Tag Archives: schools

From Massachusetts Farm to School


Dear Friends,

In this season of giving thanks, we have much to be thankful for at Mass. Farm to School. This season is also a time of transition, as farmers mark the end of the harvest season and look ahead to next year. Here at Mass. Farm to School we are also experiencing a time of transition.

After several months of strategic planning, this November we transitioned out of our host organization, Project Bread – The Walk for Hunger, and to a new host organization at Farm to Institution New England (FINE), with fiscal sponsor Third Sector New England. We are very excited to work with FINE staff and partners to strengthen farm to school programs in Massachusetts and to connect with broader farm to institution efforts across New England.

While you, our partners and supporters, will likely notice few changes in our programs or staff, we thought it was meaningful to announce this transition and, very importantly, to give thanks for the skilled and generous sponsorship that Project Bread has offered since 2013. Over the past two years, Project Bread helped us strengthen our organizational capacity and enabled us to develop strong programmatic partnerships with their wonderful initiatives, including the Chefs In Schools program and the Child Nutrition Outreach Program.

We look forward to continuing these partnerships in the years to come. We also want to thank all of you who took part in the planning process which helped us arrive at this transition. We look forward to your continued involvement and the contributions of many other partners as we work to build out a robust Massachusetts Farm to School Network.

We are very thankful that we are now well positioned to make great strides in achieving our organizational goals — to see a thriving local food system in Massachusetts in which all have access to healthy, locally grown food, and local foods procurement and food and agriculture education are ingrained in the fabric of our schools.

We would like to once again thank Project Bread and to thank each of you for your dedication to growing the farm to school movement in Massachusetts.


Simca Horwitz & Lisa Damon

Mass. Farm to School Program Directors

Join us at Farm to School Day at the State House


Join us!

Wednesday, May 6

Farm to School Day at the State House in Boston!

Talk with your elected officials about why farm to school is important to you, your school, and your community!

Farm to school advocates from around the state will spend the day meeting with legislators to raise the visibility of farm to school programs and to encourage support for state level policies to expand food education, local food in school meals, and school gardens in Massachusetts.

Come share your stories!

We will gather to meet one another at noon in the Members’ Lounge, attend a legislative briefing together and then fan out to attend meetings you have pre-scheduled with local elected officials.

Please call your Representatives and Senators’ offices to schedule meetings with the legislators and/or their staff any time before noon or after 1 pm.

Farm to School Day Agenda

12 pm: Meet in the Members’ Lounge on the 2nd floor

12:30 pm: Attend a legislative briefing with legislators and their staff to learn more about Farm to School and current Farm to School legislation

1 pm:  Fan out to meet with your elected officials to discuss farm to school efforts happening in your region and across the Commonwealth

Let us know you’re coming!

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Simca Horwitz or Lisa Damon at info@massfarmtoschool.org or call 413-253-3844.

We hope to see you on May 6!

Massachusetts Farm to School
34 Main St., Suite 10
Amherst, MA 01002

Mass Farm to School news

Farm to Institution Summit Coming to Massachusetts

Are you working to increase the amount of local and regional food used by schools, colleges, and healthcare facilities in the Northeast? You’re invited to the 2015 Farm to Institution Summit at UMass Amherst on April 7-9!

This first-year conference will feature 50+ sessions, inspiring speakers, local tours, good food, live music, and exhibitor fair and more.

Please join us–along with hundred of other farm to institution advocates–for three exciting days of learning, sharing and connecting.

Register by March 2 to save $20 per day: www.farmtoinstitution.org/summit

Do you have a great idea for farm to school success? If so, be sure to submit your Recipe for Success by March 2 for a chance to win $500 in cash prizes, free registrations to the Northeast Farm to Institution Summit, and a chance to present and share your great work.

Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference and Trade Show

Farm to Institution New England is excited to be hosting a farm to institution track with five workshops at the 2015 Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference and Trade Show, one of New England’s largest agricultural marketing conference, on February 25-26 at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge.

Mass. Farm to School staff will be panelists for two workshops, one entitled “Farm to Institution Nuts and Bolts–Shop Talk with Sector Leaders” and the other “Farm Visits and What You Need to Know.” We’ll also have a resource table in the exhibitor hall. Stop by and say hello!

Show Your Support for Establishing a Mass. Farm to School Month

State Representative Steve Madden (Falmouth/Martha’s Vineyard/Nantucket) has introduced HD63, which would officially designate October Massachusetts Farm to School Month and encourage three state agencies (Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education, Public Health, and Agricultural Resources) to work together on a joint task force to further farm to school efforts across the state.

