Community Food Systems en Thu, 20 Aug 2020 22:48:10 +0000 [WEBINAR] Connecting Children With Local Foods and Farmers Through Summer Meal Programs <span>[WEBINAR] Connecting Children With Local Foods and Farmers Through Summer Meal Programs</span> <div class="field field--name-field-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-video-embed-field field--type-video-embed-field field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src=";start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/34897" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Cecelia Heffron</span></span> <span>Thu, 08/20/2020 - 17:48</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><em>Watch the recording of the webinar above or on <a href=";v=bjQOXI7mUo8&amp;feature=emb_logo">YouTube</a> and <a href="">upload the presentation slides</a>. </em></p></div> Thu, 20 Aug 2020 22:48:10 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44325 at Federal food assistance during the pandemic <span>Federal food assistance during the pandemic</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/34897" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Cecelia Heffron</span></span> <span>Tue, 03/24/2020 - 14:43</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>You look for good news wherever you can find it. The heroic actions of health workers, school administrators, scientists, private food shelf operators and their volunteers. Federal Judge Beryl Howell, who <a href=";section=politics">ordered a temporary postponement</a> of one of the Trump administration’s rules to cut the already meager individual and family benefits of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).</div> Tue, 24 Mar 2020 19:43:56 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44205 at Farm to Summer <div class="node node--type-document node--view-mode-rss field-primary-category-community-food-systems has-field-primary-category no-field-teaser-image title-not-empty ds-1col clearfix"> <h3 > Connecting Children With Local Foods and Farmers Through Summer Meal Programs</h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/erin-mckee-vanslooten" hreflang="en">Erin McKee VanSlooten</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/katie-costello" hreflang="en">Katie Costello</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/feat/public/2020-02/girlEatingCucumber_02.jpg?itok=zcy35WoL" width="950" height="590" alt="Roseville Cucumber Crunch- girl with a cucumber" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><h2>Introduction</h2> <p>Interest in and appreciation of locally grown foods have been rising steadily in the United States, with rapid growth in demand and market share over the past 10 years. In their recent “U.S. Food Market Outlook” market analysis report, researchers from Packaged Facts named locally grown food as the number one innovation spurring growth in the food industry in 2019.<sup>1</sup> Institutional food service has followed along and been a leader in this trend, and many schools, early care environments, colleges, hospitals and other institutions have been purchasing intentionally from nearby farms. USDA conducted the first “Local Food Marketing Practices Survey” in 2015, finding that farmers produced and sold $8.5 billion worth of food through direct marketing practices that year with nearly $3.4 billion in sales to intermediaries and local institutions like schools, early care environments, colleges and hospitals.<sup>2</sup><span> </span></p> <p>Farm to School and Farm to Early Care initiatives have been an integral part of the local foods revolution by encouraging K-12 schools and early care environments to incorporate locally grown, minimally processed foods into their meal programs while educating a new generation about local agriculture and the benefits of eating local. In Minnesota alone, over 50% of school districts have reported participating in Farm to School, investing over $12 million in locally grown foods in the 2013-2014 school year.<sup>3</sup> Farm to School participation has been growing steadily across the country, increasing access to locally grown foods for students during the school year. Recently food service operators and community partners have recognized that the <a href="">Summer Food Service Program</a> (SFSP) offers an opportunity to expand local purchasing efforts to give kids year-round access to fresh healthy foods by launching Farm to Summer initiatives.</p> <p>When the school year ends, children who depend on school meals can be left facing a nutrition gap, without easy access to balanced, nutritious meals. SFSP was created to address this need. With many children depending on SFSP to fill the critical hunger gap during summer when school meals aren’t available, SFSP meals offer a critical opportunity to get the freshest, healthiest foods available to the children who will benefit the most from access to healthy food. When SFSP programs purchase local foods, farmers in the programs’ communities also have an opportunity to sell their products into this larger-scale market during the height of their growing season, keeping money circulating in the local economy at the same time.</p> <p><img alt="69 percent of students" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="54ea5a84-fda1-48ea-9b95-0eedf35930d9" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/2020_01_FarmToSummerReport_69.jpg" /></p> <p>This report explores the feasibility of expanding Farm to Summer initiatives, the opportunities and challenges that come with implementing these strategies, and best practices and lessons learned from early efforts around the country, including from two case studies in Minnesota. The report will particularly highlight the Minnesota context, but also draws from innovative work happening around the country and includes information that will inform national efforts more broadly. In conducting this research, IATP interviewed a wide range of SFSP managers, community partners, state and federal agency staff members and reviewed available literature (see list of interviewees in the Appendix). The authors would like to thank the individuals who contributed to this report and who are working toward a food system that enables our children, farmers and communities to thrive.</p> <h2>Why Focus on Summer Feeding? Setting the Stage in MN</h2> <p>While Minnesota is generally recognized as one of the healthiest states in the nation by multiple indicators,<sup>4</sup> those statistics often do not reflect the reality for many of the state’s residents. Unfortunately, health disparities are easy to see at the confluence of race, poverty and obesity. In Minnesota, for example, 22% of white children live in low-income families. For African American children, that rate is 73%; for American Indians, 66%.<sup>5</sup> Obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other diet-related diseases disproportionately affect communities of color and lower-income communities across the state. Children in these populations are at particularly high risk of adverse health outcomes.</p> <p>According to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, while Minnesota has the fourth-lowest obesity rate for children ages 10-17 in the country, 9.4% of children in that age bracket are classified as obese.<sup>6</sup> The long-term effects of poor nutrition on children can be particularly damaging: children who are overweight tend to be overweight as adults, perpetuating a national obesity epidemic.<sup>7</sup> Individuals with obesity are also at higher risk of developing diet-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.</p> <p><img alt="1 in 7 students" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="72fbceda-2e50-4818-a59e-5a73e27fcf3f" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/2020_01_FarmToSummerReport_1in7.jpg" /></p> <p>Schools are critical settings for policies and practices that support children’s nutrition. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers various nutrition programs that operate in a school-based setting, such as the National School Lunch Program. These programs enable kids from families of limited means to take advantage of lower-cost or free meals in school. As of 2016, 69% of all Minnesota school-age children were eligible for free or reduced-price meals.<sup>8</sup> Many children rely on these programs to meet the majority of their daily nutritional needs. Some may eat at least two meals each day in school; others even participate in after-school meal programs. With the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, revamped federal policies require that school meals meet stricter nutrition guidelines and limit added sugar, sodium and fat. Thanks to these vital nutrition programs, children have access to nutritious school meals that support their learning and development regardless of their family’s financial situation.