Blog Archive

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Michigan Farm to School News

Hi all,

Here’s the latest Farm to School news, resources, opportunities, and events.



Michigan's African American Farmers Team Up with SEMPA and CanStrong to Deliver 18,000 Meals a Day from the Digital Journal.

Read more: The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit

The National Young Farmers Coalition's (NYFC) new report, Farming Is Public Service: A Case for Adding Farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, says that student loan debt is one of the key barriers preventing more would-be farmers and ranchers from entering agriculture. NYFC and a coalition of more than 100 other farming organizations are calling for Congress to add farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.



In Michigan and many regions across the U.S., USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) aligns well with the growing season, allowing schools and nonprofit organizations that are meal sites to serve local foods at their peak of freshness. Find summer meal sites in your community on this searchable map from the USDA. See additional resources below from the USDA and others about this seasonal opportunity!

·         Farm to Summer Fact Sheet - Use this fact sheet for summer meal program tips on incorporating local foods and agriculture-based activities.

·         Summer Food Service Program in Michigan – Check out this Michigan Department of Education webpage to learn more and participate!

·         Summer Meals Programs and Farmers Markets – Promoting summer meals at farmers markets is an innovative way to get kids and families to markets and provide fresh, local foods!

·         Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs - This resource covers procurement basics, defining local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways child nutrition program operators can purchase locally in accordance with regulations.

·         SFSP Toolkit - Find local foods guidance for state agencies, sponsors, and partner organizations.

·         SFSP Handbook - Sponsors can find guidance on procurement and tips on targeting local foods.

·         SFSP Webinar Series - Listen to presenters discuss incorporating local foods in summer meals, building awareness about summer programs, engaging in partnerships that help boost participation and increase access, and more.

·         Growing Gardens (pdf) - A Portland, OR organization has published a helpful guide on maintaining school gardens during the summer months.

·         FRAC Report - Fresh from the Farm: Using Local Foods in the Afterschool and Summer Nutrition Programs, a report on extending farm to school in other child nutrition programs.


Along with MSU Center for Regional Food System’s new Farm to Early Childhood Programs: A Step-By-Step Guide, the USDA has resources to support these efforts:

·         Fact sheet (pdf): Hot off the (digital) presses, the USDA Farm to School team published a new fact sheet focused on preschool settings, including tips and resources.

·         Policy memo (pdf): Want to dig deep into finding out how to integrate local food into your Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)? Look back at this March 2015 memo for guidance on incorporating local foods and agriculture-based curriculum in early childhood education and care settings. It gets right to the point with a Q&A section on procuring, growing, and accepting donated local food for CACFP programs.

·         Farm to Preschool webpage: You can find even more resources on FNS’s Farm to Preschool page here. Curriculum and menu ideas and procurement guidance will inspire you to get started or take your program a step further.


The Edible Schoolyard recently debuted a new series of professional development videos with tips for creating effective learning environments, indoors and out. Watch the first three videos and watch for more to come!



Let’s Move Salad Bars to Midwest Schools seeks to increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption by donating free salad bars to schools. See step-by-step instructions for Michigan schools here, and visit for more information and to complete an application. Schools must participate in the National School Lunch Program and have at least 100 students to be eligible to apply.

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Commodity Procurement Program is seeking additional vendors for the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables (UFV). The UFV Pilot currently helps schools in 8 states including Michigan (plus CA, WA, OR, WI, CT, NY, VA) as a way to help promote local food purchases and Farm to School initiatives. Through this upcoming webinar, you’ll learn about how to become a vendor. Click here for the pilot’s website, and register for the webinar at http: .

The USDA is accepting applications for loans and grants to support business expansion, create jobs and increase economic opportunities in rural communities through USDA's Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). RMAP provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) to help microentrepreneurs – very small businesses with 10 or fewer employees – access capital to start or grow businesses. MDOs use the funds to provide training and technical assistance to small businesses or to establish revolving loan funds that provide micro-loans, typically $5,000 to $50,000, to rural microentrepreneurs. More information can be found in this USDA press release, and details about how to apply for this are on page 35299 of the June 19 Federal Register. Application forms may be obtained from any USDA Rural Development State Office.

The USDA is seeking up to 20 new members to serve on the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee. Organizations or individuals can nominate someone. Nominations are due July 17. More info can be found in the Federal Register Notice. Feel free to share with your networks. 

The Food Network television show “Chopped” is seeking chefs located in New York, NY, Houston, TX, Asheville, NC, and San Francisco for casting. In addition to professional chefs, amateur cooks and teens are encourage to apply for special episodes. Applications accepted through August 2015. Apply at




Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN) and Michigan Food Hub Network Joint Meeting

July 15-16, Flint, MI

See more details and RSVP here by noon on Friday, July 10th!


H.E.A.L Our Food System Gathering

Sep 25-27, 2015, Chicago, IL 

The Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative (GFJI) 2015 Gathering will be held in Chicago, IL in partnership with Growing Power, Inc. The Growing Food and Justice for All (GFJI) is a comprehensive network that views dismantling racism as a core principle which brings together social change agents from diverse sectors who are working to bring about new, healthy, and impoverished communities throughout the world. Learn more and register here.


Enjoy the summer and stay dry,



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 |


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