Farm to Head Start https://www.iatp.org/ en A decade of Farm to Institution efforts https://www.iatp.org/blog/202001/decade-farm-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 https://www.iatp.org Families First Head Start Program Community Action Council https://www.iatp.org/documents/families-first-head-start-program-community-action-council <div data-history-node-id="44032" 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"><article class="media media-image view-mode-feature"> <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=FcOz4ZWw" width="950" height="590" alt="little kid cutting strawberries" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </article> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/2019_Rochester_CaseStudy_f.pdf">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="https://www.iatp.org/farm-head-start-case-studies">Read the other six case studies.</a></p> <p> </p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/2019_Rochester_CaseStudy_f.pdf">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 https://www.iatp.org United Community Action Partnership https://www.iatp.org/documents/united-community-action-partnership <div data-history-node-id="44034" 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"><article class="media media-image view-mode-feature"> <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=Mx8UahyA" width="950" height="590" alt="kids strawberry picking" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </article> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/2019_UCAP_CaseStudy_f.pdf">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="https://www.iatp.org/farm-head-start-case-studies">Read the other six case studies.</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/2019_UCAP_CaseStudy_f.pdf">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 https://www.iatp.org Lakes and Pines Community Action Council https://www.iatp.org/documents/lakes-and-pines-community-action-council <div data-history-node-id="44030" 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"><article class="media media-image view-mode-feature"> <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/Asparagus_web.jpg?itok=hUn0xqpn" width="950" height="590" alt="Asparagus " typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </article> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/2019_Lakes_Pines_CaseStudy_f.pdf">Download a PDF of the case study.</a></p> <p>Lakes and Pines Community Action Council Head Start Program is in a small, rural town and relies on the local school district to cater its meals. Lakes and Pines does provide its own snacks. However, due to a lack of needed licenses and proper food preparation facilities, they must purchase snacks that are preprocessed and individually packaged.</p> <p> </p> <img alt="Located in Mora, Minnesota and serving 511 kids" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e17cde5a-9924-4c67-bd17-2dd4a69353ed" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Artboard%2010Components.png" width="75%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <p>For Lakes and Pines, the decision to partner with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) to launch a Farm to Head Start initiative was, as they put it, “a no-brainer,” because “Head Start is all about healthy eating habits, and healthy lifestyle and practices.” Farm to Head Start enables them to bring more affordable options to the children and families they serve. And, being in a rural community, they felt it was important to highlight local farmers and the hard work they do.</p> <p>As is common for many small, rural Head Start programs, Lakes and Pines must rely on its local school district to cater their breakfast and lunch meals, which staff pick up from the school. When Lakes and Pines decided to get fresh local foods for their kids, their initial strategy was to try to work with the local school district to see if they could plan a lunch menu that included local foods aligned with the Farm to Head Start curriculum. Unfortunately, Lakes and Pines was unable to connect with the appropriate staff at the school district. Staff turnover and staffing capacity issues at Lakes and Pines also impacted progress. Eventually, as the growing season progressed, the opportunity to partner with the school district in the lunch menu planning process for the pilot season passed.</p> <p> </p> <img alt="Lakes and Pines Quote" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e43c8d13-1606-4923-933b-64128ca14442" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/2019_FtHS_CaseStudies_LakesPines_web_quote.jpg" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <p>However, because Lakes and Pines is responsible for getting their own snacks, they decided to focus their local purchasing efforts there—with a long-term plan to work with the school district on local procurement for meals in the coming years. Before starting the Farm to Head Start initiative, Lakes and Pines staff would make a special trip to buy prepared and packaged shelf-stable snack foods from the grocery store, such as prepackaged servings of baby carrots or individually wrapped cereal bars. Due to a small staff, these grocery trips were a significant inconvenience for employees and did not provide the desired fresh, local options. A major challenge for Lakes and Pines was finding local snacks that could be delivered in the ready-to-eat, pre-packaged individual servings they needed to fit their licensing restrictions. They initially wanted to purchase directly from farmers in their area, and IATP utilized its partner networks to connect with farmers and distributors in the area. However, local farmers did not have the ability to prepare and individually package the snacks. Additionally, due to its small program size, Lakes and Pines typically did not meet the farmers’ delivery thresholds to make it economically feasible for delivery. Staff also worried that individual purchases from local farmers would be difficult to track to ensure they were complying with the record keeping requirements of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).</p> <p> </p> <img alt="Sliced tomatoes" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="6f63f013-1706-49be-958e-f0f6b0017513" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/tomatoSlices01_stasiland_web.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <h2>A Creative Local Purchasing Solution</h2> <p>After running into these frustrating roadblocks, the breakthrough strategy was to look for a delivery already occurring in their area with a plan to “piggyback” Lakes and Pines’ snack order on to be delivered at the same time. This would eliminate the problem of the order being too small to justify a delivery of its own. IATP returned to the idea of connecting with the local school district and found out that the district had an account with Upper Lakes Foods—a distribution company that IATP partners in Brainerd and Little Falls were already successfully purchasing local foods from, and one that is capable of providing the processed and packaged snacks Lakes and Pines needs.</p> <p>IATP was able to contact Upper Lakes Food and connect them with Lakes and Pines to open a new account. In addition to making it possible for Lakes and Pines to purchase fresh, local snacks for their Farm to Head Start program, this new relationship also solved a general problem for Lakes and Pines staff, who had been responsible for frequent trips to the store to purchase their snacks on top of normal work duties. Lakes and Pines now purchases all its snacks (local and not) through Upper Lakes Foods, which delivers the orders to the school district at the same time they are making their regular drop-off for the school. Lakes and Pines now receives its regular meals and snacks at the same time through the school district, thus streamlining the entire food procurement process and integrating local purchases into their regular way of operating.</p> <p> </p> <blockquote>The school district is already committed to healthier food options and going local. That part was rather seamless. We are lucky to be involved with school district committed to same mission that Farm to Head Start promotes.</blockquote> <p> </p> <h2>Future Plans</h2> <p>Lakes and Pines focused its initial year on setting up and incorporating locally grown foods into its snacks. Now, with local foods as part of the snack menu, they plan on expanding other parts of the Farm to Head Start initiative, incorporating more Farm to Head Start activities into classroom curriculum, increasing family engagement efforts and working with the school to incorporate local foods into the lunch menu. Lakes and Pines also has plans to add kitchen facilities to its center, thus allowing more control over what foods the children are served.</p> <p> </p> <img alt="Yams and Apples" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="7b7552f3-ed8e-4c2b-82be-7383a51ddbc0" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/YamsApples.