Contact your legislator to encourage them to vote in favor of this bill. Contact us if you’re interested in getting more involved with this advocacy effort.

Resources and Opportunities

Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom Winter Conference – March 7

Attend the 14th Annual Winter “Growing Minds Through Massachusetts Agriculture” Conference on Saturday, March 7 at the Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School in Palmer.

There will be four workshop sessions, with six to seven concurrent workshops in each session related to the many different aspects of agriculture in the classroom. Each will be taught by a teacher or farm educator.

Farm to School Policy Webinar, March 10, 1pm EST

Making change: How you can support farm to school policy this spring
Although the Child Nutrition Act (known as CNR) isn’t set to expire until September 30, the action in D.C. is happening now, and we need your help.

Join the National Farm to School Network to learn how farm to school legislation is progressing as part of CNR and what you can do to help make sure farm to school gets the support it needs from Congress!

The 20-minute presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.

Office Depot Foundation Grants for Children and Communities – Deadline: Rolling

The Office Depot Foundation’s funding focus aligns with its Strategic Priorities. The Office Depot Foundation prefers to fund projects and programs in the areas of Giving Children Tools For Success, Building Capacity to Serve Communities and Disaster Preparedness, Relief, Recovery, and Rebuilding.

Grants of $50 to $3,000 will be awarded to select applicants.

Nonprofit organizations, schools, and libraries are eligible to apply. 

Fruit Tree Orchard Grants – Deadline: Ongoing

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) is an award-winning international nonprofit charity dedicated to planting fruitful trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming, strengthen communities, and improve the surrounding air, soil, and water.

FTPF programs strategically donate orchards where the harvest will best serve communities for generations, at places such as community gardens, public schools, stat/city parks, low-income neighborhoods, Native American reservations, international hunger relief sites, and animal sanctuaries.

CLICK HERE to learn more! 

Calling all farmers, people who don’t want inner-city farmers markets gentrified, folks who want to bring fresh local foods to city schools/low-income families!

It’s the POLLINATE CONFERENCE January 13  at Worcester State University!

Time is running out …

Registration closes on January 7th!

Reserve your spot today.

Join more 300 other enthusiastic farm to cafeteria advocates from the preschool, K-12, and college sectors for a full day of workshops, networking, cooking demonstrations, and fun. We will have over 20 different workshops including:

Farm to School Policy and Advocacy

Farm to School Curriculum Connections

Waste Reduction, Composting Organics, and School Gardens
Funding Farm to School Programs
On Campus Farming
Farm to Preschool 101
Farm Based Education Initiatives – Urban and Rural Farm Field Trips
Sea to School: Incorporating Local Seafood in School Meals

The conference will also include Farm to Cafeteria Regional Networking Sessions so that you can connect with others in your community who are involved in farm to cafeteria activities.

Learn from their best practices, share your own tips, and move forward together!

We will be holding a concurrent Buyer Tradeshow and Networking Session for Farmers and Distributors. This will be a great opportunity to make direct connections with farmers from your region and discuss local sourcing with distributors.


Registration closes on January 7th and is filling up quickly as we have a limit of 350 attendees. Discounts are available for students and conference presenters. Please contact us for more information.

Conference Sponsorship Opportunities

Opportunities still exist for conference sponsorship. This conference is made possible by generous support from businesses and organizations that share the values of the farm to cafeteria movement. We expect the conference to attract over 300 individuals from a variety of fields including school and college dining services, farmers, non-profit organization staff, state agency representatives, legislators, school educators and administrators.

We have a number of different conference sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested in being a sponsor, please contact us.

For more information and to register, CLICK HERE!


By Gordon T. Davis

A girl dressed up in a KKK costume during a Halloween event at Worcester Technical High School on October 30, 2014.  This is the same high school that President Obama honored and attended its graduation ceremony in Spring 2014. Her dressing in the Kluxer robes and hood caused much upset in the Worcester and Boston areas. There was a report of it on the Boston TV.

The girl technically did not violate any policies as the Halloween event costumes were to depict great villains. Admittedly, the Ku Klux Klan is a great villain, guilty of murder and terrorism. Their klaverns are still on the Southern Poverty Center’s list of hate and terrorist groups. The very image of them is offensive to most people in Worcester and Boston areas.