</p> <p>Funded by the USDA and administered in Minnesota through the state Department of Education, the SFSP serves free meals and snacks to any child under age 18 at eligible sites. Local organizations act as sponsors, responsible for managing the summer meal service and performing administrative duties. In return, sponsors are reimbursed for the number of meals they serve, approximately $4 per meal for lunch and dinner in Minnesota.<sup>9</sup> SFSP site locations are determined based on areas with high percentages of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals and census data that identify low-income areas. Children are not required to register or sign up to receive meals; they can simply go to any open site and receive a meal.</p> <p>Since its inception in 1975, SFSP has been an important national hunger relief effort with a significant reach. The USDA estimates that, during the summer of 2018, more than 145 million SFSP meals were served nationwide.<sup><span style="font-size: 12.5px;">10</span></sup> At the state level, Minnesota’s SFSP served over 160,000 lunches at more than 1,100 sites in 2019.<sup>11</sup> Alongside their nutritional benefits, SFSPmeals also help families stretch their food budgets and ease demands on food shelves, increasing food security for the entire community surrounding the children it serves. Including local foods in SFSP meals through Farm to Summer initiatives is a natural extension of the positive SFSP mission. Studies have shown that children who participate in Farm to School programs eat an additional serving of fruits and vegetables per day, consume a wider variety of fruits and vegetables and are more likely to try new foods.<sup>12</sup> Taste preferences and eating habits formed in childhood tend to continue into adulthood. Particularly for vulnerable communities served by SFSP that are disproportionately affected by diet-related disease and obesity, early intervention to promote positive dietary preferences offers a major opportunity to prevent these life-threatening issues before they start.<sup>13</sup></p> <p>Including fresh local foods in SFSP meals is also an excellent strategy to increase participation in SFSP generally by making meals more attractive and pairing meal service with enticing local foods-focused educational activities. Though SFSP meals address an important need, the program is currently underutilized. According to the <a href="">Food Research and Action Network’s “2019 Summer Nutrition Status </a>,” in July 2018 an average of almost 2.9 million children received SFSP meals each day, representing only one in seven children who qualify to participate.<sup>14</sup> USDA, state and local partners are prioritizing strategies to increase participation going forward. Increasing participation has many benefits. Not only does in get more healthy food to more hungry children, it also generates revenue at the local, state and federal levels from SFSP federal and state reimbursement dollars, USDA food entitlements and state administrative funds. Increased participation creates a positive feedback loop making more money available for the program to use, potentially on local purchases to pay fair prices to farmers and to improve overall student nutrition.</p> <p><img alt="145 million" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="69ec6600-5226-465f-8d7b-b6e9fd34b278" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/2020_01_FarmToSummerReport_69percent.jpg" /></p> <p> </p> <p>Farm to Summer initiatives create an opportunity to expand children’s knowledge of food and farming through educational activities and community outreach. Programs can and do facilitate learning opportunities at mealtime by cultivating gardens, coordinating taste tests, farmer and nutrition educator guest appearances, art and music activities and more while serving meals. Many programs choose to incorporate culturally responsive food items, recipes, games and activities into their program to reflect the unique backgrounds of the children and families they serve. These activities can take advantage of the many products in peak season during the summer, offer a great opportunity for enrichment and create continuity for children who experience similar learning opportunities during the school year through Farm to School initiatives.</p> <p>In addition to expanding access to fresh healthy foods and learning opportunities for children, Farm to Summer initiatives have the added benefit of providing a market opportunity for farmers to sell their products to SFSP sponsors at the height of the growing season in most areas of the U.S.. For many farmers, selling to schools and other institutions can be a dependable component of their business plan, allowing them to schedule some sales ahead of time and sell larger quantities at a time. Selling items to SFSP sponsors maintains the institutional market even when school is out of session, and the timing lines up with many items’ peak harvest. Buying items when they are abundant in season translates to lower costs for the SFSP, too, benefitting all parties involved. Economic benefits extend beyond the farmers who sell their products to the SFSP, as studies have shown that every dollar spent on Farm to School food generates an additional $2.16 of local economic activity.</p> <h2>The National Farm to Summer Scene</h2> <p>With the recognized benefits outlined above, Farm to Summer initiatives are gaining momentum across the country. However, they haven’t become mainstream practice yet. USDA sees Farm to Summer initiatives as one strategy for increasing participation in SFSP generally through increasing the quality and appeal of SFSP meals, supporting USDA’s larger national strategy to promote participation in SFSP. In 2016, USDA published a memo encouraging local purchasing for Farm to Summer programs, and they have been building their catalog of supportive Farm to Summer resources since then, including a webinar, fact sheet and suggested activity list in addition to other tools designed to support local purchasing for child nutrition programs generally. USDA has also completed Farm to Summer trainings of state agency staff who administer the SFSP, sharing resources, highlighting successful strategies, and encouraging their state Farm to School coordinators to host Farm to Summer promotions, including participation in a Farm to Summer Week as a way to get states engaged. Additionally, USDA is working on farmer support to build capacity and supporting USDA Farm to School grantees to provide technical assistance that can increase Farm to Summer participation. These intentional strategies are part of a shift towards a more holistic approach of promoting Farm to Child Nutrition Programs in general instead of separating school, early care and summer meals into separate categories.</p> <p> </p> <p><img alt="Roseville girl eating a cucumber" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="6ac564e0-003c-42a2-ad33-c6c06f16b3e4" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/girlEatingCucumber.jpg" width="75%" /></p> <p> </p> <p>Support organizations like the National Farm to School Network have also been promoting Farm to Summer initiatives through sharing success stories from around the country and created their own instructive webinars to help sponsors get started. State agencies in turn are offering more resources and support around local procurement by incorporating information about local foods in their annual trainings for SFSP sponsors.</p> <p>As support and resources at the national and state level have increased, innovative Farm to Summer efforts have blossomed around the country. <a href="">Michigan</a> has incorporated questions to assess Farm to Summer activity into its regular administrative reviews for SFSP, creating a valuable way to measure Farm to Summer growth over time. Texas motivates its sponsors by promoting a two week <a href="">Farm Fresh Challenge</a> during summer session to celebrate serving and teaching about local foods and formally recognizes sponsors that are doing a great job with Farm to Summer initiatives. <a href="">Wisconsin</a> sponsors source local produce from Amish farmers and food co-ops and are looking at expanding their local procurement to include local grain products soon. Kansas has developed recipe books for Summer programs and a quick list of different farmers in different regions that sponsors could contact to arrange purchases. <a href="">Kentucky has started a Vegetable Incentive </a> to provide increased reimbursement for local foods in SFSP. Around the country, Farm to Summer is growing in popularity and scale, and there is increasing recognition of the positive impact these initiatives have on children, farmers and communities.