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <h2>Allstar Child Care’s Partner Farm to Head Start Initiative</h2> <p>While supporting Lakes and Pines main initiative through this process, IATP also worked closely with one of their “partner centers,” Allstar Child Care, and was able to support them in launching local purchasing. Allstar serves approximately 100 children (both pre-K and school-age), and is equipped with a full kitchen to cook most food from scratch. Although Allstar’s director Linn Otto had been interested in local purchasing for several years, she lacked the technical support to do so and had not yet bought locally grown products before the Farm to Head Start initiative launched at Lakes and Pines. With help from IATP, Linn was able to purchase local apples, squash and potatoes for its meal service from nearby Novak’s Grown Right Vegetables. Allstar relocated to a new building in the spring of 2018, with plans to scale up their local purchasing with new kitchen equipment and has plans to apply for a Farm to Early Care grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in the future.</p> <p> </p> <blockquote>One of the things that our kiddos absolutely loved about it was having a greater variety of fruits and vegetables that they could explore and try and experiment with. Things that they wouldn’t typically have had the opportunity to try.</blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Many thanks to Keri Ziegler, Dawn van Hees and all of the partners at Lakes &amp; Pines Head Start, Upper Lakes Foods and beyond who contributed to the success of this Farm to Head Start initiative!</p> <p>Thank you to Upper Lakes Foods for the use of their photos.</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="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/2019_Lakes_Pines_CaseStudy_f.pdf">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 19:05:38 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 44030 at https://www.iatp.org Exploring Farm to Head Start Across Minnesota: Lessons from IATP’s Farm to Head Start Partners https://www.iatp.org/blog/201908/exploring-farm-head-start-across-minnesota-lessons-iatps-farm-head-start-partners <span>Exploring Farm to Head Start Across Minnesota: Lessons from IATP’s Farm to Head Start Partners</span> <span><span lang="" about="/about/staff/account/colleen-borgendale" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Colleen Borgendale</span></span> <span>Tue, 08/13/2019 - 08:37</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>During early childhood, children start to form an awareness of where food comes from and begin to establish the taste preferences and eating habits that will stay with them throughout their lives. Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) activities connect young children with healthy, locally-grown foods and offer hands-on experiential learning activities. Through Farm to Early Care initiatives, children are exposed to a variety of fresh, healthy foods and developmentally appropriate activities that inform their understanding of the food system.</p></div> Tue, 13 Aug 2019 13:37:04 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 44036 at https://www.iatp.org Reach Up Head Start Program https://www.iatp.org/documents/reach-head-start-program <div data-history-node-id="44035" 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"><article class="media media-image view-mode-feature"> <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/GreatAppleCrunch_web.jpg?itok=EiMQC1qF" width="950" height="590" alt="Great Apple Crunch in St Cloud" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </article> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/2019_StCloud_CaseStudy_f.pdf">Download a PDF of the case study.</a></p> <h2>Getting Started</h2> <p>When Haley Miskowiec first started as the Nutrition Services Coordinator at the Reach Up Head Start Program in 2015, she was eager to help the children she served develop positive eating habits. She had the opportunity to connect her passion for childhood nutrition with her interest in local foods when she partnered with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) in the fall of 2016 to launch a Farm to Head Start initiative. As a registered dietitian, Haley saw the benefits of Farm to Head Start. Teaching children where their food comes from and giving them multiple opportunities to interact with new foods increases the likelihood that they will try those foods. Establishing healthy eating habits early in life is critical, especially as children become older and can make their own decisions about what to eat.</p> <img alt="St Cloud map" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="9c4dc6c6-e9a1-4421-9727-29ff9aae826e" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Artboard%2010Components_1.png" width="75%" class="align-center" /><h2>Support of the initiative at all levels</h2> <p>While Haley was primarily responsible for planning and executing the Farm to Head Start initiative, it was the support from her organization’s leadership that allowed her to move forward. Reach Up’s internal structure and culture gave Haley the freedom and autonomy to make decisions about how to run the program. Haley acted as an internal champion and had the authority to make purchasing decisions, schedule staff trainings, plan parent events and outreach, and schedule field trips in partnership with other staff on Reach Up’s Farm to Head Start Leadership Team.</p> <p>Haley had anticipated that launching Farm to Head Start might be a challenge, but she believed in its benefits for Reach Up’s children, families and community. Her first step was to develop buy-in for the initiative among key staff, particularly in foodservice and education. New programs may be met with resistance if stakeholders view them as an added burden and do not recognize their benefits. Haley understood the importance of sharing her passion for Farm to Head Start and developing support among staff at all levels to the long-term sustainability and success of the initiative.</p> <img alt="Girls with squash" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="0528dde0-04da-44d0-a97e-89b7d2550582" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/GirlsWithSquash_web.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><h3>Engaging Kitchen Staff</h3> <p>Haley made a concerted effort to ensure the kitchen staff understood the goals of Farm to Head Start and the critical role they play. Developing a sense of ownership among the kitchen staff directly contributed to the success of Reach Up’s Farm to Head Start initiative. Throughout the pilot year, Haley saw firsthand the importance of listening to and supporting the food service staff in their process of incorporating local foods.</p> <p>St Cloud’s Farm to Head Start initiative started small its first year to allow the staff to adjust to how the food came from the farm (whole, sometimes with a little dirt) versus from the distributor (processed and ready to cook). “By focusing on just the produce, we were able to get the kitchen staff very comfortable with how the food came from the farm so that it didn’t overwhelm them, and we didn’t overdo it,” Haley said.</p> <p>Haley learned when the food service staff were having trouble with a certain food item, it was vital to support them in figuring out how to make the process smoother. For example, if a certain fruit or vegetable was particularly time-consuming to prepare, Haley and the staff talked about what could be done differently or if additional equipment could help.</p> <blockquote>You have to have staff who are willing to figure it out. And you have to support the staff when they are figuring it out. Let them know it’s ok if the food isn’t A++ every time. It happens.</blockquote> <p>Since the initiative’s debut, Haley has observed a growing sense of confidence among Reach Up’s food service staff. “The kitchen staff got more comfortable working with whole foods throughout the program—they started to request ordering extra product to use in other ways outside of the main recipe,” she said. “They started seeing more ways to use the product.” The staff agreed, adding, “We definitely feel more equipped to keep going with the program now. It was the fear of the unknown that made it challenging.”</p> <h3>Engaging teaching staff</h3> <p>Teachers and education staff played an equally important role in Farm to Head Start, as they led the children in experiential food- and farming-themed classroom activities. For teachers, Haley took the same approach as with the kitchen staff: Train on Farm to Head Start basics and focus on gaining authentic input and support for the initiative.</p> <blockquote>One of the things we’ve learned and have switched to a priority is training staff and getting them to be more adventurous in their eating as well. What we see is that we can focus a lot of the things on the kids, but we have to have the teachers on board. <strong>So we have to break down their walls to try new foods and things they are not familiar with, so they can encourage the kids to do the same in a classroom setting.