Tag Archives: Massachusetts Farm to School

Go, Mass Farm to School!!!!

IMG_4024-1

Celebrate the Local Harvest!

Massachusetts Farm to School Receives USDA Grant to Host Statewide Farm to School Conference

Massachusetts Farm to School is pleased to announce that they have received support through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Program, a national effort to strengthen the connection between school cafeterias and students with local farmers and ranchers. Massachusetts’ non-profit organization Mass Farm to School received a $25,000 training grant to impact cafeterias, classrooms and communities across the Commonwealth.

“Farm to school programs work—for schools, for producers, and for communities,” said USDA Secretary Vilsack. “By serving nutritious and locally grown foods, engaging students in hands-on lessons, and involving parents and community members, these programs provide children with a holistic experience that sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.”

“Every student deserves access to healthy food and the farm to school program helps families, farmers, and our local economy,” Congressman Jim McGovern said. “Connecting our local farmers and local schools ensures that each student gets the fresh fruits and vegetables they need to stay healthy and succeed as they continue to learn and grow. I am grateful to Secretary Vilsack for investing in our farmers and students and to all of our partners in Amherst and throughout Massachusetts who are helping to make this program a success.”

Mass. Farm to School will use the funds to organize and host their fourth statewide Farm to Cafeteria Conference. This conference, last held in January of 2015, brings together over 400 farmers, school foodservice directors, educators, students, policy makers and community advocates for a full day of learning and networking.

Attendees will spend the day learning about local food procurement practices, school garden resources, agriculture education opportunities, and farm to school best practices from around the Commonwealth.

Farm to school programs are one of the many tools and resources USDA offers to help schools successfully serve healthier meals.

In the past three years since the bipartisan passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, kids have eaten healthier breakfasts, lunches and snacks at school.

Over 97 percent of schools report that they are successfully meeting the updated nutrition standards.

Massachusetts Farm to School was founded in 2004 as a grassroots initiative to increase access to healthy, locally-grown food in schools and other institutions across the state.

The organization facilitates sustainable purchasing relationships between local institutions, distributors and local farms, promotes local food and agriculture education for students.

Mass. Farm to School works to support a thriving Massachusetts food economy where institutions are a profitable and accessible market for farms and where buying, serving, and teaching students about local food is ingrained in the fabric of public schools, colleges and universities.

From Massachusetts Farm to School

salad

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.

Sincerely,

Simca Horwitz & Lisa Damon

Mass. Farm to School Program Directors

This school year let’s make sure our students eat less from a box and more from the earth!

DSCF1249-1

From Massachusetts Farm to School!

With a new school year beginning we are here to provide you with information and assistance to develop strong farm to school programs that bridge the cafeteria, classroom, and community environments.

Fall is a great time to kick off the school year with delicious, healthy, local foods and there are great programs including Farm to School Month and Food Day to help you promote your work.

We have some fantastic resources and opportunities below. We hope you have a great beginning of the school year and that you enjoy the bounty of the harvest!

Sign up for Harvest of the Month 2015-2016

There is still time to register for Harvest of the Month!

Mass. Farm to School’s Harvest of the Month program promotes a different Massachusetts-grown food each month in school, college, university, and hospital cafeterias and dining areas across the state.

Our goal is to encourage healthy food choices by increasing students’ exposure to seasonal foods while also supporting local farmers and building excitement about school meals.

Schools and institutions pledge to locally source and serve the featured Harvest of the Month food twice each month, to display our beautiful promotional materials, to connect to others in the school community who care about healthy, locally-grown foods, and to share their experience with Mass. Farm to School.

Mass. Farm to School will provide individualized procurement assistance, all the posters, trading cards, and “I tried it!” stickers that you need, as well as downloadable resources, including a family newsletter, for celebrating and educating about the featured foods in the cafeteria, classroom, school garden, and at home.

*******

New School Food Guide Released

Food Corps member Alex Freedman has written the guide Serving Up Tradition in partnership with Mass. Farm to School.

This guide will help you serve up culturally appropriate school meals and includes step-by-step instructions, tried and true recipes, and case studies from districts across the country. You can read his blog entry about the guide on our website.

*********

Celebrate Farm to School Month in October!

October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate connections happening all over the country between schools and local food!

Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools.

Farm to school is reaching millions of students in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. In addition to improving child health, when schools buy local, they create new markets for local and regional farmers and contribute to vibrant communities, a win-win-win scenario!

Whether you are a food service professional, a farmer, a teacher or a food-loving family, there are plenty of ways to celebrate National Farm to School Month! We will have more information about Farm to School Month soon, and you can learn more by visiting the National Farm to School Network’s website, farmtoschool.org.

CLICK HERE to sign up for the Harvest of the Month and to learn more!