I spent a good part of my adult life fighting against the Kluxers and the Nazis; we opposed the Nazis’ use of the Worcester Public Library as a meeting location.  So I think I can speak with some experience. The girl in the KKK costume is a child who followed school policy that was not at all clear. The school policy was confusing and it is that policy that needs correcting and not the child. When the policy is clear then the children will have the guidance they need to make good decisions. Children cannot be expected to make nuanced decisions between what is bad and what is offensive without guidance from adults. It is the school authorities who should have known better, albeit knowledge that was hard to obtain beforehand. The School Department’s policy on anti-racism and anti-discrimination is not well known to the public and there should be some discussion with the public about it.

The policy for great villains or heroes should be clarified to exclude characters that might be offensive. Of course this is a restriction of expression, but there are times political correctness makes good policy.

When my kids went to public school Halloween costume events occurred in elementary school, not in high school. My own memories were that it was fun dressing up for grammar school events. I wanted to be more mature in high school and dress the part, if only to impress the girls. Perhaps there should be restrictions on Halloween costume events in high schools.

The Worcester Public School is run by Dr. Boone who has shown competence in matters such as this. I sometimes think that she does not do as much as she wants, because of local politics. I do think that she will have an honest review of the Worcester School Department’s policy as was promised in its press release. I hope Dr. Boone does not wait for things to blow over without doing this review. I also hope she makes it and all policy changes public.  The girl in the KKK costume was a preventable event and I hope the School Department finds the right policy to ensure no further embarrassment to the students,  itself and to the City.

Mass. Farm to School HARVEST WEEK!

Harvest Week – Make Your Plans Now!

This year the Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week will be Monday, September 30 – Friday, October 4.

With this week we not only kick off National Farm to School Month (October), but we also put the spotlight on the efforts of schools all across Massachusetts to highlight the delicious bounty of Mass. grown products!

What are your plans for your school?  We invite you to use our websiteto find resources to help you plan your week, including seasonal recipes, activity ideas, and a sample press release. Here are a few event ideas to get you started:

  • If you’re already signed up for Harvest of the Month, why not show off September or October’s featured crop (tomatoes and pears) in a special lunch or taste-test?
  • Feature a different local fruit or vegetable on the menu each day
  • Invite a farmer to speak with students
  • Invite your local legislators for a local lunch

If you have a plan in motion already, please fill out the “How will your community celebrate” section of our webpage and let us know!  As always, feel free to contact us directly to help you source local food directly from a farm or through your distributor. …

To read more, click here!


NEW: Why go to school?

By Edith Morgan

Criticizing our public schools is one of our favorite indoor pastimes – everyone is an expert, having attended school for twelve years or more – and able to share tales of experiences during those years.

But just being a consumer of public education does not make anyone an expert, any more than having had brain surgery makes one a brain surgeon. But in a democracy, more than anywhere else, an educated public is vital to the survival of all the values we purport to hold dear.

To hold our nation together, we have to share certain beliefs, certain skills, certain behaviors, certain values. When I attended schools here in America, I thought I understood pretty clearly what the goals were: I learned to master the English language, to understand my neighbors, my city, my state, my nation – and the history of all these, so I could understand why we were as we were, how we got that way (history), and what would be expected of me as I took my place wherever I settled down.

I went into teaching, a natural choice, coming from a culture that held teachers in high esteem (even if the pay was mostly pretty shoddy) and trusted teachers to impart the skills and knowledge we all needed to take our place in American society. True, we all expected to earn a living, but that was not the main goal of education: the schools were expected to turn out decent citizens, informed and able to make decisions, participate in governing ourselves, think and act rationally, and as we grew older, be able to continue learning to survive in a changing world, and be responsible members of family, neighborhood, town, state, and nation (and now, the world).

I have been very disturbed to see increasingly that our schools are becoming career-training factories, in a time when no one knows what careers will be available in a few years, nor what skills they will require. We judge schools by paper-and-pencil tests, designed to be easily machine corrected, treating children like widgets, subjected to incessant drilling to acquire a score which is in the end meaningless. There is no real-life situation where we are given multiple choices, with severe time constraints, and prevented from using any of the references and resources we have been taught to use.

Further, in the name of budget, we have cut those areas that make for a full human being – art, music, physical education, health, etc..- and cut down on, or cut out entirely, librarians, nurses and classroom aides. It has apparently not occurred to some of the so-called reformers that while most of today’s youth will probably change careers at least four times, they will live to be 80, 90, or more, even if they only work 40 years. What quality of life will they have if all they know is how to go to some job, and spend the rest of their lives watching TV, texting, playing games, etc..?