</strong></blockquote> <p>It was important that teachers could easily incorporate food- and farming-themed activities into their daily routines. Reach Up’s existing curriculum, Teaching Strategies, already included a Farm to Early Care component which let teachers streamline it into part of the regular curriculum.</p> <p>Reach Up also benefited from having a teacher experienced in Farm to Head Start on their team. Barika Davis previously worked at Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties (Community Action) Head Start Program, IATP’s first Farm to Head Start partner. She brought her enthusiasm for the initiative to Reach Up and was able to be an internal champion with her colleagues.</p> <img alt="pallet of squash" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="77139888-f2d2-4813-b0a8-0809a691c766" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/squash%2002_web.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><h3>Connecting with farmers</h3> <p>One of the core principles of the Farm to Head Start model is incorporating local foods into children’s meals and snacks. Because there is no single, standardized definition of the word “local,” each Head Start partner decides what that term means to them. Taking advantage of central Minnesota’s abundant food growers, Haley decided to purchase items only from farms within the three counties served by her program: Stearns, Sherburne and Benton. While identifying farmer partners in her area was not difficult, meeting their delivery thresholds was. Because one of her primary goals in launching a Farm to Head Start initiative was developing personal relationships with local growers, Haley decided to drive to the farms and pick up the food herself. She said the biggest challenge with this method was actually getting ahold of farmers who were often out in the fields. By going to the farms and meeting with farmers each week, Haley built strong working relationships with them. She says the direct contact with growers the first year was at the heart of the community building essential to her goals for the Farm to Head Start initiative. “We’ve been able to do multiple other things with them,” she said. A field trip to Stoney Brook Farms in Foley was one of the most popular family engagement events of the year. Not only did the children get to experience a farm for the first time, but it was also the first opportunity for many staff and families to visit a farm, too.</p> <p>Since the pilot year of 2016, Haley has adjusted her local purchasing strategy, still sourcing mostly from the same farms, but now ordering through food hubs and vendors that can deliver to the Head Start center. While it was ultimately not feasible for her to continue picking up fresh produce each week, Haley was surprised to find that purchasing directly from the farmer gave her a lower price than purchasing the same item—even grown at the same farm—from the distributor, due to the mark ups of processing, storage and delivery. Haley now chooses which local foods to put on the menu based on what is available from the vendors and strategically designs the menu to build enthusiasm among students. The school year begins with a familiar local item—the excitement over sweet corn is contagious—gradually builds to more unfamiliar produce, such as squash and radishes, and finishes with another already well-liked item. This strategy has been successful because the kids wrap up the school year having a positive experience with local produce.</p> <h3>Family engagement</h3> <p>Reach Up’s family engagement includes parenting skills and nutrition education classes for families, including a segment on how dads influence kids’ eating habits in their “Stronger Fathers” course. Haley does recipe demonstrations and taste tests with the parents and is available for one-on-one meetings or to take parents on grocery store tours. In addition to more structured events, parents are always welcome to participate in maintaining the center’s garden.</p> <p>Reach Up does cooking demonstration activities for families using local ingredients and shares the recipes to recreate at home.</p> <p>While attendance can be a challenge for family engagement activities, Haley says the nutrition activities tend to be a draw for parents. Through engagement activities, families “saw that kids were eating produce that they probably wouldn’t have been exposed to if we had not had it as part of our Farm to Head Start initiative.”</p> <img alt="Girl at Stoney Brook" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e3b6d988-a9bd-4ce8-a132-1c9c99ef6ce1" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/stoneybrook15_web.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><p>In its pilot year in 2016, Reach Up’s Farm to Head Start initiative served 14,532 servings of local produce, and it has steadily gained momentum since then, informed by Haley’s continued goal of improving and streamlining her methods. Haley herself has become an active member of the Minnesota Farm to Early Care Coalition, and has enjoyed sharing what she has learned with peers around the state.</p> <p>For other Head Start programs looking to start or expand their own Farm to Head Start initiative, she recommends forming a Farm to Head Start Leadership Team to create an overall vision (for example, how will “local” be defined?) and to share the workload. She adds it’s important to remember to start small, to leave lots of room for flexibility and to add new elements as staff become more comfortable. After the initial year of Farm to Head Start, Reach Up focused on strengthening its gardens. Once these components of their program are strong, they hope to expand Farm to Head Start into their home-based programs. “If we’re not ready for it this year, that’s ok, we’ll do it next year,” said Haley.</p> <p>Many thanks to Haley Miskowiec, the teachers, administration and food service staff at Reach Up Head Start, local farmer partners and all others 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="https://www.iatp.org/farm-head-start-case-studies">Read the other six case studies.</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/2019_StCloud_CaseStudy_f.pdf">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 12:33:30 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 44035 at https://www.iatp.org Farm to Head Start https://www.iatp.org/documents/farm-head-start <div data-history-node-id="43937" 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"> <h3 > A Farm to Early Care Initiative</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/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-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><article class="media media-image view-mode-feature"> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/feat/public/2019-03/Tri-Valley_Garden02_web.jpg?itok=qXJ8nGTi" width="950" height="590" alt="Tri-Valley Garden" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </article> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/2019_FarmToHeadStart_CaseStudies_Overview_02.pdf">Download the PDF of the Overview.</a></p> <h2>What is “Farm to Head Start”?</h2> <p>Farm to Head Start is a Farm to Early Care initiative. Farm to Early Care initiatives connect young children with healthy, locally grown foods and support farmers in their communities. Farm to Early Care’s three core components are serving locally grown foods in Early Care meals and snacks, offering food and farming-related educational activities for children and organizing food and farming-related family engagement activities.</p> <p>Farm to Early Care initiatives are taking off across the spectrum of child care settings, from family child care providers, to Head Start Programs, to center-based care. They naturally align with child development best practices by engaging children in experiential learning. Farm to Early Care initiatives are flexible, and early care providers can choose unique activities based on the goals and needs of their community. Farm to Early Care activities can also promote systems-level change by engaging families and community members, strengthen local economies by investing in local growers and other food-related businesses, and support farmers by facilitating access to new markets. Farm to Early Care initiatives are a triple win: children, farmers and communities all benefit!</p> <img alt="Map of Farm to Head Start locations throughout Minnesota" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="381c2b97-43b1-4112-a3a0-c381fa31755e" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Overview_map.jpg" width="60%" class="align-center" /><p>Children are, by design, the primary beneficiaries of Farm to Early Care activities. By exposing young children to a wide variety of locally grown and raised foods, they show an increased willingness to try new foods and actually eat more servings of fruits and vegetables compared to children who do not participate in Farm to Early Care. Through hands-on classroom activities, they develop a sense of “food literacy” and deepen their understanding of agriculture, healthy eating, local foods and seasonality. Additionally, introducing local foods to very young children lays the groundwork for Farm to School activities in K-12 settings. Through Farm to Early Care activities, children can act as agents of change for families and teachers, inspiring healthier eating habits outside the classroom.