</p> <h2>Minnesota Farm to Summer Case Studies</h2> <p>Minnesota Summer Food Service Programs are enthusiastically joining the Farm to Summer movement. In 2019, IATP partnered with two school districts to launch pilot Farm to Summer initiatives: the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Nay Ah Shing Schools in north central Minnesota and Roseville Area Schools in the Twin Cities metro area. There were two primary goals: the first was to build upon the expertise we had developed over the past seven years providing direct technical support to early care providers to launch Farm to Early Care initiatives. The second goal was to learn about the unique opportunities and challenges around local procurement in the SFSP specifically. We had the added benefit of working with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe community for a second consecutive year: in 2018 we partnered with them to establish a Farm to Head Start initiative and were eager to continue working together for a second year after they expressed an interest in expanding their local purchasing efforts to the SFSP. Our work with Roseville Area Schools was the result of an existing partnership with The Good Acre, a nonprofit food hub near St. Paul. Roseville was already purchasing local fruits and vegetables from The Good Acre for meals during the school year and was interested in supporting local growers year-round. In addition to Roseville and Mille Lacs we initially had a third Farm to Summer partner that, due to unforeseen staffing challenges, was not able to fully participate in the pilot project.</p> <p> </p> <p><img alt="Delivery guy from Shared Grounds" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="ba63331c-484c-4016-8778-ece82e564b72" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Shared%20Ground%20dude%2002_web.jpg" width="75%" /></p> <h3> </h3> <h3>Nay Ah Shing Schools, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (Onamia, MN)</h3> <p>Our partnership with the Nay Ah Shing School on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe reservation started to take root in 2018 when we worked with the Wewinabi Early Education Head Start to begin a Farm to Head Start initiative. They successfully created partnerships with both a local farmer as well as their mainline distributor to purchase and serve a variety of local produce. Our goal was to build upon that existing supply chain and expand the number of children who could benefit from local foods by tapping into the Summer Meals program. When we approached Nay Ah Shing’s Nutrition Services Coordinator Deb Foye about incorporating locally-grown produce into her summer menu, she was immediately supportive. She saw the Farm to Summer pilot project as an extension of her commitment to help children engage more deeply with their food and educate them on the cultural connections with local foods.</p> <p><img alt="Kid from Nay Ah Shing School" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="600102f5-c78c-40f0-a8a8-9c879f3b6433" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Mille%20Lacs%20Kid%20cucumber_web.jpg" width="75%" /></p> <p> </p> <p>As we began to talk with Deb about her goals for the project, it became clear that community partnerships would play a major role. In particular, Deb was interested in making sure children who participated in the SFSP were also gaining knowledge and developing skills that related to the foods they saw on the menu. That objective was a perfect match for the Mille Lacs Band SNAP-Ed team, who worked with Deb to create culturally-relevant lessons that they delivered weekly after the lunchtime meal. SNAP-Ed staffers Brittany Smith and Jolene Gansen used an Ojibwe-specific curriculum to teach children about the cultural significance of certain foods that Deb would feature on the menu that day; each lesson also included a hands-on cooking activity that allowed children to be creative and develop important food literacy skills.</p> <p>Deb noted that local products can sometimes be more expensive, but “it’s a decision I have made because I know it’s better for us in a lot of ways – not only for our health and nutrition but also for our farmers and our communities.” She addresses the higher prices by watching carefully for deals on other products and also by joining the MN School Food Buying Group to save money over time. She also credits having the backing of her school administration and supervisors, who agree with her reasoning about why it’s important. She notes that she is lucky, as not all food service staff in her position have that support and budget that her administration has given her.</p> <p> </p> <p><img alt="Deb from Nay Ah Shing school with the cucumbers" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="9976886f-df53-48c3-b60b-38ddc86860c7" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Deb%20with%20cucumbers_web.jpg" width="60%" /></p> <p> </p> <p>In addition to highlighting a variety of locally-grown food items on the SFSP menu, a second core component of our Farm to Summer model was community engagement. Our intention was to use Farm to Summer activities as a catalyst to begin larger conversations around local foods and, for the Mille Lacs community in general, the connections between Indigenous foods and community health and resilience. To that end, we engaged Colleen McKinney from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) as we identified opportunities to expand the reach of the Farm to Summer initiative into the wider community. Administered through the Minnesota Department of Health, SHIP is focused on implementing local-level policy, systems and environmental approaches to health across a variety of settings. Colleen and Deb worked closely to plan outreach events that would build awareness of Farm to Summer activities and highlight the connection between local foods and health in the community. One event was focused on educating children on Indigenous edible plants in their own backyards: a local ethnobotanist and educator, Linda Black Elk, led children on a walk around the school and helped them identify edible plants. Later, the children used some of the plants they harvested to make a salad. Another event, the Cucumber Crunch, brought together children, family members, school foodservice staff and teachers in celebration of Farm to Summer Week as everyone crunched into local cucumber sticks simultaneously. These community engagement activities not only built enthusiasm around local foods and Summer Meals in general, but also created opportunities for children to explore their own cultural connections with food.</p> <h3>Roseville Area Schools (Roseville, MN)</h3> <p>Our second Farm to Summer partnership took place in Roseville, a first-ring suburb in the northeastern Twin Cities metro area. In contrast to Mille Lacs, Roseville had already established a formal Farm to School program that operated during the school year. While they had not made the transition to serving local produce in their Summer Meals program, they were fortunate to have a successful partnership established with a local food hub that allowed them to seamlessly integrate local items into Summer Meals using their existing purchasing methods.</p> <p> </p> <p><img alt="Roseville Food Service worker" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="418c4898-7343-4aa6-8593-f10cfab263e3" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/roseville%20food%20service_web.jpg" width="60%" /></p> <p> </p> <p>Nutrition Services Supervisor Angela Richey’s primary goal, in addition to increasing the quality of Summer Meals and providing more local fruits and vegetables for children, was to focus on promotion and marketing of their Farm to Summer initiative. With IATP’s commitment to community engagement in mind, we worked with Angela and her partners at The Good Acre food hub to plan outreach activities that would build familiarity with Farm to Summer, as well as the SFSP in general, among kids, families and community members.</p> <p>During the spring, IATP’s communications team worked with Angela and The Good Acre to produce a <a href="" target="_blank">series of short promotional video clips</a> introducing the Farm to Summer pilot project. Each video focused on a different partner: from a <a href="" target="_blank">kitchen manager</a> at one Roseville school talking about why she was excited to serve local foods during the summer to an <a href="" target="_blank">elementary student</a> discussing her love for seasonal cucumbers. The videos were featured on social media to build momentum while school was still in session, but outreach and promotion continued throughout the summer. Roseville also participated in the Cucumber Crunch event in celebration of Farm to Summer week, inviting members of the school board and local legislators to participate. It was an opportunity to showcase Roseville’s commitment to supporting local farmers and the local economy through their partnership with The Good Acre, as well as to generate excitement among the kids to have adults eating and “crunching” with them!