-to-school supply chain; a closer look at how one food hub is successfully connecting small farmers to their local public school system; and an overview of resources to help you locate food hubs in your area and strategies for getting them with school foodservice programs.


Michigan Food Hub Network Meeting

August 14-15, 2014Marquette, MI

Click here for details and registration information.


School Garden Symposium

August 19-20, 2014 at Treehaven in Tomahawk, WI

Click on the link above to view more information on this event, where there will be hands-on instruction on a variety of topics including kid-friendly gardening activities, seed saving, ideas for extending the growing season, how to work with school cafeterias to set up composting and food tasting programs.


Michigan Green Healthcare Conference Save the Date!

October 9, 2014Grand Rapids, MI

This conference is intended for individuals and organizations interested in promoting sustainability practices within the healthcare sector.

Click here for details.


Michigan Farm to Institution Network Meet Up Save the Date!

October 27, 20141-4:30 PMLansing, MI

Join us for a Network Meet Up prior to the Michigan Good Food Summit. Space will be limited so stay tuned for additional details!


Michigan Good Food Summit

October 28th at the Lansing Center in Lansing, MI





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