</p> <p>Farm to Early Care initiatives are advantageous for farmers, ranchers and fishermen by creating access to new markets. Institutions like early care settings provide a stable and predictable source of income for local food producers, helping to diversify their businesses and grow their bottom line. Other sectors of the local food economy, such as processors and caterers, also benefit; investing dollars in the community creates a multiplier effect. In fact, a study from Oregon found that every dollar spent on Farm to School and Early Care generates an additional $2.16 in local economic activity. Purchasing food from area growers and producers can jump start community revitalization.</p> <img alt="Lunch at the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="bf37b606-145d-41be-bc70-acc3c30b899f" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/CAPRW_lunch_web_0.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><p>Farm to Early Care activities align particularly well with the standards and priorities of Head Start organizations. Head Start is a federal school-readiness program that supports children and families experience poverty in a comprehensive manner. Farm to Early Care activities can help meet Head Start performance standards, as well as learning and developmental goals as outlined in the Head Start early learning framework. On a macro level, Farm to Early Care initiatives also promote health and wellness for families by increasing availability and accessibility of fresh, healthy foods.</p> <p>Recognizing the natural connection between Farm to Early Care and Head Start, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) began a pilot Farm to Head Start project in 2013 with the <a href="https://www.iatp.org/documents/community-action-partnership-ramsey-washington-counties">Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties (CAPRW)</a> Head Start. Since then, IATP has partnered with nine of Minnesota’s 34 Head Start programs, helping them feature local foods on their menus, coordinate food and farming-related classroom activities, and plan family engagement activities that create continuity between school and home.</p> <p>Incorporating produce from local farms into meals and snacks is a core component of IATP’s Farm to Head Start model. One local fruit or vegetable is highlighted on the menu twice a week for a two-week period, using a variety of cooking techniques to showcase each item. During that time, teachers lead complementary food and farming-related activities with children in the classroom. These non-mealtime interactions are key to increasing young children’s willingness to try new foods and reducing food waste. Classroom activities are designed to be easily integrated into a teacher’s day. The goal is to make it as simple as possible to incorporate hands-on, age-appropriate curriculum components. Because each Head Start program serves a diverse and unique population, IATP works closely with each partner to incorporate foods and classroom activities that reflect the cultural background of the children and families in their communities. Family engagement activities such as farm tours, newsletters and open houses bridge the school and home environments, and provide caregivers an opportunity to learn more about their local food system.</p> <p>Each of IATP’s Head Start partners adapted the Farm to Head Start model to fit their own individual goals, needs and community contexts. Whether located in a rural or urban setting, cooking from scratch or serving catered meals, each partner was able to incorporate elements of local purchasing, food and farming classroom activities and family engagement events. Their stories illustrate how Farm to Early Care initiatives can be successful and sustainable for children, farmers and communities.</p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/2019_FarmToHeadStart_CaseStudies_Overview_02.pdf">Download the PDF of the Overview.</a></p> <h3>Read the individual case studies:</h3> <ul><li><a href="https://www.iatp.org/documents/community-action-partnership-ramsey-washington-counties">Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.iatp.org/documents/tri-valley-opportunity-council-migrant-and-seasonal-head-start-program" hreflang="en">Tri-Valley Opportunity Council Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.iatp.org/documents/tri-county-community-action-partnership">Tri-County Community Action Partnership</a></li> </ul><p> </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></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> Thu, 14 Mar 2019 03:24:16 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 43937 at https://www.iatp.org Tri-Valley Opportunity Council Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program https://www.iatp.org/documents/tri-valley-opportunity-council-migrant-and-seasonal-head-start-program <div data-history-node-id="43909" 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"> <h3 > A case study</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/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"><article class="media media-image view-mode-feature"> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/feat/public/2019-02/Tri-Valley_kids_watermelon.jpg?itok=vtYZu2JU" width="950" height="590" alt="Tri-Valley kids with watermelon" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </article> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/2019_FarmToHeadStart_CaseStudies_TriValley.pdf">Download a PDF of the case study</a>.</p> <p>Tri-Valley Opportunity Council operates a unique Head Start program, serving the children of migrant farm workers who travel to Minnesota during the growing season. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) recognized the opportunity to create a meaningful connection for children between their families’ deep ties to farming and the foods in their meals through Farm to Head Start activities. Relatively new to her position as Tri-Valley’s Nutrition Services Manager, Jami Lee was eager to find new ways to help children develop positive eating habits. She also recognized the potential for Farm to Head Start to help meet that goal, and was enthusiastic about the idea of supporting farmers while teaching children where their food comes from. Both IATP and Tri-Valley saw Farm to Head Start as a chance to highlight the crucial work migrant families do to feed the community.</p> <p>While Jami oversees compliance with the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and menu development for all locations, each site operates somewhat independently. For example, each has its own food service manager who orders food from different distribution companies or purchases from grocery stores at their own discretion. Locations also vary in their kitchen facilities and equipment, the capability to prepare food on-site (versus ordering pre-made food), and the level of engagement kitchen staff have with their jobs, many of which are seasonal.</p> <img alt="Jami working in the garden with the Head Start kids" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="555268fa-0a43-4ea9-b02b-0b49823c6ea5" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Tri-Valley_Garden_web.jpg" width="100%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <blockquote>It’s really pretty easy to incorporate this into all of the classrooms. If you’re talking about colors, use the colors of the fruits and vegetables.<br /> -Deb Cooper, Child Nutrition Services Specialist</blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Given the complex geographic and food service configurations across Tri-Valley’s 17 sites, Jami decided to focus on three locations to pilot the Farm to Head Start initiative during the first year, with a long-term goal of adding more locations. Jami strategically chose the pilot sites based on existing local foods infrastructure established through IATP’s previous work with other Head Start partners. She identified the center in St. Cloud as a good choice due to its proximity to Reach Up Head Start, whose Nutrition Coordinator had built strong connections with local farmers that Jami could now utilize. Jami also chose Tri-Valley’s Rochester location, whose food is supplied by another of IATP’s partners, Families First Head Start. Finally, the Crookston and East Grand Forks sites were closest to where Jami was based, allowing her greater oversight and ability to engage with the initiative.