</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Roseville Schools Facebook post" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f025d0c1-edd0-4f6c-bae7-cf6c34166511" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Esme_SFSP_web.jpg" width="75%" /></a></p> <h2> </h2> <h2>MN Farm to Summer Week</h2> <p>In addition to the launch of the two case studies above, 2019 also represented the first year that the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) declared and promoted a formal Farm to Summer Week to take place across the state during the third week of July when most SFSP programs were in full swing. USDA has promoted the concept of official Farm to School weeks as a good strategy to raise the profile of local purchasing for SFSP meals and encouraging participation. MDE created a <a href="">handout to publicize the promotional week</a>, including an introduction to the concept of Farm to Summer and its benefits, links to resources and suggestions for ways to celebrate. The Governor’s Office also made an official <a href="">Declaration of Farm to School Week</a> helping to raise the profile of the celebration, and the framework of the official week attracted media coverage for Farm to Summer activity gaining traction. Farm to Summer Week helped give Mille Lacs and Roseville a focus for their community engagement activities, and both programs scheduled their Cucumber Crunch events during this week. MDE is considering ways to capture how many programs participate and to expand Farm to Summer Week in the future.</p> <h2>Farm to Summer Opportunities, Challenges and Recommendations</h2> <p>While similar in many ways, Farm to Summer initiatives have opportunities and challenges that are unique from Farm to School initiatives that take place during the regular school session. Partners highlighted the following recommendations to keep in mind when planning for Farm to Summer:</p> <ul><li>The summer session can be quite short, with some SFSP sponsors serving meals for only two, four, six or eight weeks. The shorter session leaves less time to plan and coordinate order, delivery and educational activity logistics. Depending on an area’s local growing season, local products may not be available at the beginning of the program, which can further cut into the time Farm to Summer can be active. In Minnesota, our SFSP partners started serving meals in June, but a late spring meant that local products weren’t served until the end of the month. Planning ahead and integrating local purchasing into the regular purchasing practices and schedules can relieve some of this time pressure. Another strategy is to get started with an entry level challenge such as a special event like the Cucumber Crunch or limited time commitment that can be a gateway to making bigger changes over the long term.</li> <li>SFSP usually have lower participation numbers than regular school session meal programs. This can make it more difficult to meet thresholds to qualify for delivery or bulk purchase discounts. However, smaller numbers of children can also create opportunities to do some educational activities or to prepare more complex recipes that would be difficult or impossible with larger numbers of kids. The smaller scale SFSP may also have the opportunity to partner with a smaller farm whose volume may not be sufficient for a full district but could be a fit for SFSP needs.</li> <li>The SFSP format can also create wonderful opportunities for educational activities and community outreach events related to food and farming. Special events like the Cucumber Crunch brought in many community members that might not have previously attended a SFSP meal, and these educational, celebratory activities can be a strategy to increase general participation and get kids and community members excited about the program overall.</li> <li>Strengthened relationships with other community organizations such as SNAP-ed, development councils, 4-H and other local groups can increase chances for Farm to Summer initiatives to succeed and be sustainable while also reaching mutually beneficial goals and building up community ties. Farm to Summer initiatives can also benefit from building on Farm to School supply chains and activities that may also be in place in their communities.</li> <li>Some SFSP sponsors may be confused or intimidated by rules and regulations around local procurement. State agencies and USDA staff have been working to integrate local procurement training into their regular and required trainings and resources they provide for SFSP that it makes a big difference in increasing confidence that sponsors are allowed to purchase from local farms and gives them the tools and techniques to get Farm to Summer initiatives off the ground.</li> <li>Similar to Farm to School, balancing the food budget is a primary concern to keep meal service viable for SFSP sponsors. Some sponsors may be concerned that local foods will cost more. In our interviews and experience, however, we heard that usually the cost for local products is in line with regular budgetary expenses. In some cases, local products can be less expensive when abundant during their peak growing season. Some interviewees also expressed that the local products lasted longer before spoiling because they were so fresh when they were delivered, which ultimately led to less waste and more cost savings.</li> <li>At the state level, celebrating success and recognizing achievement is important to encourage successful programs to continue and to highlight great examples that other sponsors might draw inspiration from. Starting small and building up Farm to Summer initiatives incrementally increases chances for success.</li> <li>Looking at the growing momentum and innovative activities happening around Farm to Summer in Minnesota and nationally, we are excited to see the potential for growth these initiatives represent. Farm to Summer initiatives are a great opportunity to get fresh, healthy local foods to children who face the largest barriers to accessing healthy foods outside of SFSP meals. They give farmers a new market to sell their products at the height of the growing season and build on the supply chain connections farmers already rely on during the school year. Farm to Summer initiatives also strengthen community connections, creating opportunities for children and community members to learn where their local foods come from and strengthening relationships. Though they face some unique challenges, their smaller scale and operation during the growing season also create unique opportunities to serve local products and offer educational engagement to participating children. As Farm to Summer initiatives continue to grow in popularity, USDA, state agencies, community partners and sponsors can support this growing movement through continued creation of resources and step-by-step guides, promotion of local purchasing as a best practice and institutionalizing support through policy changes that make it easier to purchase from local food sources. We look forward to seeing these initiatives continue to grow, benefitting more children, farmers and communities as they take off!</li> </ul><h2>Resources to Learn More about Farm to Summer</h2> <p><a href="">United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm to Summer </a></p> <ul><li><a href="">Farm to Summer: Why Summer Meals Programs are Ripe for Local Foods and Agriculture-Based Activities</a></li> <li><a href="">Farm to Summer: How Regional Offices and State Agencies Support Farm to Summer</a></li> <li><a href="">Local Foods and Related Activities in Summer Meal Programs, with Questions and Answers</a></li> <li><a href="">Summer Meals: Incorporating Local Foods Webinar</a></li> <li><a href=";">Local Foods and Enriching Activities in Summer Meal Programs webinar</a></li> <li><a href="">Newsletter focusing on Farm to Summer</a></li> <li><a href="">The Lunchbox Farm to Summer promo video</a></li> <li><a href="">Farm to School Census Farm to Summer data</a></li> <li><a href="">Farm to Child Nutrition Programs Planning Guide</a></li> </ul><p>National Farm to School Network (NFSN) Farm to Summer Resources</p> <ul><li>NFSN <a href="">recording of Farm to Summer Trending Topics Webinar</a> <ul><li><a href="">Farm to Summer Blog</a></li> </ul></li> <li><a href="">NFSN Farm to Summer Lunch Bites webinar slides</a></li> </ul><p>Other resources</p> <ul><li><a href="">Food Resource and Action Center (FRAC) Fresh From the Farm report</a></li> <li><a href="">Michigan State University Farm to Summer Webinar</a></li> <li><a href="">Meals4Kids Farm to Summer Resources and Toolkit</a></li> <li><a href="">Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Farm to Summer Website</a></li> </ul><h2>Appendix of Interviewees</h2> <p>Thank you to the following partners who shared their knowledge and experience of Farm to Summer with us during the research for this report!