Resource Spotlight: National Farm to School Network
Happy National Farm to School Month!!
To help celebrate the thousands of education sites, farms, communities, organizations, and Farm to School advocates who are working to get healthy, local ingredients into the bellies of children across the country, this month's Resource Spotlight is featuring the National Farm to School Network (NFSN).
We spoke with Anna Mullen, Communications Manager of the National Farm to School Network, to learn more.
National Farm to School Network is an information, advocacy and networking hub for communities working to bring local food, gardens, and food systems education into schools and early care and education (ECE) settings.
National Farm to School Network increase access to local food, gardens, and nutrition and agriculture education to improve children’s health, strengthen family farms, and cultivate vibrant communities.
Okay now for the fun stuff…
1. How would you describe NFSN? But there’s a catch… describe the NFSN in a haiku!
With farm to school
Growing stronger together
Means a win for all
2. What does NFSN bring to the (national food systems) table?
Since our founding in 2007, National Farm to School Network has been the leading voice of the U.S. farm to school and farm to early care and education movement. We have extensive knowledge and experience in developing and disseminating tools, best practices, and evaluation resources that help grow farm to school and local food systems efforts. We have proven success in championing federal and state policies that strengthen impactful farm to school opportunities. And, we bring together food systems practitioners, advocates and leaders from across the country (at events like our biennial National Farm to Cafeteria Conference – next one is in April 2020!) to collaborate, innovate and propel momentum for a more just food system forward.
3. Who does NFSN serve?
The “Network” part of our name is as much an action as it is a noun. National Farm to School Network is truly a network – a connected and collaborative group of passionate people working to build a movement that uses farm to school as a strategy to advance equity and justice through food in schools and ECE settings. We represent and support individuals, communities, sovereign nations, organizations, and agencies involved in farm to school and farm to ECE initiatives in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and U.S. Territories. YOU can be part of our network! Become a member at www.farmtoschool.org/join.
And it's National Farm to School Month! Tell us a little about what this means.
That's right! October is National Farm to School Month! National Farm to School Network advocated for the creation of National Farm to School Month by Congress in 2010 (House Resolution 1655) and since then, the yearly October festivities have brought together thousands of students, teachers, parents, farmers, food advocates, school lunch professionals, and community members from a wide range of sectors to raise awareness of the important role of farm to school in improving child nutrition, supporting local economies, and building vibrant communities. Everyone can celebrate! Check out our national calendar of events, explore our Celebration Toolkit, and sign-up your organization to be a National Farm to School Month Outreach Partner. Learn more about National Farm to School Month here: www.farmtoschool.org/month
4. What do people/orgs look to you for?
National Farm to School Network is the go-to organization for farm to school and local food systems stakeholders who want to find resources, advocate for policy change, and network to learn from their peers. In action, this means we’re connecting people to resources, people to policy, and people to people.
5. What one (or two!) problem(s) can someone find solutions for on your site?
“How can I get connected to farm to school / farm to ECE activities in my community?” Our network of Core and Supporting Partner organizations – representing every state, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Territories – are a great resource for this! Visit Our Network page (www.farmtoschool.org/ournetwork) to click on your location and connect with expert farm to school and farm to ECE partners in your community.
6. Are there certain tools or resources that you’ve found especially popular?
The Benefits of Farm to School fact sheet is consistently our most popular resource. It collates all of the research-based benefits of farm to school activities, broken down by sector (economic development, public health, education, etc.) and by population (students, schools, farmers, families, etc.) It also includes a complete list of references. Check it out here: http://www.farmtoschool.org/benefits
7. Who can access your resources? How?
Anyone can access our online resource library – it’s free! We have more than 700 resource entries, which are searchable by state, date, setting and topic. Find everything from “getting started” tip sheets and archived webinar recordings, to network building toolkits and evaluation frameworks. Explore our online resource library at www.farmtoschool.org/resources.
8. What other resources or support is the NFSN looking for?
We’ve been actively building out our resource library to share more farm to school-related resources in language other than English. Many of our National Farm to School Network fact sheets are now available in Spanish, and we’re looking for recommendations of additional languages that would be helpful to have these materials available in. If you have thoughts on this, please let us know!
9. What other “resource-full” organizations would you recommend?
The Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC). The IAC is a non-profit, Tribal membership organization, serving all tribal producers and communities across the country, established in 1987 to pursue and promote conservation, development and use of Indian agricultural resources for the betterment of Indian communities. The IAC is recognized as the most respected voice within the Indian community and government circles on agricultural policies and programs in Indian Country, and it conducts a wide range of programs designed to further the goal of improving Indian Agriculture, land management, cultural food systems, and local and international marketing. The IAC is National Farm to School Network’s 2019 National Partner of the Year.
10. How can someone get in touch with you for more information?
Our inbox is always open, and we’d love to hear from you! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us on social media at @FarmtoSchool.
You can also sign up for our newsletter here: www.farmtoschool.org/join
Wow! Thank you for sharing all of this, Anna! NFSN is doing such incredible work. And a huge appreciation for all the F2S advocates out there - thank you for your continued efforts to get healthy, local meals for kids across the country.