</p> <h2>Learning from previously established models</h2> <p>Identifying nearby farmers to supply local food for meals is often one of the most challenging parts of establishing a Farm to Head Start initiative. Tri-Valley’s St. Cloud site was able to source locally grown fruits and vegetables successfully, partly due to teamwork between Jami and Reach Up’s Nutrition Services Coordinator Haley Anderson. Together, Jami and Haley connected with the Local Harvest Market, a regional food hub in Alexandria. Food hubs streamline local sourcing by aggregating products from multiple farms, providing one order form and bill, and making deliveries. Jami and Haley worked with Local Harvest to coordinate shared deliveries when both programs ordered the same food items. While Local Harvest originally planned to combine Tri-Valley’s orders with Reach Up’s, they were able to add an additional stop and deliver directly to the Tri-Valley location in St. Cloud.</p> <p> </p> <img alt="Pepper slices in cups" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="6f2b9d73-dc7b-4aac-a5e5-968acd5daaac" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/tri-valley_peppers_web.jpg" width="50%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <p>Similarly, Tri-Valley’s Rochester location already had close ties to the Families First Head Start, whose nutrition staff caters Tri-Valley’s meals. Families First Nutrition Coordinator Sarah Wenum continues to lead a strong local purchasing effort at her centers. Tri-Valley was able to follow Families First’s food calendar and feature the same local foods in their menu and classroom activities. This had the added benefit of reinforcing Families First’s commitment to local purchasing, as well.</p> <p>This collaboration between partners shows the potential impact of IATP’s “cohort model.” This framework encourages peer learning and provides support tosupport to current and former partners in order to problem solve and learn from each other’s experiences. Jami developed partnerships with both Sarah and Haley via IATP’s initial connection, and they worked together to compare notes and expand each of their individual Farm to Head Start initiatives.</p> <p>Despite successes in St. Cloud and Rochester, building a supply chain with local farmers in the rural, far northern East Grand Forks and Crookston locations was more of a challenge during the pilot year. By year two, however, Jami was able to build a relationship with a new food distribution company that purchases from local farmers. Jami herself has also taken advantage of her proximity to those locations by leading some interactive food-related lessons in the classroom. “When I first brought peppers into the classroom the kids were saying “Ew, they’re gross and they’re hot,” she remembers. “But after talking about the peppers and reading the book Two Bite Club, every child in that classroom took two bites of the pepper and every child liked them!”</p> <p> </p> <img alt="Head Start kid with a tomato" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="924ed0fc-a063-47f6-a99d-aaea23da181a" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Tri-Valley_kid_web.jpg" width="75%" class="align-center" /><h2> </h2> <h2>Year two and beyond</h2> <h3>From a Distance</h3> <p>With sites spread widely across Minnesota, Jami cited distance as a key challenge during the first year of Farm to Head Start. “We’re not local to [all of the center locations],” she said. “We can’t just run over and give them a hand.” She learned that finding one person at each site who shared her passion for the Farm to Head Start initiative and cultivating shared ownership made all the difference. Now, Jami holds monthly remote meetings with members of each site’s Farm to Head Start Leadership Team. “We have some pretty excited staff members,” she said. “We need to find that person in the center that has [sic] passion for it. And they can run it, because we can’t do it from a distance.”</p> <p> </p> <blockquote>A lot of kids’ parents work on these farms. Kids learn what their parents do as well. We’re eating the same fruits and vegetables that their parents are harvesting.<br /> -Jami Lee, Child Nutrition Services Manager</blockquote> <p> </p> <img alt="Head Start kids and staff working in the school garden" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="31dc1140-0bec-4248-b29d-f9431b1eada7" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Tri-Valley_Garden02_web.jpg" width="50%" class="align-center" /><h3> </h3> <h3>Expanding Farm to Head Start Success</h3> <p>Since launching the initiative, Jami has expanded some kind of Farm to Head Start activity to each one of Tri-Valley’s 17 sites. In terms of purchasing local items, she has requested that their mainline food distributors source local produce when available. She has also added local sourcing (the ability to supply locally grown and raised products) as a selection criteria to all the programs’ food service contracts, an important step for the long-term sustainability of Tri-Valley’s Farm to Head Start work. Some centers have even started visiting local farmers markets to purchase produce for their meals. Recently, Tri-Valley has also started conversations with a farm with season-extending high tunnels, allowing the purchase of locally grown food almost year-round. Jami plans to continue expanding as time goes on. “It would be good for others to know to not be discouraged if the first year is slow,” she said. “You have to take baby steps in order for it to be a success.”</p> <p>Tri-Valley has started adding community gardens at some of their centers. In Glencoe, center manager Eliza Tobon coordinates a garden where families can come and learn with their child and even take fresh produce home. For families that can’t come to the garden, Eliza sends produce home with the children. Given the relationship many of the centers’ families have to farming, Eliza encourages parents to talk with their children about the vital work they do to bring fresh produce to their communities.</p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/2019_FarmToHeadStart_CaseStudies_TriValley.pdf">Download a PDF of the case study</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/blog/201901/iatp-and-tri-valley">Watch a video about the program.</a></p> <h3>Read the individual case studies:</h3> <ul><li><a href="https://www.iatp.org/documents/community-action-partnership-ramsey-washington-counties">Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.iatp.org/documents/tri-county-community-action-partnership">Tri-County Community Action Partnership</a></li> </ul><p> </p> <p>Many thanks to Jami Lee, Deb Cooper, Eliza Tobon and all of the teachers, staff and families of Tri-Valley Opportunity Council Head Start. Thanks also to LocalHarvest, the Farm of Minnesota and all other partners 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></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, 13 Mar 2019 16:23:44 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 43909 at https://www.iatp.org Tri-County Community Action Partnership https://www.iatp.org/documents/tri-county-community-action-partnership <div data-history-node-id="43908" 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"> <h3 > A case study</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/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"><article class="media media-image view-mode-feature"> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/feat/public/2019-02/Rainbow_activity_web.jpg?itok=xz1MMpGO" width="950" height="590" alt="Tri-County Head Start rainbow activity" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </article> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/2019_FarmToHeadStart_CaseStudies_TriCounty.pdf">Download the PDF of the case study</a>. </p> <p>In working with Tri-County Community Action Partnership (Tri-County), the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) was excited to partner with a Head Start program that could take advantage of Sprout, a local well-established food hub in Little Falls. Beginning a Farm to Head Start initiative with a distributor that was already familiar with local growers and experienced in institutional sales was a huge help to Tri-County. The initiative also established a new customer relationship for Sprout and its farmers.</p> <img alt="Tri-County locations" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="8247390c-f35d-4746-a3a2-a86ad5f4b167" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/TriCounty_locations_0.jpg" width="50%" class="align-center" /><h2>GETTING STARTED:<br /> Beginning with a distributor</h2> <p>With many of their Farm to Head Start partnerships, IATP started first with a relationship with the Head Start program and then connected with local growers. In this case, however, IATP was initially familiar with Little Falls’ innovative food hub Sprout, and was interested in taking advantage of this established local foods distribution chain. IATP connected with the local Head Start program Tri-County Community Action Partnership (Tri-County), which has centers in Little Falls, Brainerd, Baxter and surrounding towns. Renée Dormanen had started as Tri-County’s Nutrition Manager at the beginning of the partnership in the spring of 2017. She was motivated to revamp the Head Start menus, with greater emphasis on local foods and scratch cooking, and saw Farm to Head Start as a great strategy to help her get away from heavily processed foods and improve her children’s health.