</p> <ul><li>Andrea Alma<br /> Farm to School Regional Lead, Mountain Plains Region<br /> USDA Office of Community Food Systems<br /> Denver, CO</li> <li>Sami Burington, RD<br /> Nutrition Program Consultant<br /> Minnesota Department of Education<br /> Roseville, MN</li> <li>Lisa Burton, Ph.D.<br /> Special Projects, Initiatives and Evaluation Manager, Nutrition, Health and Youth Development<br /> Minnesota Department of Education<br /> Roseville, MN</li> <li>Jenny Butcher<br /> Outreach Lead, SFSP &amp; At-Risk Meal Programs<br /> Minnesota Department of Education<br /> Roseville, MN</li> <li>Emilee Case<br /> Coordinator for Farm Fresh Projects<br /> Texas Department of Agriculture<br /> Austin, TX</li> <li>Melissa Dozier Gonzales<br /> Director of Program Support, Food &amp; Nutrition<br /> Texas Department of Agriculture<br /> Austin, TX</li> <li>Jenie Farinas<br /> Program Specialist<br /> Special Nutrition Programs, USDA Food and Nutrition Service<br /> Chicago, IL</li> <li>Sara Harmon, MPH, RDN<br /> SFSP and SCSM Consultant<br /> Michigan Department of Education<br /> Lansing, MI</li> <li>Ann P.J. McMahon<br /> Farm to Summer Contact<br /> USDA Food and Nutrition Service<br /> Denver, CO</li> <li>Jerilin Nunu<br /> Farm to Summer and Child Care Contact<br /> USDA Food and Nutrition Service<br /> Denver, CO</li> <li>McKenna Pullen MPH, SNS<br /> Nutrition Programs Senior Consultant<br /> Colorado Department of Education<br /> Denver, CO</li> <li>Maira Rosas-Lee<br /> Results Measurement Specialist<br /> Minnesota Department of Education<br /> Roseville, MN</li> <li>Jenna Segal, MPH<br /> Program Analyst<br /> Office of Community Food Systems USDA Food &amp; Nutrition Service<br /> Alexandria, VA</li> <li>Rick Sherman<br /> Farm to School Analyst<br /> Oregon Department of EducationSalem, OR</li> <li>Lacy Stephens, MS, RDN<br /> Program Manager<br /> National Farm to School Network<br /> MO</li> <li>Haley Traun<br /> Farm to School Education Coordinator<br /> REAP Food Group<br /> Madison, WI</li> <li>Molly Turnquist Butala, MPH, RD<br /> Nutrition Specialist<br /> Minnesota Department of Education<br /> Roseville, MN</li> <li>Kendra Vandree<br /> Farm to Summer Contact<br /> USDA Food and Nutrition Service<br /> Chicago, IL</li> <li>Brittany Zerbe MS, RDN, CD<br /> Public Health Nutritionist<br /> WI Department of Public Instruction<br /> Madison, WI</li> </ul><h2>Endnotes</h2> <ol><li>Packaged Facts, “U.S. Food Market Outlook 2019: 4 Key Trends.” February 14, 2019. <a href=""></a> (accessed November 7, 2019).</li> <li>United States Department of Agriculture. “2012 US Census of Agriculture Highlights: Direct Farm Sales of Food.” December 2016. <a href=""></a> (accessed November 9, 2019.)</li> <li>United States Department of Agriculture. “The Farm to School Census: Minnesota Districts.”  <a href=""></a> (accessed November 13, 2019).</li> <li>United Health Foundation, “America’s Health Rankings Annual Report,” <a href=""></a> (accessed November 13, 2019).</li> <li>National Center for Children in Poverty, “Minnesota Demographics of Low-Income Children,” <a href=";id=6">;id=6</a> (accessed November 12, 2019).</li> <li>State of Childhood Obesity, “State of Obesity in Minnesota,” <a href=""></a> (accessed November 13, 2019).</li> <li>Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Childhood Obesity Causes and Consequences,” December 15, 2016. <a href=""></a> (accessed November 11, 2019).</li> <li>Minnesota Department of Education, “Minnesota’s Consolidated State Plan Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA),” May 9, 2018. <a href=""></a> (accessed November 12, 2019). </li> <li>Minnesota Department of Education, “Summer Food Service,” <a href=""></a> (accessed November 10, 2019).</li> <li>United States Department of Agriculture, “Summer Food Service Program: Total Meals Served,” October 4, 2019. <a href=""></a> (accessed November 9, 2019).</li> <li>Minnesota Department of Education, “2019 SFSP Sponsor Report,” <a href=""></a> (accessed November 10, 2019).</li> <li>National Farm to School Network, “The Benefits of Farm to School,” April 2017. <a href=""></a> (accessed November 12, 2019).</li> <li>De Cosmi V, Scaglioni S, Agostoni C. Early Taste Experiences and Later Food Choices. Nutrients. 2017;9(2):107. Published 2017 Feb 4. doi:10.3390/nu9020107 </li> <li>United States Department of Agriculture. “Local Foods in the Summer Food Service Program.” March 24, 2019. <a href=""></a> (accessed November 11, 2019). </li> </ol><p> </p> <hr /><p>Download a <a href="" target="_blank">PDF of the report</a>.</p> <hr /><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-primary-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Primary category</div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/community-food-systems2" hreflang="en">Community Food Systems</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 07 Feb 2020 04:31:43 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 44160 at Fresh and local all year long – A report on Farm to Summer successes <span>Fresh and local all year long – A report on Farm to Summer successes </span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/34897" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Cecelia Heffron</span></span> <span>Thu, 02/06/2020 - 16:24</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Over the past decade, interest in and appreciation of local foods have been growing steadily in the United States. Farm to School and Farm to Early Care initiatives have played an integral role in the local foods revolution by encouraging K-12 schools and early care environments to incorporate locally sourced, minimally processed foods into their meal programs while educating children about agriculture and the benefits of eating local.</div> Thu, 06 Feb 2020 22:24:12 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44159 at A decade of Farm to Institution efforts <span> A decade of Farm to Institution efforts</span> <span><span lang="" about="/about/staff/account/colleen-borgendale" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Colleen Borgendale</span></span> <span>Thu, 12/19/2019 - 12:02</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>For over a decade, IATP has been a leader in the Farm to Institution movement. With the goal of supporting the vitality of small- and mid-size farmers, we find innovative approaches to increase the accessibility of locally-grown foods in settings like schools and hospitals. Our work is deeply rooted in Minnesota, as we tailor our strategies to fit the needs and context of each community with which we partner.</div> Thu, 19 Dec 2019 18:02:40 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 44117 at IATP Letter to USDA on Proposed Rule on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program <div class="node node--type-document node--view-mode-rss field-primary-category-community-food-systems has-field-primary-category no-field-teaser-image title-not-empty ds-1col clearfix"> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/dr-steve-suppan" hreflang="en">Dr. Steve Suppan</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href=""><strong><em>Download the PDF of the full letter.</em></strong></a> </p> <p>The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)ii appreciates this opportunity to comment on this Proposed Rule (PR).1 IATP commented on the “Proposed Rule: Revision of Categorical Eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)”.iii IATP has a professional interest in USDA nutrition programs. As we wrote to the FNS on September 23, “IATP works to help enable Minnesotan farmers to provide healthy foods to schools and early child care education programs.”iv The rural and urban partners of our Farm to Head Start initiatives report economic, educational and health benefits, all of which will be in jeopardy if the rule is finalized as proposed. IATP’s Farm to School and Farm to Early Care initiatives have observed the health and educational benefits of healthy foods for a decade.v IATP is also a partner in Farm to Summer, an initiative to incorporate local foods into free Summer Food Service Program meals provided to Minnesota children during non-school The reduction of SNAP benefits resulting from the revision of eligibility criteria will place an additional burden on private food shelves and small non-profit initiatives, such as that of IATP, to try to compensate for the reduction. </p> <p>As a result of the PR we comment on today, FNS has determined that "29 States are expected to see a net loss of SNAP benefits (about $1.54 billion annually) and 22 are expected to see a net gain (about $540 million annually)."