Once upon a time someone asked what was the ideal school system, and I do not remember who said it, but the answer was “Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and the student on the other”. Great education does not depend on fancy buildings,, new gadgets, and test scores. It depends on exposure to the best teachers/human beings, in meaningful interaction with students.

Motherhood, apple pie and three–year olds

By Edith Morgan

We give a lot of lip-service to the preciousness of our children, and are forever trying to improve their educational experiences. And now there is much talk about pre-school education, with the hope that here at last is the magic pill that will prepare every child to succeed in the test-crazed environment of our schools.

I am a fervent believer in early childhood education, and if done right, it can be a very beautiful and enlightening experience. My parents, who never even left us with a baby sitter, had enough faith in the public schools to let me attend free public pre-school in 1934 – in Paris, France. Though I have a terrible memory, I still vividly remember one hands-on experience, “dissecting” an orange, and admiring the wonderful structure containing the tiny “juice containers” in each slice – which you can see if you carefully peel back the skin and push out the inside. Try it sometime! Of course we were read to, sang songs, learned rhymes, and were taught many valuable lessons in how to cooperate, take turns, follow directions, etc.

If the idea is merely to prepare toddlers earlier to learn letters and sounds (which takes so long at this age, and is so quick and easy at age 7) it is not worth the money and time… Just stretching an already bad curriculum down two years will simply produce more learning-disabled children, more turned off by school earlier, more disinterested in academics. Save your money and your children if that is the plan.

But if we are serious about really helping our young to be competent, creative, full-fledged human beings, giving them all a good start is worth the money and effort. There are models of what great early education looks like, and they have been around a long time. But are we willing to hire and pay for the best-trained, most experienced early-childhood teachers, give them the environment and supplies they need, and get out of their way? Are we ready to understand that PLAY is the work of young children, and expanding their vocabularies via great literature, poetry, music, and art is job #1?

Too many of our children today come to school with tiny vocabularies, and have to compete with others who have 10 times as many words, and who live in a home where every day they build more ideas and concepts. There is NO way that even the greatest teacher, best school, most wonderful books and music can make up for the daily advantage of a good home. But at the very least, we should do our best to level the playing field a little – not with more testing, more phonics, more drills, but with well-structured experiences that will enable them to start on the road to becoming more than job-seeking drones and eternal consumers. How sad that the richest nation in the world is unwilling to offer its children that great experience, which I had almost 80 years ago in another country.

There’s a riot going on…

By Rosalie Tirella

… outside one of our high schools. Kids beating the crap out of each other. Then when the Worcester police arrive, they start beating the crap out of our Worcester cops.

This time around I am all for the cops. Real heroes in this instance, especially the off duty cop who first tried to help when three punks were beating the crap out of one kid. The punks jumped him. That’s when police back up was called. Real heroes who had to deal with utter pukes and losers.

Let’s put aside the shitty home lives that have left these kids without any moral code. And let’s put aside society’s lack of jobs and opopportunities for them.

We can play the blame-society game later.

Right now we say, these kids acted like animals, and one of their parents acted like an animal too. To jump a cop, to choose violence instead of words and questions. Shame on that parent who attacked a Worcester police officer.

I grew up inner-city Green Island in the 1960s and 1970s. This is stuff I remember from decades ago. But it has gotten crazier. Adults have gotten as out of hand as kids. My mother, who died this summer, would never have jumped a cop and started flailing away. My mother, no matter how jerky a teacher or cop was, always sided on the side of the authority figure. With public servants who tried to teach her girls and protect their neighborhood. She expected us to behave like members of a civil society. She expected us to treat kids and adults with respect. To follow rules, to mind teachers, to complete homework assignments, to attend church every Sunday, to attend catechism class every Monday night at St. Mary’s School on Richland Street. She also had us go to the Winthrop House Girls Club every summer. For ten years. A decade.

That is how you raise kids. Make them participants and stakeholders in society.

But I digress.

I remember asking her once when I was older why she didn’t say something about a Lamartine Street School teacher who was a jerk when I was a kid attending the school. Not very compassionate to the kids.

She said most of the teachers there were excellent and that she was supporting the great teachers there who slaved away at teaching tough kids every day.

I was a bit surprised, but I got her point. She was respecting authority and the wps and civil society. And she was being a realist. There’s a wormy apple in every barrel. Deal with the wormy one, next go around you’ll bite into a sweet apple.