</p> <p> </p> <blockquote>We wanted to increase our reach in the community and loved the idea of starting to connect these really young kids to nutritious foods that are grown locally in central Minnesota.</blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Established in 2012 by a mix of growers, consumers, and economic developers, Sprout’s mission is to increase access to healthy foods, encourage entrepreneurship and foster creativity in Central Minnesota. Coming into the Farm to Head Start partnership with Tri-County, they already had years of experience selling to institutional markets, but most of those sales had been to K12 schools. Knowing that kids begin to develop taste preferences well before they start kindergarten, Sprout’s Operations and Marketplace Manager Jessie Bavelli was enthusiastic about partnering with the local Head Start program and providing fresh, local produce to children under the age of five. IATP was glad to expand Sprout’s institutional sales to include the untapped potential customer pool of early care providers.</p> <p>In addition to aggregating produce from multiple local farms and coordinating their delivery, another benefit Sprout provided to the initiative is the professional development they organize for their growers. Sprout assists farmers in obtaining Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, through completing a program that trains them in best post-harvest handling practices to ensure food safety. Bavelli noted that this certification is becoming increasingly well-known and sought after by institutional partners like schools; it gives institutions more trust in the safety of locally grown foods, and allows growers to more effectively access these markets.</p> <img alt="390 pounds of local food served annually" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="d6102661-579e-4af6-81b9-38837094d486" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/TriCounty_pepper.jpg" width="35%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <h2>WHAT WENT WELL<br /> Strategies for increasing teacher buy-in</h2> <p>Sprout’s existing knowledge of institutional sales was invaluable to Tri-County in setting up its Farm to Head Start program. Bavelli was able to give Dormanen a picture of how Sprout’s established Farm to School program worked. She helped Dormanen through the processes necessary to set up a new partnership: Determining what local products were available and when, setting up an ordering and delivery system, and coordinating billing and payment. IATP shared a list of local foods that previous Head Start program partners had chosen to highlight, and Bavelli was able to tell IATP and Tri-County which of those foods Sprout would be able to source. She also had a good sense of when items would be in harvest, which let Dormanen set the schedule of highlighted foods for the first half of the school year, starting with peppers in September and ending with winter squash in December. Before each food was to be served at Head Start, Bavelli would begin sourcing it from growers. Almost all of the products that Sprout sourced for Tri-County were foods that they were already getting from growers, so availability was rarely an issue.</p> <p>Each week, Sprout delivered the highlighted produce to two of the participating centers, at Brainerd and Little Falls. Head Start kitchen staff then prepared and cooked the food according to recipes Dormanen had developed.</p> <img alt="220 kids served" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f4bbb66b-deff-4cd6-8d0a-b8cfad2fa570" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/triCounty_kidsserved.jpg" width="35%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <p>Initially, Sprout delivered the produce on Mondays, but this schedule did not leave the food service staff enough time to prepare the food items for that week. Recognizing this challenge, part way through the first year Sprout and Tri-County decided to switch to a Friday delivery schedule. The additional time did ease some of the pressure, however, food service staff sometimes still struggled with the additional labor required to prepare the raw foods. Responding to this feedback, Dormanen set a goal to simplify the recipes for the second year of the initiative. She and others on the leadership team are also revising the highlighted foods list, hoping to replace some food items that weren’t as popular with children. One strategy the Team wants to try is measuring children’s responses to each highlighted food by creating interactive charts in the classrooms.</p> <p>To support their Farm to Head Start initiative, Tri-County applied for and was awarded a Farm to Early Care equipment grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. These funds are available annually to help schools and early care providers purchase kitchen equipment to increase the amount of local foods they purchase, prepare and serve. Dormanen anticipates that purchases made through this grant will reduce preparation time and facilitate processing whole ingredients at their centers in the coming year.</p> <img alt="Sprout food hub" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f1c7c415-ff2e-403c-90d5-1b2d184574d2" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/sprout_web.jpg" width="65%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <h2>GOING FORWARD:<br /> Strategies for increasing teacher buy-in</h2> <p>One challenge for Tri-County’s Farm to Head Start initiative was an initial lack of teacher support. Dormanen received some negative feedback from teachers during the first year related to the menu revisions she was championing (including the new local fruits and vegetables). Some of the local produce coming in from Sprout were unfamiliar to some staff, and they were hesitant to try it. During an evaluation meeting with teachers after the initial pilot year, Tri-County brainstormed ways to generate enthusiasm and reduce skepticism among the teaching staff. One idea was to give all classrooms a sample of each new produce item before it was served in meals.</p> <p>Dormanen realized that involving teachers in the planning process from the beginning is key to increasing buy-in and to greater ownership as teachers saw themselves as role models of healthy behavior for their children. In the second year of the initiative, she has noticed an increase in the number of staff members interested in joining the Farm to Head Start Leadership Team. She hopes that having an educator on the Leadership Team will increase the role that teachers play in planning and implementing Farm to Head Start, thereby increasing their ability to act as effective champions for the program in the classroom. Working with an educator on the Leadership Team will also help cement and expand the educational component of Tri-County’s Farm to Head Start program.</p> <p> </p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/2019_FarmToHeadStart_CaseStudies_TriCounty.pdf">Download the PDF of the case study</a>. </p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/farm-head-start-case-studies">Learn more about Farm to Head Start and read the other case studies.</a></p> <p>Many thanks to Renee Dormanen, Jessie Bavelli, and all of the partners at Tri-County Community Action Partnership Head Start Program, Sprout Food Hub and beyond who contributed to the success of this Farm to Head Start effort!</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></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, 13 Mar 2019 15:50:30 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 43908 at https://www.iatp.org Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties https://www.iatp.org/documents/community-action-partnership-ramsey-washington-counties <div data-history-node-id="43938" 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/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-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"><article class="media media-image view-mode-feature"> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/feat/public/2019-03/kidEatingCucumber_web.jpg?itok=sPeXcwgj" width="950" height="590" alt="Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties on a HAFA field trip" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </article> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/2018_FarmToHeadStart_CaseStudies_StPaul_04.pdf">Download a PDF of the case study.