( Federal Register (FR) Vol. 84, No. 192, October 3, 2019, p. 52812) The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has estimated "$1 billion in new SNAP benefits would raise GDP by $1.54 billion, implying a GDP multiplier of 1.5.”vii IATP assumes that this economic multiplier still applies negatively when SNAP benefits are reduced.  The anticipated reduction of net $1 billion SNAP benefits that USDA estimates to result from this PR will add to the difficulty of compensating for the loss of SNAP benefits from the eligibility criteria PR. </p> <p><a href=""><em><strong>Continue reading the full letter.</strong></em></a></p></div> <div class="field field--name-upload field--type-file field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Upload</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"><span class="file file--mime-application-pdf file--application-pdf icon-before"><span class="file-icon"><span class="icon glyphicon glyphicon-file text-primary" aria-hidden="true"></span></span><span class="file-link"><a href="" type="application/pdf; length=245357" title="Open file in new window" target="_blank" data-toggle="tooltip" data-placement="bottom">USDA Proposed SNAP Rule.pdf</a></span><span class="file-size">239.61 KB</span></span></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-primary-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Primary category</div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/community-food-systems2" hreflang="en">Community Food Systems</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 27 Nov 2019 18:36:47 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44100 at Giving thanks and standing up for food benefits <span>Giving thanks and standing up for food benefits</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/34897" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Cecelia Heffron</span></span> <span>Wed, 11/27/2019 - 11:28</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><span><span><span><span><span>On Thanksgiving Day, here’s one thing not to give thanks for. In early October, the Trump administration released its third of (thus far) three U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules to </span></span><a href=""><span><span>cut $4.5 billion</span></span></a><span><span> in Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly call “food stamps,” over five years.</div> Wed, 27 Nov 2019 17:28:45 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44099 at Green New Deal for Europe: Building to a just transition <span>Green New Deal for Europe: Building to a just transition</span> <span><span lang="" about="/about/staff/account/colleen-borgendale" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Colleen Borgendale</span></span> <span>Tue, 10/08/2019 - 09:42</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>This article was <a href="" target="_blank">originally posted</a> on the <a href="">ARC 2020</a> blog on October 2, 2019</p></div> Tue, 08 Oct 2019 14:42:48 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 44074 at Families First Head Start Program Community Action Council <div class="node node--type-document node--view-mode-rss field-primary-category-community-food-systems has-field-primary-category has-field-teaser-image title-not-empty ds-1col clearfix"> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/katie-costello" hreflang="en">Katie Costello</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/erin-mckee-vanslooten" hreflang="en">Erin McKee VanSlooten</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-author-text field--type-text-long field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Author (free form)</div> <div class="field--item"><p>Kelly Kramer</p> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/feat/public/2019-08/Strawberries_web.jpg?itok=vAz4Tmd1" width="950" height="590" alt="little kid cutting strawberries" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="">Download a PDF of the case study.</a></p> <p>Families First Head Start Program is comprised of 3 centers: The Place and The Empowerment Center in Rochester with food prepared in the kitchen at the Place, and the Brookside Education Center in Albert Lea, with food prepared on-site.</p> <p>For Sarah Wenum, Nutrition Coordinator at Families First Head Start, the goal of pursuing a Farm of Head Start initiative was to serve locally grown foods in a kid-friendly way.  While Rochester already had a robust local purchasing program in place, Families First’s partnership with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) aimed to increase local food purchases (particularly at its Albert Lea location), train its teachers on food- and farming-related classroom activities, increase promotion of local purchasing and develop opportunities for family engagement. </p> <p> </p> <img alt="Apple tree" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="da999b08-343b-4090-9dd4-4609928d7f82" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/applefruitontree_web.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <h2>Rochester</h2> <p>The opportunity to serve a large volume of local produce was a unique aspect of IATP’s partnership with Families First. In addition to serving approximately 750 meals and snacks a day to its own children, Families First’s main kitchen in Rochester also serves meals for the Tri-Valley Opportunity Council Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program when they are in session from mid-June through November. Additionally, the kitchen also provides more than 100 dinners for participants in the Boys and Girls Club at that location. The Boys and Girls Club is very enthusiastic about local purchasing, and their interest helped influence Families First’s desire to participate in the Farm to Head Start initiative. Including local produce in meals for both programs is an opportunity to provide continuous exposure to locally grown produce, as many children transition from Head Start to the Boys and Girls Club as they get older.</p> <p>Prior to partnering with IATP, Rochester was already purchasing some local foods from the Southeast Minnesota Food Network, a food hub with more than 90 participating farms. Through the food hub, Families First received weekly deliveries of local produce, meat and dairy products directly to their kitchen. They sourced the rest of their food from several different vendors, opting for locally grown options when available.</p> <p>In Rochester, getting the locally grown food to the school was fairly seamless. The challenge came from the staff time needed to clean, process and cook the whole ingredients. Reflecting on the impact on her nutrition staff, Sarah notes, “You may have to wash and scrub the items more. You might have to peel and chop the items. It’s important to consider what time the kitchen staff have to do the preparations.”</p> <img alt="“Ultimately I want the kids in the classrooms to enjoy the foods they are eating and learn to like their local produce.”" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="aa65e9ab-bb56-4d93-ad98-87d59661a96a" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/2019_FtHS_CaseStudies_Rochester_quote_1.jpg" class="align-center" /><p>With limited kitchen time and tight deadlines for meals to be ready to deliver to other sites, Sarah was strategic in her menu-planning process to facilitate the work of the kitchen staff. When there was a particularly difficult recipe or labor-intensive item on the menu, Sarah planned a relatively easy recipe for the day before. This allowed the kitchen to get started on the more time-consuming recipe for the next day. Rochester’s ability to buy in bulk, cook and freeze local produce ahead of time has also been a successful way to save time for their kitchen staff. “We have multiple programs running in this building and each group has different needs,” Sarah said. “So it’s really finding the products that we can prepare in time and recipes that are simple, yet liked, by the children.”