Network Gathering Update - December 2017

While schools and communities around the state have been cooking up great Farm to School activities all year, our Network Action Teams have been busy tackling strategic projects that will help us reach our statewide goal. Read on for updates about the high-level projects our teams are taking on, and how you can get involved.

Our System Goal:

By 2025, 75% of Vermont Schools will lead the cultural shift to a values-based food system that engages 75% of our Students in integrated food system education; community-based learning; nourishing universal meals; and the experience of self-efficacy; purchasing at least 50% from a socially just and environmentally and financially sustainable regional food system.

Demonstrating the Economic Value of Farm to School

Action project: Case studies documenting the impact of Farm to School on school food service budgets (with Supply Innovation Team)

In order to build broad support within the legislature and among statewide decision-makers, we need to show that there is economic value in Farm to School. This team is partnering with the Supply Innovation Team to develop case studies on five Vermont schools, showcasing the impacts of Farm to School on food service budgets. The team selected schools from across the state and is developing a case study framework.​

We'll announce the release of the case studies on our listserv - sign up here.

Demonstrating the Educational Value of Farm to School

Action project: Outreach campaign for school leaders showcasing educational benefits of FTS

Farm to School has educational benefits in the classroom, cafeteria and community – but we also need to document and share those impacts. This team is working to educate and build support among school leaders (school boards, superintendents and principals) for strong FTS programs by developing an outreach campaign and clear messaging.

Stay tuned for how you can help with the success of this campaign!

Improving Farm to School Ease of Use

Action project: Building a community of practice and sharing resources for Farm to School coordinators

Coordination and communication is essential for integrating Farm to School into classrooms, cafeterias and communities. This team is helping FTS Coordinators access resources and best practices to lighten the load. This year they launched a FTS Coordinator newsletter and hosted 5 regional gatherings across the State.

Are you a FTS Coordinator? Join the growing community of practice.  Sign up for the FTS Coordinator email and find about events near you.

Creating Policy Demand for Farm to School

Action project: Legislative Campaign for FTS funding; school nutrition toolkit for school administrators and leaders

Last year’s Legislative campaign resulted in an updated Farm to School bill that expanded the program to early care and education programs and support to school nutrition programs. We succeeded in increasing the state appropriation to $181,000 for grants and technical assistance. The Team is gearing up for the 2018 Legislative session to continue to work towards our goal of $500,000 in state funding for FTS. They are also developing a “toolkit” for school administrators and leaders to effectively support school nutrition programs and Farm to School.

Learn more about the campaign and the school meals hub.

Get involved in the campaign! If you’re passionate about expanding support for FTS statewide, join the campaign! Sign a supporter card, write a letter to your local paper, and sign on your organization.

Innovating in Local Food Supply & Distribution

Action project: Case studies documenting the impact of Farm to School on school food service budgets (with Economic Value Team)

There are many factors that drive local purchasing in school food service programs – values, availability, quality and taste, demand, and of course budget. In order to increase the amount of local purchasing throughout Vermont, this team is partnering with the Economic Value team to document the experiences of five Vermont schools, and how Farm to School has impacted their food service budgets (see more under Economic Value team).

Farm to School Evaluation

Action project: Conducting a comprehensive census of Farm to School in Vermont schools

The Network needs to know how far we are from achieving our goal and how can we track our progress? This team is gearing up for the first comprehensive census of Farm to School activities in every Vermont school – the “Farm to School Data Harvest” that will look at curriculum, cafeteria, community connections and more. The survey will be sent to every Principal or Farm to School Coordinator this February. Watch for results by summer.

Help make sure YOUR school gets counted! Make sure your Principal or Farm to School Coordinator returns the FTS Data Harvest survey. We'll announce the release of the census report on our listserv (sign up via the button in the top right corner).