</a></p> <p>Through a strong partnership with mission-aligned organizations, the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey &amp; Washington Counties (Community Action) Head Start Program worked with the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) to launch the first Farm to Head Start initiative in Minnesota in 2014, and has been working to strengthen and expand their Farm to Head Start work ever since. From celebrating cultural traditions through diverse lunch recipes and dynamic classroom activities, to popular family engagement events and joyous field trips to HAFA’s farm at harvest time, Community Action’s initiative builds on Saint Paul’s diversity to bring nutrition to life. </p> <h2>Establishing value-driven partnerships</h2> <p>After developing a successful Farm to Early Care model with New Horizon Academy in 2012, IATP had several goals for the next iteration of this work, including expanding access to fresh, healthy foods for communities that are disproportionately affected by diet-related disease, building deeper relationships between farmers and the early care families in their communities and strengthening the resonance of Farm to Early Care activities by exploring the deep connections between food and cultural traditions. A first step in expanding access to fresh, healthy foods was focusing on partnerships with Head Start Programs, which specifically serve low-income families who face structural barriers to healthy food access and, consequently, have higher rates of diet-related disease.</p> <img alt="Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties locations in Minnesota" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5bcee003-473e-421e-92db-b8519fd374d1" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/StPaul_map.jpg" width="65%" class="align-center" /><p>Through contacts at the Minnesota Head Start Association, in 2014 IATP’s Community Food Systems Director Erin McKee connected with Angela Prokop, Nutrition Coordinator for Community Action’s Head Start Program in Saint Paul. One of Community Action’s major goals was to improve the nutrition of their children, and Prokop saw Farm to Head Start as a great strategy for encouraging kids to try—and, hopefully, like—fresh, healthy foods while learning where they come from. Head Start center-based locations participating in the Farm to Head Start initiative care for children aged three to five years of age, just when they are beginning to develop their taste preferences. Kids at this age can eat up to 80 percent of their daily nutrients while in Early Care environments, creating a huge opportunity to encourage a good relationship with healthy foods from a young age and to set healthy eating habits for the rest of their lives. One of Prokop’s main goals for Farm to Head Start was to support local growers, embodying Head Start’s goal of empowering communities and increasing the service of fresh vegetables on the menu. Community Action was excited by the prospect of a strong, lasting relationship with HAFA.</p> <img alt="Pounds of food served at Community Action " data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="cfc30877-f8a9-4aed-b80c-acd38e11a492" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/StPaul_PoundsServed.jpg" width="35%" class="align-center" /><img alt="Spotlight box: Reflecting the Diversty through Food" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="cd3584e5-2454-4504-bd53-45543bfcbcc8" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/StPaul_DiversityThroughFood.jpg" width="50%" class="align-center" /><p>At the same time, she was meeting with Prokop, McKee was in conversation with Pakou Hang, the Executive Director and co-founder of the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA). Since Hmong refugees came to Minnesota in the 1970s, many have relied on their deep agricultural traditions to make a living but continue to face systemic barriers to accessing land and financing their operations. With a goal of generating wealth for their community, HAFA manages a 155-acre farm outside Saint Paul, where farmer-members can lease land to grow on and sell crops through the HAFA Food Hub, while getting training and support from HAFA staff.</p> <p>In 2014, most HAFA farmers’ sales were direct-to-consumer at farmers markets, which required long hours with no guarantee of sales. HAFA was interested in institutional markets as a strategy to diversify their growers’ incomes with more reliable, larger sales. When looking for partners, HAFA prioritized organizations that reflected their organizational values. Mirroring the greater community, Community Action enrolls a large number of Hmong children in their Head Start program; several HAFA farmers and staff had personal or familial connections to Community Action. For Hang, a self-described “Head Start kid,” selling to Head Start meant providing children from her community with nutritious, local food and giving them an opportunity to engage with their heritage through traditional ingredients and dishes.</p> <p>The ease and success with which Prokop, Hang, and McKee worked together was tied to the guiding principles that they shared. Each came from a social justice-oriented organization and valued the benefits of providing children with nutritious, locally grown food at a formative age. Establishing these shared values, and outlining commitments, from the first meeting onward helped them stay unified in the face of later hurdles.</p> <p>Additionally for Hang, their strong relationship was a result of everyone having come to the project at the beginning, as equal partners: “Talking it through [together] that first time was very good, as opposed to if IATP and Head Start had worked together and then we had come in. I think the power dynamics would have been a little bit different.”</p> <h2>Bringing on a caterer and food processor</h2> <p>After two months of planning discussions between Prokop, Hang, and McKee it was time to approach Community Actions caterer. CKC Good Food is the South Saint Paul-based, woman-owned catering company that sources and prepares all Community Action’s meals and snacks. Prokop wondered whether Farm to Head Start would be feasible, given the fact that she couldn’t control where CKC sourced their food. Luckily, CKC was eager to get on board. Again, this successful partnership was a result of CKC’s alignment with Head Start’s values.</p> <p> </p> <blockquote>For Hang, their strong relationship was a result of everyone having come to the project at the beginning, as equal partners</blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Together, they began planning the Farm to Head Start initiative in detail. Community Action, HAFA, and IATP worked to develop a schedule of highlighted foods for the coming school year, then met with CKC to review the calendar and discuss recipe guidelines. CKC developed recipes, finalized quantities and submitted the recipes for Community Action’s approval. It was then up to CKC to communicate the necessary quantities to HAFA.</p> <p>Since Community Action serves roughly 1,200 kids during the school year, it became apparent to CKC that processing and preparing raw, whole foods for this number of meals would be a near-impossible burden. HAFA brought on Russ Davis Wholesale, an employee-owned processing company HAFA had worked with in the past to wash, chop and slice their produce before delivering it to customers. Again, in Russ Davis, Community Action found a mission-aligned organization willing to purchase from small- to mid-sized farmers and partner on Farm to Head Start. Based on their recipes, CKC communicated necessary processing needs to Russ Davis.</p> <p>The next step was to form a Farm to Head Start Leadership Team, made up of Prokop, Hang, McKee, and representatives from CKC and Russ Davis. Together, they worked to finalize planning for the initiative’s launch. It was this initial planning phase, from February 2014 to the beginning of the summer that was the most time-intensive period for the project. Once a framework was established, the added workload for members of the Leadership Team decreased.</p> <p>The Leadership Team decided that Community Action would pilot their initiative in the summer of 2014. At the time, Community Action operated 11 centers during the year, but only two during the summer. Financially, it was impossible for Russ Davis to process such a small amount of food for only two centers. As a solution, during the summer, CKC agreed to receive the food directly from HAFA; they would process and cook it in Community Action’s main kitchen. CKC had concerns about verifying the safety of foods brought in directly from the farm, so HAFA shared details of its food safety training, completed by a licensed food safety contractor.</p> <p>In the fall, all eleven Head Start centers started their regular session and the initiative began in earnest. Each center included the produce from HAFA in their meals, but only six enacted IATP’s accompanying Farm to Early Care curriculum, allowing Community Action to ease into the new initiative. Russ Davis joined as processor, and the school-year supply chain was established. Since 2014, Community Action has continued this supply chain. In the summer, the food is processed directly by CKC. During the school year, Russ Davis handles the larger volume. After the food is processed, CKC prepares it to varying extents at Community Action’s main kitchen at the Ruth Benner Head Start center. Community Action’s other centers have differing food service capacities; some of them receive the food ready to serve from Ruth Benner, and some receive and cook it themselves.