</p> <p>One challenge Sarah found was finding tasty, simple recipes for locally grown food that meet the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal pattern requirements. IATP helped with some initial recipe planning, and Sarah hopes to continue expanding her local menu options in the future.</p> <h2>Albert Lea</h2> <p>In Albert Lea they serve 72 Head Start kids: 50 breakfasts, 100 lunches and 50 snacks per day, while also working with 24 Early Head Start families. Due to its distance from the Rochester site, the Albert Lea location orders ingredients and prepares meals separately, though they do follow the same menu and recipes. Albert Lea’s head cook Carrie Kirsch is a key partner in the program and is enthusiastic about local purchasing and serving meals made from whole ingredients.</p> <p>One challenge in starting Farm to Head Start in Albert Lea was finding a way to get produce from the farm to the kitchen. Families First was unable to meet delivery thresholds due to the smaller volume of produce needed for meals. IATP helped connect Carrie with some of the farmers at the local farmers market, and together they found a solution that worked for both producers and Families First. The farmers gave Carrie a list of what would be available each week, and Carrie let them know what she needed. The farmers would then bring the Head Start orders with them to the farmers market where Carrie would pick it up. “They’re not driving to deliver and we’re not driving out to the farms to pick up,” she said. “It works better for both parties.”</p> <p>“We’re very lucky to be working with local farmers that continuously have products available for us to order and they’re so willing to work with us. They have been a great resource.”</p> <h2>Progress and lessons learned</h2> <p>Adding educational Farm to Head Start classroom activities to the already established local purchasing program was very important to Families First in order to increase the children’s receptivity to the local foods. “It helps when children are exposed to the food and learn about it before it is offered, and the repeated exposure makes it seem less foreign,” Sarah said. “The children are more willing to try to the food. It helps them learn to like the food.”</p> <p>Sarah also stressed the importance of helping the teaching staff see themselves as food role models for the children: “These kids are young, and this is when we can shape their eating patterns. If the teachers are more involved in the meal, I notice better eating behavior and more willingness to try new foods.”</p> <p> </p> <img alt="Radishes" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e51b922f-4565-49ad-a7c9-11f220f2f014" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/radishes_web.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <p>Supporting and educating the kitchen staff was also key. Food waste was a major concern for the kitchen staff, so Sarah reassured them that teachers would pair classroom activities with local foods on the menu to increase their receptiveness. It’s helpful to know that at this age it’s developmentally appropriate for children to need to try a new food multiple times before they learn to like it. Sarah also stressed that it can take kids up to 20 tries to learn to like a new food, while it often takes adults only three failed attempts preparing the food before they will stop trying to serve it in the future.</p> <p>For kitchen staff, there was also a learning curve when it came to working with whole local produce; it might not be uniformly sized or it could have dirt on it. Part of Sarah’s Farm to Head Start initiative is about showing both staff and children that it’s ok to eat food that looks a little bit different. “It helps with food waste, too,” she said. “An apple is an apple even if it’s lopsided. It’s still ok to eat and still has the same nutrients.”</p> <p>To supplement local purchasing and farming-themed classroom activities, Families First has also adopted farm- and food-related family engagement activities. During October, which is National Farm to School Month, children and their families took field trips to local apple orchards. Albert Lea families were also able to visit a pumpkin patch. As part of a parent meeting, families tasted several different varieties of locally grown apples and rated their favorite. The most popular varieties (Sweet Tango and Honeycrisp) were featured on the menu the following week.</p> <p>Recently, Rochester opened their own onsite food pantry. While only able to accommodate shelf-stable products now, they eventually hope to add freezer and cooler space, so they can offer locally-grown products. Sarah says one of her biggest lessons is to start small and see what’s reasonable for the program. “Don’t try to take on too much right away,” she said. “Set a specific goal, like featuring one local item this month or each week. It helps to start with an achievable goal. You can set future goals to incorporate more.”</p> <p>Many thanks to Sarah Wenum, Carrie Kirsch and all of the partners at Families First Head Start, the Southeast Minnesota Food Network and beyond who contributed to the success of this Farm to Head Start initiative!</p> <p>Funding for this project is provided in part by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.</p> <p><a href="">Read the other six case studies.</a></p> <p> </p> <p><a href="">Download a PDF of the case study.</a></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-primary-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Primary category</div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/community-food-systems2" hreflang="en">Community Food Systems</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 13 Aug 2019 20:58:35 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 44032 at United Community Action Partnership <div class="node node--type-document node--view-mode-rss field-primary-category-community-food-systems has-field-primary-category has-field-teaser-image title-not-empty ds-1col clearfix"> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/katie-costello" hreflang="en">Katie Costello</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/erin-mckee-vanslooten" hreflang="en">Erin McKee VanSlooten</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-author-text field--type-text-long field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Author (free form)</div> <div class="field--item"><p>Bridget Kranz</p> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/feat/public/2019-08/berry%20picking_web.jpg?itok=5j3JBB5Z" width="950" height="590" alt="kids strawberry picking" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="">Download the PDF of the case study.</a></p> <h2>Forming new relationships through existing community</h2> <p>Minnesota’s strong network of public health advocates connected UCAP and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) in July 2017, when a colleague from the MN Farm to Early Care Coalition recommended UCAP as a partner for IATP’s Farm to Head Start initiative. Michelle Randt, UCAP’s Health and Safety Manager, was excited to lead the effort.</p> <p>“One of our program goals is to decrease obesity in our children,” Randt said of her motivations for starting the initiative. “Also, part of our program performance standards from the Office of Head Start is to provide nutrition education to children and families.” For UCAP, Farm to Head Start was a natural framework that assisted them in meeting Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and federal Head Start requirements.</p> <img alt="UCAP Map + number of kids" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="7eeb7b66-12b3-4a51-b199-83d18f612588" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Artboard%2010Components_0.png" width="75%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <p>IATP and UCAP planned to pilot the initiative at UCAP’s two Head Start sites in Willmar, where meals are catered by the Willmar Public School District. Initially, they hoped to coordinate orders with the school district’s food service director, who was already doing some local purchasing. Unfortunately, at the time of UCAP’s launch of Farm to Head Start, Willmar’s food service director did not have the capacity to adjust the menu to include the local foods UCAP wished to highlight or help connect them with new, local farmer partners. UCAP hopes to collaborate with the food service director to expand their Farm to Head Start initiative in the future.</p> <p>Because UCAP is responsible for providing its own snacks, it was possible to plan to serve local foods at snack time. The next step was to identify a farmer who could supply the items.