Blog Archive

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Starting summer with flexibility and innovative support

June 2020
Dear Michigan Farm to School subscribers,

In previous years, June would be the start of summer vacations. With the switch to remote instruction, the transition from classroom learning to summer break may look a bit different this year.

Throughout the summer season, we continue to focus on flexibility, as we expect that farm to early care and K-12 education will continue to evolve in these changing times.

MSU Center for Regional Food Systems is still updating our list of resources that may be helpful for early care and K-12 education sites looking for food-related resources during the pandemic.

Thank you for your continued work for children and families in Michigan. We will continue to stay in communication and provide whatever support we can. Please email us if you have a need that we may be able to help with.
USDA Approves Michigan For SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot
Michigan is one of 13 new states that is participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) online food purchasing pilot. The latest expansion includes new retailers who accept SNAP benefits online. In Michigan, SNAP benefits can currently be used for online purchases from Amazon and Walmart.

Michigan Companies Awarded Contracts for USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program
The Farmers to Families Food Box Program is a partnership between the USDA and national, regional, and local food suppliers to distribute food to families and support farmers and suppliers during the pandemic. A list of suppliers from the Midwest (including Michigan companies) is available.

Grand Traverse Area Children’s Garden Transitions to Food Production
Normally focused on educating youth about gardening from seed-to-plate, the Grand Traverse Area Children’s Garden is pivoting to food production, taking advantage of its garden space to benefit the local community.

Finding Childcare is Difficult for Farm Workers when Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Programs Close
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, many childcare programs have temporarily closed, including over 90% of Head Start programs. This includes nearly all Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs, which provide nutrition and health services and early education programming to the children of many migrant farmers and farm workers.

Read more about the impact of MSHS closures on the essential agriculture workers served by the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project.
USDA Extends Flexibilities for Summer Feeding 
Three nationwide waivers will be extended, enabling child nutrition programs additional flexibility through August 31, 2020. This includes allowing children to be served meals outside of group settings (non-congregate feeding), meal pick up by parents/guardians, and non-standard serving of meals, including grab-n-go options.

FoodCorps is National Farm to School Network's 2020 National Partner of the Year
Since 2017, the National Farm to School Network has selected a National Partner of the Year to strategically collaborate with other national organizations that share their values and goals. In 2020, NFSN chose FoodCorps as their National Partner, noting an opportunity to strengthen their advocacy and programming to better serve their communities, “especially those most impacted by an unjust food system.”

Virtual School Garden Education Series
June 3 and June 17

Tune into the last two sessions of this free school garden virtual education series offered by MSU Extension. The June 3 session focuses on planning the fall school garden. On June 17, the topic is using cover crops in school gardens.

Iowa Virtual Farm to School Conference
June 19

The Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition is hosting their annual conference virtually this year, with the in-person conference rescheduled for 2021. The conference will feature a discussion around farm to school during the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of presentations.

Webinar Series from the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
Farming Classes from MSU Student Organic Farm
Monthly through August

These webinars feature food and land sovereignty change makers working to make land, food, and community wealth accessible for Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

Various dates

Two learning opportunities are available for those who want to enhance or start their farm business.

The Farm Business Plan Accelerator is an online workshop focused on writing a farm business plan that fits your farmsite, markets, skills, and goals.

The Organic Farmer Training Program offers a mix of field and classroom activities over the full 2021 farm season at the 15-acre MSU Student Organic Farm in East Lansing.
USDA Food and Nutrition Service COVID-19 Resources
USDA Food and Nutrition Service is providing updated information and resources related to COVID-19, including an interactive “Meals for Kids” map showing sites where families can find free meals for kids.

Farm to Early Care and Education: Toward a Shared Language
This blog aims to begin a conversation between early care and education providers and food systems practitioners to help us develop a shared language and fuller understanding of the common purpose we are working toward.

Child holding fresh pick radishes
At-Home Resources for Farm to School and ECE
Home classrooms can access a variety of lessons and activities to learn about nutrition and agriculture while schools and childcare sites are closed.

The Edible Schoolyard Project is offering resources that connect growing and preparing food to histories, cultures, identities, and environmental issues.

Big Green at Home includes a weekly newsletter as well as lessons, videos, and activities for caretakers and teachers on their website.

The Wisconsin Farm to Early Child Care and Education team at Rooted created a collection of activities for home, including a list of children’s books, songs, and a gardening, food, and nutrition curriculum.
USDA Announces Grants for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production
Deadline: July 6

USDA has announced the availability of $3 million for competitive grants through its new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. Both planning and implementation project funding is available to support urban and suburban ag programs that improve local food access, education efforts, and meet other community needs.

School Nutrition Foundation COVID-19 Grant Funding
Deadline: Rolling

The School Nutrition Foundation is providing grants up to $1,500 per school district to cover costs associated with COVID-19 feeding programs, including equipment and supplies, transportation, staffing, and more.

Detroit Community Connections Bridging the Gap Response Fund
Deadline: Rolling

Detroit Early Learning’s Bridging the Gap Rapid Response Fund is providing resources to respond to immediate needs, implement activities, and design bridges to quickly address gaps faced by Detroit families as a result of the pandemic. The grant’s primary focus is groups working with children ages 0-8 and/or their families. There is a smaller amount of funding available for groups working with children and young adults ages 9-18. Groups working with college bound youth are encouraged to apply.

Emergency Meal Distribution Equipment Grants
Deadline: Rolling

Action for Healthy Kids is offering grants of $1,000-$2,000 to school districts providing meals during COVID-19 closures. Schools and districts can use the funds to purchase equipment for grab-and-go curbside meal pickups at schools and other community locations, additional hot and cold food storage containers, grab-and-go packaging materials, and mobile distribution to families in outlying or rural communities.

Emergency Meals-to-You: Mailed Meals for Students 
Deadline: Rolling

Emergency Meals-to-You provides weekday meals to students who were receiving breakfast and lunch through the National School Lunch Program at a free or reduced price but temporarily cannot receive school meals due to emergency school closures. The program will mail 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches every two weeks directly to the student’s home while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Funding
Deadline: Rolling

GENYOUth is providing grants of up to $3,000 for schools who need resources for meal distribution and delivery efforts during COVID-19. Funds may be used to purchase soft-sided coolers, bags and containers for individual servings, protective gear for food service sanitation and safety, or other equipment to help ensure children continue to receive the nutritious meals they need.

About Michigan Farm to School

Farm to School centers around efforts to serve local foods in school and early care and education settings. We share ideas, tools and resources to support a range of efforts, from school garden programming to farmer visits and field trips.

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