</p> <img alt="Pakou Hang with Head Start Kids" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="74fd25c6-9738-45d5-941b-add9f90189da" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Pakou_and_kids_web.jpg" width="50%" class="align-center" /><p> </p> <h2>Using and modifying IATP’s Farm to Early Care model</h2> <p>Prokop took advantage of the Farm to Early Care educational curriculum developed by IATP, to significantly reduce workload for Community Action’s teachers. At the beginning of the year, Community Action incorporated Farm to Head Start training into already-scheduled professional development days. Prokop showed teachers how to incorporate Farm to Head Start topics into existing lesson plans and activities, and provided teachers with IATP’s Farm to Early Care curriculum. This curriculum includes complete lesson plans on a wide range of locally grown foods, as well as generalized food and farming-related lessons that classes can do if a highlighted food isn’t ready on time.</p> <p>Prokop also made sure to include teachers in the Farm to Head Start planning process. She worked with them and used their feedback to modify IATP’s curriculum to reflect the needs of their community. In her experience, showing teachers they had a voice in Farm to Head Start greatly increased their buy-in and made them more enthusiastic Farm to Head Start role models.</p> <p>At the same time, HAFA staff developed several new lessons for the Farm to Early Care curriculum, including lessons lifting up Hmong culture, lessons on farming practices and detailed farm field trip activity plans for groups of visiting children.</p> <h2>Learning by doing: Farm field trips and classroom highlights</h2> <p>Families and children alike look forward to the annual harvest field trip to HAFA’s farm. Not only does Community Action use farm visits as experiential learning opportunities for their children, but they invite families along as well, hoping to increase their engagement in Farm to Head Start. The harvest field trip always has amazing turnout, as children and families get to work with their hands to pick produce. Since their initial partnership with IATP, Community Action has been able to secure funding for these field trips through their strong alliance with HAFA. They have been able to jointly apply for grants, using their Farm to Head Start experience in crafting their narrative. HAFA has also received individual grants to help Community Action visit the farm and to provide educational resources to Community Action classrooms.</p> <p>Outside of the harvest field trip, family engagement could be a challenge. The majority of Community Action’s children are bussed to Head Start, so teachers are unable to talk with families during pick-up and drop-off. Luckily, there’s a framework for family involvement built into the Head Start model. Each one of Community Action’s centers has a Parent Committee. These committees work with Community Action’s family advocates to plan monthly family events. Each year, Prokop works with the committees to design food and farming-related activities for a few of these events. She presents on Farm to Head Start, updates families on what their kids are learning and provides relevant activities for attendees. Building face-to-face communication with families through pre-existing channels helped circumvent language barriers and ensured that important information was communicated.</p> <h2>Refining the initiative</h2> <p>Community Action’s Farm to Head Start initiative is still going steady since its start in 2014. The strong, value-driven relationships formed between the core partner organizations remain in place today. Although there have been no major changes to the supply chain, or to the structure of the initiative, part of the initiative’s lasting strength has come from its flexibility, and the willingness of the Leadership Team to constantly reassess and adapt.</p> <p>During Community Action’s pilot year, Prokop found that there was an undue burden on food service staff. The desire to have strong, culturally responsive content led to complex recipes, which created a lot of additional work. In the second year, Prokop worked with CKC to simplify recipes. A couple of delayed harvests during the first year meant that Community Action ended up with excess food at the end of their fall term. Prepping the food for storage over winter break and then bringing it out of storage after was an added burden on CKC staff. The following year, Prokop adjusted the schedule after late harvests or other hiccups to get all the highlighted foods served before break.</p> <img alt="Spotlight box: Communication is key" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="d8270f4a-bb9b-4b68-adb9-4399ddda44b6" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/StPaul_CommunicationIsKey_web.jpg" width="50%" class="align-center" /><p>Prokop has made a strong effort to make Farm to Head Start financially feasible for both CKC and Russ Davis. Since Community Action was paying a flat rate per meal, CKC couldn’t adjust pricing according to the cost of ingredients. Because of this, Prokop made sure to bring CKC into initial meal planning and pricing discussions. By helping decide quantities and price points, CKC could ensure highlighted foods were available at a comfortable price. Community Action also makes an effort to use every part of the vegetable, keeping the yield higher and the price per ounce lower. They assessed and replaced foods and recipes that had been poorly received by children, thereby cutting down on food waste.</p> <p>Prokop reports that all parties feel Farm to Head Start is financially viable. In 2017, when it came time for Community Action to renew CKC’s contract after a formal bid process, Community Action asked if CKC would like to increase the flat meal price in their contract; CKC declined, saying that their arrangement was economically responsible as is. Additionally, through working with a smaller grower, CKC and Russ Davis have learned skills that will enable them to partner with other smaller producers in the future.</p> <p>Through constantly evaluating Community Action’s initiative, and receiving feedback from partners in regular check-in meetings, the Leadership Team was able to solve problems in a responsive and timely manner. This ensured that no one partner felt an undue burden and helped contribute to the lasting success of Community Action’s Farm to Head Start initiative.</p> <img alt="Spotlight box: Respecting the Vegetable" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="cea07b6e-4a6a-45d3-a9d5-56b726dab1c0" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/StPaul_Spotlight_RespectingTheVeg.jpg" width="50%" class="align-center" /><img alt="Angie Prokop with an eggplant" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="18771878-cb10-40b8-a751-a6fdb69b4bd7" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Angie_eggplant_web.jpg" width="50%" class="align-center" /><h2>Advice for others</h2> <p>A strong connection between partners will give initiatives the strength and resiliency to push through setbacks. Prokop encourages anyone considering starting a Farm to Head Start initiative to find partners who share similar goals and visions. “The end goal has to be the same,” she advises.</p> <p>She also recommends that anyone beginning a Farm to Head Start initiative be flexible and establish a strong communication framework with partners. Given Minnesota’s climate, and the somewhat unpredictable nature of farming, last-minute changes are bound to happen at some point. Prokop’s solution was to create a Google Sheet that she shared with all members of the Leadership Team. This spreadsheet contained information on highlighted foods, quantities, pricing and delivery dates. Every member could view and make changes to the shared spreadsheet in real time, by logging on to their Google Drive account.</p> <p>Lastly, Prokop strongly encourages others to do their research. “Reach out to other programs that have gone through it,” she said. “This will help with knowing potential challenges and barriers and help grow ideas you have for your own program.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/2018_FarmToHeadStart_CaseStudies_StPaul_04.pdf">Download a PDF of the case study.</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/blog/iatp-and-community-action">Watch the video on Community Action, IATP and HAFA.</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.iatp.org/farm-head-start-case-studies">Learn more about Farm to Head Start and read the other case studies.</a></p> <p>Many thanks to Angela Prokop, Pakou Hang, and all of the partners at the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties Head Start Program, the Hmong American Farmers Association, CKC Good Food Catering, Russ Davis Wholesale and beyond who contributed to the success of this Farm to Head Start effort!</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></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, 13 Mar 2019 03:51:47 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 43938 at https://www.iatp.org