</p> <p>In this rural area, there were not many options to get local food delivered, and IATP’s initial leads fizzled without confirming a connection with local growers. However, the partners had a breakthrough when a colleague from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture connected IATP with Beverly Dougherty, the founder and Project Coordinator of Real Food, a new food hub in downtown Willmar. Food hubs like Real Food are centrally located spaces that can aggregate, store and distribute produce from local growers. Unlike larger, mainline distribution companies, food hubs often source from smaller farmers and can offer detailed information to customers about the farms that grew their food. Food hubs are a huge asset to farmers, who may not have the capacity to package, store or market their own products. Real Food was immediately enthusiastic about partnering with UCAP.</p> <p>“Tell me what you need,” Dougherty told them. “I’ve got a whole list of farmers here. We can put together a program and get it delivered.”</p> <p>Dougherty believed in the Farm to Head Start mission and realized that participating in the initiative was a good opportunity for her budding food business. It demonstrated to funders that Real Food had a steady income stream and showed the positive impact the food hub could have on its community.</p> <h2>Creative Strategies for Local Purchasing</h2> <p>When UCAP was ready to begin highlighting local foods in October, Dougherty reached out to a grower she knew had an apple surplus and offered to buy them at a slightly discounted rate. Contacting growers with excess produce was a good strategy for getting reduced prices to fit into UCAP’s budget. Growers were excited that some of their produce was going to children in early care and were happy to get paid for food that could otherwise have gone to waste. Dougherty’s extensive knowledge of local growers was invaluable in making these connections.</p> <p>UCAP placed orders through Real Food on a week-to-week basis, after Dougherty updated Randt about which foods would be available. Growers delivered their produce to Real Food, then Dougherty cleaned and stored it in her commercial refrigerator until it was time to deliver. When necessary, Dougherty coordinated for the produce to be processed at a third-party processor before delivery so that most foods arrived at UCAP ready to serve, but classroom support staff would occasionally do simple preparation, such as chopping.</p> <img alt="Little boy picking strawberries" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="b97af196-516d-485f-87f4-e5455540bd6e" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Berry%20Farm%206_web.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><h2>Making third-party distribution effective</h2> <p>Dougherty and Randt were both committed to Farm to Head Start, and communication went smoothly as they remained flexible week-to-week. As a rural Head Start Program, a challenge for UCAP’s delivery logistics is having sites spread across nine counties. Piloting the initiative at the two Willmar locations allowed them to test how delivery would work before taking on the more complicated logistics of delivering to all sites. Randt herself is based in Cosmos, a thirty-minute drive from Willmar. If a product wasn’t available when she had planned to serve it, it would have been stressful and difficult for Randt to find snack alternatives and coordinate delivery last minute. Clear and proactive communication was key when navigating unforeseen circumstances, such as crop failures.</p> <p>Both Dougherty and Randt agreed that the planning process was the most time consuming part of their partnership. It was crucial that Randt explained CACFP guidelines, such as portion sizes, so that Dougherty could work within those rules when ordering from growers. After the preliminary planning period, Randt spent an average of two additional hours per month working on Farm to Head Start tasks. Because the initiative fits into her content area, a lot of the work fell under her regular responsibilities.</p> <p>Having a third-party processor has been critical for the sustainability of UCAP’s local purchasing initiative, as their kitchen facilities are minimal and staff are stretched thin. However, this convenience necessitates a slightly higher cost, something that Randt and Dougherty are negotiating going into their second year.</p> <img alt="Kids and teacher strawberry picking" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5a1d42b6-c5e5-428e-98b3-930d0a3a6f07" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/strawberries_web.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><h2>Education and family engagement</h2> <p>In conjunction with serving local foods at snack time, UCAP was able to successfully implement Farm to Head Start educational curriculum. Classroom activities were aided by farm- and food-related educational toys UCAP purchased (such as a model farmers market). Experiential learning made students excited about the produce and more willing to eat it. UCAP also planned two Farm to Head Start field trips, one to a berry farm and one to Real Food’s greenhouse, which were highlights for the children. Inviting families on these trips was a great, easy way of raising awareness and getting them involved. Families were also given information on how to access and cook fresh produce, hopefully encouraging them to replicate healthy eating habits at home. Seeing where their food comes from has helped families form positive connections to food and gotten them excited about buying local produce. UCAP did have some staff turnover in their family engagement team during the first year of Farm to Head Start, but they hope to continue expanding this part of their initiative in the future.</p> <p>The feedback that Randt has received on Farm to Head Start from UCAP teachers has been overwhelmingly positive. They’ve noticed a difference in the quality of their snacks and really appreciate the flavor of the local produce. As one staff member said, “It just tastes better.”</p> <h2>Overcoming the cost barrier</h2> <p>The price of fresh items can be a potential barrier when it comes to sustainable local purchasing, sometimes due to the product price and sometimes due to the cost of processing or the additional staff time to prepare it. UCAP is reimbursed $0.88 for each snack that meets USDA guidelines. With their current purchasing model, they are paying $1.20 per snack. “We know that coming right from the farm, it’s going to taste better and fresher,” Randt explained, but it can still be difficult to fit into their budget.</p> <p>Real Food and UCAP have both come up with strategies to navigate their budgets. Real Food is constantly expanding its client base, which will eventually lower costs through joint processing and deliveries. UCAP is exploring purchasing strategies that could help them reduce costs while supporting their Farm to Head Start initiative. One strategy could be to alternate more expensive, locally sourced food items with less expensive, non-local foods (for example, purchasing fresh, whole strawberries one week and canned beans the next)Farm to Early Care initiatives produce an economic multiplier effect; each dollar invested can generate an additional $2.16 in local economic activity for the surrounding community. Though it may require some creative menu strategies to make a partnership work, for Randt and Dougherty, the long-term benefits far outweigh the startup costs.</p> <p><em>United Community Action Partnership (UCAP) was unable to get the caterer that provides their meals to source local foods during their first year of Farm to Head Start. However, UCAP is responsible for providing their own snacks and was able to implement a Farm to Head Start initiative by serving local foods at snack time. Partnering with fledgling food hub Real Food, UCAP capitalized on the knowledge of the food hub founder and her many connections to local growers to source surplus food at a slightly discounted rate.</em></p> <p>Many thanks to Michelle Randt, Mary Lockhart-Findling, Beverly Dougherty and all other partners at United Community Action Partnership Head Start, Real Food Inc. and beyond who contributed to the success of this Farm to Head Start initiative!</p> <p>Funding for this project is provided in part by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.</p> <p><a href="">Read the other six case studies.</a></p> <p><a href="">Download the PDF of the case study.</a></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-primary-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Primary category</div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/community-food-systems2" hreflang="en">Community Food Systems</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 13 Aug 2019 20:52:55 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 44034 at